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Author Topic: Small cell MESS, large scale PANIC - HELP!  (Read 4091 times)
tillie
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« on: April 03, 2007, 10:21:18 AM »

Last Monday I put a medium box on both of my new hives with 10 frames each with a 3/4 inch strip of small cell foundation.  Today I opened the hives and one hive has made a complete mess.  Here are three pictures of the mess:









I took the second two pictures looking down into the hive because I made such a mess removing the first frames I looked at. 

So my panic is what now?

Here are my thoughts:

1.  Make a drippy honey mess in the hive by removing every third or fourth frame and replacing it with a frame filled with small cell rather than a starter strip

2.  Let them finish this box - they are making honey there not brood and then remove the box and try to get the honey out by crush and strain - which is what I use anyway - issues there are heaviness of the box and not being able to cut the honey out very easily

3.  Put a new box - a shallow - between this box and the brood box, with thin surplus foundation (large cell) for honey and let them go at it.  Then deal with the medium which is a mess!  I assume they would then work in the box just above the brood box and leave the mess for me.

I also was left with a huge - 6"X4"x3 " thick piece of uncapped honeycomb dropped in the box, torn when I tried to separate the frames.  I took it out of the hives and set it on the deck rail.  Then I realized the clump of bees clinging to it weren't used to flying, so I went inside, got a Sierra cup, brushed the bees into the Sierra cup and shook them back on top of the hive.  I took the comb inside to avoid robbing.

The other hive hasn't started drawing comb in the medium box where they also have 10 frames with 3/4 inch starter strips from the top groove.  Should I take out every third or fourth frame and put a solid SC foundation in?  Should I put a starter strip on the bottom groove and otherwise leave as is?

Both hives did great with the small cell in the large box where the not-messy hive has brood all the way to the 8th frame.  I didn't check the brood box in the mess because I panicked!

Linda T with a literal mess on my hands in Atlanta
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2007, 10:36:47 AM »

Hmm interesting.

Are you sure you are not spiking the bees honey with some pharmacutical agent. That looks like bees that been enjoying a bit of wackey weed.  afro

Actually the bees are being bees. Unfortunatly that doesn't help you much.
You can cut out some of the comb that was built on the bottom bar. Just leave that comb on top o the frames so they can steal back the honey.

Comb that has crossed from one frame to the next. Cut it loose from the bottom bar and gently swing it back to the bottom bar of the frame it orginates from. You will damage some of the comb doing this. That is okay. The bees will fix it.

Since I do not have a scientific answer for you on so here is my guess. The bees are not use to drawing comb without a foundation sheet so they may be somewhat new at this. They will do better over time.

I would love to see  Michael's take on this.

I wouldn't sweat it to much you bees seem like they are working very hard. They are just refusing to cooperate with the architect.

Sincerely,
Brendhan




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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2007, 10:51:55 AM »

would a larger starter strip help when they are doing this for the first time?  i was going to try strips, but i don't want a mess.
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2007, 11:07:28 AM »

I don't know - Michael said to use a strip no larger than 3/4 inch so that's what I did.  I cut the strip 3/4 inch and some of it is in the groove so maybe I should have cut the strips 1 inch so the available-to-the-bee part would have been 3/4 inch.......

If I do what Brendhan suggested, and try to manipulate the bottom of the frame mess, then I think I should rearrange the frames.  I usually keep the frames exactly as the bees have them, but if I move a bottom messy comb, gently or however, and put the frame back where it was, I envision the bees moving to meet the comb it broke off from and reattaching. 

As to the pharmaceutical agent, hmmmmm, none of that around here, but I know a guy in Asheville.......maybe my mutabilis rose where I see tons of bees is making them drunk  grin

I wonder if the problem is in part that bees using small cell need smaller space between the frames - Michael adjusts his but I'm not a woman with a plane or sander or whatever it takes to shave them down, so that's not going to be the solution for me.

Right now, I want to learn from this mess and try to salvage the situation.

Linda T
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2007, 11:41:55 AM »

The bees won't move the comb back to the bottom bar of the next frame if you move it. If you were to destroy all the comb then they might build something even more elaborate.

