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Author Topic: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards  (Read 442 times)

Online The15thMember

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I installed 2 packages in April, each in 1 medium.  My desire is to be completely foundationless, so I have wedge top bars with the wedges nailed in sideways for starter strips, and grooved bottom bars.  The bees filled out the brood boxes very nicely, all things considered.  In each hive I do have a pair of frames that is cross combed to the point that they are stuck together, but otherwise each frame is filled out more or less correctly at this point.  I added another medium 2 or 3 weeks ago (I can check my notes if anyone needs to know exactly when).  After I added the 2nd box, the bees started connecting the top bars of the 1st box, to the bottom bars of the 2nd box.  Last week I scraped it all off, but of course they just rebuilt it, and the one hive had so much comb between boxes, I could barely even remove the 2nd box today!   Now they seem to be drawing out wax starting from some of the bottom bars and going upwards, which is resulting in a seriously wacky, cross-combed mess in the 2nd medium.  I just did inspections of both hives, 1 yesterday and 1 today, and I spent probably an hour cutting out weirdly drawn comb and rubber banding the big pieces in straight.  Since I needed to try to encourage them to at least draw straight, I did the only thing I could think of, which is give them comb guides on the bottom bars, so using some of the wax left on the bottom bars I stuck popsicle sticks in the grooves.  So, will giving them guides on the bottom help?  If not, how do I get them to draw from the top, or at least straight?  And how can I prevent them from connecting the 2 boxes together with ladders of comb?     
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Offline little john

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2018, 07:20:10 pm »
There are two things you could try: the first is to pull one or perhaps two drawn frames and place them centrally in the upper box - to act as ladders, so that the the bees can easily climb to the top of that box and begin to draw comb downwards - as specified in the "Honeybee Comb-Drawing Manual" (which they've obviously never read ...).

The other procedure you could try is to swap the boxes around, so that the empty box is at the bottom.

If you have two colonies, then you could try one of the above methods with each - you should be able to tell which works best within a few days.

Very best of luck with this ...
LJ
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Offline moebees

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2018, 09:05:21 pm »
Move a couple (or more if available) brood frames into the top box.  Put an empty frame between the brood.  Insert some of the empties into the gaps left in the lower box  where you pulled the brood from.  They will draw perfect comb between brood frames.

You may also want to check the gap between boxes. Sounds like it may be too large.
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Online Acebird

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2018, 09:06:04 pm »
I am not in favor of packages but I would not put a package in a single medium.  I know MB does it but I would use 8 frames in two boxes with a follower board that goes right to the bottom board.  As the colony grows add two frames at a time one in each box.  When it is time for the third box pull up frames.
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Online Acebird

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2018, 09:07:15 pm »
Sounds like it may be too large.
I would say too small.
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Offline moebees

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2018, 09:19:16 pm »
Sounds like it may be too large.
I would say too small.

Comb isn't usually a problem in gaps too small (less than bee space).  Because after all if the gap is less than bee space it isn't useful for comb.  They can't raise brood in it.  The also don't need a bridge to cross a small gap.  Too small spaces are usually propolized.
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Offline cao

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2018, 12:20:38 am »
When I first started, I was planning on going foundationless.  I did as you did, added an empty box.  They drew comb from the bottom at a 45 degree angle across the bottom bars.  In a weeks time they built comb across 5 frames.  You are not the first or the last person that will have that happen to them.   

little john has given you the same advise that I would give you.

Online The15thMember

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2018, 08:28:37 pm »
Thanks for all the advice everyone.  My main follow-up question is this: I've read that you shouldn't change the location of brood frames.  Is it a problem to move a brood frame to the upper box?  Along the same lines, they seem to be drawing honeycomb in this second box, is it a problem to put brood in an area where they seem to be trying to put honey?   

I am not in favor of packages but I would not put a package in a single medium.  I know MB does it but I would use 8 frames in two boxes with a follower board that goes right to the bottom board.  As the colony grows add two frames at a time one in each box.  When it is time for the third box pull up frames.
Acebird, I like the idea of the follower board.  I'd have to acquire some, so I think that for now I'm going to try moving frames, but I'm intrigued by your setup.  When you say that your follower board goes right to the bottom board, do you mean that it is 2 boxes deep, or just that it is touching the bottom board?  How do you arrange the frames when you only have 8 in 2 boxes?  Do you have them all to 1 side, or evenly spaced?   

