In my top bar hives, I create a beeswax ridge down the center of each top bar. This ridge is produced by pouring hot beeswax into the notch of a wooden mold. The ridge helps the bees orient their comb building down the length of the top bar. This method works most of the time, but not all of the time.
I wondered if I could produce a simple mold that would mimic the very first part of the bees natural comb that attaches to the top bar. This mold would still produce a central ridge, but the first hint of a cell wall would project from the central ridge at a right angle to it. It would be much like the wax remanent that is left when comb is cut off a top bar.
So, I went back to my top bar comb shots and began measuring the cell sizes in the top row of cells next to the top bar.
Guess what? With a few exceptions, they all start out at just about the same size! It didn't matter whether the comb was broodnest or storage comb. And within a row or two, the bees would expand or contract the cell size to accomodate their comb building needs.
For my tbh, these cell sizes ranged from 5.0mm to 5.67mm. The vast majority of measurements were in 5.63 to 5.67mm range. The average was 5.64mm.
Well, I couldn't stop there. I did the same thing with the small cell Lusbee comb shots from Barry's top bar hive. And I observed the same construction pattern in this comb although the numbers are different.
For Barry's tbh, these cell sizes ranged from 4.6mm to 5.83mm. The vast majority of measurements were in the 5.3 to 5.5mm range. The average was 5.44mm.
What do you think?