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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    My top bar hive with blank starter strips had a package installed april the 18th and has now built comb on 7 out of nine bars. (I will move them to a trough hive later). The combs are all off center on my left if I'm standing at the back which is north. The bars and the combs run north and south, paralell to the entrance.

    The positioning is hard to explain, but I'll try to explain it so it makes some kind of sense. Since the bees don't actually build a "Y" they build a sort of evenly spaced three verticies in the middle of the bottom of a cell, I will simply try to describe where one arm of the three falls on a clock.

    As to the center comb first, standing at the back of the hive looking at the center comb, it is a sideways "Y" with the bar sticking out at right angles at the 3 o'clock position in the bottom of the cell.

    This is standing from the back of the hive looking at all of the combs from the same side (the back). Bar 4 is the center one.

    There are virtually NO combs that are a straight up "Y" or an inverted "Y" except bar 6.

    Bar 1 is in the 7 o'clock position.
    Bar 2 is in the 5 o'clock position.
    Bar 3 is in the 4 o'clock position.
    Bar 4 is in the 3 o'clock position.
    Bar 5 is in the 2 o'clock position.
    Bar 6 is in the 1 o'clock position. (this is a straight up "Y")
    Bar 7 is in the 12 o'clock position.

    I have two more hives with blank starters. One is a swarm in a five frame nuc and the other is a package in three medium boxes with all blank starter strips on medium frames. I will check on them later and see if they continue this pattern. My thinking on the three boxes was to see how the bees organize the space I intend to give them for a brood rearing area if they have that space from the begining.

    I was rather surprised that it seemed a bit random. I make it look more like a pattern that it seems when I look at the pictures of the orientation, but basically only one was what I percieve as right side up. Now I'm more puzzled than ever.

    Anyone else have anything to report?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    I read your post three times and I am not sure what direction which arm bar is pointing.

    If they are even then:
    10 - 2 - 6 = Y
    11 - 3 - 7 = L?
    12 - 4 - 8 = I - Inverted
    1 - 5 - 9 = R?
    These are the only combinations on a clock unless you use inbetween hours.

    Bill

    [This message has been edited by BULLSEYE BILL (edited May 10, 2003).]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    803

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    Hello Everyone,

    I was planning on putting some bees in my TBH with blank starter strips this weekend, but it's snowing with a high of 38 degrees F.

    I will try again next weekend.

    Interesting results. Do you have photos? It's a very difficult task to describe the orientation by words. In some of my small cell comb the orientations on one side of the comb had no relationship at all to the other side.

    Dennis

    [This message has been edited by BWrangler (edited May 10, 2003).]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I'm not sure they are evenly spaced. They are all rather inconsistent looking, but basicaly there was only one that looked like either an upside down or right side up "Y". The rest moved gradually counter clockwise as I moved from the back to the front and that was difficult to see as a pattern because it wasn't that consistent either. I am rounding off the angles to even numbers on the clock and that perhaps is too much leeway. I guess I was expecting something that was a more obvious pattern. Maybe I should go back and try to make actual degree measurements sometime.

    The center comb would look like a straight sideways "Y" from either side, so it is the only comb that would look the same from both sides.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    803

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    Hi MIchael and Everyone,

    The orientation of the center comb you have observed is the same as the Lusby's have reported.

    I have looked at pictures of natural comb in the literature and have noticed the orientation can change even on the same side of the comb, but it generally ended up mostly with mostly vertical or inverted y's.

    Regards
    Dennis

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I was surprised how inconsistent it all was while still looking fairly organized. I'm used to comb that always has a flat top and bottom, this is not all a flat top and bottom. Sometimes the point is more on the top and bottom and sometimes not. On any given comb it's incosistent too. Maybe I need to pick a consistent spot, like the center top of each comb and go from there.

    I thought of trying to do pictures but you can't lay a top bar down very easily to hold the camera and I couldn't figur out how to hold the top bar and run the camera.

    I have one of those racks that goes on the end to hold frames, maybe I'll try using it to get some pictures later, but it's acutally quite difficult to see the orientation with bees all over everything and even harder to get a picture where it's visible.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
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    Bees dont build straight combs naturally, I beleive it is organized, but our minds are far too large to understand such things. We can only observe behaviour.


    ------------------
    Sol Parker
    Southern Oregon Apiaries
    http://www.allnaturalhoney.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Part of my problem is I'm looking at one spot on each comb. To do this well, it would help if there weren't bees all over it and if I measured actual degress in multiple places on each comb. Mabye if I got enough info, I could see more of a pattern.

