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Author Topic: Do feral bees build down and hived bees build up?  (Read 2324 times)
karen in NH
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« on: December 19, 2013, 11:08:59 AM »

I have been studying JP beeman's videos online of his swarm and cutouts of feral colonies. From what I see, the cutout colonies build fresh comb downward sometimes as long as 5 or 6 feet. I have also devoured all the the reading material I can about beekeeping in hive boxes. "bees always build up so add more space to the top". Could someone clarify nature vs Langstroth?
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2013, 11:58:39 AM »

All bees build down - meaning they start at the top of the frame (or the top of the cavity) and then build down. This is why when starting a new package, you give them one box at a time and you only add the new box when the current one is about 80% done. Otherwise, the bees will "chimney" up to the top.

However, beekeepers have found out that bees like to store honey above the brood nest. Empty space above the brood nest needs to be filled with stores. Having a continually expanding empty space above the brood nest keeps hived bees busy filling it up. That's why it looks like hived bees build up. The reality is that their cavity keeps growing up. But the bees like to draw comb from the top bar down.
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2013, 12:07:32 PM »

All bees build down - meaning they start at the top of the frame (or the top of the cavity) and then build down. This is why when starting a new package, you give them one box at a time and you only add the new box when the current one is about 80% done. Otherwise, the bees will "chimney" up to the top.

However, beekeepers have found out that bees like to store honey above the brood nest. Empty space above the brood nest needs to be filled with stores. Having a continually expanding empty space above the brood nest keeps hived bees busy filling it up. That's why it looks like hived bees build up. The reality is that their cavity keeps growing up. But the bees like to draw comb from the top bar down.

that covers it pretty well.  bees build down in nature.
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kathyp
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2013, 12:15:59 PM »

Quote
"bees always build up so add more space to the top". Could someone clarify nature vs Langstroth?

well covered above, but good for you for your observation!!!
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2013, 02:58:53 PM »

Adding and taking away boxes from the bottom of the stack would really turn this thing we love into some hard and heavy work too!
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2013, 04:15:00 PM »

Adding and taking away boxes from the bottom of the stack would really turn this thing we love into some hard and heavy work too!
I think that is the management practice for Warre hives; adding and removing boxes from the bottom to better replicate the natural behaviour of continually building comb downwards.
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Jim 134
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2013, 04:54:28 PM »

karen in NH........
   I see by a location you are hopelessly lost.  If you live in New Hampshire this may help you out.

http://www.nhbeekeepers.org/

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE BKPRS ASSOC
 Bow, NH
http://www.nhbeekeepers.org

PTUCKAWAY BKPRS ASSOCAW
 Candia, NH
http://www.pawtuckawaybeekeepers.org

SEACOAST BKPRS ASSOC
 Lee, NH
http://www.seacoastbeekeepers.com

I also know The Monadnock Beekeepers' Association
http://www.monadnockbeekeepers.com/


  I do know you will find more links for local associations in New Hampshire on the state website. And yes I do live in New Hampshire the most south western part of the state you can go near the Connecticut River (maybe a 1mi to the west) and also bordered by two states.



                    BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2013, 06:04:07 PM »

brood boxes under.  honey supers over.  no brood box swapping!!   grin
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2013, 10:05:39 AM »

Welcome to the forum, Karen.  As you see if you ask a question someone will get you an answer. 
What is something to see is the chains that the bees make from the top of the frames down on foundationless frames as they build the comb.  Good luck to you and your bees.




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karen in NH
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2013, 07:42:17 PM »

Jim 134, I do belong to NHBA, Pawtuckaway and Capital here in NH, but nobody has the experience removing the really old cutouts that are on JP Beeman's youtube videos, thus never seeing these combs of such size.

I feel we can learn so much about the genetics of these bees that have survived for so long in a wall without surcoming to verroa, virus and natural swarming. The comb building is a beautiful thing in nature.

