From the Thorpe UK Catalogue (page 14, current one):
"A wild colony in Europe builds comb for brood at 35-38mm centers. This is deep enough for worker brood cells, with enough space between facing combs for nurse bees to tend larvae oon both combs at the same time. For frames that the queen will lay in, whether deep or shallow, this spacing must be adhered to. In the wild, colonies build combs for honey storage much wider than for brrod and often with drone sized cells. Less wax is used and more honey is stored for far less effort. The beekeeper may want to keep all frames though the hive at the narrow spacing, or use wider spacing for honey supers by using wide ends."
So, two questions: 35-38mm for the brood? Thought it needed to be 35mm exactly?
Other thing is, how thick does a feral colony build its honey stores, and would it make sense to have wider bars for that part, and if so, how wide should they be?
>So, two questions: 35-38mm for the brood? Thought it needed to be 35mm exactly?
The bees space combs differently depending on their use for them. Small cell bees build them 32mm (1 1/4") apart where there is nothing but brood. Larger bees (from 5.4mm combs) build brood combs 35mm apart. They build cells for honey larger and space the combs further apart. Sometimes as large as 35 to 41mm (1 3/8" to 1 5/8" or more).
Many beekeepers here in the US put nine frame spacers in a Lanstroth box for brood which makes spacing of about 38mm (1 1/2") . The bees will use this fine, but will build some of the honey storage space (in the brood nest) out more. The disadvantage to this is if you rearrange the combs in the brood nest you could end up with some honey protruding into the face of some brood and the brood can't get out or honey comb that is contacting honey comb on the adjacent comb.
Another question is if bees build the cell sizes based on the spacing. A reference to this is on this site:
I wonder if it will help regressing to space them more at the 32mm spacing.
One of the TBH's I will be using this spring has 32mm (1 1/4") spacing in the brood area and 38mm (1 1/2") spacing for the honey area. I don't know how this will work but I often space them 1 1/2" in the supers and it works very well.
>Other thing is, how thick does a feral colony build its honey stores, and would it make sense to have wider bars for that part, and if so, how wide should they be?
They build cells for honey larger and space the combs further apart. Sometimes as large as 35 to 41mm (1 3/8" to 1 5/8" or more).
I'd go for the 38mm spacing for the honey. But you could go as high as 40mm.
Unless you feel like managing different tap bars and marking their breadth, I would stick with a single size. Although the bees can use up to 41mm combs, I think you may find the comb built irregularly. Ysing the narrower bars I think helps encourage the bees to build nice straight and flat capped honey comb.
Scott's right. If you use the conventional 1 & 3/8 spacing the bees wll keep their combs nice and even. If they do build one out a bit far and leave a dip in another you can alway shave the high one and scratch the cappings off the low. They will come back and do it right the second time.
In a Langstroth hive it is common practice to leave the brood chambers with the close spacing but to put only 9 frames in a super. The bees will build the comb out wider and make it easier to uncap, storing the same amount of honey in 9 frames as in l0. I would not use the wide spacing in a TBH. No need to as you are going to harvest by cuttng comb anyway. Using the wide top bar also results in a greater strain on the comb, more liklihood of a comb collapse. Just an opinion, not experience.
Sometimes the bees try to cheat especially on the ends of the bars. That's one of the reasons I wanted to go to 1 1/4" in the brood and 1 1/2" in the honey area. Seems like in spite of the centering devices the bees try to space them further in the honey area and narrower in the brood area. It seems like it would be easier to just let them rather than trying to control this urge on the part of the bees.
How many of the bars do you I make for Brood?
In the end I planned on the bees deciding. I made my box three Langstroth width boxes long (48 3/4"). I estimated the brood nest would take up at least half of that so I made 1 1/4" bars until I got to the middle and then made the rest 1 1/2". I will see what they do. I may make more of the 1 1/4" or more of the 1 1/2" depending on what the bees do.
Early broodnest measurement of European bees indicate 32mm or 1 1/4 inches for brood comb spacing. Measurements of feral Eurobees in NZ also confirm the 32mm for brood.
I used 1 1/4 inches and the bees centered brood comb on that spacing. The broodnest in my tbh occupied about 14 top bars.
After that, the comb spacing increased rapidly.
I will try 1 3/8" spacing throughout my next tbh. Although it might not be optimum for the brood, satisfactory results have been reported overall.
Well Michael has brought up a very valid point. "Let the bees do what they want". Hey if the bees want to space the honey comb more, then by all means I should. It just means that I need to be prepared and have enough spares of various sized of top bars.
Sounds yucky having to manage different top bars, but if the bees' happiness and therefore stress and health are improved, I am all for it.
I will have to experiment with this. I am preparing for a brood nest that is a little as 10 bars, to as big as 20 bars.
Michael does there seem to be any intermediate comb spacing between the brood and the honey? You know how there are intermediate cells between worker comb and drone comb. I was wondering if the spacing continued to increase over the span of more than 1 or 2 bars.
>Sounds yucky having to manage different top bars, but if the bees' happiness and therefore stress and health are improved, I am all for it.
(lol) I'm not THAT altruistic. I was doing because I thought it would easier to manage than trying to straighten the comb out when they decide they want the combs further apart.
>Michael does there seem to be any intermediate comb spacing between the brood and the honey? You know how there are intermediate cells between worker comb and drone comb. I was wondering if the spacing continued to increase over the span of more than 1 or 2 bars.
Not usually. It's actually a pretty sudden change when they start building comb for stores. The only real transition comb is sometimes the last one in the brood nest which might have brood on one side and honey on the other and the brood comb sticks out 1/2" from the center rib and the honey sticks out 3/4" or more on the other side.
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited March 04, 2004).]