So look at it like this. Frame A has comb at the top bar that has been built down at an angle to the bottom bar of Frame B. Take a knife cut the comb right at the bottom bar to seperate it. Gently push the comb over to the bottom of Frame A. If there is comb on the bottom of Frame A cut it off. You want the comb to go from the top of Frame A to the bottom of Frame A. You don't have  to glue it to the bottom. You may even want to leave it to hang anout an 1/8" above the bottom bar so it hangs straight. If you want take some rubber bands and wrap them around the frame so the bees can't move the comb. Don't be afraid. This isn't brood frame.  Smiley

Take the small leftover pieces and put them just resting on top of the frames so th bees can steal back the honey. The bees will continue to build comb hopefuly now with a better guide.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2007, 12:25:39 PM »

My hive was a swarm hive that had built some comb in a orange tree so we cut the comb off and used rubber bands to hold it in the frames till the bees got it attached to the frames. It to was a mess at first but the more I took the frames out and broke off the not so good parts they are starting to get the hang of it. The starter strips that I stuck in are being drawn out just fine though.

 My advice is to just keep working the hive and if its to bad cut it out and save it to use as a started on another frame later. They will get the hang off it.  grin
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2007, 12:27:17 PM »

I used 1.5-2 inch strips in mine and they drew them out fine, seems like if you would add more they would be more prone to draw them out correctly but I have seen some draw out a full sheet not worth a dang so who knows...

I would clean it up and give them another shoot, or just put full sheets in instead of strips....... thats my 2 pennies worth.
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2007, 12:45:33 PM »

I think you needed at least one full sheet of foundation in the middle, or already drawn comb in the middle. Perhaps that would have helped.
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2007, 01:49:36 PM »

Linda, oh dear.  Well that kind of turns me off using starter strip.  I know with foundation that the bees always have nice, clear well done comb.  I may try a little b it this year, but probably gonna stick with the tried and true foundation.  My experience with foundation has always been good.  Food for thought.  I don't envy the mess you have.  Best of the day.  Cindi
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tillie
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2007, 04:47:26 PM »

The good news is that it is Spring break in Georgia and many of the people who I usually see at my office are out of town, so my work schedule has been light - (since all I've been able to think about today are my bees, that's a good thing!)  It also means that I could go home for a couple of hours in the middle of the day and open the hive again. 

I manipulated some of the crazy comb to line it up more in the frames.  I cut some of the errant comb and moved it back to its base frame, as Brendhan suggested.  Honey dripped all over the brood frames below - maybe this is fast food in the bee hive world.   grin  I took some pictures but they're at home now that I'm back at the office. 

Side note:There are so many value-added advantages to beekeeping - in order to do this, I had to locate my Swiss army knife, since it's the only knife I own with a short blade that I could use inside the hive.  I loved finding it again and remembering all I learned about using it in Girl Scouts!  And of course, I had to clean out a drawer that really needed cleaning out to find it.

I still am worried about the whole mess, including what to do with the frames in the other hive that aren't built out yet (haven't been touched by the bees yet).  How can I prevent the same mess from happening there.....granted the bees in that hive are in general much less chaotic than the bees in the messy hive.

Linda T with a raw honey-sticky hive in Atlanta
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2007, 07:18:17 PM »

You can alternate full sheet starter strip full sheet starter sheet or frame of comb starter sheet.You are ok if you aren't makeing mistakes your not learning.You aren't doing BRAIN SURGERY your beekeeping sometimes you do it by the book and the bees do what they want
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tillie
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2007, 11:47:24 PM »

I sure appreciate everyone's input.  I came home in the middle of the day and tried to do some comb cutting and moving but still have more to do and it rained heavily this evening so getting in the hives won't happen again for me until Thursday or Friday. 

I did take three frames out of yet-untouched medium on the other hive and I had about 30 minutes to do something.  These three frames at positions 3, 6, and 8 on the other hive already had secured 3/4 inch strips from the top bar.  So I took a sheet of small cell foundation and cut it into thirds and inserted it in the groove on the bottom bar of these frames.  I finally used the wax tube fastener correctly   rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes and waxed these much larger strips into the groove.  There are pictures on my blog if anyone wants to see:
http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com

Hopefully these bees won't make such a mess.  I can't help but think that some of this has to do with the character of the hive.   The bees in the hive that made a mess have been more chaotic in their approach to their arrival on my deck than the other much calmer hive.

I would love to hear from Michael Bush about how he thinks I should handle this problem, but he rarely is on this forum on Tuesday nights, so I'll hope for some input in the morning.

Linda T hoping to make some sort of order out of chaos in Atlanta   grin
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2007, 06:54:18 AM »

I've seen this once or twice where they started the comb at the bottom and worked up.  It was always an empty super of starter strips or foundationless added on above a brood nest.  The bees apparently didn't have enough population to form a good cluster in the box above to draw comb, for the current temperatures so they just started building close to the cluster and that was up instead of down.

