View Full Version : Top Bar Comb cell size
02-16-2005, 04:54 PM
I posted this already elsewhere, but thought it was about Top Bars so here it is:
And here is how you measure it:
Just to show some measurements. Here is the first brood comb I found in my Top Bar Hive today. To measure, start at the 10mm mark and count over 10 cells. Looks like 4.7cm for ten cells to me. That's 4.7mm. When the bees are flying I'll try to actually look through the hive for some smaller ones.
I put a package of large cell Carniolans in this hive in the Spring 2004. There was no comb just bar top bars. I have swapped no comb out.
02-17-2005, 11:53 AM
MB but what was the first few rows drawn. Most of the time you get a few rows of drones then lc worker and slowly gets down to 4.5 that are used for worker brood. Remember nearly all mine measuring has been done on the foundationless frames. I got some 4.6 on the first frame drawn in a colony on LC with only a medium deep frame. This frame had to much LC on it for my liking trying to get to SC. The more frames I put in the quicker they drew the small cell from the top bar of the frame. The bees have drawn some(very little) 4.4 which normally gets used for pollen storage. I have not measured any cell smaller than 4.4. I really enjoyed TopBarGuy's drawing with the different cell sizes as you went down from the TB.
02-17-2005, 12:53 PM
>MB but what was the first few rows drawn.
Do you mean at the top of this particular comb? They are larger, but I didn't measure them. I put it back in the hive after I took the picture. The cells at the top had been honey storage before. If you mean the first few combs, I never measured on this hive. But in the past they usually run about 5.1mm or so.
>Most of the time you get a few rows of drones then lc worker and slowly gets down to 4.5 that are used for worker brood.
>The more frames I put in the quicker they drew the small cell from the top bar of the frame. The bees have drawn some(very little) 4.4 which normally gets used for pollen storage. I have not measured any cell smaller than 4.4.
Maybe I should measure some of the pollen storage cells. smile.gif I'm always trying to just measure brood cells.
02-17-2005, 01:08 PM
Steve Taber did a interesting experiment on comb drawing. He just kept inserting new foundation(large cell) into the center of a hive and rotating newly draw frames outward. Eventually the bees rebelled at having all worker comb and started reworking some of the foundation to drone size comb. He removed the drone comb and the bees then reworked newly drawn worker comb to drone comb. There's something about cell size distribution that the bees can sense. Now how they do that would be some interesting speculation :>)
And when it's out of balance, or tune :>), the bees make adjustments for it. It appears that when a cavity is too short, and the natural taper on the cell size doesn't allow for much small cell, the bees will construct a couple of combs that are almost entirely small cell size. I'm not sure of the percentage, but it appears to be much less than the amount of small cell comb that is constructed in a deeper cavity.
If anyone wants to actually see the taper in cell size check out:
The taper is easily discernable without measuring. All the natural broodcombs I've measured show this taper, although not all are as visible, without measuring, as these.
Incidently, the strip of comb on the left side of the web page is from the same photo as Hillbillnursery mentions above.
I've sure enjoyed working with comb spacing/cell size issues. And enjoy reading other beekeeper's observations.
I think, the bees are going to be much more healthy and beekeeping a whole lot easier when these factors and their importance are understood. I know how important having enough small cell comb, in the right place, is. And I know the bees do better job of broodnest construction when comb is spaced at 1 1/4" in the broodnest.