July 04, 2008

Crossed Comb

Crossed Comb is comb that is built on more than one top bar. It's a bad thing because once the bees go crooked, they build each new comb more crooked than the last. It makes it difficult to pull a top bar up-and-out for inspection, which is a legal requirement. To avoid damaging the comb, you have to pull out both (or more) bars that the comb is attached to, simultaneously. Good luck knowing which ones to keep together if you don't have a window.

We've been happy to see all our combs are straight, but this is a problem. The premise behind comb guides is that bees will festoon from the lowest point and build from there. This premise is about as effective as the white lines painted on the streets. Do the cars stay in the lines?

Here the bees have ignored the guide and built between two bars. The comb on the right is full of nectar (heavy) and the bright white comb on the left was built within the last week or so. Fresh wax is delicate and this situation can be tricky to fix. Our best bet might be to just cut the new comb off, thumb-press it back on and hope the bees attach it properly. It's way too hot this weekend to attempt it though, as comb this fresh is extremely soft, so watch for an update sometime next week.

NOTE: on the Natural Beekeeping Network there's a forum post on "Fixing last year's cross comb" which shows a piece of equipment that would've been perfect in this situation. It's a skirt hanger-like top bar, in which comb can be pinched and rehung.

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