Our bees are producing lots of comb and almost filled the first box in less than 3 weeks. Concern is they are also attaching the comb to the side of the box at both ends of each bar. Other than that, the combs are straight, even, no cross comb and perfect. When it comes time to harvest do I just cut the comb from the sides? Should I just leave them alone for now? First year hive and do not plan to harvest this year anyway. Thanks…
Never saw a response to this one and so I figured I’d offer some thoughts for anyone who happens to review the thread.
Comb attachment to the sides of the box is common in Warre and Horizontal Top Bar hives. It’s also nothing to worry about or even to attempt to manage if one is going with the Warre concept of minimal management of the bees. (Local regulations may be important here however as some locales actually require removable frames for regular inspection…though actual enforcement of these rules are often reserved for commercial bee keepers and go largely unenforced for backyard hobbyists. But of course one should follow one’s local rules.)
I would suggest reading up on BeeThinking’s website regarding the less invasive Warre inspection techniques that typically do not require removal or movement of individual combs or “frames” in lang parlance. With respect to inspection and honey harvest (at the appropriate time) Warre hives tend to be inspected and harvested by “box” rather than by comb or “frame”. That’s the long way of saying if you manage the hive in a typically Warre sort of way you can basically ignore the attached combs (and even cross-combing for that matter) and simply harvest the entire box of honey at an appropriate time in the season when the bees have enough stores or enough time to back fill before the onset of winter.
The introduction of a bee escape board below the honey super should minimize the number of live bees in the box. Once that box is lifted away the entire box is harvested and the attached comb can all be cut from the sides.
Warre hives do not guarantee success and your bees may still be susceptible to all the normal problems that require some level of management if you want to prop them up (swarming, feeding to compensate for poor forage conditions, varroa, small hive beetle, nosema, etc etc.) If these things concern you deeply and you wish to “manage” these things according to the methods established by Langstroth bee keepers which call for frequent inspection of individual frames…then cross combing and sidewall attachments are going to stress you out. (Though even a cross combed and wall attached Warre hive can still accept a number of established treatment methods.)
If on the other hand you are trying the Warre concept which is less intrusive approach and does not call for frequent inspection of individual combs…then you can de-stress out about things like the dreaded cross comb and sidewall attachment. You still have to figure some things our however as running a Warre should not be an excuse for poor husbandry of your bees!!
Thanks for your detailed response. I have both Warre and Langstroth hives. We left the Warre alone with little disturbance except to add supers. Bees did well at first and grew to 4 boxes by winter. Half way through the winter all the bees disappeared. The hive was full of honey and empty brood. They just left. My local bee group tells me this has occurred all across the county this year. No one knows why but I am hearing many bee keepers say they lost half their hives or more. Any way. We harvested the honey and started over this spring with new bees.