New comb collapse

In the last post, I said that I had been surprised to find new comb that had been built, filled, and capped since my first small harvest.   I went back yesterday thinking I would do another small harvest, but was disappointed.

The hives looked normal when I arrived.  There were still bees coming and going, along with the constant washboarding bees on the front.  I also saw bees bringing in pollen.  When I opened hive #1, I found the aftermath of a collapse.

Both new combs that I had seen full last time had fallen.  New comb is weaker than comb that has had the chance to mature, and I think that may have been part of its downfall.  It was fresh comb that was immedietly filled (and therefor as heavy as comb gets).  It only made it worse that we have had a bunch of mid 90′s temperatures.  In any case, the nice filled and capped combs were no longer there to be harvested.  The bees had emptied the comb quite well, but I don’t know how much went to the ground through the screened bottom.  It looked like they had moved at least some of the honey to the other combs, most of which have also been used for raising brood.  I don’t really want to harvest honey from old brood comb, so I guess they get to keep whatever they were able to salvage.

I pulled out the fallen comb to take home.  Eventually, we will process the wax and my wife will do something with it (I think candles is the plan).  I found the remains of four workers who where caught under the comb when it fell.  I’m surprised that I only found 4, but its possible that other bodies were already removed by the housekeepers.

One thing to salvage from the visit was a nice picture however.  My wife and daughters had come along so I had someone who could run the camera (usually there is just me).  While I was removing the fallen comb, I brushed off the worker bees before removing it.  With one piece, I left a drone on it and took it over to my girls to see.  I was explaining how drones are different from workers, such as that they don’t have stingers (an important point for my oldest daughter).  While we were looking at it, my wife snapped a picture.  The drone just happened to take off as the picture was taken.

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6 Responses to “New comb collapse”

  1. katherine Says:

    What a great picture! I appreciate you taking time to blog about your bees. Your blog is a wonderful example of top bar hives and an inspiration. So, thanks. : )

  2. Mike Says:

    You can make a simple, effective repair when comb breaks off. I know this not from direct experience, but because I attended a lecture last week by a Peace Corps Beekeeper who used Top Bar Hives (TBH) extensively in Paraguay. He said broken comb was not uncommon and suggested the following fix:
    Take 100% cotton string and wrap the comb back into place – hanging from its bar. This can look a bit haphazard, but it works. The bees will repair the comb where it broke and chew away the cotton string when repairs have been completed.
    (This would be especially helpful where brood comb is involved to save brood.)
    Try it next time you have broken comb!!

  3. Annette Nilsson Says:

    I am happy about having found your blog. Lovely pictures and interesting information. I am going to start with a TBH this spring. My boyfriend has just started with the construction. I am very exited and looking forward to work with bees in this way. I will read your blog regularly.

  4. Lisa Says:

    I’m so glad that you are sharing your construction plans of the “improved” TBH. After researching many available on the internet, yours came closest to what I want in my TBH. We will add a side window. The 3-D drawings are very helpful. We’ve bought the materials and my husband will start building the hive this weekend. We’re both excited. However I’ve still to procure the beetending equipment and we don’t have bees yet. I wonder if we are already too late in the season for a successful brood this year.

  5. Miles Goodman Says:

    You can keep ants away by smearing a band of grease or vaseline around each hive leg. The ants cannot cross this. I use this method to keep them from ‘farming’ aphids on my fruit trees.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I like reading an article – that will make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

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