Why not let the bees decide?
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  1. #1
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    Default Why not let the bees decide?

    Here a crazy idea....

    Why not let the bees decide how to build their own houses... if not throughout the hive, then certainly in the brood chamber?

    It seems to me that they are totally capable of deciding how much drone and worker cell to create. Also, it seems to me that overwintering might be improved if the brood chamber were easier to move about in. The walled segmentation of the hive body by drawn frames might keep the cluster from beeing able to move freely into areas where food is stored.

    I certainly understand the drawbacks (difficulty of inspection, medicaton administration and making splits and divides). Perhaps a balance could bee struck, ie 2 frames on one side, 2 on the other, anarchy in between. Or maybe someone will say, "duh dude, thats why I use shallow supers for everything"....

    Misguided macromanagers unite!!

    I'll stop typing now.

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  3. #2
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    Our state requires movable frames, so anarchy is out.

  4. #3
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    3rd time I've posted this, but in each case it is relevant. I believe exactly what you say and there is a hive designed based on that philosphy. Google "Abbe Warre" or "Abbe Warre Hive" in quotes and start reading. It will take you days if not weeks to absorb most of it, but if you want to really understand natural beekeeping - it's the way to go.

  5. #4
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    >Why not let the bees decide how to build their own houses... if not throughout the hive, then certainly in the brood chamber?

    That's what I do.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm

    >It seems to me that they are totally capable of deciding how much drone and worker cell to create.

    Precisely.

    > Also, it seems to me that overwintering might be improved if the brood chamber were easier to move about in. The walled segmentation of the hive body by drawn frames might keep the cluster from beeing able to move freely into areas where food is stored.

    But walled segmentation is what the bees build. They build solid sheets of parallel combs.

    >I certainly understand the drawbacks (difficulty of inspection, medicaton administration and making splits and divides). Perhaps a balance could bee struck, ie 2 frames on one side, 2 on the other, anarchy in between. Or maybe someone will say, "duh dude, thats why I use shallow supers for everything"....

    But they will build parallel combs anyway, why not on frames so you can meet legal requirements and so if you need to you can inspect for queenrightness, laying workers, etc.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    Our state requires movable frames, so anarchy is out.
    could you direct me to this part of legislation in the agriculture dept. please???

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylus p View Post
    Here a crazy idea....

    Why not let the bees decide how to build their own houses... if not throughout the hive, then certainly in the brood chamber?
    Absolutely agree. You may like to take a look at my site sometime...
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  8. #7
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    That's why I like foundationless. They leave crossover tunnels where they want 'em. I put in 4 frames with starter strips last year and got 4 frames of drone comb. Figured they must need them, so I left it. Didn't seem to hurt anything. I'll need to peek this year and see if they rebuild it into worker comb.
    “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” -Henry David Thoreau

  9. #8
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    Foundationless is a good start - and IMO you cannot go far enough down that road without having to do a radical re-think on the way the framed hive works. Sooner or later, I think you have to go the TBH route.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  10. #9
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    Default Bees and anarchy

    Thanks for the responses...

    Micheal Bush and buckbee...
    I was familiar with your sites and already knew them to bee fantastic resources... kudos...
    Others - I'm following links and unlearning lots... thanks!

    Please check out the pic at the bottom of this article...
    https://www.beesource.com/pov/simon/10principles.htm
    (To bee honest... I don't know what insect built the pictured comb, maybe it wasn't honeybees, I'm pretty sure it was though) If so, it would seem to invalidate the dual statements that:

    >But walled segmentation is what the bees build. They build solid sheets of parallel combs.

    >But they will build parallel combs anyway, why not on frames so you can meet legal requirements and so if you need to you can inspect for queenrightness, laying workers, etc.

    Further... regarding the second statement, I would say:

    A.) Good points, but

    B.)I believe in breaking silly laws, or more to the point, I believe in breaking laws that restrict our ability to be free, pursue happiness and live our lives in an unimpeded, wide-eyed, exploratory, adjective laden and exhalted states. I believe that laws are too restrictive. I agree with Thoreau that, (loosely paraphrased) "That governement is best which governs least and that when humans are ready they won't need to be told what to do or how to do it." That being said, I am not for killing, stealing or ammorality, quite to the contrary I believe in individual responsibility.

