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?
I must say, as a rookie who know's nothing, I wouldn't be surprised if the first few rows of cells weren't recognised by the bee's as having their own purpose of "anchoring" the comb.
But then again, they would be structurally more sound if the cells were smaller.
Maybe the bee's flunked statics
here's a pic I posted before
it's a frame with a 4.9 mm starter strip
after a few rows they drew it pretty true to the foundation
I had noticed how they got a bit larger once they got off the foundation strip (this was their first shot at this, no attempts at "regression")
I hadn't looked at the first row or 2 where they attached to the topbar
It's a little funky looking
What do you think [img]smile.gif[/img]
if you take a topbar, and rotate it so you cantilever the comb till it fails, how does it fail?
does it tear the comb from the topbar?
or does it produce a failure in the wax at some point near the topbar?
in other words, where does the failure occur
if you haven't payed attention to this, don't worry, I make these mistakes all the time, I'll get us some data
[size="1"][ October 07, 2005, 07:01 PM: Message edited by: drobbins ][/size]
Hi Dave and Everyone,
I've looked at your photos and that shot is typical of small cell size starter strips. A close inspection reveals that after the initial row, the bees wanted larger cell size comb.
I experimented with small cell starter strips in a top bar hive. The results were about the same. See the first photo at: http://bwrangler.bravehost.com/atemp.htm
This top bar was inserted between comb in the broodnest. And the bees were actively drawing out small cell sized comb on either side of it. Yet, the same kind of problems developed.
It appears foundation is actually an impediment to comb drawing. It frustrates the bees as they attempt to draw out a particular cell size, at a specific location, when constructing the broodnest structure. That results is the funky comb.
The cells on the comb on either side of this top bar were very regular. No foundation was used on them.
See the second shot at:
On another note, I'll bet I know why 5.4mm foundation based comb gets drawn out so much better than 4.9mm foundation.
>if you take a topbar, and rotate it so you cantilever the comb till it fails, how does it fail?
When the combs are hanging in a natural postion, they seldom fail at their attachment to the top bar. Rather, the comb itself fails structurally in a classic reverse catenary shape.
If they are damaged or rotated out of their natural plane, the shape depends upon the moment arm and the location of the damage.
Incidentially, new comb is much weaker than older comb. A single season makes alot of difference in the comb strength. I'm very particular with new comb but I'm not very particular with older comb.
[size="1"][ October 08, 2005, 11:34 AM: Message edited by: BWrangler ][/size]
Howdy Dennis and all!
SOunds like using small cell starter strips v. other size starter strips doesn't matter, you will end up with the same anyway.
Dennis if you wanted to convert to small cell in a lang frame hive how would you do it?
Or would you want to use natural cell?
The recent bee culture article from scandinavia has me thinking strongly about it.
First, any starter strips used shouldn't be that are less than 5.4mm in cell size. Probably, a starter strip should be closer to 5.6mm.
I've also measured the rate/angle of taper in brood cell size and it is also very consistent. In a deep frame, its heigth shouldn't yield very much small cell sized comb. It should be noted that I haven't tried natural comb in a Lang hive.
So, other than constructing a new roller for a foundation mill, maybe the bees can be tricked into doing it for us. Here's a thought and interesting experiment. Maybe a 5.4mm starter strip could be used, followed by a gap and then some small cell foundation. If the gap were appropriately spaced, maybe the bees would adapt the larger starter strip comb into the small cell size foundation without much fuss.
>Dennis if you wanted to convert to small cell in a lang frame hive how would you do it?
If the larger cell comb is clean, I would insert a few frames of small cell foundation into the broodnest. Then I would rotate the larger cell size comb toward the outside edge of the broodnest as they are replaced with the small cell sized frames. I would aim for 4 to 6 frames of small cell comb in the center of each broodnest box. Eventually, this large cell comb could be used in honey supers.
If the comb has been treated with pesticides, I would only preserve frames with brood in them and replace all other broodnest comb with small cell foundation. Once enough small cell frames exist to replace the original brood frames, I would remove them from the hive.
I would use non-contaiminating treatments if mites become a problem during this process. Keep the wax clean and the hives alive and drawing out new small cell sized comb.