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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, after the trauma of cutting out wild comb while it was still fresh and fragile, and causing some destruction almost two weeks ago, I'm pleased to report that the bees have mended the damage and have begun to build their comb in the right direction. It's absolutely wondrous to watch foundationless hives be built up out of thin air. In spite of the rocky start, I can't imagine wanting to run hives in any other way! I posted a couple hive-inspection photos on my blog, together with the whole story.
 

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It's looking great. Your enthusiasm and wonder are contagious. (Not that I need a whole lot more of it -- I'm also in my first year, and also foundationless.) ; )
 

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Glad you are in beekeeping. I read your blog and I think you are a little mis informed about using smoke which would have made it a lot easier for you and the bees when you cut out and replaced the comb into your frames. When bees sense smoke they gorge themselves on honey in anticipation of leaving the hive, much like they do when they swarm (hence why swarms are so passive). Bees can distinguish the alarm pheromone through the smoke. There are people that do work their bees without smoke so you are not alone in that aspect, but it's main purpose is to invoke the gorging response of fleeing a fire then to mask the pheromones.

Good luck with your hives.
 

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First I would like to point out that swarms are passive because they have nothing to protect. I have found that smoke will work for getting bees to move away from a spot so if it is ether kill bees or puff them with smoke I would smoke em. What no elastics?! :D Lol watch them cut the string and pull it out, mine were trying to shove the elastic out my screened vent holes :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you folks for the encouragement.

Sam, I know, elastics would have been better. I just didn't have any and I don't live anywhere near any stores. I also agree that smoking the hive is preferable to killing bees; I caused damage to hive structure and larvae when I opened the hive box up for the first time, but wasn't aware of losing any adult bees. The second, more successful hive inspection didn't result in too many upset bees. I only caught one passing whiff of the banana-type alarm scent.

alpha6, I appreciate your input. I'm trying hard to understand the physical basis for the use of smoke. Pheromones and the way they drive the whole social engine of the hive really fascinate me. I'm just starting to learn about how they work.

A study published in the Journal of Insect Behavior in 1995 found that "smoke causes antennae to be 50 percent less sensitive to both alarm pheromones. " A publication of the U of Florida Dept of Entomology, discussing the above study, goes on to ask: "Now we know that smoke can interfere with the releaser alarm pheromone, albeit only temporarily. What might it do to the more long-term, and perhaps more significant, primer pheromone communication that takes place within a honey bee colony? "
 

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It is really neat how pheromones make the hive more like a super organism, its sort of like our body using hormones, very cool. Now thinking about it I don't know why a swarm is docile, is it because they gorge on honey or they have nothing to protect so the guard bees are off duty? Maby both?
 

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swarm docility

I think both factors are of importance, but starving swarms are known to be aggressive, so I've to conclude that filled up bellies are a bit more important.
 
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