Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
We are new beekeepers. We have 3 top bars. We went in to them for the first time in an embarrassingly long time, and Hive One seems to be playing by the rules well. Encouraged by our efforts, we opened Hive Two and Three and what a disaster. Cross combing everywhere, comb and honey falling, bees pissed and stinging. So we closed it up and kind of threw our arms up in defeat. We just don't know what to do at this point. Will be happy to pay someone to come out and help us with this. But, and this is a big but, we live pretty far out in a dirt road 3 miles south of Madrid. A good half hour drive on a rocky, dirt road. Give us a call if interested. Dan and Miriam (505) 780-0031.
Hello Dan and Miriam. My suggestion this late in the year is to leave the hives cross combed over winter. In the spring, the hives will have reduced in size, eaten much of their stores and it will be a much easier task. Another reason to wait until the spring is that the bees have begun placing all their winter stores in a specific pattern this time of year and it would be detrimental to the hive to reorganize their comb. A third reason to wait into spring is that the hive has a whole year, 2015 to make repairs on the hive after having the cross comb cleaned up. If the hive has been tended at all during it's history, it will still have straight comb by the entrance of the hive, so it will just be a messy affair cleaning up to that point.
If you know that there is full bars of honey and pollen by the entrance, you can harvest any mostly capped honey after the 12-14th combs right now. My concern is that in a badly cross combed hive, it's hard to know where their winter stores are and where exactly the brood chamber is. You could risk harvesting their winter honey if you harvest too much. A typical top bar hive going into the winter has 1-2 bars of honey and pollen at the entrance, followed by the brood chamber (which has a thick band of honey and pollen on the top of the comb) and then followed by honey comb.
If you need help in the spring, give me a shout. Jessie 710-3277
Your info is super-helpful! It was kind of my instinct to leave them alone for now. We will definitely call you in the spring.