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The good and the bad and what’s wrong with cross combing


I inspected my hive yesterday. I have two brood boxes and the Flow hive box as a third box.

The good: picture #1 and 2. The Flow hives were being filed with honey. Can’t wait to harvest. Should I wait for the entire frame to be full before harvesting?


The bad: the following pictures are of my 2nd brood box. As you can see there is excessive cross combing and the frames are cross combed together. There would be major damage if I tried to pull them apart and I would have a mess! I know this goes against the norm, but is this so bad? My brood boxes are for the bees: their honey, their pollen, their brood. Why not let them do what they want to do? My hive is very healthy and flourishing.


Hi Brick, I think it would be wise to wait until the Flow frame is at least 90% capped. You could harvest now but you’ll run the risk of the water content being too high.

Your brood frames are too far apart, they need to be butted up against each other. It doesn’t look too serious, more like ‘bridging comb’ rather than ‘cross comb’, easy to fix and maybe a little messy. Use a sharp knife to slice off the comb on both sides and push your frames together. Let the bees clean up the mess for you.



After years of Beekeeping I’ve found it more that wise to keep frame shoulders tight against one another. That allows to best/perfect designed bee space n limits or stops most creative comb building.

When bees get wider gaps the make bridges, cross comb n other unique comb very quickly to fill them.

Your profile is very limited so hard to give detailed advise because each region around the world is different n unique thus often timing, practice n techniques are a bit diff ! As Rod mentioned…, let Bee’s cap about 90% of cells then harvest. Harvest too early the nectar moisture Ratio is too high n honey can spoil instead of lasting for years.

Good luck,

here’s example of shoulder to shoulder frame placement.


Your brood box looks to have bridging comb. Just pull the frames and scrape off the bridging comb then put back. Happens all the time and is nothing to worry about. Real cross comb is when the actual comb is built at an angle to the frames and essentially welds the frames together. It stops you being able to inspect the brood - very bad!

As for the harvesting, I don’t have any flow hives but you would not harvest a frame unless its at least 70% capped.



You have a lot of cleaning up of the frames and the sooner it is done the better, with less mess for the bees to clean up. Trim off the wax joining the frames and trim the wax down to where it is just lower than the level with the side bars of the frame. Do only one or two frames at a time and with a 48 hour gap in time. As you clean up the frames you should close down the gaps so that the shoulders of one frame is touching the shoulders of the frame next to it.
This will give the correct bee gap and greatly reduce the comb building between the frames.


Hi Brick, what do the frames look like from the end window? Did you shake the frame/s at all to see if the honey/nectar dripped out from areas it was not capped? How long has it taken to fill the Flow frames?


A bit of good news: I can’t be sure but my bet is the majority of the ‘too fat’ wonky comb you have will only be at the top of those frames and mostly honey- not brood. I had to clean up a hive that looked like that and wasn’t looking forward to it- but once I got started I realized it wasn’t as bad as it first seemed.

Get a good thin bladed knife- remove whichever frame seems easiest from the hive and set it aside - that will give you room to move the others around and get them out easily without rolling bees. Then get to shaving off that honey- slice it off so that the frame is back to the thickness of the brood below. Be sure to have smoker well packed and lit- you’ll need it. If you have bee brush have that handy too. After you are done push the frames up closer together leaving any extra space on the two outer edges.

If u come across any actual cross combing- be ready with rubber bands to cut out broodconb and rubber band it back into frames if you have too. It’s like pruning- be prepared to get brutal if you have to! If you end up with some cut off brood comb and nowhere to put it- you can place it in its side in the roof with the inner cover hole open. Hopefully the brood will be able to emerge and the bees will rob out any honey.


Thanks for all the great advice. I will begin the cleanup this weekend. Sharp knife in hand.

As far as the honey and too much water content, is it not true that once the bees cap a honey cell that the water content of that cell is good?


Yep that’s correct- but the uncapped ones might not be - so it’s best to wait until you are at or above 90% capped. Apparently you can test the uncapped ones by shaking the frame on its side: uncured nectar will drip out and look watery.

Another reason to wait for the frames to be capped - is it will reduce any chance of honey leaking out of uncapped cells when you harvest.

