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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Is straight comb building a trait that can be selected for?

    I'm using foundationless frames in the 4 hives I'm starting with this spring. Two of the hives, here in Florida, are already occupied by bees, one a locally sourced nuc and the other a package of small cell bees from Wolf Creek. In both hives, the bees are drawing beautiful straight comb-- it looks better than the nuc comb that was built on foundation.

    However, I understand that this is a variable trait, that some bees will build wild comb even on foundation, though I understand that one of the reasons folks use foundation is that you get a fresh start with each frame, so bad comb doesn't propagate across the hive.

    I'm using triangular comb guides, similar to the ones used by beekeepers after Langstroth but before foundation. As that was a period lasting many decades, I've wondered if during that time, bees were selected for their ability to build straight comb, and if selecting for that trait is something that has been neglected since foundation became almost universal in this country.

    Does anyone have any references, maybe in some of the old beekeeping books, on this subject?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,996

    Default Re: Is straight comb building a trait that can be selected for?

    References no doubt exist as the subject is referred to in books. But if you want references to a properly done study on it I think you will be out of luck, I doubt one exists.

    I've only worked with 3 main bee types, AMM, Carniolan, and Italian. Best I've been able to observe there is little difference from one bee to another as to how "straight" they will build their combs, it is more about the way the hive is set up, and managed.

    The hive looks very different to the bee, than it looks to us. Building "crooked" combs, can be a survival skill, much as it may not suit the keeper of a moveable comb hive. I think bees will retain this as part of their arsenal and doubt it could be bred out of them. Building straight comb, regardless, would be just too far away from nature.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Is straight comb building a trait that can be selected for?

    I am not sure about it being a selectable trait, or even if it would be a good thing to select for. How many other traits would we lose in the process? A lot of my bees are of more feral origin, and several of them have serious deficiencies in the straight comb building department, but score very highly for untreated survivability. I am willing to accept trimming wonky comb every now and then.

    I do run mostly foundationless. It is just the price you pay for natural comb. Give them guides and hope for the best. I have one hive that almost always does a right angle every so often. Really irritating.
    Last edited by Paul McCarty; 04-25-2013 at 10:39 AM.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: Is straight comb building a trait that can be selected for?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    I am not sure about it being a selectable trait, or even if it would be a good thing to select for. How many other traits would we lose in the process? Not a lot of my bees are of more feral origin, and several of them have serious deficiencies in the straight comb building department, but score very highly for untreated survivability. I am willing to accept trimming wonky comb every now and then.

    I do run mostly foundationless. It is just the price you pay for natural comb. Give them guides and hope for the best. I have one hive that almost always does a right angle every so often. Really irritating.
    You're probably right. I was just wondering if it were a subject much discussed in the decades before foundation. Knowing beekeepers, they probably had a lot to say about the subject, but I haven't come across any of it yet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,142

    Default Re: Is straight comb building a trait that can be selected for?

    > I've wondered if during that time, bees were selected for their ability to build straight comb, and if selecting for that trait is something that has been neglected since foundation became almost universal in this country.

    I don't have any of them in front of me, but some of the old books have mentioned the subject. I think mostly it is management but there are some bees who simply don't want to draw parallel combs, they want to draw them all curved and wiggly...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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