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Honey Cow Crooked Comb Disaster

 
Beatrix Hives
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Hello!

I am a new beekeeper seeking advice from seasoned Top Bar Hive pros and other apiculture geeks.

I built myself a Honey Cow style TBH this year and popped bees in it about a month and a half ago. Today I opened up the hive today and while the bees have been very productive, I have a bit of a problem on my hands. All of their combs are crooked and about five or six of the bars are stuck together with one big old comby, heavy, honey filled mass. I was only able to remove and inspect one of the newer combs because all of the other bars are stuck together so badly.

Any ideas about what to do with this mess and how to prevent it happening on the rest of the bars?

The comb guide that I used on the bars was miniature dowel stapled to the underside of each bar.

Any suggestions on how to remedy this dilemma would be very much appreciated

 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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I've only dabbled with horizontal hives, and this is one reason I haven't continued with them. plenty of folks get cross comb and do continue with the hive, though, so there must be a solution.

when I helped harvest a friend's badly cross combed horizontal hive, we cut apart what we could with a very thin long knife, and pulled out the rest in blocks of several bars. that there weren't any bees in the hive made it a lot easier.

in my Warré hives, the comb is very rarely straight. in some, it seems to spiral. not a problem with that style, though, because I harvest whole boxes at once, so removing combs isn't an issue.

a long way of saying I don't have any advice for you.
 
Tokunbo Popoola
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Location: Sacramento, CA
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tel jetson wrote:I've only dabbled with horizontal hives, and this is one reason I haven't continued with them. plenty of folks get cross comb and do continue with the hive, though, so there must be a solution.

when I helped harvest a friend's badly cross combed horizontal hive, we cut apart what we could with a very thin long knife, and pulled out the rest in blocks of several bars. that there weren't any bees in the hive made it a lot easier.

in my Warré hives, the comb is very rarely straight. in some, it seems to spiral. not a problem with that style, though, because I harvest whole boxes at once, so removing combs isn't an issue.

a long way of saying I don't have any advice for you.


how much do you get out of your warren hive?


Oh and cross comb isnt the end of the world i love those hives you have many options with them .. keep your head up
 
tel jetson
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Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
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Tokunbo Popoola wrote:
how much do you get out of your warren hive?


pretty variable. some years are great for bees, others are not. I generally plan for one box of honey per Warré hive each year, which is pretty conservative. some years I will take more, some years I won't take any. a full box is usually in the vicinity of 15 kg or 33 lbs of honey. I haven't kept good records, but I would guess the average is somewhere between one and two boxes per hive each year. I only ever harvest whole boxes, though.

that number will vary greatly for other folks depending on local climate, weather, available forage, and density of nectar- and pollen-consuming critters among other factors.
 
Patrick Mann
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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The key is to get them started building straight comb from the beginning, correcting any that are askew immediately. If you have existing straight comb, you can checkerboard it. Otherwise, a comb guide (like a cut off follower board) is a useful tool.

I'd just leave the messy comb and manage it either as a permanent brood nest; or place it so it gets filled with honey and can eventually be harvested and culled.
 
Peter Hartman
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Location: springfield, MO
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I am not sure what you mean by miniature dowel but from my research the most full proof bars are the one piece with angled guides:



So far my bees have built perfect comb. Did you hang a queen cage and leave it for a month? Leaving a top bar alone for a month and a half is just asking for problems. I would not leave a new hive alone for more then a week with out checking on it. Once the hive has established straight comb you can leave it for much longer.



Straight comb leads to more straight comb so get something straight and start using that as a guide to get the other stuff straight.
 
Thomas Pate
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My first hive I left the queen cage in for a week and when I tried to take it out it was completely embedded in a tangle of comb. This time I pulled the cages out after 4 days. I can't really tell if the comb is straight this time, but it's definitely not a tangled mess.
I am using langstroth hives as top bar. I think I am going to do warre style adding of boxes and harvesting. This time I am going to try to leave the bees alone for the most part and let them do what they want. I guess you can't really do that with TBH.
 
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