Joe D, I will try some foundationless frames this spring to see the chains you are referring to.

Kathyp, "no brood box swapping" do you mean that you should not reverse the 2 deep brood boxes in the Spring when the bottom deep is empty so that you are creating space UP?
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kathyp
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2013, 08:15:43 PM »

there are always exceptions, but generally you should never need to move more than a frame or two and that, not to often. 

as the bees store honey, they move down.  in fall and winter, they eat their way up.  they should naturally end up toward the top and then they start over.  people get hasty or do not realize that the number of bees is to small to cover the space and they swap boxes to "move the bees up".  all that does is break up the brood nest, and if you are inexperienced and put honey in the middle, you mess them up until they can eat or move what you have misplaced.

generally, if you find your bees in the bottom and an empty box above, they have to much room in the first place.  if you find the bottom box is crowed and they won't move up...and that happens sometimes, you need only move a couple of frames of brood up and the bees will be encouraged to go with the brood.  much easier and much less disruptive.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2013, 09:55:41 PM »

Jim 134, I do belong to NHBA, Pawtuckaway and Capital here in NH, but nobody has the experience removing the really old cutouts that are on JP Beeman's youtube videos, thus never seeing these combs of such size.

I feel we can learn so much about the genetics of these bees that have survived for so long in a wall without surcoming to verroa, virus and natural swarming. The comb building is a beautiful thing in nature.

Joe D, I will try some foundationless frames this spring to see the chains you are referring to.

Kathyp, "no brood box swapping" do you mean that you should not reverse the 2 deep brood boxes in the Spring when the bottom deep is empty so that you are creating space UP?


Honey Bees Festoon(ing)

http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0oG7mCOArVSkgwA7ahXNyoA?p=festooning+bees&fr=yfp-t-900&fr2=piv-web



             BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2013, 01:58:17 AM »

I might try adding an empty box under the full one next year to see what happens. Since I am using foundation-less frames it might work out better in my situation. I would expect the brood nest to migrate to the lower box as time goes on. I will think about it I have a few months to plan before spring comes.
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2013, 11:58:33 PM »

Last May I added an empty deep below, thinking that a) it would keep the bees and their heat in the same place while it was still chilly and b) that they would prefer to build down. They had a super above the brood deep from the winter, and they never moved down, other than to just hang out. They did lose the queen in May and had to requeen, but they seemed pretty numerous over the summer, yet still they never drew any comb in the lower deep. I'm glad I read this thread, as I was thinking that this spring perhaps I should do the reverse and put the empty deep on top.
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« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2013, 05:40:10 AM »

Mine was a three pound package that I received Jun 3rd. It could have just been the timing but they didn't build down in the empty super on the bottom. Not long after I placed it on top they began to build.
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« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2013, 07:39:37 AM »

I might try adding an empty box under the full one next year to see what happens. Since I am using foundation-less frames it might work out better in my situation. I would expect the brood nest to migrate to the lower box as time goes on. I will think about it I have a few months to plan before spring comes.

Better results can be found by taking a few 'brood' frames as suggested from the 'assumed' packed brood box and placing them alternately between empties whichever direction 'you' want your bees to expand to.  Below 'or' above (or to the sides if using TBH or Long Hives) matter only to you, the beek, and your intentions.  

Simply leaving an 'empty box' (ESPECIALLY Foundationless) without also providing some guidance, either empty drawn comb, foundation or (preferably) brood filled comb, will cause you and your bees grief in very short order.  

I've been using foundationless frames since 2007.  The first lesson learned teaches us that failing to provide proper guidance allows bees to do 'their' thing which usually opposes 'your' thing.   grin  Understanding honeybees natural tendencies can make life more enjoyable for both human and bee. Smiley
« Last Edit: December 22, 2013, 08:17:28 AM by T Beek » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2013, 07:48:23 AM »

I might try adding an empty box under the full one next year to see what happens. Since I am using foundation-less frames it might work out better in my situation. I would expect the brood nest to migrate to the lower box as time goes on. I will think about it I have a few months to plan before spring comes.
This is how Warre' hives are managed and it works well.
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2013, 07:51:03 AM »

Do feral bees build down and hived bees build up?

