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Author Topic: Seem to have a mess, now what?  (Read 456 times)
New Bee
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Gender: Female
Posts: 13

Location: Lubbock, TX

« on: March 13, 2013, 06:49:39 PM »

Helping a friend to "clean up" a hive they started last year.  Unfortunately they have not touched it since last June!

5 medium boxes, 8-frame, weather 69 deg, 16 mph wind, but somewhat of a wind break.  Just after noon sun-time.

Took off top, took off cover, so far so good.

Removed top box which was a little stuck to the next box, and heavy, full of honey.  Placed it on the ground so we could work it.  That first box was full of honey and bees and cross comb but before we could do anything with this fairly calm box, we were interrupted by the mob from the rest of the hive.  Box 4 was teeming with bees, crawling and flying out, that box had frames stuck to the next box so if we tried to move that box, we were pulling frames out of Box 3.  This box was also heavy but not sure how much was honey and how much was more frames below.
So put 4 back on 3, continued to smoke while hubby in particular was a target of their distress. 

Finally in desperation, put box 5 on an empty stand, with bees and frames still inside.  Closed that top. Closed up box 4 with the old cover and top.

The thinking was that maybe flyers would make it home and that honey could be extracted in a day or two.  But we have 4 boxes on the main hive that still need to be rearranged, cross comb repaired or cut out.  Seem to be plenty of young bees.

We were hoping to get to the bottom box and work our way up, but they would not let us.  Any sage advice?  Weather is supposed to remain fairly warm 40-80 next several days.
Universal Bee
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Location: boring, oregon

« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 07:52:21 PM »

to get the boxes apart, you either need to twist them to break the comb, or run a wire/thick fishing line between to break the comb.  that part is easy.  fixing the rest of it will be harder.

the "mess" is only a mess to you. before you dig into it, you need to formulate a plan.  to that end, you probably want to watch some of the cutout videos that are on the removal section of the forum.  a cutout is what you are going to be doing.

you need to figure out what you want to do with the brood....and where was the queen in all of your box moving?


.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Galactic Bee
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Location: Hiram, Georgia

« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2013, 08:48:32 PM »

Make sure to keep the brood together.   And when putting the boxes back, make sure the brood are in the bottom couple of boxes. 
Field Bee
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Posts: 892

Location: Pinopolis, SC

That's my pooch.

« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 08:52:59 PM »

My first impression from what you said is--First, it was pretty windy. On days like that a lot of bees stay home. Look for a warm, calm days when the bees are active. This reduces the population and gives you a little edge. Second, smoke before you enter, some in the entrance and some under the lid, then wait a few minutes. It takes some time for smoke to work.
I agree with what kathyp said it takes force to get everything apart. I used lock wire with wooden handles to run in between each box. Also, you have to be concerned about the queen. I moved slow with the wire so that bees could get out of the way. I reasoned that the alarm signal given off by other bees would cause the queen to run. I really don't know if this is correct but I was hopeful. Next the cross up comb--I used a knife that is thin and sharp with serrated edge to cut the frames apart then procede just like other inspections. Remember move slow give, the bees time to move. kathyp is correct again this is more like a cutout. This takes time, don't rush, clean out burr comb and excess propolis. Hope this helps out.


Queen Bee
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Location: Butler,GA

« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 11:09:54 PM »

burr comb or cross comb?  if it's full of cross comb something is wrong with your bee space or the combs had extensive damage at some point.  if it was me i'd be using the wire, cleaning up the combs the best i could and then start phasing them out. 
Joe D
Super Bee
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Location: Ovett, Ms

« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 11:45:29 PM »

In a hive I bought, woodware no in that good of shape, didn't take the top off.  There was bees coming and going.  They were in a deep with a shallow on top.  Well when I got them home and on a warm day removed the cover.  There was a pint feeder in the middle of shallow box.  No frames, but it was full of comb, bees, honey and brood, and was attached to frames in deep brood box.  Separated them with a sharp machete.  Slid the knife between the boxes and gently as possible cut them apart.  Hope you don't have it that bad, it was a mess getting it cut out and in frames.  Good luck

New Bee
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Posts: 13

Location: Lubbock, TX

« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2013, 12:02:04 AM »

Thanks for the help.  We did smoke before entering, did not see the queen although there was an orienting flight activity earlier in the day apparently.  Was concerned about the wind but it was down from 25 the day before and 40 the day before that.  I guess it seemed calmer to me than it did the ladies.

Did not really get a chance to inspect as the rush of defenders came out of the top of the second box we opened.  Using the wire sounds like a very good idea.  We also have a machete, but again moving slowly is a great reminder.  I hope we will see some open frames in the lower boxes and we will be cleaning up the combs the best we can and then start phasing them out.

All good advice, will give follow-up as we proceed.  Waiting for the next calm day I reckon
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