Home | About | Products | Blog

Building comb in the roof!


Hi Matt

I’d like some advice on the following:

The girls have decided to build comb in the roof space. I set up the top bar hive, and intended to leave the roof/lid off but we were having strong storms and there was a concern

some of the top bars would blow away in a strong wind, with or without comb built on them. Now the girls are building comb in the roof/lid, which as you can image creates a myriad of issues.

Would you recommend taking off the roof/lid, checking to see if that’s where the brood comb/queen are? If so, leaving things be for now and opening up the hive box by removing a few top bars? Would this make things worse?

We gave the hive package about 6 frames to work on initially while they were in the process of releasing their queen. By day 6, the queen was still in her cage, alive and being fed.

She’s a Russian and the colony bees are Italians.

If we can establish the queen is out, laying and has brood in the actual hive box, would you recommend removing the comb from the lid, salvaging it if possible, and then attaching to top bars to give the girls a bigger hint?

We don’t want to overly disturb the hive at this delicate stage – under two weeks since installation – but we don’t want the girls thinking the roof is where they should be building comb. Seems like managing this situation is going to require a lot of smoking, which I’m also reluctant to use.

Have you heard of anyone having this problem before?

Please advise. We have a break in the heat for the next few days and this is our window to spend time fixing this situation without creating human health concerns from heat stroke!

Anaiis Salles




Thanks for your message. My first question is this: How did they get access to the roof in order to build comb? Upon installing the bees, the bars should have been pushed together leaving no gaps between them, with follower boards/dividers on each side. There should be no way for the cluster to move up and build comb from the roof! The only time I’ve seen colonies move up and build in the roof is when the bars have gaps between them large enough for the bees to fit through.

If you can confirm that the queen is laying within the hive (not in the roof), then I would absolutely seal up whatever gap they had that let them into the roof, and remove the combs from the roof. I wouldn’t recommend attempting to attach the combs or salvage them within the hive, as this will inevitably lead to crooked/crossed combs.

If you find the queen or signs of the queen (eggs/brood) in the roof, then I would carefully detach each comb and brush/shake the bees into the hive itself. If necessary you could leave the combs at the far end – away from the combs within the hive – so that the bees can rob out any remaining nectar and move it up to their properly attached combs.

Please feel free to call at 503-770-0233 in case of emergency!