Excellent question.    Here is another one to ponder.

Why do beekeepers think providing ventilation is so important when feral colonies seal up the entire cavity except the entrance?
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2013, 08:27:48 AM »

""Why do beekeepers think providing ventilation is so important when feral colonies seal up the entire cavity except the entrance?""


Because man made ceilings are flat and allow condensation to drip on the cluster.

Natural feral hive ceilings are not flat and allow the drops to roll down the sides.

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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2013, 08:45:27 AM »

""Why do beekeepers think providing ventilation is so important when feral colonies seal up the entire cavity except the entrance?""


Because man made ceilings are flat and allow condensation to drip on the cluster.

Natural feral hive ceilings are not flat and allow the drops to roll down the sides.

The ones in trees, yes.

But the ones I have seen in walls of building, gas tanks, etc all had flat ceilings.   Condensation can easily be dealt with by making sure the highest insulated value is on top. Condensation then happens on the walls.  Much better solution than upper ventilation.  You wouldn't leave a window open upstairs in your house wink
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« Reply #20 on: December 22, 2013, 08:48:24 AM »

My attic has vents in the soffits, my basement has vents, and the main house has return air vents.
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« Reply #21 on: December 22, 2013, 08:54:51 AM »

My attic has vents in the soffits, my basement has vents, and the main house has return air vents.
Exactly my point....
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« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2013, 08:57:55 AM »

Dang it, Robo, it's 6, not a half dozen.   grin  grin
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« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2013, 11:52:50 AM »

Quote
My attic has vents in the soffits, my basement has vents, and the main house has return air vents.

right, but you don't leave the front door open in the winter....or you sure wouldn't here!! 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2013, 12:28:45 PM »

No, but I do recirculate the air through a drying machine. "the furnace"
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« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2013, 03:31:16 AM »

My attic has vents in the soffits, my basement has vents, and the main house has return air vents.
Exactly my point....
Robo, have you forgotten that   The American Bee keeper's association has suspended the laws governing heat and mass flow and declared any research that shows bees are better in 75% relative humidity as heresy? Smiley
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« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2013, 08:06:23 AM »

Robo, have you forgotten that   The American Bee keeper's association has suspended the laws governing heat and mass flow and declared any research that shows bees are better in 75% relative humidity as heresy? Smiley

Fortunately the ferals live by their own rules wink
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« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2013, 12:06:10 PM »

My attic has vents in the soffits, my basement has vents, and the main house has return air vents.

An attic without ridge vents or a top vent is a mold factory.  That’s why building codes require them.
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« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2013, 12:10:21 PM »

No top vent.  It gets even worse if you have a double decker nuc with no top vent  Wink

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« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2013, 03:23:03 PM »

Regarding humidity:

My experience with bees has been that too low of humidity is a bad thing, as is 100%.  When you add electric heat to a hive with a top vent, it really dries the hive out.  I would guess this might be due to the nature of electrical heat vs chemical heat (the bees heat).  Chemical heat (respiration) generates CO2 and H2O as a byproduct; naturally keeping humidity high.  Electrical heat generates no new H2O and will drive humidity levels low.  When using electrical heat in the spring, I have fed my bees WATER inside the hive and they suck it up like crazy.  Of coarse they need water to rear brood; so seeing them gorge on water is a good thing in the spring.  Seeing water in a hive in mid winter is a BAD thing  Sad 

If the main source of heat inside a hive is chemical, then you probably don’t have to worry about it ever becoming too dry.  At least I’ve never seen that happen in my hives.  But you do have to worry about it becoming too wet!
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« Reply #30 on: December 23, 2013, 04:51:00 PM »

Blue bee, you have assertions and assumptions. You have assumed mold is bad and moisture is bad, give science based reasoning.
Bees live in wild with and depend on the existence of  wood eating molds.
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« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2013, 06:10:00 PM »

I’ve had my share of dead moldy bees; so I do have some anecdotal evidence that moldy conditions do not favor bee survival.  Preventing mold is basic building science; no need to make assumptions or assertions on that.  I provided a photo for folks if theory isn’t enough.

