Miracle of miracles, my girls are so SMART - here's the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey says:
Yesterday afternoon, you'll remember, I re-opened the messy hive and cut the comb that was connecting the frames and moved it onto the bottom bar of one frame. I didn't have rubber bands nor did I address the entire box, but I did try to send the message to the bees that they were supposed to color inside the lines.
Today armed with multicolor rubber bands, my smoker and gloveless on my right hand, I opened up my small cell messy hive. NO FRAMES were connected with bridging comb and only two were still messy - and they only had two little protusions hanging out and off the bottom of the frame. I cut those, but didn't need to "tie" in any cut comb nor did I destroy more than a tablespoon size piece of the comb. Even the combs that yesterday were overlayered with two pieces of comb, one on top of the other, now were flawless.
Just for insurance, I opened the non-messy hive and replaced a central frame with a full frame of comb from my last year's hive (the weak one) and I put the starter strip frame in the weak hive to give them something to do now that their numbers have tripled or quadrupled since I opened the hive the first time this spring.
Two other nice things:
1. I've never worked gloveless before and it was wonderful. I started out with a glove only on my left hand and by the time I was through, I had on no gloves. I didn't get stung which might be a function of how cold it is in Atlanta today, but I loved feeling their little bodies brush against me as I worked. I also never realized how warm the hive feels - I know that they keep it 90 something degrees, but with gloves and a bee suit, I've never really felt that before. :shock:
2. The Varroa count 24 hour that I did on the weak hive and also on the new hive that isn't messy only showed up 2 mites on each hive.
Whoo hoo! :-D :-D :-D
Thank you, everyone, for all the help and suggestions. I love the resourcefulness of the people on this forum and the willingness and generosity you all show when you share your wisdom.
Linda T, a very happy beekeeper in Atlanta