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Help! First timers! Comb built on roof of hive

On the first hive inspection, the bees have built an excessive amount of comb on the roof of the hive in the space where we had left four frames out. The comb is completely covered with bees. Do we just scrape it off and let it fall down into the box?

Welcome to the forums @Tseals. You can carefully separate the comb from the roof with a knife if you would like to put it in a frame strapped in with large elastic bands to hold it in place and then put it in the hive where the frames should have been. The bees will user that comb and rejoin it to your foundationless frames and appreciate not having to rebuild all of it. I wouldn’t waste is it if it were me. If you aren’t sure how to do it this video can give you a general idea https://youtu.be/KHFqdunV7E0

@Tseals can you give a bit more information about your hive setup and when your last inspection was? It seems like the bees have simply ran out of space and expanded into the vacant roof area.

It depends on how you plan to manage the hive and colony as to what path you would take. If it were my hive I’d scrape the wax and honey off and freeze it. I wouldn’t bother banding it in a frame. However this relates to how I manage my hive and colony and won’t be the same for everyone.

One thing is for certain though, don’t just scrape it and let it fall back into the hive.

@SnowflakeHoney did you miss the part where they said they said they had left four frames out? That is why I suggested banding and putting them back in. If there is brood in those combs why would you just take it out?

Bees build comb from the top down. The bees built from the roof as they needed the extra comb. Had you filled out the box with the right number of frames they would have used them. Leaving frames out can lead to a few issues, all of which will be frustrating to you and best avoided.
Don’t just cut the comb off the roof and drop it into where the frames should be, either rubber band them into an empty frame as @Tim_Purdie advises or render the comb down for the wax after crushing out any honey in them.
Comb building in the roof is a sign that you need to intervene and not to be ignored as things will only get worse.
Cheers

I Googled your location. I’m guessing that hive beetles are in your area. You’ll need to be careful with the comb that came out with the roof. I’m guessing that the brood combs were attached to the roof & extended down into the super. You want to make sure you don’t leave any damaged brood or dead bees on the floor after you sort it all out. Also make sure there is a clear space between the combs & no bees are squashed between them so that beetles can’t get in to lay eggs where the combs meet or in any of the squashed bees or damaged brood.

With hive beetles in the equation, sometimes trying to save comb by rubber banding it can lead to more troubles that the comb you’re trying to save is worth. You are in spring, therefore your bees are readily building with the rest of spring & summer to go. You may be better off by discarding any brood from under the lid, then give the bees fresh frames fitted with foundation wax.

Didn’t miss that at all. It depends on how you manage your hive. You don’t have to band the cutout back in. You could use it as honeycomb or even just render the wax down for some other purpose. If there’s sufficient
cutout for the effort you could also crush and strain what’s there.

Typically I won’t band unless I really have to. I also use wax foundation and would use that preferentially to banding the cutout from the roof.

“On the roof”

Why would you have frames on the roof?
Where have the frames been left out from…is the Flow Super missing 4 frames?.
Or are the frames in roof?

Photos would make a world of difference here

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This was our very first hive inspection, we have literally had bees for one week. We left the frames out because that was in the instructions on hive set up. So, we learned our first valuable lesson - don’t leave frames out! thank you for all of this great advice and the excellent video! I definitely should have included a photo but my computer skills are abhorrent. It’s a miracle I got the question posted.

In the video recommended the beekeeper said he waited until the comb hardened a bit so it was easier to work with. How long does that take? And someone suggested we check for hive beetles before we decide to keep the comb so we’ll definitely do that and make sure we remove any dead bees.

Hi @Tseals, congratulations on being a beekeeper! Yup, you are now since you are facing your first obstacle / learning opportunity. You are going to get a lot of advice and the only thing that matters is that you keep doing what you think is best and correcting as you go. I would not wait to do the banding as it will just get worse if you leave it, slice it off, band it, and don’t freak out that it feels like you are doing a horrible job. You will do fine, and the bees will fix anything wonky not to worry. Hive beetles one week in would not be a concern, and depending on your area may not be too big of a problem. Many hives have them but the bees chase them out pretty well. It really is only a concern if you are overrun with them and have a weak colony. So keep at it and watch lots of Youtube videos to help you when you are worried. Also, join the closest beekeeper club you can in your area so you have the potential of having an experienced beekeeper in your climate/area give you suggestions. This forum is filled with lots of helpful people, or at least good intentioned people, but nothing replaces just getting in there and applying what you read in scholarly books and reputable sources in real life. I’m in Canada so I really like the University of Guelph’s beekeeping videos; you can find them on Youtube by searching for them. The master beekeeper Paul Kelly is very excellent. Also I recently saw a free beekeeping course from Penn State Extension that is currently free but won’t be in a few days that was really helpful https://extension.psu.edu/beekeeping-101

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Okay, we did it! I’m really just an innocent bystander, this is my son’s project. He is 15, wants to be an entomologist, and has been waiting to do this for years until I felt he was old enough. With no school right now it’s the perfect learning opportunity. Lots of things to read and study, try out, and write a report on! He is very concerned that we moved too fast getting the comb cut loose and banding it in to the frame. Bees were really upset with us. But he got the frames put back in the box and we’ll see what happens. After he put the lid back on there were tons of bees on the outside of the box so he’s afraid they’re going to leave. He didn’t really see the queen for sure but he brushed most of the bees that were on the comb back into the box then carefully put ALL the frames in. So we have our fingers crossed that the queen was still in there and the hive will stay. Good news is that there was brood in the comb that he banded into the frame so things were good for a week at least! Thanks again to everyone, this is a great forum and we will take advantage of all the resources mentioned.

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That is awesome @Tseals! Good on you. Your son will love this hobby, and he will likely be filled with more knowledge than you can imagine by the end of the year. My twin daughters that are turning 18 in August have been doing it with me since they were 15 too; one is super active directly with the bees, the other helps with the packaging and related bee products. It is a great hobby and I’m super excited for you at the beginning of the journey. Feel free to reach out directly if you can’t find answers online easily- we are all here to help.

Don’t worry about the bees outside the box, they will move back in quickly to be with the brood you found. That is a great sign that they have brood in those combs and I would think in about 2 weeks things will be good to check again on their progress. Lifting the frames that you just banded out carefully to see if they are attached a little bit at a time and if they aren’t just push them back down. Tell your son to look up bee space to help him learn the proper distance between frames to encourage the honeycomb to be built straight and what to do if things are going wonky.

Best!

T

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Best piece of advice ever. And, nice shout-out to Penn State :clap: (didn’t go there but several relatives did, and of course I’m a Penn. native)

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You were given bad advice on hive set up to leave frames out of the hive. Doing that is a big no-no but it isn’t the end of the world, just a set back and the bees will forgive mistakes. Definitely remove any dead bees as SHB will lay eggs in the bodies. Comb gets stronger with bee use but it is like the ‘how long is a piece of string’ question, it all depend on many factors. A puff of smoke will send the bees deeper into the hive reducing the risk of squashing bees when it come to putting thing back together.
Cheers

When housing a small colony or swarm in a full sized hive, its often advised to take some frames out at the edges BUT to replace them with dummy boards (frame shaped blocks of wood or insulation). This has the effect of making the hive space smaller and easier for the colony to keep warm.
However, the fact that your colony drew out so much comb in a week shows that both the temperature and feed situation is more than adequate for them.

Also if the removed comb is only a weeks work, it might not be so critical to band and replace the removed comb; you could let them build more on fresh foundation. The result will be straighter and better comb, as banded comb will always be a little bit misshapen and this will make future inspections easier for you.