On Sunday, I checked in on my hive again. This is eight days post-install, and four days since I removed the queen cage and ruined some of their comb.
I removed the lid, and saw some cross comb between frames. Damn. I had hoped that my rubber-banded-in fix would have been good enough to keep them from going nuts. Ah well. I pulled the frames apart (one major benefit of a horizontal Langstroth hive that holds 33 frames is that you have a lot of room to work. Just pull out extra, empty frames to give yourself some space), and saw that the piece of comb that I had rubberbanded back into place on Wednesday had fallen agan, after one of the rubber bands broke, and was laying on the bottom of the hive.
Worse, though, the bees had just kept right on filling it with nectar and pollen.
First things first, though. I cut the cross comb, and, of course, dislodged the good comb from the adjacent frame, breaking off a not insignificant piece (also packed full of nectar and pollen, and even some eggs. Fortunately, not a lot of eggs). This piece was so heavy with nectar, but still so new that every attempt to pick it up just found my fingers sinking into it. I had my wife run into the house and grab a spatula, which helped a ton. Using the spatula, I moved the broken comb onto a board I had brought out to keep bees out of the empty side of the hive.
I then pulled some more frames out of the empty side, and slid the follower board over to get access to the piece of comb laying at the bottom of the hive. Again, I had to use the spatula, as it was chock full of nectar (which, hey! Go bees!). I got this piece out with no real problem, and got to stick my hand all the way into a hive for the first time, which… is still terrifying (especially since my nitrile glove had torn, exposing a large, meaty bit of skin).
After retrieving the broken comb without incident, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get the whole thing vertical to rubberband it back into place, so I broke off about half of it and managed to get that back into a frame. Likewise, with a piece of the first broken bit of comb. Extra rubber bands this time, too. Hopefully, they’ll get the comb secured before there’s any band failure.
The remaining broken pieces of comb were pretty badly-damaged, but still had a ton of uncapped nectar/syrup and pollen, so I left them by the feeder hole on top of the hive, with a box over them to prevent robbing. By night, the bees had picked the comb clean of almost all of the nectar and a fair amount of pollen. I ended up taking the comb and melting it down to make my first little batch of beeswax, and then made a wood… polish/preserver with jojoba, almond oil, and the beeswax. Very exciting.
So yeah, uh… be really, REALLY careful with new comb. It’s crazy-delicate. I think I’m just going to leave my bees alone for a while. They’ve got a decent amount of space; enough to keep some new brood happy, at least, and I took the bottom screen cover off, so I can easily just peek in from below to see if they’re getting crowded.