Oh No! Cross-Combing!

If you read about our bee install or watched the video, it might have looked like everything went okay. Well, we made a crucial mistake.

Yesterday we went to check on the queen. We opened the observation window and there was gorgeous white comb. But there was also a problem…it was built in the wrong direction. During our install, we hung the queen cage so that it crossed multiple top bars (watch the video). As a result, the bees built comb directly on the queen cage as if it were a top bar, and the comb was built across the real top bars. In addition to that comb, the bees had also built two other parallel combs. They were all cross-bar. I wish I had pictures to show you, but in the heat of the moment, we went straight to work and didn’t think about documenting the situation.

The good news…the queen was safely out of her cage and was roaming the comb. The colony was doing what they should be doing. The comb was already sticky with nectar and pollen. I couldn’t tell if any eggs had been laid yet, but we were blown away by the amount of comb they’d already build. Those ladies really do work hard.

But despite their hard work, the situation had to be fixed. We were able to salvage some of the comb. We detached them and simply pinched them in onto unused top bars in the correct direction. We did lose a bit of the largest comb in the process, but at least they don’t have to start from scratch.

After we cleaned everything up, we left for the night, hoping the queen didn’t’ get hurt in the process and that we didn’t stress the bees too much. It was a rough evening. My wife and I were disappointed and frustrated with ourselves over the way we hung the queen cage in the install. We kept worrying about the queen, too. We couldn’t get a visual on her after we did all the comb fixing, so we were nervous we had accidentally killed her.

Right or wrong, I went back to the hive this morning to check on the queen and, to my relief,  I found all was good. She was working away and new comb was being built straight on the top bars! I observed for a moment and took in the wonder of these creatures. I watched them lug around pockets of pollen and smiled. I was really relieved. I took a deep breath and put everything away and drove to work in peace.

Now we will give them space for a few days before getting back in there.

Bees are resilient and the problem has been resolved – at least for now. We’re starting to feel like real beekeepers. Making mistakes as we go…but learning from them.

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4 thoughts on “Oh No! Cross-Combing!

  1. You can’t keep bees without making mistakes. Sounds like it went pretty well. Those queens aren’t as fragile as everyone makes them out to be. I’m sure she’s just fine.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I went and peeked through the observation window this morning and everything is looking great. They are building straight comb now. Relieved!

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