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Foundationless frames wax collapse - yikes! Should I ...?

Everything has been going well with my 2020 Russian NUC in my BeeThinking Deep. I am able to go and listening at least ever evening and then usually pop off the (north and south) windows to look in.
My girls have been building out the 2 foundationless frames on the north and south. I did and inspection this past weekend and found the inside of the new frames on the north just a little bit away from connecting complete on the bottom and lower sides.

Today I came home to liquid on the ground and a LOT of bees bearding on the outside. Much more outside than I expect to see for the temperature today.

It was probably 90F (we have had nearly 100F just a few weeks ago). I pulled the SBB and saw liquid (some syrup or not-yet-ready honey) along the outer edges of the insert, then I looked in the north window to see this horror:

I looked in the south side and saw the exact same horror. I know there were many capped and (maybe still) uncapped brood in these collapsed combs. Thanksfully when using a flashlight to look deeper in from the window I can see uncapped and capped brood the on the NUC (plastic foundation) frame.

To make things worse we have had several severe rain storms come in! While i was digesting this horror, one came in out of no where and I had to stand out in my garden with my kids purple kiddy pool (was in the garden shed) covering the bearing bees as they weren’t able to move in quick enough and I wanted to protect my girls.

For the night (since we kept having storms come through) I covered the hive in a way to help protect the bees until they are able to go back into the hive.


I also pulled the feeder out of the Medium at the top and slid in a queen excluder so the bees could travel into this empty medium for the night (if they are able to get from the entrance to this area, but I do think they are able too…just slowly).

I haven’t found anyone local to really connect with (aside from a nearby friend who is on her 3rd year (with new bees this year), so I instantly though I had better stop lurking and post for any advise/help.

While the bees are clearly (I can see them) working through this mess, I am thinking I will need to open the hive, and pull out all of this collapsed comb?
Should I just throw it away?
Should I see if any of the comb is OK and if so try to put it back into a frame (at the bottom and using twine to hold it)?
OK, to do this around 5PM (maybe as late as 6:30PM) tomorrow or wait until mid-afternoon this coming weekend?

Any advise, please and thank you in advance. I won’t be able to crack the hive open until around 5PM tomorrow night or as late as 6:30PM tomorrow because of work.

Logan

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I’ve never had this happen before, but you will have to get in there and clean it up or the bees will try to reconstruct it themselves and it will become impossible to deal with.

Anything that looks recoverable could be tied back into frames with rubber bands or some people use bamboo skewers, hair clips etc.

Probably best to just clean it up asap and let them start again.

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Also consider reinforcing your foundationless (if you intend to persist with this) brood frames using some fishing line instead of wire.

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Hi Logan, what an awful discovery, I feel for ya! Your population looks strong though, and you did a nice job with the cover for rain.

For the collapsed combs, see if you can take out any empty frames or get new ones and reinforce them first, as @Stevo says. Vertical supports like thin wood or bamboo skewers may work best when trying to fit larger chunks of comb in. You can try tying twine on tightly if that’s what you have, or use rubber bands. The bees will be able to chew them off easily once they make repairs. Can you get a helper for this clean-up job?

I’m not quite sure where you’re located, your profile says NE USA so I’m assuming New England. You could be in peak nectar flow when feeding is not recommended, or tapering off or possibly in a microclimate where there is dearth now. So it’s hard for me to advise you on feeding.

What you definitely should do is paint the roof a light color, and if you feel you still need to feed this colony, paint the super or other box/shim you will use to do that. Make sure to let it cure completely so there are no fumes. The bees will be okay without feed for a few days in this part of the season, if they indeed need any at all. The wood is pretty, but tends to absorb heat.

Please take a look at the ways people ensure adequate ventilation by typing it into the search area, there are lots of discussions on it and you’ll need to choose a method.

Good luck with this Logan! Let us know how it goes :sweat_smile:

i use foundational-less and have never had a problem, i bought some beeswax and coat the starter strip in it as it apparently helps them attach to it and encourages them to attach to it. i also put fishing wire through the frames as it supports it very well especially when they have just started creating the comb, the only problem is it takes quite a long time to do but the advantages are just unbeatable. And for the reconstructing what everyone else said was perfect advice.





