Disturbing the Busy Bees

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by babnik, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. babnik

    babnik New Member

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    I'm sure this is common to all new beekeepers. Your instinct tells you not to disturb the bees too much, but your curiosity (isn't that why you decided to keep bees in the first place?) pushes you to have a look. A lot of books tell you in your first year to go ahead and open up once a week. The disturbance is worth it as you will need to learn a lot quickly. I try to not open more than once a week, but invariably when I do, the bees have helpfully built some cross comb between frames and the only way of being able to pull a frame out is to cut into some comb. Sometimes this comb has honey in it, so you end up with a bit of a mess. What do you experienced beekeepers do? Do you clean up any cross-comb every time you open so you can get out all ten frames? Or do you just have a quick look from the top? Or do I have some other problem? I don't know, perhaps my hive is not exactly level or some other problem causing them to bridge comb between frames (and sometimes sides)

    Every problem I have I keep thinking perhaps it's because I have disturbed them too much. Is it possible to disturb them too much?
     
  2. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Be sure you are pushing all your 10 frames tightly together in the middle. Any extra space should be on either end next to the box side. Do not space the frames out evenly, then they will build comb bridging between the frames.
     

  3. babnik

    babnik New Member

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    In two of my hives I have "Hoffman" type frames, which I figured space themselves out. In the other I have straight frames, but have frame spacers, so again theoretically the space should be correct. Am I missing something?
     
  4. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    If we are extensively going in, we make it a part of house keeping to remove the burr comb. If the comb has honey, we then put it into our Serge-style hive top feeder where the girls rework the wax into interesting shapes!
     
  5. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    The frames do space themselves properly if placed tight against each other. However, the overall box has a little bit of "wiggle room" built into it - meaning that the sum of the frame widths is slightly less than the opening of the box. You need this as time goes on and the frames get gunked up, but with new equipment, there is a gap. What Omie was saying is that you have to make sure your frames are tight against each other in the center of the box, so any gap is on the outside. If you did not do this, the bees may have placed wax/propolis between the parts of the frame that are supposed to touch, and you may have to scrape it off to get the proper spacing back.

    It's no big deal to the bees, but it makes for some funky comb if the frames are too far apart.
     
  6. crackerbee

    crackerbee New Member

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    milapostol I've not heard of a Serge-style hive top feeder,What do those look like?
     
  7. ScoobyDoBee

    ScoobyDoBee New Member

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    Do tell! Inquiring minds want to know!!
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    bridge comb, brace comb, burr comb are all good example of 'the girls' not following along with our simple set of rules (which are clearly posted on the company bulletin board next to the time clock... so there is absolutely no excuse is these kinds of matters).

    even with proper spacing these kinds of thing (clearly enumerated above) are going to happen. part of your job as a beekeeper is to remove these annoyances when you deem that action appropriate. do not kid yourself these things are not an annoyance to 'the girls'.
     
  9. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Really? I may have my thinking all wrong. Why do they build/rebuild it if it is annoying to them? Why don't they tear it out?
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Hobie, I think Tec is saying bridge comb, brace comb, burr comb are not an annoyance to the bees. Rather, it is the way they want it. He didn't mean removing it wasn't an annoyance.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Iddee is of course (and as always) correct here.

    I don't find it much of a problem to remove these extra bits of comb. matter of fact I do so in an almost robot and thoughtless manner which is solely a product of my training.
     
  12. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Ah! A punctuation mis-read on my part! I think my brain is on summer vacation this week.
     
  13. hankdog1

    hankdog1 New Member

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    You should see what happens when you mentor a guy that is using 9 frames in a 10 frame box spaced out like we do when we put 9 frames in a super. They build comb in all kinds of funky shapes. No possible way to find the queen in this mess. Advised him a number of times to get the tenth frame in and get the frame spacers out of there. A waste of breath as last time I went to his house it still wasn't done. Need to post you guys some pictures so you can see what a mess this really causes. Bet money you'll be happy to clean up the bridge comb and burr comb from here on out lol.
     
  14. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Listen tyo your bees. They will tell you when you have disturbed them too much.

    Burr comb between supers can be scrapped off w/ouit any problems. Bridge comb building indicates too much space between combs. Which has been said before. I can run 9 frames ina twen frame box and not find any bridge comb built. Space them evenly.
     
  15. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    SQ
    Nine fully drawn frames instead of ten will usually be ok. But around this neck of the woods, if you put in 9 frames of foundation evenly spaced in the super, you're just as likely to find the bees building between the sheets of foundation as on them.
    Back to Babnik's original question:
    "Do you clean up any cross-comb every time you open so you can get out all ten frames? "
    The sooner you get rid of cross comb the better for you--and the bees. Working in a clean and orderly hive makes it easier for the beek and for the bees. Little bits of burr comb can be ignored (I like to collect them and melt them down) but cross combs--OUT!