Sounds like it may be too large.
I would say too small.
Just by the way, I think the space is too large.  They are making about 2 or 3 cells between the boxes.  I'll measure next time I go in the hive and see if there's something wrong.  The space between the top bars of the bottom box and the bottom bars of the top box should be a bee space, correct?   
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Offline moebees

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2018, 01:31:46 am »
Thanks for all the advice everyone.  My main follow-up question is this: I've read that you shouldn't change the location of brood frames.  Is it a problem to move a brood frame to the upper box?  Along the same lines, they seem to be drawing honeycomb in this second box, is it a problem to put brood in an area where they seem to be trying to put honey?
   

Changing location is mainly a problem if nights are cold.  That should not be a problem now.  People that use foundationless frames (like me) do this all the time.  You can't just slap a box of empty frames on top of another box and expect them to draw it correctly.  They might but more likely you will end up with problems.  Whenever adding a new box I move a few frames of brood from the lower box up and intersperse the empties. Empties go in the lower box to replace the brood moved up. They will draw perfect comb between frames of brood.  Once they do that and begin moving out to the sides they will also follow the nearest brood frame so they usually draw those straight too.  Once you try it you will think it is like magic.  Not a problem with the honey. Just move those to the outside wall of the box where they normally put honey anyway.
Doing this is especially important in honey supers.  They extend the width of honey comb much wider than brood.  So if you put a bunch of empty frames in a honey super you will never get them drawn correctly because the first one they start on they will extend out until it laps into the two beside it.  So when they start those they cannot begin on the comb guide and will begin drawing from the edge of the top bar.  You will end up with all the frames welded together and a big cut out mess.


Sounds like it may be too large.
I would say too small.
Quote
Just by the way, I think the space is too large.  They are making about 2 or 3 cells between the boxes.  I'll measure next time I go in the hive and see if there's something wrong.  The space between the top bars of the bottom box and the bottom bars of the top box should be a bee space, correct?   

If they are getting 3 cells thick between the top and bottom bars there is too much space.  Probably due to the variation in frame and box sizes from different manufacturers.  If you continue with foundationless and they get more comb drawn the problem may decrease as they make more drone comb.  They will feel less need to put drones between the boxes.  But if continues you may want to make some modifications to your frames or boxes to get the space right.
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Online Acebird

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2018, 08:30:11 am »
When you say that your follower board goes right to the bottom board, do you mean that it is 2 boxes deep, or just that it is touching the bottom board?  How do you arrange the frames when you only have 8 in 2 boxes?  Do you have them all to 1 side, or evenly spaced?
Yes and yes.  Use 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 frames depending on colony size.  If you don't push them all to one side you will need two follower boards.  Why do that?
 
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The space between the top bars of the bottom box and the bottom bars of the top box should be a bee space, correct?   
yes.
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Online Acebird

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2018, 08:42:01 am »
Because after all if the gap is less than bee space it isn't useful for comb.  They can't raise brood in it.  The also don't need a bridge to cross a small gap.  Too small spaces are usually propolized.
It is my experience that burr comb is structural.  Brood is not raised in it.  It has a hexagon shape but with very heavy wall thickness and appears to be made from used wax or maybe some percentage of propolise.
If the bees are building up from the bottom bar and not drawing down from the top bar then I conclude that the bees haven't excepted the upper box.  I don't think that happens if you start the colony in a two medium box configuration.
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2018, 09:01:07 am »
When the space is too small the bees usually fill it with propolis. When the space is more than a bee space they draw wax.
As mentioned, moving frames is a problem when there is a chance the brood will be chilled.
Jim

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Re: Connecting Boxes and Building Comb From Bottom Bar Upwards
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2018, 01:44:29 pm »
When using foundationless with no drawn comb and a package, I would add the second box to the bottom.  After that I would pull drawn combs up to the next box everytime you add one.
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