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DaveWilliamsTX
09-27-2007, 09:33 AM
Something has been bothering me for some time now, with regards to when bees build either honey or brood comb.

I have a 48 inch TBH with bars of different widths for brood and for honey. I did a small removal from a birdhouse to get these bees just over a month ago, so they are fairly new to their new home, and have about 10 combs drawn. In the process of expanding so rapidly, they were mixing comb use for brood, honey, and pollen all on the same bar - probably not a big suprpise to anyone.

My questions are these:

Since the bees built some honeycomb on the thinner bars, will they trim the comb back later to make it more suitable for brood rearing?

How large (in numbers of bars) does a colony have to be to have true separation between the front brood chamber, and the honey in the rear?

Can I cycle these honeycombs on thin bars back through to the brood chamber without funky comb spacing issues?

Thanks,
Dave

Tim Hall
09-28-2007, 06:30 AM
I second Dave's questions (good questions Dave ;)). Langs seem pretty straight forward, but there's no such standardization with THB's, and much less standard literature about them. I'm still very fuzzy on management issues like this.

buckbee
09-29-2007, 01:28 AM
My questions are these:

Since the bees built some honeycomb on the thinner bars, will they trim the comb back later to make it more suitable for brood rearing?

How large (in numbers of bars) does a colony have to be to have true separation between the front brood chamber, and the honey in the rear?

Can I cycle these honeycombs on thin bars back through to the brood chamber without funky comb spacing issues?

Thanks,
Dave

Hi Dave,
The trouble with bees is that they don't read books. They will insist on doing things their way, despite our best efforts to educate them. :)
I have tried using different width bars, but as you rightly point out - unless you watch them every day, it is easy to lose track of what they are building and give them the wrong size bar for their needs.
I have been discussing this issue on my biobees forum, and next season we are going to experiment with removable shims, which would effectively convert narrow bars to wide ones and vice versa. I expect problems with propolis, but it may help overall in making combs interchangeable.
It is important to remember that, in their natural tree habitat, bees will tend to work vertically and store nectar and pollen above and around areas they use for brood. In order to persude them to do things more closely according to our needs, we are manipulating their environment and we cannot always expect that they will comply fully with our requirements.

biglipzit
09-29-2007, 10:35 AM
The only way I can see to control them in a TBH is to make a special bar with a queen excluder on it. That way when they start building fresh comb on another bar then you can put the excluder between the completed combs and the new comb and keep the queen out of the honey section. You can then give them the wider bars after tat point and when they fill up the brood comb then move the excluder and honey section along and give them a fresh brood bar to expand the brood chamber only as they need it.
Bees will often just build build build more comb and the queen will irregulary lay throughout the TBH if you don't confine her to about 6-8 combs. Only expanding the brood chamber as you see fit.

Just my .02 cents and when i get my TBH opperational I will definitely try it.

Michael Bush
09-29-2007, 11:35 AM
>Since the bees built some honeycomb on the thinner bars, will they trim the comb back later to make it more suitable for brood rearing?

Possibly.

>How large (in numbers of bars) does a colony have to be to have true separation between the front brood chamber, and the honey in the rear?

They will always put some honey close to the brood. This will be either above or on the edges of the comb. There is never a clear seperation.

>Can I cycle these honeycombs on thin bars back through to the brood chamber without funky comb spacing issues?

They will build comb that will fit and the thin bars will almost always be brood depth comb. So I don't follow the concern about funky comb spacing.

>I second Dave's questions (good questions Dave ). Langs seem pretty straight forward, but there's no such standardization with THB's, and much less standard literature about them. I'm still very fuzzy on management issues like this.

I think all of the same issues are there in langs, but people just ignore them. Honey always ends up thicker combs than brood.

JaiPea
09-29-2007, 01:22 PM
Bees don't have the same sense of tidiness and order as beeks do, they don't act in terms of separating brood and honey that we like.

If you look at a colony which has been in a wall cavity for a year or two you notice a couple of things. The highest IR thermometer reading is where the brood nest is located, and the lower it is on a wall the longer the colony has been there.

There is often more honey at the top of the nest than below. The queen starts laying when comb is drawn at the top and gradually moves down, either because she prefers to lay in new comb or because workers have filled cells with honey after brood emerged. The 'cap' of honey above brood keeps expanding downward if the bees do not consume it all over winter.

During a flow the bees build larger cells, so the fresh comb tends to be unsuited to brood rearing. In areas which do not have overwhelming flows, the bees often leave small comb in the center and build larger cells to the side so that the queen has room to expand. A strong flow will overcome this precaution, and that leads to becoming honeybound and swarming.

If the bees have room to expand sideways, the honey comb tends to one direction and brood comb to the other, and you can use that to your advantage in a TBH.

Bees know better than beeks what they want. If bees want honey comb during a flow and they only have narrow top bars available, some will cross-attach by using the edge of a bar to start comb rather than the center guide you provided and others will stay the course down the center but curve the outside to the next bar to get larger cells. One way or another they will achieve their objective.

I now run mostly narrow bars and use spacing to anticipate what the bees might do. A few bars are set in front of the brood nest to encourage the brood nest to grow in that direction. Bars set behind the brood nest are tight and gradually open up the further away they are. If the brood expands to the back rather than the front the spacing is adjusted accordingly. This approach is not a total solution, but it has reduced the amount of cross-bar attachments.

There are no absolutes, some hives will follow the plan exactly by expanding the brood nest forward and using the bars behind for honey but a change in queen by design or supercedure may lead to the colony reversing course.

allrawpaul
10-14-2007, 08:22 PM
Yes, storing honey in the brood area was an inconvenience for me as well. Next season I am not going to try to get them to put honey anywhere in particular. I will leave them their combs until they become honeybound, if they do. Otherwise I will just take the surplus in the fall. By that time they usually have moved the brood to a smaller area and there will be several frames of capped honey with a little pollen mixed in. Yes the honey will be stored partially in brood combs, but that comes with the territority I think.