    C.) I hear you on the inspection point... and Langstroth (The father of foundationless moveable frame hives) obviously agreed with you. Maybe the bees really need our intervention from time to time. Maybe this management style would be inherently cruel as it would handicap our ability to intervene in the bees interests, who knows?

    I just thought they might survive the winter better if they decided where to build the rooms, put the doors, store the food and birth the babes. I thought they might have trouble moving around when forced or tricked into building wall upon impassable wall. (which granted they may do anyways) I thought it would be fun to see what they built naturally. I thought we might learn something new that's really something old.

    Hobie - Can you give/direct us to some pics of 'bee-built' crossover tunnels? Because this whole thread is totally unnecessary if when going foundationless the bees leave holes. All I was trying to say was that they might decide to move around easier, and that one simple fact (bee-built crossover tunnels) proves it.

    Buckbee - To me TBH's honestly don't seem that much different then going foundationless in a Langstroth. But I am an ignoramous so... Can you give us the major/significant differences?

    Thanks again and I hope no one feels alienated! I have low self esteem, poor vision and no money... if it makes you feel better

  11. #10
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    In regards to ratio of drone comb to worker comb, many cut out every bit of drone comb that they find. Contrary to popular belief, colonies with a larger population of drones actually produce MORE honey. Yes, an independent study by an extension at the University of Tennessee showed that colony morale is boosted and the bees have a need to produce more of a surplus. For you this means more honey.

  12. #11
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    Default Abbe Warre Hives

    oh my, oh my, oh my.
    just started in on the Abbe Warre search suggested by Scut Farkas.
    Look out Langstroth!

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylus p View Post
    Buckbee - To me TBH's honestly don't seem that much different then going foundationless in a Langstroth. But I am an ignoramous so... Can you give us the major/significant differences?
    To save myself time, here is one I wrote earlier:

    So what is wrong with framed hives and why should we consider such a radical alternative?
    Broadly, there are two possible reasons why something as functional as a beehive should remain virtually unchanged for 150 years, while all around us the engineered world has, in almost every other respect, changed utterly. Either it is perfectly suited to the job, or its use has become so ingrained in habit and tradition that nobody has bothered to question whether or how it could be improved. In this case, I think a little of both applies: in some ways, the box-and-frame hive is reasonably well-suited to the job – at least from the beekeeper's point of view. It is a simple matter to lift individual frames out of the hive to see what the bees are doing and - if you are fit and have a strong back - it is relatively easy to remove the honey crop.
    From the point of view of the bees, however, it has a number of disadvantages:
    • The frames are rectangular, usually wider than they are high, while bees naturally build comb in deep, catenary curves, taller than they are wide.
    • The use of pre-formed, worker-cell size foundation forces bees to build comb according to our requirements, not theirs1. They prefer to adjust the size of their worker cells according to season and build drone cells according to how many males they choose to raise.
    • They like to build queen cells around the edges of their comb, which is difficult if foundation wax covers the full width and depth of the frame.
    • They prefer to space their honey storage combs slightly wider apart than their brood frames, which is impossible if all frames are equally spaced.
    • They prefer to live in cavities with plenty of space below their combs, while modern hives have only a small space – often as little as a single bee-space - between the bottoms of the frames and the floor.
    • And the very feature that make this arrangement most suitable for beekeepers – the fact that frames are movable and removable – spells disaster for bees if their caretaker chooses – as too many do - to re-arrange their nest according to his whim, careless or ignorant of the needs of the bees.
    In fact, most hives are also less than ideal for beekeepers:
    • When the lid and inner cover are removed, the whole colony is exposed at once, causing a sudden temperature drop and an instant, mass protest. The beekeeper tries to silence this revolt by applying liberal doses of smoke, which, as often as not, aggravates the bees rather than subduing them, with painful and disruptive consequences.
    • Frames are made to precise dimensions, which means that they must be purchased - at no small cost - from manufacturers equipped with expensive, precision machinery and laboriously assembled with hammer and pins. They are easily damaged by rough handling and are difficult to clean thoroughly.
    • Foundation wax also has to be bought in - as precision mills cost a king's ransom – and fitted carefully into the frames with more pins and fine, zig-zag wire reinforcement, close to which bees often refuse to build comb.
    • The wax used for making foundation will contain a random mix of all the lipophilic substances that previous beekeepers have chosen to apply, as it is bought in by the millers from whoever cares to sell it to them. This may include sources that are less than scrupulous about the chemicals and medications they use.
    • Then, when it comes to harvest time, we have the problem of weight. A full super of honey can weigh between thirty and sixty pounds, depending on the type of hive and number of frames. Not surprisingly, hernias and chronic back pain are commonplace among commercial beekeepers and many people, especially women, are put off even hobby-scale beekeeping by this consideration alone.
    How is it then, after one and a half centuries of 'modern' beekeeping, we are still using equipment that has so many obvious drawbacks?
    The truth is that many attempts have been made to 'improve' the design of beehives, but in almost every case they have taken one feature as given and unalterable – the holy frame - and along with it, the use of wax foundation.
    While the invention of the movable frame is commonly regarded as the greatest ever single step forward in beekeeping, it also locked into the minds of the Victorian beekeeper the notion that it was desirable – even necessary – to bend the behavior of the honeybee to the will of man; to force this wild creature to work according to the conditions they chose to impose upon it, rather than let it do things in its own particular and variable manner. This one step, I believe, sealed the fate of the bee, which has done its best ever since to adapt to this imposed regime only because we have given it no real choice. Since frames and foundation have been the unquestioned, dominant paradigm in beekeeping, perpetuated by beekeepers throughout the western world, the health of bees has steadily declined to the point where they are now in real trouble.
    Top bar beekeeping is about as simple as beekeeping can get, while maintaining provision for occasional inspections, comfortable over-wintering and non-destructive harvesting. Everything you need is in one box – the beehive – which you can make yourself.
    Top bar beekeeping can produce decent amounts of honey, but the emphasis here is on sustainability and keeping healthy bees rather than setting records for honey crops, which inevitably has a cost to the welfare of the bees. The essence of sustainability is to work well within the limits of a natural system: pushing any living thing beyond its natural capacity can only lead to trouble.