The only time you might harvest when the frames are not capped is at the end of a season when you remove the flow super for winter


Ok so I opened the hive today. Took off the Flow hive super and was prepared to clean up the top brood box. It was a fiasco. With significant difficulty I was able to get an end frame out. However in doing so I lost a lot of honey filled comb that was on that frame and it fell into the hive and on top of the bottom brood box. There was honey oozing everywhere. I tried to get the next frame out and the fiasco continued. I had a mess on my hands and honey dripping everywhere. I gave up and put the hive back together. I am convinced that that second brood box is for the bees and I will leave it for them as is. I can’t see getting it in order without causing major damage. Suggestions?


Sounds like you need an experienced beekeeper to come and help you. Unfortunately I don’t live anywhere near you, but I do have some suggestions.

  1. Local bee club. Try to get a mentor, or at least an experienced member to help you out. This option may well be free (or just cost a few beers and a bit of lunch!) :blush:
  2. Pay a local live bee removal service to help you. For somebody like that, this would be like a very easy cutout. That is something that they do every day at this time of year, and they would know all of the tricks. The downside is that you would not have a lasting mentor, and it may cost you $200 or more.

I really think you need outside help now though. You have tried to do it yourself, and it was too hard, so you have to call in expert assistance. We all get to that point with various things in our lives at some point. There is no shame in it, just you have to know when to call for help. :wink:


Depending on where you are in the world and if you have a winter coming up in a 4 or 5 months, I would wait and do it coming out of winter before the bees have put that area to use. Also, the bees may need for winter what would get destroyed now trying to fix it.


Looks like Kansas City, Missouri from older posts, although it would be nice if the profile confirmed that. :smile:

I would still rather tidy it up before winter. The bees have a few more months to build things straight, then have a great start in the new year. That is assuming Varroa etc has been taken into account… :blush:


I agree with @Dawn_SD, this is a new problem for you that was a bridge too far for you to tackle on your own. With someone from a bee group and showing you how to do it with the least damage to the hive is a good option. The longer it is left will only equate to a bigger job and more of a setback for your colony. There is no shame in asking for help if the job is something you haven’t done and finding it tough to do.


Here in NJ, on the hottest weekend of the year, it is winter prep time. :slight_smile: I suppose he could clean it up and then feed 1:1 to get them to build new comb and store food before winter sets in; after all, he’s closer to Vegas than I am :wink:


Are you sure it is a “he”? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I had a 50/50 shot at being right: That’s better than Vegas odds.


I probably forgot to mention: it was never going to be easy or not sticky. When I did the same- it created a lot of leaking honey everywhere- and many bees died. Its not for the faint hearted.

If you have another go there are a few things you can try: use your hive tool to break up bridges you can see at the top of the frame you want to remove first before you try and remove it. Smoke the bees down to clear those areas. Once you have a frame out of the hive- you can pry the adjacent one over into the space you have created. Meaning you can lift it out easier. It’s the first frame that is the hardest- things do get easier after that.

I don’t know if this would work- this is a question for other with more experience: but as you have another brood box- would it be possible to ensure the queen is in the bottom box- then put a queen excluder between the top and bottom one. Then wait for any brood in the upper box to hatch out over three weeks or so. Then place an escape board between the top and bottom box- then remove that top box altogether (now largely empty of bees) and harvest whatever honey is in the frames?


Yes I am in Kansas City, Missouri (Profile updated. Thanks Dawn) and a male. I have contacted a local bee club and will attend there next meeting.

I like the idea of excluding the queen into the bottom box, letting the brood hatch in the second box and then using an escape board to exclude all the bees from the 2nd box and then ripping apart the messed up 2nd box and harvesting the honey.


I think @Semaphore had a great idea there too. :blush: If you feel up to handling that, it might be an excellent way to go. There will still be a mess when you do the cutout, but you won’t kill as many bees, especially if you use a bee escape or bee repellent (available from bee suppliers for clearing out honey supers) to get most of the bees out of the box first.

You will need to let the brood hatch first, as the repellent doesn’t work if there is brood in the box. :wink: