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Author Topic: Bees horizontal or vertical  (Read 2245 times)
bigbearomaha
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« on: October 08, 2009, 10:56:09 PM »

I didn't want to hijack the persons thread about which hive design to use, but  I would like to discuss a bit more, Robo and anyone else, if you don't mind, about the movement of bees as to How they move to fill space.

I realize  I may not have the same time in beekeeping as you or many others here, However,  I would venture to say that from the experience  I do have, combined with observations and seeing and hearing what others have seen, bees will fill the space available to them.  if the space is 16 inches wide by 5 feet long, bees will build comb horizontally to fill the area as well as vertically making them long enough to fill the void.

Don't take this wrong please,  I am not trying to be argumentative,  I think best when I 'think out loud' and even better when  I can talk things through with other folks as both sounding board and sources of input as well.

I have seen discussion after discussion on various forums and among various people about bee movement and bee 'preferences'.

While I find the notion of bee 'preference' to be on the long side of anthropomorphizing,  I have to say from my own limited experiences I don't believe bees have a 'preference' at all.  They simply work with whats available to them.  They will build comb till they fill out the open space as much as possible.

 I once had the 'luck' if you will call it, to find a wooden box, about the size of a coffin while helping the fella who  I used to assist with his bees. We found it out back behind the barn as we were moving some other things from the barn to take to his place.  We opened the crate and found that comb had been built all the way across the top width wise or shortwise.  the  combs were then all the way down the length of the crate so we could see what looked like macabre comb piano keyboard. 

The box was about 3 foot deep and the combs for the most part ran all the way from top to bottom. Apparently, these bees had been in this box for a very long time.  It had set out back of the barn for about as long as he could remember on his uncles property.

Since then ,  I have been very interested to see how and where bees will make into a hive.  The internet and YouTube are great sources as well to find stuff like this.

I am familiar with the 'chimney' effect where some bees will move straight up into the next box and frames instead of filling out the frames on either side all the way first.   But, not every colony does this, nor did it seem commonplace to the guy ( Hank is his name) who  I helped.  It was his opinion that maybe one colony out of maybe every 15 or 20 or so will 'chimney' where most others will fill out all the space or most of it before moving into the next available space.  I think that was his own estimation, I can't verify or back that up myself.  I took his word for it.

Any thoughts on this?

Big Bear
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luvin honey
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2009, 12:03:15 AM »

This should be interesting!

I have no experience to speak of, but it would seem from a structural point of view--and bees seem to understand a thing or 2 about architecture!--that it would be more safe and solid to build smaller combs in a horizontal fashion than quite large combs in a vertical one.

There are so many variables to factor in, though, aren't there? It would be difficult to narrow down all the variables but the one you want an answer to: Do bees prefer to build combs in a horizontal or vertical manner?
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2009, 07:30:23 AM »

I agree, bees are very adaptive and can live in almost any shaped void as long as it is big enough.   Perhaps the best thing to look at would be open air nests where there are no restrictions on how the bees build.  We don't get many of these up here, but from the ones I have seen,  I think a sphere that has been stretch due to gravity would be a good representation.   So it would be about 1/3 taller than wide.   Just my 2¢
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bigbearomaha
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2009, 07:45:34 AM »

I  have seen some of those open air hives on tree limbs, etc in photos and videos.  None personally yet.

I think the most central combs are usually the largest in terms of length and width toward the center of the hive with the smaller of the combs to either side.

 I am curious to observe those type of open air hives more to get a better idea of if that is caused by the central comb(s) being the first  comb(s) made to get things started off and consequently getting the most attention until other bees start building comb to either side in order to accommodate more space.

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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2009, 07:54:57 AM »

I think the most central combs are usually the largest in terms of length and width toward the center of the hive with the smaller of the combs to either side.

True,  that is why the nest shape gets the sphere-like shape
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2009, 08:07:11 AM »

Well, before we stuck bees in boxes and other unnatural shaped containers were available, they found rotten tree cavities.

This allows a chimney, as well as trapping heat at the top of the hive (depending on the entrance).

I think that the shape of the hive is determined by the 1) size and shape of the cavity and 2) the strength of the comb.

The only reason that the bees don't build open air chimneys is that the comb isn't strong enough, they build spherical because they have to or the combs will break off. grin

But that too is just my $.02.
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2009, 08:30:12 AM »

All of the pictures of cutouts on here clearly show that they will build in all kinds of shapes and places.  I wonder if not using that outside comb in a nest box is because that location has much more extreme changes in temperature rather than from a desire to move in a particular direction?
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2009, 08:42:27 AM »

Let's see if this works


If that just came through it's a photo of an open air hive I found in the woods about a month ago. The center 4-5 combs were brood with 2-3 combs of honey on either side and empty drawn comb filling out the ends. It was 45' up (I had to lift a 32' ladder up in the tractor bucket to reach).
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bigbearomaha
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2009, 09:16:18 PM »

Well, before we stuck bees in boxes and other unnatural shaped containers were available, they found rotten tree cavities.

This allows a chimney, as well as trapping heat at the top of the hive (depending on the entrance).

I think that the shape of the hive is determined by the 1) size and shape of the cavity and 2) the strength of the comb.

The only reason that the bees don't build open air chimneys is that the comb isn't strong enough, they build spherical because they have to or the combs will break off. grin

But that too is just my $.02.

That is one of the places bees chose for hives.  As others have pointed out, on their own accord, bees have also chosen fallen logs, eaves of roofs, etc..

 I wonder if whats more important is not so much the vertical or horizontal of it all, but the ability to keep the circular/oval formation.

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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2009, 09:37:55 PM »

I wonder if whats more important is not so much the vertical or horizontal of it all, but the ability to keep the circular/oval formation.

Or perhaps the ability to fulfill their desire to seal it up tight with just a small entrance?   Another thing that we seem to want to ignore when setting up our hives huh
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luvin honey
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2009, 12:05:02 AM »

So, how are natural hives both airtight and well ventilated?
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2009, 06:56:48 AM »

So, how are natural hives both airtight and well ventilated?
They are not.  Every feral that I have come across has been sealed up tight with the exception of the entrance.
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