All the best,
Hugo

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Thank you everyone who replied! I am getting off work about 1-1.5 hrs early and hope to beat out the building rain storms (I will NOT be risking a rain storm while working in the box…that would only make matters even worse).
This morning I’d say about 2/3 of those that were outside last night are still outside, but the rest I’m guessing went inside. I was unable to look inside (the way I covered them blocks easy access to the windows) this morning, but I do expect some moved to the upper medium as I wanted them to and that’ll be ok until I finish up with them by the end of this weekend.

Sadly my helper is my 5 year old son, who still likes to “pet the bees” so I will be doing this work solo. He is learning well and has his own suit though.

I plan to just pull and probably toss everything at this point (once I get into it I might change my mind). @Stevo

To get in and out timely tonight and avoid any rain I’ll just drop the current (cleaned up) frames back in and then this weekend I’ll modify 4 more foundationless frames with fishing line and my drill so I can go back in this weekend and swap out the 4 foundationless for the 4 foundtationless with fishing wire. NOTE: I really did want to avoid any metal wires, but love the fishing line idea. @Eva
Looks like about 4 horizontal lines every couple inches (about 1/4" from the top?) for a deep?

My girls had no issues on the plan wood starter stripe, which surprised me. So for now I’ll just keep the wax idea (I will have wax after this clean-up!) in the back of my mind in case they don’t start to rebuild.
@hugothompson123

Nebraska, USA and right now our flow is about half normal. I’m in sandhills so lots of wild ground flowers, plus my garden…but this year we had a horrible onset of grasshoppers that has destroyed about 1/2 or more of our garden and what is still alive is sealed away with screening while we try to get the grasshoppers to leave. Here in a month or so sunflowers will come to bloom and then the fall are more wild ground flowers, so they still got time to get good food before winter. I’m thinking I’ll need to start feeding them again (as soon as I swap out those frames this weekend) to help them recover from this, but I’ll be much more mindful and if I catch them trying to store anything in the new frames I’ll take away the food.

Now to hopefully find my queen…glad she is marked in blue.

P.S. Timing never can be good for this, but it’s worse because starting tomorrow 6am - 12pm or 2pm every day I’ll be working with my in-laws (one of which traveled about 8 hours) to rebuild a shed roof we had get ripped off just 3 weeks ago. And almost every day this weekend could rain…bleh! At least swapping out those 4 frames will be easy.

What a blessing. I just heard that family isn’t coming in until noon Saturday. So between off early tonight and noon tomorrow I can get all of this work done. Oh what a blessing!

P.S. Now lets hope no rain.

Ohh and I’ll get the lid changed to white right away also…that will be very easy.

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If you have excess bits that you were going to toss, you can keep it for reusing the wax after you crush it through cheesecloth. Works great as starter strip wax or for other wax projects. You can feed the nectar back to the colony to help them have less of a shock.

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Yikes? You ain’t kidding! I have seen this happen before but with temps of +40°C. The others have covered most so just a couple if things.
Using wax foundation in the brood areas has many benefits worth considering. Personally I only use foundationless in supers for cut comb. I tried fishing line without joy, the vertical skewers work well giving rigidity and more cut comb options.
Was the screen base open?
I’m also curious as to why you have a feeder in when you say there is available forage?
Good luck with your mission, don’t band the honey frames back in just brood.
Once done you can tick ‘cut out’ off your beek list too. :wink:

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Hi Logan, in my sub-tropical climate all hives are painted white to prevent comb collapse like your having. Not just the roof but everything that is exposed to direct sun shine. That said I have had comb sagging due to excessive heat in the hives.
I have added a vent to each end of the gables to increase air flow and the really hot air to vent out of the hive, doing that has been a great help.
Cheers

Hi there mate, not sure I should be giving advice here because I’m just a beginner really.

I live in a very hot dry climate with temperatures around 100F and above being common in summer. Personally I would consider insulation before top ventilation. I do have ventilation holes in the gabled lid so that it won’t heat up, but I’m also leaving the feeding hole closed, and having insulation on the inner cover. Bees are extremely efficient in moving air around the hive and brood, and having a vent hole at the top may disturb their efforts. If outside air is warmer than the hive, the warm air will move into the hive and make it even warmer.

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Thanks again everyone!

@Tim_Purdie That was exactly what my wife and I were talking about.

@skeggley We can get temps like that, but only for a couple hours a day and it’s pretty uncommon with 32c-38c being a summer swing.

