Monday, May 21, 2007

Burr comb

My newer hive of bees (Hive East) has never shown great inclination to go down onto the frames and draw their comb out properly. The comb that bees draw off the frames is called "burr comb," and those bees have had plenty of opportunity to make this stuff. I had put a two-inch spacer at the top of the hive when the bees were first installed in order not to crush the bees, but I knew they would probably take advantage of that.

Boy, was I right.

After last week's beekeeper's meeting, several folks had said I needed to get into the hive and scrape that burr comb out. John Gee, another experienced and generous beekeeper that I've met at the association, suggested I put the comb on top of the inner cover, put the spacer on that and then cover it with the outer cover. That way, the bees could get at whatever they had stored in the burr comb but would probably go down onto the frames.

I decided to go into the hive and do just that -- after returning from a long trip to Ft. Walton Beach, FL, where I attended a wedding.

Turns out there was far more burr comb inside that two-inch spacer than I imagined -- and it was full of honey that the bees had made from all of the feed that I had given them. The pictures here show what I found when I opened up the hive.

I dutifully scraped out the comb from the underside of the inner cover and the tops of the frames. The bees were particularly happy about that, but they didn't protest as I thought they might. (This was the first time I had fired up the smoker, and I used it some, although I'm not sure I really needed it.)

I did as John had advised, putting some of the burr comb on top of the inner cover, but there was so much of it that I had doubts about putting it all back. Instead, I dumped it on the ground beside the hive, hoping the bees would feed on it down there. When I closed the hive, I noticed that the honey was running down the outside of the hive -- and also from the inside. It was a real mess, but the bees will need to work on cleaning it up. I am going to look inside the hive today to see how things have progressed.


Ean Schuessler said...

How did this work out for you? I have a similar situation with my bee hive.

Beekeeping said...

Just curious how this worked out for you. Do you have other hives in the area? Was there any robbing due the the mess of honey?