I am a nubie needing some advice. I am having an issue with my bees cross combing on foundationless frames. My foundation less frames (flow hive) have guides, but my bees don’t care and REALLY cross combed all the frames in the brood box. I got in there and gently pulled the frames out one by one and kinda destroyed their combs in order to correct them. I then placed rubber bands on all 7 foundationless frames and put some of the removed comb in between the rubber bands so that the bees would get an idea of which direction to build and correct things.
Fast forwards to two weeks later and despite the rubber bands, they have cross combed again and are at full capacity in the brood box. If they had followed the guides on the frames, we would be ready to put the honey super box on, but now I don’t know if I should pull the frames out again as it would destroy all of their hard work.
What should I do? get in there pull them out again, or just put the honey suppers on? my apologies if this has been covered elsewhere on this forum but I didn’t see it and I really need to do something about this as these bees are in full swing of things. Thanks!
Bees are building the comb across all frames
Where are you from?
If it is warm for awhile this has worked for me.
You could get a second brood box with frames AND foundation, place it on the bottom board. Try and find the queen in the box o’ hell lol, and place her in the box below. Put a queen excluder on top of the box that the queen is in and place the box of cross comb on top. The bees will start building comb on the foundation so the queen can lay eggs. As the brood hatches out above, they will back-fill those cells with honey. Once all the brood is hatched out, crush and strain that mess and feed it back to the bees in a top feeder. Some bee-lives will be lost but…sometimes you got to do what you got to do.
If you know someone with drawn comb that would even be better.
You could also place the box below without the excluder and shake as many bees as possible down there. Heavy smoke will also drive many bees down and maybe even the queen. Once she’s below, get the excluder on there.
Either way, I would be dissecting that mess pronto.
I’m from northern California, san Francisco bay area. Thanks for the tip man, I guess I need to do that because they’ve cross combed the entire box, despite the guides and the rubber bands.
Thank you for your help.
Maybe next time- use foundation frames- at the least ‘checkerboarded’- which is one foundation frame and then one foundationless.
I have had good luck getting my bees to draw out foundationless comb- but only when I have put empty combs in between ones that are already filled out. Even then I found that the foundationless combs had more issue with being slightly out of alignment or too fat at points. I think when you are beginners like us- using foundation is a good idea and worth the extra effort and expense (in fact- it’s a false economy using foundationless frames if you run into issues like you did). Especially when you are building up a brood box- as you really want nice flat even combs in the brood box- and using foundation you minimise the amount of drone comb. .
I agree with @Red_Hot_Chilipepper’s first strategy using the QX. I also agree with @Semaphore (Jack). I would be inclined to use the honey for private use or even if you wanted to share some. I am never put off using honey after brood has been raised in the comb. The nicest honey sometimes comes out of comb that has been used for brood for many years.
Feed it to the bees if you must, but I certainly wouldn’t knock it back.
Hey @ckbee65 - had the same issues in my brood box last year with foundationless frames. I agree with @Semaphore about the learning curve being a bit steep already, why add dealing with major cross combing to boot! Mine cleared up decently after three corrective procedures, and I modified the frames for the spare box I had with bamboo skewers - basically making a guide as well as adding structure to prevent comb crashing incidents like I also had once on a hot day. They’re being used now & are working a treat.
@Red_Hot_Chilipepper’s solution is elegant & sounds way better than the bread knife & rubber banding I sweated over last year and like @JeffH I see nothing wrong with enjoying the honey that you’d get from the former brood comb. Did so myself after my colony died.
If you do end up using foundation sometime, it’s worth noting that here in the US it has significant amounts of pesticide & herbicide buildup, so keeping it to a minimum might be helpful. Also, most places now give you a choice between regular size & small cell size. In reality, “regular” is the man made increased size and “small” is the size bees will make naturally. I would say this is the main reason people opt for foundationless, rather than the cost savings.
Use plastic foundation, although we know plastic isn’t the best choice in beekeeping either.
