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Cross comb repair fiasco

 
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rainman1962
New Bee


Joined: 19 Apr 2015
Posts: 8
Location: United States, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 4:51 am    Post subject: Cross comb repair fiasco Reply with quote

Well, I did an inspection for the first time after receiving the bees 2 weeks ago. I have about 10 bars in my TBH. Low and behold every bar is cross-combed. So after watching several videos on how to straighten them out, I decide to give it a try.

What a mess. The comb is so fresh, and at least half of the length of the comb is on a second bar. and many bars have two combs on them (usually the second comb is much smaller and it is being built where the main comb deviates to the other bar. Anyway, two large combs drop and there is just no way to save them.

After these two dropped, instead of cutting away the part of the comb that crosses along the top of the bar, I cut vertically down the crack between the bars. At least this stops the combs from falling down. But I am not sure if I have accomplished anything by doing this. So, I try putting in a 1/2 inch spacer between the bars that I have cut.

Now, was this the wrong thing to do? My thinking was, they are just going to try to join the two combs together again, so why not put some space between the problem bars. However, will this just result in crossing over on the spacer?

Help!!
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Smorning
Foraging Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 150
Location: Faversham Kent UK

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 6:03 am    Post subject: You tube video Reply with quote

Saw this guy having a problem with multiple combs which may be of interest as the techniques he shows are ones that can be used - http://youtu.be/3UBS-rGNlWc

Also this is a good video of cross comb repair
http://youtu.be/asYwcWxWGv4

I'd also check that the hive is set true and straight as bees uses gravity when the festoon so a wonky setup will not help.

Once you have cross comb you need to correct it as it just gets worse until you cannot inspect the hive at all. The best way is to start with a straight comb either side of a new bar this tends to get the bees in the habit of building straight comb.

Once it's wonky you need to either carefully straighten it or if too far gone either remove it totally or ideally use a clip or other device to secure on the topbar in the correct alignment and hope they get the idea. You will lose some comb as generally not all is reuseable.

The type of comb guide has a big influence I have found the wedge works very well and luckily have little problem since using these guides.

I am sure there are threads on this site to help as there are loads of experienced topbar beekeepers on biobess forum and it's not unusual to experience a bit of wonky cross combing.

Hope you can sort it out.
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rainman1962
New Bee


Joined: 19 Apr 2015
Posts: 8
Location: United States, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess the pressing question now is, should I remove these spacers or leave them be?
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Smorning
Foraging Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 150
Location: Faversham Kent UK

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe Phil recommends topbars 38mm wide with spacers used in the honey area. You don't state the dimension of your bars but provided they are near to the recommended width I would remove the spacers at it just leaves more space for additional comb to be built that could cause more problems.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Rainman

Sorry to hear you had a bit of a disaster.

What type of comb guides did you use and how many bars did you give them to start? This is just useful information so that we can continue to monitor what works and what doesn't and give people the best advice in the future.

As regards dealing with your problem, I would not remove the spacer now as they may already have started to build across the gap and further handling could lead to more comb loss. Were you able to prop the broken comb up against the follower board in the hive as the bees can sometimes look after the brood until it hatches and recover any stores from it.
I would not attempt to correct cross comb on a new colony, but concentrate on getting them to build the new combs straight by using better comb guides and a comb straightening board. This is a follower board with a large 6-7 inch hole cut out of the middle.... or a short follower board that is about 3 inches deep will work. Place this next to the last cross comb and then give them 2 new bars with good comb guides beyond it and then the real follower board. This encourages them to build straight comb on the new bars. You then need to keep adding extra new bars as they build those new ones out straight but it's important not to give them too many at once otherwise they may become creative with their design.

The best time to deal with that cross comb is in late winter/early spring next year when the comb will be much tougher, the bees may well be clustered further back in the hive and with any luck those combs may even be mostly empty.... making the whole job much simpler.

I hope this problem doesn't set them back too much.

Best wishes

Barbara
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rainman1962
New Bee


Joined: 19 Apr 2015
Posts: 8
Location: United States, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used a groove filled with wax but I did it several weeks before I got my swarm. I gave them 8 bars to start.

How about this idea...I just put the spacers in yesterday afternoon. What if I remove the spacer and put in new bars that I just made that have string coated with beeswax. I think these are better comb guides. Then, when I get a chance, I will build a small follower board as you suggest. My problem is "time" so I am trying to do what I can until next weekend.

Yes I did leave the damaged comb in the hive, but it was mostly nectar so it is kind of a sticky mess.

Thanks for your help!!!
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah yes, the wax filled groove has not proved reliable. Not everyone has had success with waxed string either. Sometimes the bees chew the string and remove it. A triangular shaped strip of wood is better but to be honest even with those, without the comb straightener, they will probably just continue in the direction they are going. If you have conventional hives and foundation, you could cut some 1 inch strips of it. Put the top bars in the oven until they are hot, take them out and hold the foundation strip in the groove. It will melt and then set so that you are left with about half an inch protruding. This works very well for me, but again you still need a comb straightening board.

How about cutting a piece of really thick cardboard or double thickness cardboard stuck or taped together to the shape of your follower *it doesn't have to be an exact fit but needs to be slightly taller so that you can sandwich it between 2 narrow !/4 inch spacers/shims screwed together to hold it in place. Cut a large hole in the middle of that and place it between the old and new bars instead of making a wooden comb straightener board. That shouldn't take more than 20 mins to sort and should at least keep them straight until you have time to make a proper one or it may do the job altogether. Bees can eat through cardboard but I think these bees will have other more important things to do... like build more comb. Be sure to keep the cardboard as straight as you can and in the vertical plane.

I think you may find that they have already filled in some of the gap between the spacers, so if you remove them now it may cause more damage. It also disturbs the bees again unnecessarily. Placing the board at the end will hardly be noticed.
Make sure you remove the damaged comb once they have cleaned it out otherwise they will incorporate it into a comb and cause more problems. You can of course reattach it to a new bar once it is empty for them to reattach and use.

Good luck with it

Barbara
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rainman1962
New Bee


Joined: 19 Apr 2015
Posts: 8
Location: United States, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would it work just to slide the cardboard between the two existing boards instead of attaching the spacers on each side? Also if that would work than why not place the cardboard between more boards if there is space? You also mentioned a 3" tall follower board. I guess I can sandwich the cardboard between 2 narrow pieces of wood and slide the cardboard between 2 boards with the sandwiched part sitting atop the current boards. Would this work too? Sorry to ask so many questions.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you use just short followers there is the risk that they use the follower as a comb guide and build on the bottom of it instead of on the bar and putting one between each bar might encourage that. The follower with the hole in it, creates more of a partition. I have not needed to use either option myself, so I am not speaking from experience, just from what I have read and knowledge of how bees work. Once you get a couple of straight combs, you can start inserting new bars between them, so that the comb on the new bars has to be built between the ones either side...sometimes you can even get away with no comb guides on these bars, but better to play safe than sorry.

Hope that answers your question. I wasn't entirely sure what you were asking as you seemed to be confusing bars and boards.

Regards

Barbara
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