Those of you who have tried both the Hardison- and the Crowder-type hives--any difference in the degree to which the bees attach the combs to the hive sides?
I'm only running only Hardison hives at the moment, and am finding a lot of side attachment. Crowder himself seems to think his hives give a real advantage to the beekeeper in this respect--less comb attachment. And indeed I watched Crowder work 4 or 5 of his hives during a workshop, and not once did he need to cut a comb attachment....
My brother has a straight side 90 degree TB and I have one at 15 degrees. They both attach to the sides. I am going with all 90 degree hives in the future, as they are MUCH easier to build.
I have one slope sided and one medium depth Langstroth size with top bars. I agree I don't see that much difference in attachments. The slope sided is deeper and shorter. The Lanstroth is wider and shallower. The actual area of one comb on both is about the same. Both have done well for me so far. When I went square and deeper was when I had the combs collapse.
I have also wondered about the slope factor. Reports from Africa indicate that the slope doesn't make any difference.
I have run three tbhs with sides that slope off vertical at 22.5, 18, and 9 degrees to see for myself. These hives are essentially the same depth. And I can't see that slope makes any difference in the amount of comb attachment.
Early in the season, when the combs are light weight and mostly brood comb, almost no comb attachments occur. But toward the end of the yellow sweet clover flow at the end of June, the bees begin attaching combs in all my tbhs.
At that time, the combs are getting heavier and the weather is getting hotter. I think the bees can sense when the comb needs the reinforcement.
Our major flow ocures during the 3rd week of July. At that time the weather is the hottest and combs are the heavest. Then the bees essentially build all storage comb to the sidewalls with only a very few holes for passage. And the broodcombs will be attached over most of their length to the sidewalls although with less attachments than the storage comb.
One factor that I haven't been able to evaluate is the effect of the age of the comb. Older comb is much stronger than the new comb in my tbhs. The bees might treat older comb differently if they can sense when comb needs reinforcement. Maybe the older comb wouldn't need much reinforcement and hive shape could be a factor.
I move my tbhs at least twice during the active season. The first move occures at the end of June just as the bees are starting to attach comb in my hives. I actually worry if I don't see very many attachments at that time. And I make sure the bees have enough time to repair any cut attachments before I move them.
On another note, I use a two wheeled hand cart to move my tbhs. And they are a joy to move compared to my 4 story Langs. Their center of gravity is very low. If dropped, they fall less than a foot. And there is nothing to break apart or leak bees. With a few comb attachments they are easy and safely moved.
So maybe the lack of attachments I saw in Les Crowder's hives was on account of the time of year--it was early spring, when the weather was still cool.
Give Les a call and let us know what he says.
I have 3 TBHs, all the same design, all with Russian Hybrid queens. My top bars are 16" long, the base of my hives are 5 3/4" wide and they are 11 1/2" deep. All the hives are in the same location, mid-day shade, morning sun. Two of the hives have very few, very small side attachments, even on heavy storage comb, the third (which also tends to build some crooked comb) has numerous side attachments, some extending the full depth of the hive. One of the "good" hives was made from a split containing eggs and larvae from the "good" and the heavily attached hive. I let them raise their own queen. I can guess at whose egg was used to make the queen . Perhaps attachment, like the building of straight comb is also a factor of the genetics of the bees as well as the hive design. the attachments are not a real problem, but they do make working the hive a bit messy, spilled honey and such with all the cutting, and I tend to kill a few bees with every inspection of the messy hive. I use a standard hive tool, and a long sharp filleting knife as my tools when working the hives. The knife is long enough to cut all attachments in one smooth cut made either laterally or with an upward stroke. The positive note for the messy hive is that I am usually chewing on fresh comb honey while I work it .
Actually, I think the problem is that the sloped side preventing attachments is misunderstood.
With my hives, I have built the slopes at the same angle regular cell walls. That is, 30 Degrees from vertical. The cells are built in nice even rows across the tops, across the bottoms and ALSO down the sloped sides. The edge of the last cell is also the final edge of the comb, just that the edge cell is shallower.
I am of the firm conviction that the bees attach comb because they MUST attach comb to prevent it from collapsing, and is an natural design of engineering. If the size and shape of the comb meets certain criteria (i.e. it can hold itself when full), the bees don't attach. To this end, I have only ever seen tiny attachments made when new combs are built and I have VERY VERY rarely seen combs re-attached once they have been detached.
Try 30 Degrees and get back to me.
Scot Mc Pherson
Foundationless Small Cell Top Bar Hives
BeeWiki: <A HREF="http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/beewiki/" TARGET=_blank>