Comb formation where it shouldn't be!

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the apprentice

New Bee
May 12, 2010
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Hello - I'm new, in more ways than one, and looking for help!

My partner's a year into his bee-keeping and is doing all the training, reading etc However, he is now working away for 3 months leaving me, the anxious apprentice, in charge. So, although I think I know what I should be doing, I'm not entirely sure of what the bees are doing!

The hive's v busy in this great weather. The brood chamber's looking pretty full - but, I must confess, I haven't actually opened it up for fear of doing something disastrous to the Q.

The QE's on between it and the super. My partner had put (in April) some frames in there and they're being worked on. However, in the space where there weren't any frames, the bees have made their own free-form comb structures on top of the QE. That means that there's no space for me to put the missing frames into that super.

So, I've put the 2nd super on c/w all its frames and am wondering whether there's anything more I should do - eg:
- take the free form comb out? It was totally covered in bees and I'm not sure whether it would be brood or stores?
- put the QE between the 2 supers to give a bit more brood chamber room?

Also, I should add, that I am a bee-keeping coward, doing things at dusk on account of being totally useless with the smoker and not entirely happy about having loads of unhappy bees buzzing about me - even with the protective gear on. (What a wimp. Gimme cattle, sheep, horses, dogs - things you can handle!)

The original nuc came from a really nice apiary of happy, non-swarming bee types but, shortly after last year's arrival, the critters swarmed so ... the pressure's on and I am determined not to let that happen again, so far as I can.

Advice greatly appreciated!
Hi welcome to the forum.

The first thing I would change is the timing of your inspections,around dusk you will have a full hive of bees,if you inspect around midday most of the foraging bees will be out collecting.

You will notice a big difference when going through them with mainly young non aggresive bees at home.

How many frames are missing from the brood box?
If only a couple I would remove the brace comb and replace with foundation frames,the longer you leave it the worse the mess will be to clean up.

I would put the brace comb removed by the hive entrance to allow the bees on it to return to the hive if you have not already brushed them all off.

Did your partner have a mentor who could pop round and help to clean things up and give you a little support?

What area are you in? I am sure you will find a member on the forum who would be wiling to help you out.
Welcome to the forum....hopefully you'll get all the help you need here.
First off, where about are you? If we know where you are there will probably be someone nearby who could give you a hand and go through the bees with you.
A full colony of bees can be very intimidating, but you are picking one of the worst times to go through them. If you were at home ready for bed the last thing you'd want is someone coming round and ransacking your house, which is pretty much what you are doing by going into the bees at dusk.
Also EVERY bee is then inside the hive instead of roughly half of them being out doing their work if you went through them mid afternoon.
A couple of things I'd do, firstly leave the QE on top of the brood box, the last thing you need is the queen dissappearing between all the natural comb they've built in the super. If you can you also need to go through the brood box, is there no one in the local BKA to help you? now is the time for swarming and if they havent been gone through for a month then things could be about to get interesting very quickly!!
I'd put a new super with frames over the brood box, and the super with the natural comb on the top, and let your other half have the joy of sorting it when he gets back :D

Two Beekeepers agreeing on the same course of action :D
The exception that proves the rule!:hurray:

I would recommend you check the upper box (super) during your next inspection to see if they have began to fill the cells in some or most of the frames. If the answer is Yes, get another super with frames and put it on top.

If you live close to any oil seed rape you may find they can fill a super in a week or two and it will be heavy approx 20Lbs to lift off so be careful.
Thank you!

Great advice - with fantastic consistency!!! You are right and I shall phone a bee-keeping buddy. I did, tho, want to check out the level of chaos in there in order to warn 'em beforehand rather than be shamed live, by the hive - as it were.
This is a great forum!

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