I looked in my TBH yesterday and have some additional observations. The bees constructed comb in hand sized chunks along a topbar and then connected them together.
Combs were drawn out first toward the entrance from the first comb drawn and then worked proceeded toward the rear of the hive from that comb.
I just finished a TBH recently. I am looking forward to getting bees in there. I think it will truly be interesting to see how the cells get constructed. I will put this in fuoll sun too. I am curious about the I/Y positions.
Well, it's two weeks since I shook small cell bees into my top bar
hive. I inspected them today and took some pictures.
Go to www.geocities.com/usbwrangler for a look. Will send them to beesource shortly.
I have just uploaded
the shots there and the index.html will describe the filenames so the
relationships can be understood. Sorry it's pretty plain but I will
work on it as I have time.
The bees have now constructed some comb on topbars 1 through 9.
Topbars 6-8 which had little comb a week ago are now equal to the
largest topbar(5)the week before. The bees have also drawn lots of
comb on topbars 2 and 3. Topbars 1 and 9 have minor amounts of comb
drawn. The bees are clearly working on topbars 3-7 about equally.
Sealed worker brood is visible on topbars 3-6. Larger areas of
consistently drawn worker cells are clearly visible. Some drone brood
is present and being consistently drawn.
The Y's which were clearly oriented in the horizontal direction are
changing as the bees lengthen the comb. There has been a gradual
counter clockwise rotation downward so that many of the Y's are
nearly upside down vertically.
As the comb is lengthened, cells centers and sizes on one side of the
comb have lost some of their relationships to the cells on the other
side of the combs. This results in other configuratins than the
typical Y appearing in the bottom of the cells.
Shots taken by Pav in NZ and displayed on his website show the same
effect; double headed Ys, vertical lines, 3 equal lines, etc. in the
bottom of the cells.
I measured worker cells at 5.3mm and drone cells at 6.7mm. These
measurements were consist in different directions on the 4 combs with
brood. No smaller cells were seen.
The queen of this hive was obtained from stock raised and selected by
a major queen producer who runs his outfit on 5.0 to 5.1mm comb.
These bees had been exclusively on 4.9mm comb since early last
summer. They had done very well with it.
I was hoping to see lots of really small cells but it's still very
early in the comb drawing process for the bees. They started drawing
out with very much larger size cells and are now drawing out 5.3mm.
Maybe they have to work down to it ;> )
I'm frowning as a small cell beekeeper who knows how important small cell
is in the center of the broodnest.
It's a week later and I have inspected the Tbh again. Pictures are posted at www.geocities.com/usbwrangler and in the Bwrangles - Tbh Comb folder at BioBee Photos.
The very rapid rate of comb builded had diminished. Topbars 2 through 7 now have significant areas of sealed worker brood.
The bees have expanded the edges of the comb to within a beespace of the sides on topbars 3 through 7. No attachments to the sloping sides, yet. Although I have had to cut and bend back several inches of comb that the bees had redirected off the central beeswax strip at the end of two topbars. So far the 1 1/4" comb spacing has worked out well.
The bees continue to build 5.3 mm worker comb on topbar 9 so there is still no closure to the broodnest to the rear of the hive. I thought it was drone comb earlier and was in error. I must still have small cell baselined eyes.
No sign of 4.9mm sized cells anywhere. It appears that the bees determination of what size cell constitutes worker cells is primarily genetic and regression has no effect on the genetic determination, even though the larger cell bees can resist the mites when raised in the small cell comb.
It is very hard to determine just which way the Y's are pointing for Housel positioning. Any relationship between the two sides of the comb would be very complex and not the simple Y's orientation I had been looking at in manufactured foundation. Construction and transitions in cell size have, at best, a very loose relationship between the two sides of the comb. This results in frequent and rapid changes in the Y's orientation and in the translation of the Y into non-Y shapes. So far, I personally cannot find a relationship between the cell bottoms, the sequence of comb, or the comb orientation.
Initially, I thought the bees lost the orientation with time as they drew out the comb, but even very small comb only a dozen cells wide shows very little Y correlation.
New, freely drawn comb is very beautiful and is very complex.
I'm observing similar things. I do find a center comb on all of my hives with unembosed starter strips, but other than that the orientation is not a pattern that I can discern and varies over one comb as does the cell size.