Wax was tested in New Jersey and it was noted that the most significant pesticides found were a result of what the beekeeper placed in the hive.
Once you get a couple of frames drawn out, you can start placing some foundationless between the drawn. With my foundationless, I use 4 stainless steel support wires equally spaced horizontally for each deep frame. This extra support helps when inspecting or manipulating the hive.
I will certainly use foundation frames next time, this is my first time doing this and I thought the guides on the foundationless frames would help. Thank you for your advise, I appreciate the support.
@Eva, @JeffH, @xiankatryn, @Semaphore, @Red_Hot_Chilipepper
thank you all for your advice, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. I’ve got my work cut out for me this weekend. Thanks again.
work “cut out” for me
Nice pun lol
Thanks, I have a similar problem, bees building really messed up comb on foundationless frames, lots or drone brood, comb open at the top not attached to the top bar. I will try the approach of adding the brood box with foundation at the bottom and queen excluder the queen there.
There is only one way to “gently” remove a crosscombed frame and that is to flip the box upside down and remove the box. Then you can get to the frames and cut out combs to rubber band into frames. Otherwise you will be tearing them to shreds…
I had the same problem right in my beginning last year. Hive was levelled perfect, but the bees from the package decided to build diagonally over three frames. I do think that was because they then had easier access to the frame feeder at the end position (!). After recognising I immediately put a foundation frame aside and that stopped the process. The next frames where built all straight. I left that three Combes sticking together till now. They are the heart of the brood nest. I can inspect the hive to 2/3 and Varroa treatment worked out also. I want to remove these frames next year, when they are heavily used (dark) anyway and should be replaced. Then I plan to use the method with the QX. Have I overseen anything or what are the reasons to correct it immediately instead?
Hi Jan, you did everything really well, and if the varroa treatment worked fine, your only other problem MAY be that you can’t inspect properly for AFB and queen cells. But if you can see and access everything all should be fine.
I am thinking it could be the right time to correct the frames when there is nectar coming in. Then the bees will fix your corrections in a matter of days. I always correct crazy comb immediately. I don’t use any foundation. That only goes well with immediate corrections.
Sorry, newbie here, but what would happen if the bees were allowed to draw out their comb in any configuration they desired within the brood box? I understand that in such a cross config there would be no way to inspect the hive which is an obvious drawback. But, if they filled the Super Flow Frames the honey could still be harvested.
I guess what I’m really asking is, if one doesn’t need to destroy the comb to harvest the honey, why does it matter what config they build their hive?
Like I said, newbie. Thx all.
It doesn’t matter if you are a so-called “scoff-law”, or if you don’t care about losing your bees to swarming or pests/disease. If you want to be able to sell your honey, or be law-abiding and immune to complaints from neighbors though, you need to be able to inspect, even in Texas.
Thank you Dawn for this info. Very helpful. I’m still learning a lot each day.
You’ve got plenty of good advice reading down thru this thread. As a beekeeper from the 1950’s n 60’s. We never used anything but wax or reenforce foundation. Plastic hadn’t come along yet.
Now I use either plastic reenforced or wired wax unless I’m wanting to harvest comb honey. I do have a few foundationless in my shallow top honey supers but I alternate with foundation frames to give the girls a little direction. Bees can be rather creative n unless your in the hives once a week I’d stay away from foundationless … some people are lucky but what a Newbee pain in the butt when the ladies get artistic n don’t follow our rules/guides.
Don’t give up the ship bro. That’s going to be a lot of down right work but worth it soon. When you get done … take a very careful peek every few days. It should go okay or fairly okay. Lesson learned n moving on soon. It’s all a learning curve. There isn’t a person out there if they’re honest (with foundationless) that hasn’t one time or another have to correct the bees. And to be honest … I’ve had to correct wing or side comb on wax n plastic too. Just not very much but it will happen from time to time.
Down the road you’ll have other unique n normal challenges but we’re all here to help n encourage!
Cheers n good luck ,