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New Swarm Crooked frames

Hi all,
I was lucky enough to be helped catch my first swarm the other day and all and nice and easily, with the bees looking like they took to their home straight away.

After a drive home, I installed the hive in its new location and left it over night. The next day I added a drop feed at the top of the hive as I don’t have any full frames to give them.

While doing this I noticed that the frames are crooked and must have been moved during transport. They are not just a little off but quite on an angle so I can already tell the bees won’t be drawing straight comb in them.

My question is, what is the earliest I should open the hive to straighten the frames to stop them building too much crooked comb? Should I do it asap or let them be for a week and have the fun first inspection task of fixing all their comb?


Hello Peter. I’d be fixing that right away. Otherwise their efforts to make the comb will be wasted when you have to cut it away plus it makes a big unnecessary job for you.


Thanks for the reply. That’s my current thinking. If I don’t hear strong arguments against this today then I’ll be doing it later this afternoon when it’s warm. My main fear was that disturbing them too early would make them abscond. Though they’ve spent 2 nights in there pretty happily so far, so hopefully that means they like it :slight_smile:


@cathiemac is absolutely right. I suggest you do as she writes. Make sure that all of the frames are aligned shoulder to shoulder in the centre of the box too!


So I opened them up and assessed the dmg, not too bad, they had started to build comb on the lid because the frames had fallen off and were not in their normal place. So I put the frames in and centred them, then removed the comb from the lid and closed them up. They looked quite content in there so hopefully I haven’t disturbed them too much. Kept an eye out for the queen. Didn’t see her so hopefully she’s in there nice and safe :slight_smile:

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Hi Peter, sounds like the hive didn’t have the right number of frames in the box for them to have turned enough to have fallen into the hive. If it is an eight frame hive it should have eight frames sitting shoulder to shoulder, the same applies in a 10 frame hive by adding two more frames.
I have ;been there and done that’ with frames without foundation and I advise that with the clean wax in Australia it is better to use wired frames with a full sheet of foundation fitted. The bees will build the comb much faster and a lot less risk of wonky comb that you will need to destroy if it is build outside of the frame. Worth thinking about is that the bees will need to eat 6kg of honey to produce 1kg of wax.
Fix it up ASAP so it won’t get worse.

Cheers Peter, good pickup it was missing a frame as I left one in the car during the swarm catch and didn’t want to disturb them when I got home, in hindsight, should have. All is well, caught the issue fast enough that they hadn’t built too much yet. I’ll look into some quality wax foundation frames this weekend and during the next inspection if they haven’t built out all the frames I’ll swap some in to help them build straight


I learnt the hard way. Received my first hive (10F) but didn’t check after it arrived in my apiary. The frames had shifted during transport and I wintered the box as is. Come spring I opened the box up to a lot of rogue comb and only counted 9 frames… :sweat: a lot of dead bees and sticky mess later I’ve learnt my lesson about bee space and how to encourage straight manageable comb. Welcome to the forum Peter (@Keeper )


Hi all, I Bought a nuc of 4 frames and have my own 4 new frames with comb guide only. It’s been three weeks and they have completely filled 1 of my new frames and half another. The other 2 frames are empty. It is A very dry Queensland spring here though. Should rain bring the flow.

Hi Marty, welcome to the forum. There is a direct correlation between rain and nectar flow - but the caveat being the timing of the rain. So if there hasn’t been mych rain pre spring, the flowers may be dryer come bloom time. Given you are only starting out, it would not hurt to feed if there is a nectar dearth. I’m sure somebody in your region will chime in with better info.

Welcome to the forum Marty, lots to read and heaps of good advice and tips.
The Australian bush can be very misleading, you can see flowers everywhere but in a drought like most of Australia had last year the trees didn’t produce nectar. I’m on the Sunshine Coast and had to feed my hives when I finally realized there was no nectar in the hives and capped honey was dwindling. Nectar flow is very dependent on enough rain for the trees to produce nectar in the flowers.
I don’t think is as bad as your thinking as the bees are producing wax to build the foundationless frames. They must be foraging ok. It takes 6kg of honey eaten by the bees to produce 1kg of wax so if there is a dearth (nectar drought) there the bees wouldn’t be making comb. Once the comb building has finished the cells will fill very quickly with honey.
Make sure there is a water supply for the bees to drink from, but not that deep they can drown, pebbles covering the bottom of a plant pot tray will work. Consider the hive having afternoon shade in the heat of Summer.

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So an update. I left them alone to start building out the frames for 8 days mainly to not disturb them to much but also because the weather has been terrible for the last week in Victoria.

Opened them up today and inspected the frames for queen activity and to make sure they’re building in the correct places. And all is well, 6/8 frames have about 25% comb filled, 1 is a little less and 1 completely empty. Found a fair few eggs in the centre frames so I’m pretty sure the queen is in there and laying somewhere even though I couldn’t see her. Little bit of pollen and honey being deposited. Had to straighten a few of their builds (naturally drawn comb) but actually pretty good so far.

I’ll probably see if the weather is good next weekend and check them again briefly, less of a full check but by then I expect to see some capped brood on the centre frames which will reassure me the queen is fine.

Any other things to check next weekend in peoples opinion?