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Broken honeycomb help please

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New Bee

Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Somerset

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:28 am    Post subject: Broken honeycomb help please Reply with quote

Help please, i was given a swarm in May to put into my top bar hive ( I built it five years ago and have been hoping for a swarm since then) as advised I have left them to it, went to see how they are getting in today August 10th, lots of honey. I tried to lift up a comb but it broke off into the hive, I managed to take it out together with another one. These are now in a box on the lawn covered in bees. What now? Will the bees go back to the hive? Shall I put a lid onto the box? Any advice gratefully received.
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Guard Bee

Joined: 10 Nov 2015
Posts: 90
Location: Quarry Bank, West Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have a read on this thread and you will see how to use rescue bars.

Some thoughts.

The queen is in the box with the broken comb.

Your bees are trying to get at the comb to salvage it.

Other bees are trying to rob it.


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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


For future reference if this happens again, it is best to leave the broken comb inside the hive for the bees to recover the honey out of. They will do this if you place it propped up in the back of the hive as long as they have access to it via a hole in the follower or under it if they are not a perfect fit.

Leaving combs out in the open encourages robbing.... bees and wasps from the area as well as your own will descend quite rapidly and scavenge that honey and usually damage the comb in the process. Once they are empty, those other bees and wasps will continue to come and look for honey and all too often they will then target your hive. It would be a good idea to close the entrance right down to just enough room for one or 2 bees to pass on your hive and remove what is left of those combs of honey after dark tonight. Then as suggested make some rescue bars with chicken wire and hang them back in your hive in a few days time, when the robbers have hopefully found somewhere else to get a free lunch. Be prepared for your bees to be a bit defensive when you do this as they may have already been targeted and on their guard.

With such fresh comb full of honey, there is little hope of hanging it whilst it is full of honey but once some or all of the honey has been robbed out and it is lighter, you should have more success using rescue bars. If you put it in the back of the hive and the hive is of good construction and has no gaps for robbers to get in, you can assure that just your bees benefit from it.... if you have a mesh floor it may be necessary to place it in a dish to prevent honey dripping through the mesh and attracting robbers that way. If you leave it in the main hive area, they will often not clean out the honey but continue to ripen and cap it and then that comb of honey causes a problem with other combs they build. ie it gets in the way and other combs get braced to it and inspection becomes very difficult and more comb breakage is likely.

It is also possible that the queen was on one of those combs if they contained some brood... she would not be on combs that contain only honey though. If she is on those combs then she will have no way of getting back to your hive, so do have a very close look when you recover those combs after dark. There would likely be an entourage of a few bees keeping her company but they may have all been killed including her, during the robbing.... this is another good reason not to remove combs from the hive in case the queen is on one..... she cannot fly once she is in lay, so she is unable to get back into her hive if she is ever dropped out or removed by accident on a comb.
Good luck in resolving the situation. Those combs are as vital a commodity to your young colony as the honey they contain, maybe more so, so if you can recover them it will give them a better chance of survival.
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New Bee

Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Somerset

PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:33 pm    Post subject: Broken comb Reply with quote

Thank you for your help and advice. I managed to brush off the bees from the comb, it was all honey, no brood and was very heavy. I only looked at two bars, the combs were stuck to each other which is why they broke I think. I was scared of going further into the hive in case it happened again. I put the roof back and the bees seem to have settled. I am now harvesting the honey. Unfortunately some of the bees died and I feel very guilty. I think I will leave the hive now, need to make sure there are plenty of stores for winter.
Thank you again
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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

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