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Hive from Hell! I need Help/Advice


Hi Jack, that sounds like not too bad a challenge that you’ll be up for. What you say about taking a clean brood box with fresh frames of foundation is what I would do. I would only use the best looking brood frames. Put them in the middle & flank them with the fresh foundation frames.

I would cut any drone brood out of the remaining brood frames before placing them above the QX so that the worker brood emerges. Then the bees will replace them with honey.

Remember, it’s early spring. Plenty of time for the colony to fully recover & return to a good working hive.

PS, you have good quiet beautiful bees to work with. A “beekeepers dream” rather than a “hive from hell”.

What I’ve done in the past if I don’t have a bucket to put unexpected comb honey into is use an upturned migratory lid as a dish. It’s no trouble to leave the roof off a hive for a few days, especially if you’re using a hive mat.


That was my mistake- I didn’t realise the comb was attached to the wall of the hive near the bottom- I assumed it was just stuck to the base with bridge comb. I should have been slower and bought a long knife. I think I rushed things. It seems like that comb had already been damaged by a previous attempt to remove it. As you say maybe the combs further in won’t be so bad.


I’m already impressed with your initiative, Jack - it is a lot of work for sure, but you’ll have a beautiful result you can be proud of :raised_hands:

You mentioned your frame grabber causing the top bar of frames to bend - do they usually do that? I’ve been considering getting one & had not realized they were that tight a squeeze :hushed:


I also use the double stainless steel strainers and like the job they do cleaning the honey. Some people think the stainless steel transfers a taste to the honey but that is just a ‘mind thing’. Stainless steel doesn’t dissolve into a liquid in the making of beer where the beer is in contact with the steel for weeks while it is only in contact for hours while the honey strains through.
For those that like some dissolved dye using material or a ‘mellow yellow’ from the hemp so be it, each to their own.


There are many different types of stainless steels all of which have different qualities for different uses.
Iron, nickel and chromium, all components of ss, are affected by acidic conditions.
Not all stainless steel is food grade.
Coatings on ss used in the manufacturing and production processes can also be present and difficult to remove.
I would hazard a guess that the majority of cheap strainers are manufacture in China so…
There are many accounts of ss water bottles having a ‘taste’ so I don’t think it unlikely some strainers may also alter the taste.
Just sayin’.


You are fairly right but most stainless steel above 304 grade (the start of food grade) are not affected by any acids for the short time that it takes honey to be filtered through the strainers. I also haven’t seen any credible evidence that stainless steel has a taste. The honey strainer Jack refers to is 316 stainless steel and for the time honey takes to pass through it there would not be a problem. Brewery vats made of 316 stainless steel don’t suffer any pitting after 20 years of use so there is no dissolving of any of the metals in stainless steel and with no dissolving of the stainless steel there can be no taste transfer to anything in contact with it. Based on many years of metallurgy experience with stainless steel and its alloys.


Marine grade 316 definitely food grade and yes 304 is the cheapest food grade. BUT like the ‘food grade’ fake flow frames, is it really 316? Is it magnetic?

Not scientific I know but…
Sorry for the thread hijack Jack…


Oops, try using your sense of taste instead of sight Peter :nerd_face::yum:

Oh, and also be sure to ask those with nearly 50% more olfactory neurons than you :dancing_women::two_women_holding_hands::wink:


@Eva 316 stainless steel is not magnetic. My previous answers about a taste transfer with honey being in contact with a stainless steel filter I have to say I haven’t read any scientific facts to dispute facts.


Just to clarify here- it wasn’t the squeeze on the frame that caused the problem: it was grabbing the frame by the center of the top bar and pulling it up- when the frame was stuck to the inside wall- and heavily propolised into place having not been inspected for over a year. I did loosen it first at each lug end using my hive tool- but when the frame proved difficult to pull up- I should have stopped pulling it with the frame grabber. If you can imagine by doing that it allowed the top bar to flex in the middle. Had I focused on the two lug ends the top bar would have been kept straight.

I really like the frame grabbing tool- but I now realise it isn’t good for all situations. It is perfect for looking at frame in Nucs- and hives that are regularly inspected. But if a frame is very heavy with honey- and or stuck- I now see how it can cause problems.


How did you do that without a ton of bees getting in on the action? I did some at night when the girls were tucked in for the night.


Ok gotcha, now I see what you mean. I appreciate the details!


Come now, @Peter48, I just couldn’t resist poking a little fun at you geeking out on metallurgy :robot: …and thought that with your interest in science you’d like to consider your data with regard to the fact that most females are equipped with powers of taste and smell that are superior to most men’s.


Speaking of heavy stuck-together frames, I encountered this problem when I harvested a medium and a shallow super of honey yesterday. I remembered reading advice from Michael Bush on the forum a couple years ago and tried it - I carefully turned the boxes upside-down and lifted them away from the frames, which stayed upright and I could then gently pry them apart one by one.


I’ve read about that a couple of times but it amazes me that it doesn’t all fall apart. Mind you, my bees stick everything together so tight I wonder if I could lift the box off the frames!


Sorry sweet lady, metallurgy was my field for too many years where even theories were ignored without if they weren’t backed up by facts.


Definitely try moving the frames side to side a bit before turning the box over, and having another pair of hands to push down on the frames as you lift up the box would help if it’s really stuck. But gravity is your friend & it works great!


UPDATE: today I finally got up the nerve to return and fix up the hive. I did bring my brother along to help. After initially writing this post I thought I may have over reacted- and how much harder could cleaning this hive up be than doing a wild cut out? I have considered doing cut outs so this should be a breeze- and in the end it was. took out all the frames and replaced the three worst with fresh foundation. Cleaned up all burr and bridge comb- rubber banded some extra virgin comb into the ideal super frames- put it all back together and I am done: the hive is now manageable again.

The hive itself was very active- absolutely packed full of bees (bees that show ZERO agression) : however not one capped brood- and only the odd small patch of larvae. I saw just a few eggs. Frames are full of nectar and pollen- somewhat honey bound.

there are two explanations:

Either the queen has recently been replaced- and the new queen has just started laying again- OR- the larvae were drones from laying workers. I did see a few eggs that were at the bottom of cells and only just one egg- so I am thinking it must be the former? I will return in about 14 days to look for capped brood- and give a frame of eggs if there are none.

the best news was that I managed to harvest about 20KG’s of very very very thick dark orange golden honey. It is so thick it flows like molasses- and registered in at around 14% moisture on the refractometer- which is about as low as I have ever seen. I have saved a jar for next years Royal Show- as it seems quite special!


When I used to do that to get the frames out of the box as a clump I used to run a kitchen knife that was really sharp the length of the frames against the sides of the box to cut through the bridging comb both from the top and the bottom, the ‘clump’ of frames came out easy that way.

For those that enjoy fishing but not the smell on your hands a piece of stainless steel about 1/2 the thickness, as wide and long, roughly the size of a bar of soap will kill the smell totally in seconds with a little water only and use it as you would soap.
Regards :grin:


My granny taught me that trick with a little bar of stainless steel she had in her kitchen drawer, she was an avid fisher woman and often took me with her & that was how we cleaned up afterward. Metal certainly does interact somehow to alter taste and smell :wink: