View Full Version : Comb failure - this year's report
09-21-2004, 02:35 PM
I guys; it's been a busy Summer & Fall so I haven't been posting as much as before. Just a quick update on this year's comb failure.
Thought I'd wait until the bitter end when the Texas heat finally breaks. We didn't have as hot a summer as usual this year.
You may recall I decreased the depth of my combs but left the length of the bar alone, so they're still the standard 19-inch Langstroth length but only about 11-inches deep. The brood nest comb did well; perhaps this may be due to it being older comb and thus, a little stiffer. All the failed comb seems to be where only honey was stored (at the back of the hive) and was softer, "new" comb. These combs also tended to be much heavier than the brood nest comb.
The other change I had made, was that I left the false bottom board in all summer rather than allowing the screen bottom board to be in place (I will pull this next Spring and let them go with the screened bottom next summer). The hive has a total of 31 top bars (I removed the follower board now that the hive is "full" of bees and drawn comb). The failure was in the last five or six combs - on the west end of the hive.
Overall, I'm thinking this may not be a bad situation since the combs that failed are the ones I want to harvest as 'cut-comb' anyway. I suppose the trick will be to rob the hive as the bees cap over this new honey comb but before it fails!
Anyway, I think I'm about there as far as an optimal working TBH design - we'll see how they handle the screened bottom next summer...
09-21-2004, 03:23 PM
Well, I went to a short bar and the same depth (as my last one that failed) on the KTBH and had no failures.
I went to a 19" bar and a medium depth(6 5/8") on the TTBH and also had no failures.
So apparently you can get more depth if you slope the sides and you can get more length and get by with square sides if the depth is shorter.
What the optimimum size is, I still can't say, but I liked the medium one a lot. When I did a standard Lansgtoth Deep TTBH (9 5/8") it collapsed. I suppose I could try 7 5/8" or try a sloped sided box under the medium box. I think both might work ok.
09-21-2004, 06:29 PM
I'm thinking I've closed in on the optimum size (at least with using the 19-inch long bars) at a depth of aroung 10 or 11 inches (in a slope-sided TBH). The reason I say this, is because even though the new, soft "honey storage" comb failed this first year, I suspect it won't next year - if the brood comb can serve as an example (i.e., it had no failures). My intent is to maintain a few top bars at the back of the hive for 'comb honey' selection and if I cut this comb about one to one-and-half inches from the bottom of the top bar (roughly the point at which it fails), then I should be able to rob the hive of a piece of cut comb that's on the order of 9 to 10 inches deep (which appears to be about the maximum possible, before comb failure strikes).
The interesting thing to me is that the age / stiffness of the comb seems to play a role in the comb's success that you don't experience in a normal 'frame' hive. And I would alert anyone just beginning to consider a TBH to prepare for this difference and plan to not have their "final" opinions formed for at least a couple of years.
09-22-2004, 05:10 AM
>I'm thinking I've closed in on the optimum size (at least with using the 19-inch long bars) at a depth of aroung 10 or 11 inches (in a slope-sided TBH).
Mine that failed was 9 5/8 and straight sided, so maybe you're right on a slope sided one.
> The reason I say this, is because even though the new, soft "honey storage" comb failed this first year, I suspect it won't next year - if the brood comb can serve as an example (i.e., it had no failures). My intent is to maintain a few top bars at the back of the hive for 'comb honey' selection and if I cut this comb about one to one-and-half inches from the bottom of the top bar (roughly the point at which it fails), then I should be able to rob the hive of a piece of cut comb that's on the order of 9 to 10 inches deep (which appears to be about the maximum possible, before comb failure strikes).
It might work, since the comb above is a bit stronger. I was figuring on cutting it closer to the top.
>The interesting thing to me is that the age / stiffness of the comb seems to play a role in the comb's success that you don't experience in a normal 'frame' hive.
It does, they just ignore it because the wires make up for some of it and the midrib is old wax. Still you extract brand new wired wax comb aggressively and you'll get a nice explosion in the extractor. http://www.beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif It's also critical with foundationless frames to pay attention to the newness and softness of the comb.
08-19-2011, 06:54 PM
bump. More from 2004 about comb failure in TBH ... and what seems to be the direction to head to minimize this problem.
08-19-2011, 07:40 PM
Reading this old thread I think if I was txbeeguy I would put a false floor in the section of his hive with fresh new comb to be harvested to shorten up the deep there but still maintain a deeper brood comb in the front half of the hive where the older brood combs would be.
