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Hi folks,

Gave away my bees at the beginning of the season as I was away all summer (in Mongolia; I'll post another time about beekeeping there).  Came back to find a colony had moved in underneath a National I had left outside.  The National had good comb inside, but they preferred to build their own place in the basement.  Picture below shows them after I removed the National Brood box, leaving just the roof and floor:

Anyway, as they would be exposed over the winter, I decided that it's best to try to improve their housing for the winter.  I've done a cut & transfer of comb before (see Phil Chandler's "Chop and Crop" video), but this late in the season I think cutting their combs out and putting them into a new hive would be too traumatic.   

After an initial inspection, it looked like most of their comb was attached to the underside of the hive floor, with a little bit attached to the hive stand itself.  So my plan was to cut the comb loose from the places where it was attached to the hive stand, then lift the floor up, bringing most of the combs with it, and place it on top of another (empty) National box.  I modified the second National's roof so that it would cover the gaps (since a floor is wider than a brood box), and was all ready to do this. 

Then I did a closer inspection (measure twice, cut once!), and found that they had been much more thorough in attaching the comb than I thought, particularly in places along the top of the hive stand that were inaccessible to me since the floor itself is in the way!  So it would be extremely awkward to get in there to cut it loose.   So that approach has stalled.

Another option might be to lift up the whole hive stand, put an empty box underneath, and lower them into it.  This is much less invasive, the drawback being that there will still be gaps. 

Of course, I'll still have the problem of how to rehouse them in a top bar hive next season, for now I just want to get them throught he winter.

Any suggestions?

sharon H
sharon H's picture
<p>Wow,</p><p>What a sight.

What a sight.                                                                                                                                                     They must be there a while by the looks of it. I removed a cast from under my open mesh floor July 28th. They were very quiet in the cluster, but had no comb built, so was easy to remove into a poly nuc.                                                         I put some drawn comb in, along with new wax frames, and the Queen started laying straight away.                                I think if i was in that situation ,i would try and lower them into a brood box, taking the wider comb, then putting drawn comb frames to fill the remaining space. Let them settle in for a few days and start feeding. Make sure not to dislodge the comb, without something underneath, incase you'd drop the Queen. If you spot her, might be an idea to cage her while you do the rest.I wonder could you turn the mesh floor upsidedown, and fit the brood box over them, would that work. then just change your entrance block to that side. It certainly would be less stress for you and the bees. You might be able to fit a couple of frames in behind.Its so late in the season, even though mild, or id suggest, putting the brood body you house them in, below another brood body, with drawn comb,letting them draw all up.Then in Spring, you could remove the bottom one. It might be a bit late for this, but maybe someone else can advise.Hope it all works out                                               

Sharon Higgins

well i'm currently on an

well i'm currently on an enforced break from my attempt at moving them.

in return for my cutting their combs (to try to free them from the hive stand), they decided to help me find all the gaps and holes in my bee suit :(

i was planning on cutting them free from the hive stand and pull up the floor and placing it on top of another hive. what happened was that i cut them free from the stand, but i as i was pulling up the floor, the combs broke off because i hadn't cut all the plants that had grown through the comb and were tethering the combs to the ground.

as the comb broke off and fell, the already angry bees went to defcom 1. the ones who that got inside my suit and stung me on the cheek convinced me they wanted some time alone, so i managed to dump most of the comb that had broken, into the empty hive box, and then left them for a while.
i noticed btw that there were stores in the middle combs, just not on the outer ones.

i went back up to peek and they immediately went for me, but i noticed that there were a lot of bees still on the hive stand, so it's possible i didn't get the queen into the box.

more this evening after i've patched my suit and risk going back!

sharon H
sharon H's picture


Wouldnt think you or the bees enjoyed that experience!

Wouldnt envy you having to go back to finish, but you must have it sorted by now.

Give an update on how they are doing, was a tricky situation with the comb.

Regards, Sharon

Sharon Higgins