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Comb sticking frame to hive wall

Hi all, apologies if this subject has been covered, I did a search and couldn’t find anything. But my issue is today when I checked my brood box, the end frame was stuck with comb to the hive wall, so when I pulled out the frame a great clump of comb and sticky syrup pulled apart and dropped off. My frames are all pushed together and there is equal distance at the edges. How do I stop this from happening? I don’t want to destroy all their hard work when I next check. I panicked a bit as there was now syrup everywhere and I didn’t want to encourage robbers so I quickly put the frame back and did a clean up of the area. I’m guessing the mess inside the hive will be cleaned by the bees.
Should I check them again tomorrow or leave it a day or two. I don’t want to pee them off!

They will clean it up. I normally use my hivetool and scrape it off the side walls. Then admire it because I’m not sure what to do with it yet. :crazy_face::rofl:
I wouldn’t leave it in there.

Do you have an 8 or 10 frame box?

Make sure you look between the frames before pulling them. And scrape the aberrant comb off before you replace it so bees don’t get trapped.

Some bees are more eager than others to fill larger gaps, I am guessing that you have an 8 frame box and there was a bit more space on the side than the bees were happy with when your frames were all pushed together. If all the other comb is built and straight you can evenly and slightly space the frames apart (by a couple millimeters or by the thickness of your hive tool) and that might reduce the space on the sides.

Many people (especially with 10 frame boxes) use 9 frames in their supers to allow the bees to build the honey comb out further.

It’s a 10 frame box. And easier said than done to see if it’s stuck when it’s near the bottom and filled with bees! But I get what you are saying maybe I should run my hive tool down the wall end a bit before I lift it. If I space out the other frames is there a danger that they will expand and join the frames together?

If it is near the bottom of the box, you could use a 10" kitchen knife. That would reach to the bottom of the box. Just run it along the hive wall, like you might to release a cake from the baking tin. :wink:

There is, and if it is a brood box (not a honey super), there is a danger that they will put more drones in it, because the cells will be deeper. I wouldn’t do it myself, but others do and are successful. :blush:

You will get less of a problem like that when using foundation frames. I’m guessing that the frame was foundationless, in which case the bees will more readily attach the comb to the side during construction.

I get little bits of comb attached to the sides with foundation frames, but it never causes problems.

This subject was raised by a former member in the first year of the forum with the same problem.

If you start off with a nucleus & you want to continue with foundationless frames, you could consider placing the nucleus on one side with the frame with the least amount of brood next to the wall. Then as the colony expands towards the other side, you can place a fully drawn comb next to that wall just before the bees want to build the last frame.

Don’t do that- if you blindly run your tool down the wall you will injure, kill and aggravate the bees. what you do is- take out the second frame in first. Then pry the frame that’s against the wall away from the wall. I almost always take out the second frame in first when I inspect a box. The first frame you remove is always the hardest- so look at them and if there is any fat comb, cross comb, wall comb- take out a different comb first. Once one frame is out all other frames can be pried away from adjacent frames into the space you have created. Then lifted out without any fear of rolling the bees between two frames.

using this methid you can deal with almost any type of weird comb in the least invasive, aggravating way. A box that looks like a total shambles can be cleaned up. Often the worst of cross and fat combing is at the tops of frames. A daunting job can be broken down into small parts and dealt with.


Brilliant! Thanks very much!

Use a dummy board for the first frame. This is like a frame but instead of comb it is just a sheet of wood. Bees won’t build on this. When you do an inspection remove this frame first and you won’t catch or injure any bees. When the dummy frame is removed you will then have space to manipulate other frames safely.

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I wouldn’t do that as I want as much brood space in my single brood box as possible- especially so for my 8 frame hives. I might use dummy boards or feeder frames when building up a colony but not once it’s established.

Haven’t we done this calculation that even an ideal queen can’t fill an 8 frame deep with brood?

Hi Tracy, I would say that in spite of some varying opinions, you have some very good tools and options for dealing with comb where you don’t want it.

I have personally used a long (old and dull) bread knife to cut through cross comb. It IS still messy, but less so than causing big chunks to break off and then fall to the bottom of the hive. I go verrrry slowly - almost meditatively - and avoid hurting bees because they have time to move away. And you are right, the bees will clean up a honey spill pretty quickly - plus, the one you had was not able to spill into any brood area.

I did have to separate a connected pair of brood frames once. I pulled them out as a unit so I could gently shake & brush away bees, and see where to strategically cut and paste. The loss of a few cells was minimal compared to what would’ve happened if I hadn’t seen it and tried to pull just one up.

I haven’t used a dummy board myself, but when Jim posted about it before I recall thinking what a great idea that would be to ease into inspections for a beginner. Of course, you could still have comb sticking to the inner side that would need to be loosened first, just like on your hive wall, but at least it would not be covered with bees or containing honey itself! Over time, as Jack is pointing out, you would want to replace the dummy with a proper frame so the bees have maximum brood space - but it seems a viable way to practice at first.

Nope not me. And even if it isn’t full I want as much room as possible for honey, pollen, bees, and brood. In spring the goal is to open up the brood box as much as possible. Just a few days ago i inspected two hives that had brood all the way from side to side. Perhaps not totally full, but totally full of bees, etc.

Do these dummy boards have some coating that stops bees from building comb onto it? I would have thought the bees would build comb on to the wooden board just the same as they would the walls of a hive. I think the easiest thing is to place fully drawn comb or fresh foundation next to the wall. That’s what’s worked for me over the years

Hi Jeff, No they are just simple pieces of wood, and very easy to make yourself. They have other uses too, for example you can use two large ones to reduce a standard brood box down to a nuc size, and the material can be insulation instead of wood.
Because they are smooth, they are very easy to remove and they will not catch or kill bees in doing so, and once out you have room to manipulate the other frames. There are usually no bees between the dummy and the hive wall.
Obviously its a personal preference, but i like to make the first frame in a busy hive a dummy as I find it makes inspections easier.