Cross Comb Options

I put a medium box on top of my first brood box with foundationless frames. I wasn’t able to check and prevent cross comb in time and they’ve gone wild.

The bottom deep brood box didn’t cross comb but the medium on top does and has connected some of the comb to the bottom box frames.

There is no queen excluder yet (these are the two boxes I planned on keeping them in for the winter).

There are still 2-3 partially empty frames total in the medium top box on the edges (the rest is a huge cluster of comb).

It’s July in Maryland, US. We will likely winterize them around September.

I’m curious what people would recommend. The hive seems really healthy. No indication of disease yet, although I can’t get to the bottom box brood frames right now.

I can either try to correct it now with minimal damage and do my best to salvage what I can… or allow them to make these their two brood boxes for the winter and take care of it springtime when there will be less of a honey mess but I’m sure the comb will be in much worse condition by that time.

Probably the sooner the better. If there’s no brood in the medium then you might be able to fix it without killing too many larvae/pupae but in the spring it will likely be full of brood if it’s the top box.

September winterization for Maryland is probably early… you will still have plenty of time to feed well into October.

Why not?

I cant get to the bottom box because they’ve connected the cross comb ball on top to the bottom frames.
I don’t think there is brood in there yet but there is a slight chance. I’m hoping to disturb them as little as possible.

Might need a hand but if you get an extra hive tool and have someone prop it open you can separate the lower box frames and push them down and get the top box off.

I think you’re better off getting it cleaned up now rather than waiting. Won’t get any less disruptive or any easier if you wait.


I agree with @chau06, you need to tidy this up as soon as possible. I completely understand not wanting to damage the colony, but in the US, it is a regulatory requirement that a managed hive must have removable frames of comb, and they must be inspected regularly for pests and diseases. The sooner you tidy it up, the quicker the bees can fix it, and you can do proper inspections. :wink:

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Thanks! We went in there today and cleaned everything up. Luckily it was only honey in the crosscomb area and limited to 3 primary frames. We actually used dental floss to separate the areas that connected the top frames to the bottom before lifting it up. Worked like a charm.


Nice idea! Did you just thread it between the boxes before you even lifted them up? Amazing it didn’t break.

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Dental floss is wonderful stuff for cutting unwired comb. It is almost as strong as fishing line, and much nicer to handle. If you can find the unflavored stuff, it can be used for making cut comb from unwired frames.

Having said that, I agree with @chau06 that @adn0 has done a great job with the methods used :blush:

The only unintended use for unflavored dental floss that I have employed is sectioning cinnamon rolls!

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I need to come visit you some time, and test your cinnamon rolls! I will bring home made bread and SoCal or French honey :blush:


Or without


They look test-worthy! :rofl:

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Welcome to the forum @adn0 - where you’ll be helped with your beekeeping questions AND tempted by cinnamon rolls :face_with_spiral_eyes:

Nice tip to use dental floss, by the way :+1:

@chau06 I can smell those beauties from here, you may have a visitor in a few hours :japanese_ogre:


Dawn_SD is spot on with the dental floss. It works great to just thread it through. You can watch from the top to make sure you’re going slow and no one is getting caught. My spouse actually came up with the idea. I wish I could take credit.

Those cinnamon roles look great! I’m going to have to try to make some this weekend now. Fresh baked bread sounds just as good too :slight_smile:

Thank you for the advice. I even found out I can feed them well into October this year which makes me a little less panicked about them being a little behind at the start of July.


from experience I now use the checkerboard method in my half depth/ideal boxes. One wired from- then one foundationless- then wired, etc. I can then harvest the foundationless as I like and replace and have no more issues with cross combing. I can also spin my wired frames if I want and put them back to. Once they have been drawn out they goide the bees to draw perfect foundationless frames alongside. Half depth/ideal frames are perfec for producing cut comb and it’s quite easy to harvest- and to sell!

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I went into my 2nd brood box and yes it has cross comb. Fix 6 of them still have 4 to fix, but the girls are very mad at me. Stung only 3x’s yesterday and 2x’s today. Do bees know when you messed up their larvae? Killed their babies?
Need to check for mites next week, I hope they settle down by then.
So when you do watch out. Seems like the smoke really doesn’t help. But good luck.

Bees know when they are rolled between frames, squashed, when you move too fast, when it’s about to rain, when it’s too cold, etc. What they don’t know is very slow deliberate movements. With practice it is possible to work on hives without the bees really knowing and/or caring that you are there. You can use smoke to get bees to move away from areas where you are working, you can put a tea towel over frames where you are not working, and employ other strategies to minimize agitation. Then again some beehives are just cranky.

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