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Major bur comb issues. Please help!

Hi folks, some advice would be much appreciated. I bought a five frame nuc about 6 weeks ago that took a while to get going (in a homemade hive with homemade frames added to those purchased). The main challenge has been to get them building new comb on the new frames. It took a while to get a balance between retaining heat (been a cold Spring in the UK) and encouraging them to take syrup. Last week there was no syrup taken and a bit of bur comb on the frame tops which I left because the five frames they had started with we were almost all full with capped brood and they had only just started a new frame using their own resources. Well, I finally got the feeder right because they gulped the lot. But, as well as completing a new frame and starting another, they have built up in the void between the frame tops and the queen excluder (on which sit the feeders). I think now I should have removed the bur and left somethiing on top of the frames to block building (removed insulation layer to hat had been there because they weren’t finding the syrup). So my question is, with a very productive queen, should I remove the comb on top of the frames (and risk reducing the available cells for her to lay in and for storage? It is beautiful comb but it is going to make frame inspection almost impossible without risking crushing bees and annoying her highness (the bee, not my wife…). Pls help! TIA

I should. Add that the gap above the frames is big because my homemade frames are longer that those I purchased…

Hiya Diggory, yes you should remove those ‘toaster waffles’ :laughing: and address the spacing and possibly other issue that leads to this happening. To remove them, use a little smoke to gently move bees off and then very slowly scrape them or break them off.

About another possible issue besides the spacing one, I’m not sure why but it looks to me like nothing is built on the far right frames? And is that a follower board in the end? Hard to tell from your pic so let us know more about your hive configuration so we can help you help your bees.

Looks like your using your eke without the cover board underneath.

Put your cover board on then your eke ontop, that will reduce the gap and minimise comb building ontop of the frames. I’m guessing your using an eke to feed?

Thanks for responding! No eke (I don’t think…) Just some jars with holes. Working well. The gap is because I made the hive to hold different frame sizes and the larger frames wouldhave only 2cm above to the queen excluder because they rest on the upper edge. I didn’t appreciate at the time how the large gap would cause problems so unless I’m advised not to I will remove the comb and put polythene down with jars poking through…if I remove comb, could I leave it in the hive bottom so they can retrieve eggs etc?

Did you see eggs in it? Comb going up like that usually gets filled with nectar. I wouldn’t worry about any eggs if they are there tho. It won’t be much of a loss considering how many the queen lays in a day, and will lead to the bigger problem of crushing bees or the queen herself during inspections, if you leave big chunks like that in the bottom. Take it inside and marvel at its beauty as a centerpiece on your table, or flatten it with a rolling pin and roll it around a wick for an instant candle :wink:

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Thank you! They are working their way across as well as up but not as fast. The config is I have five frames, a darker frame (filled this week), a half empty dark wood frame they are working on, then a frame feeder and then a blank frame with insulation in it. There is a small gap at the end of the frames, enough room for maybe a frame. Feeder jars sit on the excluder and are encased in an insulated box so they don’t have to heat the whole super I’m using to house the feeders). The heat off the hive is pretty strong so I hope they are warm enough ( but maybe they build upwards for more warmth?). The queen has been successfully rearing lower down in the frames and the population exploded in the last two weeks so I think removing the bur and putting a barrier on the top might do the trick to get the comb even faster
in the new frames and fill the brood box rather than the void. The hive seems to be thriving but maybe only due to feeding and full flow (very active and fully laden returning fliers…). My aim this year is splitting and getting 2-3 strong colonies for the winter (in better hives)… All advice gratefully received…

On second thought, those burr-waffles could be big enough to rubber-band into an empty frame. The bees will fill in around and secure them to the frame, then remove the rubber bands.

Dean mentioned a cover board and an eke, but based on what you described I don’t think you have either. You might find those useful going forward. What size/type is your box?

I love the idea of banding. My daughter is printing with paint and a small piece, but I’d hate to waste it if all that effort can used by themselves. I do use a board instead of an excluder when there is no supa, but suspended slightly. I’ll probably lower it to reduce the space… The bees seem to be having a great time but managing the frames would get impossible if I don’t, not good for them obviously… Cheers

Are those frames the same width between the shoulders as standard frames? I just measured one, & it’s 35mm. If so, I would only leave about 3mm between the shoulders. Therefore you wouldn’t want any less than 35 & no more than 38mm from center to center.of each frame. Once you sort the frame spacing out, make yourself a bee mat to cover the frames. A bee mat can be a piece of vinyl floor covering for example, cut so that it covers the frames, but allows an all around bee space.

I normally scrape bur comb like that off & place it in my wax bin, because that happens to me on the odd occasion when I haven’t used a hive mat on recent splits for example.

Hi, I used s bee mat with gaps round the sides but they couldn’t find the feeders so I took it out and they took syrup but built up. I’ll measure the spacing… they seem to be using both types of frame ok but I’m keen to entice the queen onto the new frames. Unfortunately, the frames I bought are slightly under standard size so I had to narrow the gap but that makes positioning then in different orders tricky. I plan to migrate them all into one size frame once I do some splits so they can be interchangeable…

Just an update. Removed the combs and reinstalled the bee mat. Top combs had honey, nectar, pollen and brood in all stages. Also some drone brood Left the combs close for a while so the bees could strip them then removed debris. Interesting to see how they wouldn’t venture beyond the threshold of the hive after sunset. Sad about the lost brood. Hopefully they will be filling empty frames now ( will check this weekend). Honey smelled amazing! Didn’t try it as have varoa strips in… Thanks for all the help!

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