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Comb Damage, Wires or not?


#1

Hi, I’m new to beekeeping. I started two hives this past, late summer/fall, Not the best time, but they were cut outs that no one would help me with, so I took it upon myself to remove them and enjoyed working with the bees. Had almost every problem you could think of in the past 5 months and still managed to recover both hives and get them strong enough for winter. I will have to feed a little bit, so I will keep an eye on them throughout the winter.
Now my question, I was attacked by either a small bear or coyotes, they or it knocked over my best hive. Thank goodness I had ratchet straps on it. They did manage to shift the boxes and remove three frames, some honey, but they also got the small brood nest. The queen survived that attack, but my hive was reduced to one deep due to the comb damage when it was tipped over.
Impact smashed almost all the top box comb into barely usable pieces and pancaked most of the bottom box. I rubber banded the best I could to fill one deep and get them back in order. One week later I was attacked again, this time just tipped over. I had just finished my winter prep and placed a candy board on, of which has now been shattered into dust. The rubber bands must have acted like shock absorbers because the comb didn’t look any worse for wear this time. I was able to find my queen again although she has learned to run like a Olympic sprinter now. Do you recommend running at least a middle wire in your deeps to help support the foundationless comb. I know this was extreme, but I feel that if I had some support, some of the comb may have stayed intact. I am currently in the process of installing an ELECTRIC fence to guard my whole, “144 square feet,” from attack again. I don’t think they will survive another attack this fall.
I lost about half the bees in that hive already. It has gone from the strongest to the weakest in just about a week. Although I still feel there will be enough bees to make it through winter, if it is not brutally cold. The past two winters we had one week in February each year that it was 10 to 20 degrees below zero. That is unusual for here, and I hope we don’t get a repeat again this year. As far as the comb goes they had it attached fairly well on all 4 sides, and I never had a problem with inspecting it. I plan to do a extensive amount of frame rotation this year to try to produce extra drawn comb, that is if the bees will cooperate. I am also thinking about purchasing either a Nuc or a package for a third hive. That will leave me with one spot for a swarm hive if I can’t control them. I will have to sell any others if they occur. Well so much for my simple question which at this point has ben lost in my novel.
Do you recommend using at least one cross wire in a deep foundationless frame for support? Thanks, Jeff.


#2

I see people reading but no one has any advice. I don’t anticipate my hives being knocked over on any regular basis, but I think to be safe I am going to cross wire at least all my brood box frames and any of the medium frames I plan to leave for winter stores. Better to be safe than go through that again. I am also almost finished with the electric fence, so I hope that will be the last time I ever have that problem.


#3

Not that anyone cares, but I just felt like writing it down my progress somewhere. Just did a winter check and feeding on the hive that was attacked twice in November last year. The bees are doing well, not a big cluster but they looked good and are active. They are about the size of a large cantaloupe. I gave them a 5lbs sugar block with full pollen patty. That should get them going for spring. The other hive looks good too, a little bit smaller but they received the same food and pollen.
Next year I think I will just make a 20lbs candy board and place it on in November, then I don’t have to stress about them running out of supplies. Its hard to get a good day in February to check them around here Northeast PA.
I am currently working on some new woodenware and frames I purchased from Beethinking last fall. All the boxes went together very well and the frames look great, and yes I decided to use cross-wires on the brood chamber frames. I also ordered a “Package of Bees” to make my third hive, and if I get lucky enough this June, and one of my over wintered hive grows enough I may try a split to make 4.
It got very cold out very quickly after my last post and I still haven’t gotten my fence finish yet. I have all my posts in and the insulators on but I don’t want to run the wire until I have the charger hooked up. I anything does come back and I don’t have the wire live it will just rip it all down on me. So that is first on my list as soon as the temps get back into the mid 40’s. I hope everyone has a successful winter and good upcoming season.