Re: Flat, smooth foundation?
When Mehring first made foundation in 1857 it was a flat, dipped sheet with indentions of the cell bottoms, and no cell walls as we have on foundation today. Being dipped it was thick at the bottom of the sheet and thinner at the top. The angle of the cell bottoms was wrong so the bees had to rework all the foundation before making cells on it. In 1895 E. B. Weed made a machine to make foundation in a continuous sheet of uniform thickness, and roller mills were made to form the cell pattern with the 120 degree angle in the base and beginning cell walls. These improvements made foundations that the bees preferred, and trying to re-think the process today is not a profitable use of time.
The older issues of the American Bee Journal and the Bee Culture magazine tell the story of the 1800s beekeepers developing the management techniques we use today, and anyone can read and see the evolution in thought and management practices. They argue over many of the same subjects that we do today. One thing stands out, the beekeepers of that period were tight with a dollar. They were interested in profit. They were in search of the most efficient techniques. If comb foundation was not a benefit to them they would not have used it.
Hobby beekeepers like myself can piddle and play with keeping bees, we can try new things (at least things that are new to us, almost everything has been tried by someone before) but as a group, we seem to have become very gullible. A statement is made, and then is repeated until it becomes truth. How often do we try a procedure for ourselves before we accept it as fact? I see statements about management techniques made on Beesource that contrary to my experience, but that can be explained because of differences in location and the strain of bees being used. I also see statements made about historical beekeeping practices that are half-truths, and that is harder to explain. We should make an effort to study our beekeeping history so that we can give as accurate information as possible, and we should not repeat what we read on the net until we have tried it several time and found it accurate. If we do pass along information/recommendations that we have not checked ourselves, we should say that we have not tried it and let the reader beware.
When anyone reads my posts, be assured I will do my best to be accurate, but don't believe it as though it is carved in stone. Try everything for yourselves in your area with your bees and prove or disprove it, then you can pass along to others what you have learned with confidence that it will work for them.
37 years - 25 colonies - IPM disciple - naturally skeptic