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I'm doing a cutout on an old porch and noticed that by and large, all the comb ran the same direction. This is normal for me and I expected it. Well, suddenly I began to ask myself this question...do bees build comb that hangs down "north and south"? This comb is hanging down from the ceiling so it is attached at the top. It is not attached at the side as it would be if it were running up a wall between studs.

Does anyone know if bees build hanging comb according to "true north"? Just curious.

Here's the reason I ask...the bees did not build the comb to fit "square" in the open area but it was turned at an angle. Why?
 

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My <very limited> experience is that bees build so the center comb is the longest comb possible. They will even "bend" the comb to utilize the space the best. I assume that is so the queen can lay the most on a comb without having to move between combs. I can not find that they use magnetic north consistently in their comb building. Would love to hear from more experienced beeks. If you had a swarm trap without any frames, what direction would they build in?
 

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Bees curve long combs to strengthen and stabilize it.

Magnetite (it's magnetic) has been found in the stomachs of bees. I have heard of beekeepers putting strong magnets in their hives, hoping the bees could somehow navigate their way back home easier by homing in on the magnet.
 

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The last cutout I was involved in, the stud cavities were on a north wall. The comb was built at approximately a 45° angle to the cavity. This would equate to a NE/SW direction. I have seen comb in attics that ran E/W more or less. I would say it depends on the situation. In the stud cavity mentioned first, that direction was probably a more efficient layout since they got more area per comb section than had they run them perpendicular to the stud cavities. Just a theory. It seems to me, there is always an angle. So far, I haven't been involved in opening up a bee tree to determine direction or angle of comb placement.
 
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