Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Cross Combing ? Newbie here!

I’m new to beekeeping and 1 week ago installed my 4 frame nuc into the box . Now I have this problem and I’m wondering if I should intervene and trim everything back ? I’ve been reading that this would be necessary to inspect the hive … in the end pulling all the frames to the middle and using elastics to secure them together. Any experienced advice would be very much appreciated.

Hopefully it’s all at the top where the honey stores are and not the brood, yes, you need to trim it away. The frames have shoulders on the sidebars to achieve correct spacing. They need to be tight up to each other. You have big gaps. You don’t need elastic bands. There will still be a gap at one side which you fill with a flat dummy board, again pushed right up to the last frame. You take this out at inspections to give room to lift the frames out without rolling bees. Watch you don’t damage the queen doing all this.

1 Like

Alright , thank you for your confirmation . I initially opened the box to rotate the empty frames into the mix. This should still be done after the trimming ?

Hi Sam - welcome to the forum :blush: By ‘rotate into the mix’ I am guessing you mean to alternate the new empties with the built frames, which is called checkerboarding. This shouldn’t be done if your colony is small or weak, because you risk spreading the workforce too thin, literally! If you have a frame of only honey and pollen stores, you could perhaps put that frame against the wall of your box, with one empty next, then the remaining three from the nuc.

Do your new frames have any comb or foundation on them, or are they truly empty? If the latter, then you may need to keep a close watch on the building process and trim bridge comb & bulges as Dee said, until they all can be lifted out without damage.


Oh - and you’re in Ontario! I’m not sure how long or strong your local nectar flow is/will be before fall - you might need to feed your colony. Otherwise it will struggle to fill those new frames and not be populated enough to stay warm this winter.


Yes, you should. Looks like you have a couple of problems causing this:

  1. The frames are not all pushed “shoulder to shoulder” in the middle of the box. Bees make bridge comb and brace comb when the frames are too widely separated. If you need to leave a gap, leave at the hive wall sides of the frames, not in the middle of the box.
  2. They have extended upwards from the tops of the frames, suggesting that you didn’t have an inner cover above the box. You need to wait for them to completely fill out that box before you give them any space above it.

You shouldn’t need elastic to hold the frames together, just trim the extra wax off with your hive tool and push the frames together in the middle. They will stay put. By the way, keep the wax and store it in the freezer. If you have a Flow super, it will be useful for smearing onto the plastic frames later. :wink:


Thank you everyone !
The frames were almost full when we put them into the box. I suppose I waited too long to “checkerboard” them and they have started working up. There does seem to be a “space” above the lid that they obviously are trying to fill . The design of the box ?
My other hive is weaker and I have considered feeding if not developed more by the end of August. Not sure how long summer will be here this year .

New frames have basic comb for building .

I don’t mean to nag but I’m not sure if you understood, checkerboarding is NOT for small colonies - as in, not to do with a nucleus colony, especially if you have colder temps in your area at the time. Cold temps + not enough bees = chilled brood. So it’s good you didn’t do it yet at all :sweat_smile:


I totally agree with @Eva, it would be extremely rare to need to checkerboard a hive in the first year. Checkerboarding is very stressful for the bees, and personally I would only do it in Spring to discourage swarming, if at all.

I actually prefer splitting to checkerboarding for swarm prevention, and when I take frames out, I try to put the new frames close to the edge of the brood nest to reduce the stress. Just my experience. :blush:

For expanding a nucleus into a full colony, I would never checkerboard. Nagging and opinions over. :smile:

1 Like

It looks like they have stored honey on the tops of the frames- which would indicate they are expanding rapidly and crowded down below. Many hives have extra space above the frames (hives with migratory lids) and bees build up there when they run out of room below- it’s a sure sign they are doing well and are maybe ready for a super to go on top.

You will want to clean everything up and the sooner you do it the better. Use your smoker to clear the bees from areas you want to clean- you can scrape all that wax and honey off the top of the frames using your hive tool.

It is going to be a messy and difficult job I am afraid.If you have access to any experts getting a helping hand when you go to do it would be great.

there is some information about how to go about it on another recent thread:


This is a learning experience …, Youve gotten a load of great advice from some of our best beekeepers here on the forum. Heck ! I’m not tossing you anymore words of advice.

Reread what folks have sent your way n then dive in n do the best you can. We all have had issues n problems one time or another. It’s a learning curve n you’ll different draw points n future processes from this time. Don’t sweat it. We are all learning … maybe a rung or more up the ladder but we’re all learning.

Good luck :four_leaf_clover: you’ll look back smiling someday at this batch of firsts n all the question you now have now.

Cheers n don’t push the panic button,



As Dee has said, the shoulders of the frame upright timbers need to be sitting together and any gap left to the outside of the frames. You need to take the frames out and trim the comb now, if left it will only get worse if you leave it.
When you are doing your hive inspections remove any unwanted comb so there is not bee time wasted.
Welcome to the forum and regards

So much great advice . I just went into the hive and saw some of what you all were explaining . They are only storing honey on top and there is some cross combing. I’m hoping I kept the queen happy and didn’t disturb much.
There are a TON of animals in there , it’s packed.
Waiting game now I suppose to see how they recover from the upheaval.
Fingers crossed.


The bees should clean up all the mess pretty quickly. They don’t waste time. You said that was a four frame nuc you put in only a week ago? Did it have all that honey on the top of the frames when you put it in? How much of the four new frames have they built now?

@Semaphore they built they honey store on top in a week . They are starting to build on the new frames already and storing honey.
I can’t inspect them as easily as my other colony I think due to the size of the colony.
Would it be common to have to put a super on so soon?
I also think I saw one of the “queen cells” which makes me nervous .
Would they have made the queen cell so soon? Or made it in the nuc bc it was so packed ?

Unusual, if you are following the “golden rules” for adding boxes to a hive. Those rules are that you should wait until your existing brood box has:

  1. Fully drawn comb covering most of every frame, and
  2. The comb is 80% full of brood, pollen or honey, and
  3. Every frame is well covered with bees

That way, you will know that your hive has enough bees to heat, defend and use the new box. :blush: The same rules apply to adding brood boxes or the super.

This is an excellent question, and the answer is complicated, I am afraid.

  1. It may be a “queen cup”. Nurse bees make these all the time for practice. If there is no larva or royal jelly in it, it is what is commonly called a “play cup”. No swarming intent at all.
  2. If there is a larva in it, or it looks open and ripped from a queen emerging, it could be a supersedure cell, an emergency cell or a swarm cell. I suggest you read this to get an idea of how to tell the difference:
  3. Nuclei are often made with a new queen. If the supplier didn’t wait long enough before putting the new queen in, the bees may reject her and try to make a supersedure queen cell to get a queen closer to their existing genetics.
  4. If the queen was damaged or killed in transport, they may make emergency queen cells to replace her.
  5. If the nucleus was very crowded or honey bound, they may make swarm cells.

Hope that helps. :blush: