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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was wondering what way bees tend to build their comb when not given frames relative to the entrance. Perhaps some people that have done cut-outs can chime in.
  1. Do they tend to build comb cold-way, with the comb running perpendicular to the entrance and front of hive?
  2. Or do they go warm-way, with the comb running across the entrance, parallel to the front of the hive?
  3. Or...is there not a perceptible or consistent pattern?
 

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They seem to draw it in the direction that best suits the cavity. In a wall it is always drawn across the cavity from stud to stud. In hollow trees they seem to like a north/south orientation. I have done cut outs where they drew in more then one direction with some combs perpendicular to others.

Basically they seem to have a preference for the direction that provides the most continuous comb, but they are adaptable to what ever the cavity allows.
 

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In doing cutouts, that's been my experience as well...that warm way/cold way isn't something the bees have regard for,
but instead the shape of the cavity.
 

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Every cut out I have done has had the comb at the entrance aligned so the bees enter between combs (Long way). But only at the entrance. From that point regardless of where the entrance is the comb tends to be oriented north and south. I is never in any ways straight as you will find it in a hive. it curves. has branches at time. will take 90 degree turns even as the cavity dictates. In one pillar the comb actually curved until it stretched fully half way around the pillar. Starting in a North South line and curving to an East West orientation. This single large comb had several additional combs that branched from it to be attached at other supports as needed.

I woudl say in all bees want space to enter the hive. from there they want the comb running North and South as much as possible but this will be overridden by necessity to fill the cavity.

It is actually very hard to see these distinction while actually looking at a hive. It looks more like a senseless mess. It is also only my impression wile observing the mess. I woudl not make any stand as to it's accuracy.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>1.Do they tend to build comb cold-way, with the comb running perpendicular to the entrance and front of hive?
>2.Or do they go warm-way, with the comb running across the entrance, parallel to the front of the hive?
>3.Or...is there not a perceptible or consistent pattern?

Yes, there is a pattern. No, it's not the cold way or the warm way. Usually it's walls of comb at a 45 degree angle to the entrance.
 

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A year or so ago, i read somewhere (i know, i wouldn;t take my word for it either) that some experiment indicated that they like to build the longest drirection possible (corner to corner in our boxes) and then parrallel to this. For odd shaped spaces, they will do any number of things. Justrepeating waht i read, but i can;t gove you a source on it. this does seem to align with MBs observations.
 

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Adrian's bees are definitely guilty of DWF -- Drunk While Festooning.:rolleyes:

This is a fuzzy pic of a cutout I did several years ago from an old shed. Brood combs were behind the entrance and parallel to the studs. On the sides, the honey storage combs sort of run more parallel to the wall. Those narrow combs have to be turned 90 degrees to rubber band into frames. I think it causes most of the brood to be lost, because it changes the cell orientation.

Bees Pic08a.jpg
 

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>A year or so ago, i read somewhere (i know, i wouldn;t take my word for it either) that some experiment indicated that they like to build the longest drirection possible (corner to corner in our boxes)

I think it depends on the ratio of the long way to the short way. They don't like a lot of little short combs, true. So if there is a direction that will give them some longer combs, then tend to up to some point. So in a wall they are often running between the studs (16" typically) and not between the walls (3 1/2" typically). But not corner to corner either. They anticipate the outcomes beyond just a comb as Huber proved in his experiements on comb building. Bees do more than just randomly build some comb and as circumstances change they change when they anticipate that the future outcome changed.
 

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An interesting colony I followed for two years in this tree, before the tree fell down and they had to rebuild the comb before winter. Wrapped the base of the trunk, after filling with 6-8" of straw hay against the combs, but they succummed to not enough stores, and a mouse that took up residence with them through the winter.



 

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I have three hives from cut-outs in my barn. All of their comb, and the considerable amount of comb that had been built up in the cavities over nearly two decades of occupation, ran from joist to joist within the wall cavities. The bees entered in an assortment of knot holes in the sidiing, and built comb parallel to the siding, if that makes sense. I had comb from sill plate to collar beam (10' feet high) in several cavities. The cavities are 6" or 7" thick, so there were three or four layers of comb. The joists are 18" apart. I have a whole freezer full of the stuff, even after we tied a lot in and I gave a bunch away to the workshop attendees who did the cut-out.

In answer to the warm/cold way, I'm not sure. One of the colonies was in the north wall of the barn so those combs run east to west. The other two were around the corner in the east wall, so their comb ran north/south. After the cut-out, my girls to exception to their involuntary re-housing and they departed from their new hives nearly every day for a week or two. While out they always began drawing more comb in the open and exposed wall cavities. I'd let 'em go at it for a day or so, then scoop them back into the hive and tie in the fresh work. Those combs were always parallel with the wall. Eventually they got bored with the game and stayed inside.

Enj.
 

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Where was the entrance.
When the tree was upright, the entrance was in a crack near the ground. The tree stood for two more years after the bees moved in, and I even managed to capture a small swarm from the colony. It then fell over sometime in July during the summer, and I figure my nearby colonies robbed them heavily while they built the new comb you see in the photo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks everyone for the great input. Adrian, I love that picture of the empty hive box. That says a lot. Pretty much what I expected, bees will maximize the space irrespective of the orientation. I guess we beekeepers are the ones that are most interested in setting up hives warm-way versus cold-way.

I think the north-south orientation brought up by bluegrass, and Daniel Y, is very interesting. I wonder if orienting hives with the bars running north-south would help keep the comb straight versus east-west. I do have ones that the bars run north-south and others east-west - The north-south ones consistently built straighter but I would actually chalk that up to my having more experience with top bars by the time that I started that set of hives.
 

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I think the north-south orientation brought up by bluegrass, and Daniel Y, is very interesting. I wonder if orienting hives with the bars running north-south would help keep the comb straight versus east-west. I do have ones that the bars run north-south and others east-west - The north-south ones consistently built straighter but I would actually chalk that up to my having more experience with top bars by the time that I started that set of hives.
If you face your hives south like many bee books recommend your combs are always oriented north/south. I surmise that they prefer that orientation as the heat of the rising sun in the winter will reach into the middle of the colony, where as if it was oriented any other direction the outer most combs would act as insulation against the warmth.
 
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