@Dutch - Please don't change your plans b/c of me! I am just a noob asking questions, trying to figure out what might work for me. You can see from the poll so far that MOST people use upper vents. I am simply curious to know why lack of ventilation works sometimes, where and why. But even I will probably stick with the vents until I have enough colonies to experiment with.
@Michael - Thanks for that great quote! I wonder what the N was for Gallup's observations: a couple, a couple dozen...? I am fascinated by stats/observations of wild nests, but unsure how much to read into them. Are the bees doing it that way in the wild b/c that is what they prefer, or is it an artifact of what's available? For example, location of the nest opening relative to the cavity. Seeley and Morse (1976) studied 20 nests around Ithaca NY and found that bottom entrances predominate: "bottom, 58%; middle, 18%; top, 24%" The authors pondered why this might be: "Either honey bees select cavities with bottom entrances, or fungal decay, which probably produces most tree cavities, tends to expand upward from its entry point into a tree." I can't imagine why decay would only work up, and I would have guessed that many available cavities are made by animals (e.g., woodpeckers) and are top entrances, but what do I know. Wouldn't it be great to put out a bunch of swarm boxes in pairs, one with a top entrance and one with a bottom entrance, side by side, and see what is really preferred? Maybe they don't even care, LOL! And of course, to do similar side-by-side experiments to see if there is a difference in how the 2 colony arrangements perform (with maybe 100 pairs). If anyone knows of any studies that have looked at such nest preferences in the wild or in boxes (wasn't there one on frame number?), please point them out to me! Anyway, given that bottom entrances are the norm for wild colonies, at least around here, I wonder how they are affected by condensation? I had pondered in previous posts that maybe the wood surrounding the colony was playing a role in absorbing moisture, but now that I have read more and know that nest cavities tend to be completely sealed in a waterproof 'propolis envelope' that seems unlikely. The norm is a bottom entrance into a waterproof un-vented cavity. So maybe it's all about the roof architecture, and that domed/sloping roofs (presumed for wild nests) keep condensation from dripping back onto the colonies? Or as some plexi users are finding, condensation just isn't always what we fear it to be. Anyway, once we get that figured out then we can move on to the implications of how the nest dimensions we offer are so radically different from what they have in the wild. Seriously, that same study showed that wild nests are cylindrical with an average diameter of ~9", height ~5', and volume ~12 gallons. Compare that to a Lang, where 2 deeps are 2x as wide, 1/3 as deep, and more than half again the volume, not including our supers! Our design, with less surface area, is probably better for minimizing heat loss, which might balance the fact that we aren't keeping them in un-vented cavities. Who knows, but it's fun to think about, or should I say...wax philosophic