I attempted to get more straight comb in my tbh by shuffling frames. I inserted empty top bars between broodnest comb I also slowly moved the broodnest toward the rear of the hive placing empty top bars toward the entrance.
After examining BerkeyDavid comb photos, I decided to evaluate the effects of shuffling comb, a common practice and one that I use in tbh management. I went back and rearranged one tbh to mimic the broodnest structure I'd seen in my first tbh. The second hive was left as is, with its shuffled comb.
The rearranged hive is ok without symptoms of mite infestation. The shuffled hive now has lots of crawlers with Deformed Wing Virus and Milky Wing Virus. Both of these hives have queens grafted from the same stock and mated in the same yard.
It's a small test, but for me, a significant one. Although broodnest organization is strong, it can be easily disrupted. The bees simply have no mechanism to deal with moving comb. I hoped that the bees orientation to the broodnest structure was so strong that shuffling combs would have little effect. But the opposite is the case. The broodnest structure can be very easily disrupted.
This poses some interesting challenges when managing top bar hive comb if the advantages of a small cell core are to be realized.
Some more thoughts. If a tbh beekeeper makes the same mistakes as a standard hive beekeeper, he will get the same results.
A standard hive beekeeper fails to recognize the importance of cell size or broodnest structure. A single cell sized foundation is used, which places the wrong size cells in the wrong location, whether they are large of small. The result is frustated comb building and mite susceptibility if the cells are too large.
Thb beekeepers avoid cell size problems by letting the bees do it their way. They get natural comb with tapered cell sizes. But if the natural combs are shuffled, it can confuse the broodnest structure. Wrong cell size comb ends up in the wrong location and the mites can proliferate.
No significant diffence in mite tolerance would then exist betweeen a standard hive with its foundation based comb and a shuffled tbh with its natural comb.