As for assumptions, the assumption that bees existence “depends upon the existence of wood eating molds” is about as big of an assumption I’ve heard around here…outside the coffee house that is. Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2013, 06:18:26 PM »

Derekm, water is a total necessity for a human to live, until one walks into 10 feet of water and doesn't know how to swim. Mold can be good and/or bad.
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« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2013, 07:34:14 PM »

>"bees always build up so add more space to the top". Could someone clarify nature vs Langstroth?

In nature, they have no choice.  They move into a tree, hang from the top and build comb down.  The continue to expand down because it's where the space is and it's the natural direction bees build.  Bees do not naturally build up unless the space is above them and not below them.  Then they build up.  Langstroth hives are usually managed by adding boxes to the top.  This is most convenient for the beekeepers as they don't have to lift all the boxes and they don't have to dig down to the bottom to see if they ran out of room.  They can just open the top box and see if they ran out of room.  This is much more convenient and the bees really don't care.  They will work where there is space to work.
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« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2013, 03:31:49 AM »

I’ve had my share of dead moldy bees; so I do have some anecdotal evidence that moldy conditions do not favor bee survival.  Preventing mold is basic building science; no need to make assumptions or assertions on that.  I provided a photo for folks if theory isn’t enough.

As for assumptions, the assumption that bees existence “depends upon the existence of wood eating molds” is about as big of an assumption I’ve heard around here…outside the coffee house that is. Smiley

Who or what creates the cavities in trees?
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« Reply #35 on: December 24, 2013, 03:47:59 AM »

Derekm, water is a total necessity for a human to live, until one walks into 10 feet of water and doesn't know how to swim. Mould can be good and/or bad.
I had a hot shower this morning I neither rotted or drowned. There is condensation and mold in the shower room I yet I live.
I ate fungus last night and mold this morning, and I prosper.
If i am seriously ill my doctor might give me extract of a mould

I agree on mold being many things since it is an order with countless species. There are both "cows" and "tigers". Why do we assume the mold on the wood is a "tiger" to bees? Since that mold is attacking cellulose. And not protein that's a big jump.

Cheese is not gangrene.


We know bees clean up mold off comb and wood. Do they eat it or sweep it away?
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« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2013, 04:57:58 AM »

OK, I’ll grant you that mold/fungus can create convenient cavities in nature for bees to live in, so can wood boring insects, rodents, and other critters.  We know that bees can (and do) live in all kinds of spaces, even cellulose free places like polystyrene boxes, and old metal gas tanks.  Suggesting that wet moldy conditions are required for their existence seems like a stretch to me.   

And why would the bees go to all the time and trouble to coat their nest with propolis is they thrived around mold?  Seems this has already been answered to some degree by a scientific study as reported by the BBC:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8152000/8152574.stm

Just maybe the bees are doing the best they can to keep the mold away. I dunno

From a practical perspective, I don’t keep my bees in trees.  I keep them in hives that have been carved out with my table saw.  If mold has a useful purpose beyond making holes, I haven’t seen it. 

I wonder how many beeks really want to see mold in their hives over winter.  huh
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« Reply #37 on: December 29, 2013, 06:30:46 PM »

Having their nest sealed apart from the entrance help stop heat loss through passive and forced convection
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« Reply #38 on: December 29, 2013, 08:49:09 PM »

I apreciate the advice I should put a few drawn out combs In the box I add below. That way the bees have a good guide. Dave

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