    I guess I think orientation matters to the bees from the experience of turning a comb around that they didn't like to draw and having them draw it, but I'm still not seeing clearly what orientation they build.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
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    261

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    I have a different cell issue, and that is size.
    I got 3 packages of italian bees 1 week ago. I set them up on 4.9mm full foundation (fo 2 of the 3) and a 1" strip of 4.9mm foundation for the third package).
    When I opened them yesterday to remove the queen cage and the queen "includer" (excluder placed above the bottom board and below the brood box), I saw comb built that had a huge variation in cell size all within a very small area: from 6.7 to 5.1mmm in the most extreme case.
    Since the idea of using 4.9mm foundation is to help (i.e. force?) the bees to build smaller cells that they are grown in (presumably around 5.4mm), is it normal to see this? Will it continue throughout the whole brood hive?
    Could this have to do with using a "queen includer"? I noticed that the poor drones were actually trapped in there because they could not get out through the "includer" and, when I opened the top, an batalion of drones came out and buzzed around my head until I left (they must have been desperate in there).

    The other thing I noticed is that the 2 hives building on full foundation frames had built comb on 3-4 frames (one had 2.5 frames almost compeltely drawn out, the other 3.5 frames). The 3rd hive that is building comb on thin strips hade made comb "lobes" on 7 or 8 of the frames. Added together, it may be 3 full frames or so. I thought that that was pretty fast for just strips.

    Jorge

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >I saw comb built that had a huge variation in cell size all within a very small area: from 6.7 to 5.1mmm in the most extreme case.
    Since the idea of using 4.9mm foundation is to help (i.e. force?) the bees to build smaller cells that they are grown in (presumably around 5.4mm), is it normal to see this? Will it continue throughout the whole brood hive?

    Normally you see the large size on the edges of the frame or more so on outer frames, near the outside of the broodnest. You do always see those. You may get an occasional one in the middle of some nice 5.1mm or so cells because they were just trying to make the odds and ends add up and used it or an extremely small one to make up some difference.

    >Could this have to do with using a "queen includer"?

    No.

    >I noticed that the poor drones were actually trapped in there because they could not get out through the "includer" and, when I opened the top, an batalion of drones came out and buzzed around my head until I left (they must have been desperate in there).

    Yes the drones get trapped and eventually they will die trying to get out if you don't let them. Too many can actually occlude the excluder (includer) and block access to the hive for all the workers too.

    >The other thing I noticed is that the 2 hives building on full foundation frames had built comb on 3-4 frames (one had 2.5 frames almost compeltely drawn out, the other 3.5 frames). The 3rd hive that is building comb on thin strips hade made comb "lobes" on 7 or 8 of the frames. Added together, it may be 3 full frames or so. I thought that that was pretty fast for just strips.

    My experience is that strips are not that much slower, especially if the bees are being fed to speed up comb drawing. Also, they bees get to do it in the more natural fashion of building comb inside of the cluster on several combs at once, instead of whole sheets. I think this natural action accounts for some of the speed.

  11. #11

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    Michael Bush wrote:
    I guess I think orientation matters to the bees from the experience of turning a comb around that they didn't like to draw and having them draw it,

    Michael, have you ever considered there was some other "cause & effect" for this situation? Perhaps what you observed was not due to turning the comb around but to something else.

    I'm finding it interesting that your observations as to cell orientation are not supporting what you seemed to expect.

    This is closing in on what I consider to be "true science"; that is, running your own "experiments" to see if you can duplicate what someone else has claimed to be the case. The same is true for all this 4.9mm cell size stuff. I think you guys will generally learn a lot from the bees in the not too distant future.

    When sitting up true scientific experiments, it's absolutely necessary to keep an open mind about the results which are obtained and not make the results bend to your desired outcome. Michael, I commend you for your honest observations and result reporting.

  12. #12
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    Aug 2002
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    >Michael, have you ever considered there was some other "cause & effect" for this situation? Perhaps what you observed was not due to turning the comb around but to something else.

    Yes, but I haven't come up with a good theory to fit the facts since the only thing that seems to change when rotating the frame is the orientation.

    >I'm finding it interesting that your observations as to cell orientation are not supporting what you seemed to expect.

    I am also. I didn't really have any specific expectations except that I did expect to see a more obvious pattern of some sort. It may be that the pattern is more complex than I was expecting, or that there is none.

    >This is closing in on what I consider to be "true science"; that is, running your own "experiments" to see if you can duplicate what someone else has claimed to be the case.

    That's why I'm doing the blank starter strips. I can't really know what the bees would do on their own if I don't let them do it on their own.

    >The same is true for all this 4.9mm cell size stuff. I think you guys will generally learn a lot from the bees in the not too distant future.

    That's the other thing I hope to see with the blank strips is if they will naturally regress as I give succeeding generations blank strips to draw and how far they will regress. Since the true feral bees around here are quite small in comparison to my bees, I expect there to be regression back to that size. But I don't know how far and how fast they will do it on their own.

    >When sitting up true scientific experiments, it's absolutely necessary to keep an open mind about the results which are obtained and not make the results bend to your desired outcome.

