I am uncertain how to proceed, and am asking those beekeepers wiser than myself for help.
This is my second year beekeeping, but I have yet to have a hive to overwinter. This is new. We live in Dallas, Texas. The Michael Bush/natural beekeeping methods appeal to me and I am trying to apply them as best a newbie can.
A bit of history.
We found a very small (we know now) swarm last March in our water meter box, which we put into our new flow hive brood box. They did fine until July when they were sadly knocked out by wax moths (seen) and probably something else (unseen). Wasps and fire ants were also a problem. There were too few bees we understand now in hindsight.
This year we caught a swarm in March off a neighbor’s peach tree that swarmed and left after a month. Due to complications with the original comb not staying on the frames and too much meddling my me to get them in the right place. along with various mistakes along the way we learned from.
In April we were lucky enough to find another neighbor who wanted rid of a huge post-swarm hive in their water box with way more bees than we had ever had before. We were able to wire in the existing comb using the wire mesh method which worked way better than the previous attempt. The bees were happy and had no pests, which was great compared to our first hives, which were small. They filled the hive to 60% and then disaster struck. We had a windstorm that blew the roof clean off the hive and almost blew the box off the table we have it sitting on, so we used ratcheting straps to tie the hive down during the week of windy weather. Then we came by with the riding lawnmower and caught a dangling strap with the blades, dragging the beehive with us for 10 feet. angry bees! amazingly my un-bee-suited husband got inside without a sting, but the the hive was broken mildly. We uprighted it and left them alone as they were angry. We gave them a week due to our experience with bees swarming when meddled with too much by us all at once. A week later we added braces for the wind issue and nailed the broken bits back together. Again, we left them alone awhile so they would not leave. When the time came for a normal inspection after all the repairs, we found much burr comb. This is where we stand now. I could fix it all and straighten it out, but I am afraid to do so before winter. Perhaps waiting until spring and letting them live with comb that is fine by them is best this late in the year. We can’t get too good a look at the hive due to not wanting to break their comb to bits, but the bees seem to have filled the hive to 100% or close to it. We have never added the flow super and are reluctant to do so now because it is so late. The bees have been bearding heavily (photo attached) and I am afraid they do not have enough room and will swarm. We would love to hear suggestions. Just as a preface, I prefer not to use foundation or feed sugar and am fine with not taking honey as long as the bees survive. I look at this as a bee husbandry/homesteading and not as production, just to explain where I’m coming from as far as goals. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your insights.