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While at work this week I have been listening to beekeeping lectures on youtube. I have heard several times that bees are a "vertical animal" becasue the natural home of the european honeybee is a vertical tree cavity. My bees seem to be very content in their horizontal abodes, and so I am wondering if the previous statement is simply beekeeping lore or if it has actually been scientifically vetted. I agree that bees willl inhabit vertical cavities, but I have also seen plenty of cutout videos showing them in horizontal crawl spaces and even horizontal cavities in tree branches. So, do they have a proclivity for vertical? :scratch:
 

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I don't have scientific proof. Part of the reasoning may be from emperical observation. Often in langstroth hives bees work in a vertical column because of temperature and airflow stratification. They store overhead in langstroth bc this is often the warmest location, the broodnest in summer is often on the bottom bc this is the coolest location and airflow can be controllable, the broodnest in spring and is high because it is warmer and there the honey is stored there

As far as vertical or horizontal i think the bees have no preference. If the space meets there needs they will build and arrange accordindly.
 

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The "natural" home of a wild hive isn't just standing trees.
It is often a log or fallen tree as well.
And the chosen home is often the horizontal space between the floor or ceiling joists of a building... a choice natural bees often make by the natural process by which swarms choose where to hive.

I believe a vertical hive in nature is most common, but a horizontal one is just as natural.

The bees don't seem to mind either way.
 

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Many countries utilize different beehive designs. For instance, a classical Ukrainian beehive is horizontal with large frames. Similar design used in many parts of Russia, also. I have both - vertical and horizontal, long hives. All foundationless. Oldtimer noted that horizontal beehives are less productive than Langs. In my personal opinion as a hobbyist, bees learn things and would continue in the way how they did before. If bees grown in horizontal beehive - they would prefer horizontal and vise versa. My horizontal hive prefer horizontal way - bees just ignore added vertical supers. In my opinion, the advantage of horizontal hive is large frames - bees love them! Bees in horizontal beehive also calm and inspection is so easy! I think that for backyard beekeeping, horizontal, long hive is a good choice.
 

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I think that it is easier for them to expand down since that is the way that it works in nature. Langs do it upside down, since you are putting boxes on top of the hive :) By having fewer big pieces of comb it is easier for them to go from one end of the hive to the other. I think that is why you get some bees that build a lot of bridge comb between frames.
 

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Bees move into where the space is. I have seen as many natural hives that were horizontal as vertical. According to Eva Crane when she was writing back in the 90s the horizontal hive is now and always has been the predominant kind of hive in the world from near the artic to far South of the equator and everywhere in between. I have had bees in horizontal hives every year for the past 12 years or so in an extremely cold climate and they have done fine.

In either vertical or horizontal hives a wall of honey tends to discourage a queen. The difference in a horizontal hive is that you have to feed some empty space into the broodnest (bars, frames etc.) sometimes to keep them expanding it. With a Langstroth an empty box over the brood nest will accomplish this.
 
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