08-20-2011, 06:59 AM
"...I cut this [honey] comb about one to one-and-half inches from the bottom of the top bar (roughly the point at which it fails), then I should be able to rob the hive of a piece of cut comb that's on the order of 9 to 10 inches deep (which appears to be about the maximum possible, before comb failure strikes). ..."
I think this is his solution to minimizing honey comb failure, as opposed to a false floor under part of the hive. Leave a border of old comb below the top bar, so the softer new comb will not be as deep.
08-20-2011, 07:36 AM
It should help when there are enough old combs available. But why take the hard work the bees did in making and building that bottom bit of comb when you can just encourage them to build it on the next empty bar.
08-20-2011, 04:03 PM
Yeah, I can see your point, Delta. I think this is a case of "your mileage may vary" -- different solutions to the problem.
08-31-2011, 08:11 PM
for what it's worth, I live in south texas and it is extremely hot here (been over 100 every day for a long long time now)...golden mean hive, front entrance only, completely enclosed (no vented bottom) and they seem to be doing ok...they are bracing the honey comb though...when I pulled bars towards the back out today, they were all solidly built and doing fine
I've read that bees actually like airtight spaces because they can control the temp better and it appears that may be true...perhaps these TBHs that have vented bottoms hurt more than help in regards to temp management (I know some ppl do it for other reasons like mites)?
08-31-2011, 09:49 PM
Huber's New Observations on Bees, C.P. Dadant Translation Volume Two Chapter VIII
We introduced a candle into the bell jar, the hole corresponding to the door of the hive being left open. The flame did not long maintain its first brilliancy. It soon diminished, and at the end of 8 mins. Went out, although the capacity of the vessel was about 3228 cubic ins. The upper part of the bell jar was warm, and the indicators gave no sign of any current of air.
After having renewed the air which had been con-sumed, we repeated the experiment. The candle went out after the same length of time, showing that one opening only is not sufficient of circulation of air, unless it is put in motion by some outside agency.
Having again renewed the air of the vessel, we re-placed the candle, and hung several indicators near the door. When these preparations were made we started the ventilator. At once two currents of air were established: the indicators showed this clearly swinging to and from the door, and the brilliancy of the light did not diminish at all during the course of the experiment, which could be prolonged indefinitely. A thermometer placed at the lower part of the apparatus registered 40° F (122° F or 50° C) and the temperature in the upper part was evidently higher.
I wished to see whether my ventilator would provide enough air for two lighted candles. They burnt for 15 minutes and then went out together. In another test where the mill had not been started they burned for 3 minutes only.
We tried increasing the number of openings in the side of the box, but were not successful. One of the two candles went out at the end of 8 minutes. The other kept alight as long as the ventilator was in motion. I had therefore not obtained a stronger current by multiplying the openings.
"These experiments show that in a place with an opening only on one side, air can renew itself when there is some mechanical cause tending to displace it, and this seems to confirm our conjectures on the effect which the fanning of bees has on the hive."
08-31-2011, 10:00 PM
excellent info! my bees fan nearly all day but we are over 100 every day too :)
09-02-2011, 04:38 PM
We have also been over 100 most of this summer. My bees were installed May 26 of this year. They have only 9 combs. Last weekend we had 109 degrees one day. The extreme heat caused two combs to fall. I was on a trip and returned 3 days or so after the fall. The bees had already begun to right the problem! I cleaned up the mess on the bottom of the hive and today those little ladies have the entire mess on the bottom all tidied up. They have also sealed up most of the three holes at the entry. There are two little bee space holes in each entry....they just never cease to amaze me! My biggest concern is this drought! They are making honey and comb, but ever so slowly. They're not taking the syrup I provide. They're drinking loads of water, so I'm assuming they're getting something somewhere. Is there anything else I should do to help them out. We have only had 4 inches of rain since last Sept. It's brutally brown here!
09-03-2011, 11:26 AM
Man thats hot!
I'm only going by what I have read where as long as the colony has access to water they can control in hive temps. Night time could turn into a problem as they won't leave the hive to collect water and if they use all their water before day light in hive temps could be difficult for them to control.
09-06-2011, 06:18 AM
100+, 100+, 100+ and drought, 109+ . I bet long term it will be impossible to raise European honey bees in southwest USA.
09-06-2011, 06:31 AM
this is not the norm here. Last year we only had one day at 100. This summer has been extremely rare heat and drought....today we're 51 and highs this week will be mid 90's...getting better. But my bees have still closed their entryways. Perplexed by all this.
09-11-2011, 12:15 AM
100's are the norm in the summer here, just not over 80 days of them with less than 6 inches of rain for the entire year. And now La Nina is back. Even the native trees are dying.