    It is hard not to have expectations, since usually an experiment is set up to try to prove or disprove your expectations. However, I have no personal stake in anything here except to find out what happens. Sometimes things are not as clear cut as we would like.

    >Michael, I commend you for your honest observations and result reporting.

    Thanks.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    West Harrison, NY, USA
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    Michael,

    I could send you a picture with an example of the cell size variation I was talking about. The very larg cells are not just at the edges but all over.
    How can I send a picture to you or post it here?

    Jorge

  14. #14
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I think the simplest and least irratating to everyone is when you put a reference to the picture in your post and then we can click on it and see. You could do that, or post it here, or send it to me. I would like to see it. If they are just scattered it may be they are just trying to make things come out right again. If there are areas of them, then maybe they are trying to make drone comb.

    What frame in the hive are these on? On off the frames or just the outside frames?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hello Everyone,

    Just put some small cell bees into my tbh today. So I should have some observations soon. I plan on using photos to document my observations.

    Stay Tuned
    Dennis

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Greetings,

    Six days after installing small cell bees into my TBH, I have some results to report.

    About three boxes of bees were shaken into my tbh from a small cell hive. The bees cluster on the first 9 topbars starting at the hive entrance.

    The largest comb was constructed on topbar 5. It occupies an area about the size of two hands. The cells are much larger than I expected and the Y's are oriented horizontally on this comb.

    Topbar 4 has less comb and the cells are also large with the Y's oriented horizontally.

    Topbar 3 has the least amount of drawn comb. Cell size is also large and the Y's are oriented about 15 degrees below horizontal.

    I didn't measure the cell size but lots of it is drone size.

    I have taken some pictures. They should be available for viewing shortly.

    Regards
    Dennis

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    Michael Bush wrote:
    Bar 1 is in the 7 o'clock position.
    Bar 2 is in the 5 o'clock position.
    Bar 3 is in the 4 o'clock position.
    Bar 4 is in the 3 o'clock position.
    Bar 5 is in the 2 o'clock position.
    Bar 6 is in the 1 o'clock position. (this is a straight up "Y")
    Bar 7 is in the 12 o'clock position.

    Reply:
    Sounds and looks good Michael. I take it you have the one opening the frames are parallel to. and the center is non-directional to you are seeing.So you know what a non0direction comb looks like now. So how does the hive line up (since bees could do it on a limb) to first sun in morning and last sun in afternoon as sun progressesses and moves north? Sounds like the bees are slightly changing as sun moves north. Just great to see. Means a lot! Too bad you don't have one in full sun to compare to to see difference.

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  18. #18
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    These were from my top bar hive, but I do have a hive of medium frames with blank strips in full sun. I didn't map it as carefully, but I looked at it yesterday and it was similar. The center comb was the sideways "Y" which is, as you say, the same from both sides. The rest seems to move around from there as the top bar hive did.

    So far there seems to be a center comb like this in all of them.

    I'll get a chance to check the nuc sometime next week if the weather and work permit.

    Also, I'd say, I'm looking through my hives of feral bees and some, actually the calmest ones, are very small already and so is the queen. I'm assuming they were a hived swarm from feral bees last fall. The queen, while she is longer than the small bees and has wings that go almost to her tail is noticably smaller than a "normal" queen. At least 3/16" shorter. She is black and the bees in the hive are mostly dark italian markings. Kind of reddish brown.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Greetings,

    I've got pictures posted of the combs noted above at:
    http://www.beesource.com/eob/althive/murrell/index.htm

    Be sure to click on the thumbnail for a larger view if desired.

    I'm also posting some general topbar hive obervations in the equipment forum - any tbh users.

    Enjoy
    Dennis

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
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    I want to report on my first measurements of cell size after starting on 4.9mm foundation.

    I setup 3 queens from 3lb packages exactly 15 days ago. 2 of them I setup on frames with full 4.9mm foundation, and the third on 1" strips of the same stuff. Today I found lots of comb drawn in all 3, but the 2 started on full foundation are already regressed to 4.8-4.95mm. In some places I even measured 4.75. I was very careful and I have a good and accurate metric gauge so I am confident that these measurements are correct with at most a 0.05mm margin of error.

    Interestingly, the hive started on strips is making only 5.05-5.15mm cells but also quite a lot of >6mm cells around the bottom edges of the ?lobes? being built, that I suppose will harbor drones. These cells are not just one row of large cells here and there. These are 2 frames out of 8 that have several rows around the bottom with large cells.

    Another interesting observation is that virtually all of the wax being made is made with real nectar. Out of the 1.2 gallons or so that I have fed them with (top hive + entrance feeders), in each of the 3 hives, they have used at most 1/4gal each. In fact, today I dumped it all and put 1/4gal top hive feeders (yoghurt containers with tiny holes) instead just in case they want some.

    Finally, I followed the Housel positioning in all, but I did not pay attention today to the issue of the Y orientation, just cell size. I'll check orientation next time.

    Jorge

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