    Will that do for now?
    Last edited by buckbee; 03-25-2008 at 05:06 PM.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  14. #13
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    I've put bees in box hives with no frames. I've had them in gums. It was a fun experiment. But if you want to actually KEEP bees, I'd recommend a hive. In then end I did cutouts and put them all in hives.

    The parallel combs that the bees make, (and they do build parallel combs) are not always entirely straight. Some are curves. When left in a box to build their own comb they tend to go corner to corner:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/BroodNestInFeeder.JPG

    And, you'll notice, they are parallel combs.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sylus p View Post
    Here a crazy idea....
    Why not let the bees decide how to build their own houses...
    We do. Foundation is only a suggestion. You'll see that when you make up a nuc w/ foundation and find comb built off of the top bar away from and parrallel to the foundation. Sometimes they cross comb it too.
    Mark Berninghausen

  16. #15
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    I don't agree. Foundation is much more than a suggestion. It takes the bees a lot of time and work to re-arrange foundation to their real needs.

    How would you feel if you turned up at the place you had decided to build your house and discovered that the builders had laid the foundations, but completely the wrong size and in the wrong place?
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  17. #16
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    ...and consider the mechaincs of drawing out foundation (two separated clusters working from the midrib out...or one hanging cluster, drawing from top down).

    deknow

  18. #17
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    yes buckbee, thank you.

  19. #18
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    Wink

    deknow --- ...and consider the mechaincs of drawing out foundation (two separated clusters working from the midrib out...or one hanging cluster, drawing from top down).

    An interesting point. I've noticed when I insert an empty frame they build comb more quickly than when I insert a foundation frame . . . hmmm you may be on to something and just putting the right words to it to make me see it . . .

    csbees -- Contrary to popular belief, colonies with a larger population of drones actually produce MORE honey. Yes, an independent study by an extension at the University of Tennessee showed that colony morale is boosted and the bees have a need to produce more of a surplus.

    Just how did the experts measure the "morale" of the troops . . ?? inquiring minds (mine) would like to know . . .Must of been the porch parties in the evenings . . sitting around, sipping some nectar & watching the sun go down . .
    "If you're doing all the dos, you ain't got time to do the don'ts"

  20. #19
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    >Just how did the experts measure the "morale" of the troops . . ??

    In pounds of honey.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSbees View Post
    In regards to ratio of drone comb to worker comb, many cut out every bit of drone comb that they find. Contrary to popular belief, colonies with a larger population of drones actually produce MORE honey. Yes, an independent study by an extension at the University of Tennessee showed that colony morale is boosted and the bees have a need to produce more of a surplus. For you this means more honey.
    Can you direct me to said research?

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