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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland, MI
    Posts
    595

    Default What shape is the cluster?

    I imagine the cluster to be a spherical shaped object. I'm sure the bees don't do this becasue they like soccer balls, but rather becasue it is a very efficient shape when you consider the ratio of surface area to volume. When I think of the cluster, I think of a spherical shape moving about the hive chasing honey, which was in a vertical direction this year with the atypical winter conditions.

    Knowing that the bees were up into the candy boards 4 weeks ago already, I made the decision to add another candyboard and today was the best shot I would get. Temps were in the mid 20s and no wind. I found that two of my hives were dead, and the other 4 we're still doing "alright." I say "alright" because I don't know what the heck I'm looking at. The bees were up into the candyboard and against the quilt box. So, am I likely seeing a "disc" of bees, or just the top of a bee "ball?" If the latter, Hey, I"m in good shape! if its the former, then I don't have many bees left. With the cold temps, i didn't stay in there long and only had them open for about 10-15seconds to quickly add food.

    So, any guesses as to what shape the cluster really is? I'm curious as I'll be sending out another bee order and would like to replace all of my dead hives, and plan as accordingly as possible for more deaths. I know the future is tough to guess at, but I'm going to do my best.

    Random tidbit of info, the two dead hives, one was a 5 over 5 set-up, and the other was my strongest hive in a 10deep over 10deep configuration. I thought it was odd that the biggest and smallest hives were dead. Might be an indicator that "average" is better than extreme in either direction. Of course, it could also mean nothing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,714

    Default Re: What shape is the cluster?

    This paper, The Thermology of Wintering Honey Bee Colonies, suggests the cluster shape is similar to a partially flattened sphere.
    http://www.beesource.com/resources/u...aterial/#fig2/
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland, MI
    Posts
    595

    Default Re: What shape is the cluster?

    Thanks for the link! I don't suppose you actually own the internet, do you? You seem to have a pretty remarkable ability to find something about anything. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you're able to do this. So, there's a pat on teh abck for you.

    Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,714

    Default Re: What shape is the cluster?

    > I don't suppose you actually own the internet, do you?

    No, I think Al Gore claims that title.


    Finding unusual/specific items with Search is all about choosing an appropriate search phrase. Sometimes when I am not sure of a good keyword I use a more general search phrase initially, then choose one of those results to see if that link offers a better keyword/phrase to rerun search.

    Also, the net is now full of "Demand Media" (and clone) sites that either copy content from the real owner, or pay some hack author pennies to cobble together some generic pap to attract eyeballs and get paid for ads. Using the Chrome browser and Google Search, I add all those sites to my personal search "blocklist" as I identify them. Blocking that crap makes it easier to find actual useful content.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,751

    Default Re: What shape is the cluster?

    The cluster is typically flat at the top and fairly spherical, but it is also divided by walls of comb. The bees are often in the cells to make the cluster more compact and fit more bees in the same space. The outside bees swap with the inside bees from time to time. The cluster expands as the temperature warms up and contracts as the temperature goes down. Since the combs make walls in the middle, sometimes the bees on the outside comb have problems when the cluster contracts too quickly. It will contract faster where they can just move over within the same gap, than when they have to go over the top, bottom or ends to get to the next comb. So it contracts more slowly across the walls of comb than it does with the walls of comb. That means sometimes it's more like a football when the temperature drops quickly.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,232

    Default Re: What shape is the cluster?

    The cluster is also thicker at the top than at the bottom. The bees seem to recognize that heat is being lost through the top of the cluster more than the bottom and behave accordingly. From what I've seen over the years, the cluster is never quite a sphere, though it is often a flattened sphere or inverted bell shape.
    Last edited by Fusion_power; 02-18-2014 at 09:16 AM.
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

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