To prevent it, I'd put one drawn comb up in that super.  You can take it from the box below and replace it with a foundationless frame from above.

Now as far as the mess, any pieces large enough, I'd cut and tie into the frame.  Having a straight comb usually fixes the problems.  (hence the drawn comb in the super).  I'd cut the rest of the mess out as they will simply follow that pattern (the mess) and that will be a bigger mess.

Of course I've seen just as many messes from plastic foundation...
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tillie
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2007, 09:25:40 AM »

This is, as you suggested Michael, an empty super of starter strip frames above the brood nest, but it's also a hive boiling over with bees.  It was started from a nuc about a month ago and the bees pour out of there when I deal with the hive.  It's hard to see the comb work for the bees covering it.

I am a small cell believer and will do what I need to to make this happen because I have seen what the Varroa mite did to my two hives from last year over the winter - small numbers, deformed wings, etc. 

Naturally with so much to do to clean up this mess, it's raining in Atlanta and then it's going to be in the 30s tomorrow so not much chance of cutting out comb or changing anything until Friday or so........ embarassed  I did in the rain this morning open up the hive without the mess long enough to put back three frames that I took out to add more foundation for them to use as a model.  I didn't put a drawn comb in that hive but will when I do in the messy hive.

The only drawn comb I have that is medium box sized is large cell from last year. 

If I put a comb into the messy hive of that will the bees be more inclined to draw large cell rather than regress? 
Or will the starter strips rule the individual frames? 

The frames that are being regressed in the box below are deep - I know, I know, this is the argument for using boxes all the same size, but it's my reality for the moment (I've ordered more mediums that haven't arrived yet so that I can move to all mediums in the future)

It's incredible how I fit beekeeping in the in-between moments in my work life - good that I work for myself - the boss should be upset with me (if I had one) for all the work time I spend reading about bees!!!

Linda T beekeeping on the job in Atlanta
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2007, 09:40:24 AM »

Linda, I am confused.  I know you had 2 hives over winter.  I know that you got packages that came in.  But when did you get the nuc?  I guess I should go into your blog and check it out more deeply, but I don't have the time right now.  Kids are gonna be up soon.  Have a beautiful day, good luck with your endeavours.  Cindi
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2007, 10:35:53 AM »

I had two hives over the winter.  One died from queenlessness, Varroa (I imagine) and starvation.  The second survived but is low in numbers, weak in bees (some with k-wing), but a laying queen. 

I then bought 2 nucs of bees that arrived in early March. 

I currently have:

1 weak hive from last year in a single medium box
2 strong hives, now building up installed from 2 nucs in early March.  These I'm trying to start right off the bat using small cell.  So I used starter strips of SC in the frames on either side of the nuc center frames and put SC starter strips in the next box, a medium, added last week.

One of the strong new hives (the strongest) is also the messy hive.  The other hasn't built in the SC starter strip medium yet although it is on the hive.

Hope that clears it all up.

Linda T
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2007, 12:33:55 PM »

I realized over lunch that of course I can put a drawn comb of large cell in the middle.  The bees will handle the starter strips no differently than they do in the deep brood box where the center four frames are large cell from the nucs I bought.

When you all say to "tie in the comb" does this mean literally with string?  Or is this where large rubber bands are use?

And if you use rubber bands or string to tie in the comb, will the bees create comb around the tie or incorporate it or cover it with propolis or should I care?  (I imagine the rubber band being treated the way trees do when they have a wire that eventually gets surrounded by bark as the tree grows larger than the wire.)

Linda T
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2007, 07:18:59 PM »

Tying in the comb, using either string or rubberbands, is a common way of saving the brood from a cutout and placing it into the hive.  sometimes the bees will repair the comb but usually it is best to work those frames up and out of the hive.  Moving the frames up into a super and harvesting them when they're full of honey.  The crush and strain method works best in this instance.

The recommendation here is to do the same thing with the mess of comb you have.
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2007, 10:29:19 PM »

>When you all say to "tie in the comb" does this mean literally with string?

Yes.

> Or is this where large rubber bands are use?

That will work too.

>And if you use rubber bands or string to tie in the comb, will the bees create comb around the tie or incorporate it or cover it with propolis

They will chew them out and take them out of the hive.

> or should I care?

Not really.

>  (I imagine the rubber band being treated the way trees do when they have a wire that eventually gets surrounded by bark as the tree grows larger than the wire.)

If you WIRE them in it will get treated that way, but they have no trouble chewing through rubber bands or cotton string.
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2007, 12:36:41 AM »

Linda, OK, gotcha, understood.  Have a great day.  Cindi
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