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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,505

    Default Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I have a question for those of you with cut-out experience. Have you noticed if there may be a consistent direction in comb alignment related to the cavity entrance? What I'm wondering, for example, is when the bees enter a hole in a hollow tree would the comb typically be perpendicular to the direction they are heading or does the comb run parallel? When they get inside the tree do they run into the face of a comb or the comb ends? Just curious if there might be any noted preference in the way feral bees set up shop without our help.
    To everything there is a season....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Clark county, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    220

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I've only done 3 cutouts. 2 from houses, 1 from a tree. In all 3 the bees would run into the face of a comb when they entered. I also did 2 trapouts. Couldn't see the comb in 1 but the other was also the face of a comb to the entrance.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    White County, Arkansas
    Posts
    874

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I have seen them perpendicular, diagonal and parallel of the entrance(s). It depends on how the space is set up and where the entrance(s) is/are.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I have done dozens of them. There is no rhyme or reason I can see other than the entrance is usually below the comb, but not always.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Genola, Ut
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I have done one cutout from a home. The combs were running diagonal to the entrance.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    672

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    The other possibility is were they in a North-South orientation?

    Matthew Davey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,505

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    That's a good point Matt.
    Interesting responses so far. I've done a few cutouts and it seems that in each one the comb ran perpendicular to the entrance. But now that I think about it, the face of the comb was always facing south. Not sure what that means, if anything. Planned or just coincidence?
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    672

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    Mike, have a look at this study: http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~jkirschvink/pdfs/Bees.pdf

    It had a small sample size, but have a look at some quotes from it:
    "...revealed that the magnetic material was located in the front third of the abdomen..."
    "...showed a substantial natural magnetism averaging 1.2 x 10-6 emu..."
    "...Some had their north-seeking pole pointing to their left, while others pointed to their right..."
    "...their induced remanence followed the same pattern as the first group..."
    "...all bees used in these measurements came from hives whose combs were aligned north-south -- by far the most common orientation in nature."

    Matthew Davey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I've done dozens of cutouts and I agree with the rest - there is no rhyme or reason. It is definately not a north-south orientation. Neither is the orientation of the comb standard to a particular cavity. For example: Bees in the wall of a house/apt in the space between the inner wall and the outer wall, and between the studs (a 14"wide by 2 3/4" deep, and 2-8 feet tall). I have seen comb that ran parallel to the wall. I have seen plenty of combs that ran parallel to the studs. I have seen a few that were not in flat sheets at all but were a literal honeycomb like swiss cheese.

    The only general pattern that I see is that, most of the time, bees choose to run the combs along the widest part of the cavity. They do seem to, generally, prefer larger combs with as much continuous surface area as possible.

    I will also say that the location of the entrance is generally above or below the combs. However, I can think of at least 3 in the past year where the entrance was right in the middle of the combs. These often happen when the bees are in a wall and the entrance is below the headers of the wall. The bees need to attach the combs to the headers. When the combs are extended down, they often extend well below the entrance. These bees seem to do as well as all the others.

    I have pictures of all the removals and can cross reference these with the orientation of the cavity/house/tree, and the size of the cavaties, it this data would be useful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,199

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I wouldn't mind seeing some photos.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,412

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    The few cut outs I have done I have seen both. But until Matt pointed it out, I do recall that every one of them the face of comb was north/south! I could be wrong, but maybe they do this so that any wind/rain that enters the cavity will hit the open face of the first comb and prevent drafts/moisture from going between all the combs? After all, most of the bad storms come from the north or the south, atleast out here.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Davie, Florida, USA
    Posts
    826

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    Mike: I have only done a few cut outs...which was a stretch for me in my first year as a Beek...but I can honestly say, there has been no rhyme nor reason to their patterns of comb drawing. What got me totally addicted to the idea of beekeeping was watching my first cut out under my shed (by an old timer beek). That hive was oriented East/West, and longggg between floor joists. Under the SAME shed (in a different area), which produced 3 swarms for me later the next year, the comb was oriented North/South, and the comb was drawn the short way between joists. I have seen a couple diagonals, too. Bottom line, in my inexperienced opinion, I don't believe there is rhyme nor reason, and you will know when you break into the hive. I truly think it's a matter of convenience for the bees....again though...JMIEO! (Just my In Experienced opinion!) Good luck!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    We usually end up doing 8-10 cutouts a year. Last year I think I did 12. I have noticed that the entrance to (almost) all of them was due north. The comb is randon because it depends on the size of the cavity they have to work with which way they draw it out. The north faced entrances does appear to have some significance for the bees. Orientation i'm sure. I'm tempted to set up a yard this way sometime.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    327

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    My experience mostly agrees with Maddox. In 5 years of doing cutouts, I have seen about every combination of orientation and entrance combinations you might imagine. The only continuous thing I see is that the bees, regardless of the entrance location, will go as high as possible before they begin building comb. I have seen combs built twice as wide as a deep frame in some hives, and also seen them three feet tall, but no north-south orientation pattern, or diagonal/parallel/perpendicular preferences.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I will post some pictures to demonstrate the variety of combs I have seen. Sorry but it will take me a few days. Too busy right now.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

    Default Re: Feral Hive Comb Orientation

    I have done scores of cutouts and several downed-tree cutouts and my experience has also been that the bees don't read websites , they just do their thing. Lots of variation and I haven't been able to draw any conclusions about orientation at all beyond that there is no apparent pattern across colonies. Of course they do begin at the top, and nest structure is as typical (re: brood, honey, pollen stores). But orientation of combs is one of the bee mysteries.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

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