With what I have access to between when I got home (and saw these replies) and noon tomorrow (when I have to start building a roof) I put holes (1in, 3in, 5in, and 7in) and wired in 8lb test line. I wish I had heaver (and I should somewhere!) line.
Wooden vertical skewers is curious and I might go pick some up before I put on the 2nd brood box (I was going to put it on this coming week, but now I don’t think that would be a good idea).

Yes the SBB was open

Feeding was because 4 years ago when I had a different hive (lost them 2 years ago to mites that emerged/over ran during a 2 week warm up before another 2 week of freezing at the end of winter) I had this exact same “rough” flow season and didn’t realize until it was almost too late that the colony wasn’t building very well and it was because of a lack of food. Of course this time I did the opposite and let them feed for too long it seems.

@Peter48 I can change the roof to white within minutes, but I’ll need to get new hive bodies on order (or build - the roof I’m having to build this next week is to cover back up our shop area where I would do this) so I can paint and let them dry. So for this weekend I’ll do the most I can.
I sure like that vent at each end of the gables. What kind of vent did you do?

I checked on this tonight (I got off early, but it’s acted like and looked like storms all night) before getting stuff ready for tomorrow morning. They are clearly working to get back to normal, so hopefully I am able to help with the clean-up process tomorrow morning.


This is the south side I never showed a picture of last time:

NOTE: Because of this I am thinking to install a Wyze or Reolink wireless camera nearby so I can at least watch the hive. I’ve also thought about a Ruuvi tag (or two) or similar to allow me to check humidity and temp in the hive. But TBH I am worried about putting any extra wireless signals (like a Bluetooth transmitter) inside of the hive.

P.S. I plan to look closer at the hive body and ensure my in-laws (young and hyper) dog didn’t cause this, but my wife said since she cut her paw she hasn’t been doing much but staying at the in-laws house. We also have many farm cats, that so far don’t both the hive, but they might have somehow hit the hive on it’s stand.

Thank you for your reply!

I have read that as well. For the exact reason of giving the bees too many openings and they might work to seal the other openings up to better control air flow.

I’ll think through things and read some more before deciding for myself.

I am honestly very temped to find something I can put inside of the hive and then run a wire out of it and a bit away from the hive to then connect to my Wifi or just via bluetooth. I really would like to avoid having anymore RF inside/near the hive than already is there from cell towers, Wifi, etc.

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My girls freeform last year.

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Yikes! So far these girls have been building amazing since they are building out from the NUC frames.

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Lol
These frames were put on during a honey flow, they needed some extra room and I was heading on holidays with no frames made up. Awesome bees lol

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I got in there about 7:30/8am. Bees looked “normal” from the outside.

I pulled out the 4 frames that had collapse and replaced them with different ones that have fishing line (1", 3", 5", and 7" down from the inside of the starter strip). By the time I was closing the hive up they were working to build new comb on them.

I pull the center frame figuring my queen would be back there laying new eggs (based on the patterns I have seen from her) and she was there. I brought a trap hive/NUC I keep around to put some of the frames in while I work with the collapse…she is marked Blue (44)

This is the North 2 frames. I couldn’t get them out very well so I just pulled them together and laid them in another hive body. Later on I smoked the bees off of the collapsed mess and then manually worked through it all finding the bees that were stuck and getting them out (there were about a dozen that were alive and just stuck). I didn’t feel any brood that was in this collapse could be saved. It was almost all cracked open and splitting everywhere. It’s sad to see their white and almost fully formed bodies exposed.
Also I’m not sure if that’s 2 day old new work at the tops or what didn’t break off that they started to build from again?

At the end of the day I took the feeder medium off for now (I’ll keep an eye on them, but I found plenty of food in the 5 NUC frames still) and made sure the get the roof white.


THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS RESPONDED!

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I have several different vents in use, I bought kitchen cupboard vents from my local hardware store, and my local bee gear supply shop have metal vented plates that are glued in place using 35mm holes in the gables at each end of the roof. I re-paint my hive roofs while they are on the hives, I use water based exterior house paint which is touch dry in no time.
The pics are of a migratory roof but in my climate I have the same issue regardless of the roof type. A couple of my hives have 2 vents at each end. I paint the inside of roof to stop mould in hot humid weather.
Cheers

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Ok that’s about what I was thinking they might look like. Thanks for sharing!

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Could be time to put your super on. Looks like you have a shitload of bees and they may need space?