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Where do they build?

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New Bee

Joined: 22 May 2016
Posts: 3
Location: Brussels, Belgium

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Where do they build? Reply with quote


We have 2 tbh and 2 inherited Dadant hives which will migrate to tbh next spring.

Everything we have learned about bees in their natural environment tells us bees would build first at the top and back of the hollow tree, that is away from the opening of their nest.
We've noticed our bees in the tbh built their combs at the entrance instead of away from it. Anyone any thoughts on this?

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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


In most cases bees like to keep their brood nest near the entrance and honey furthest away from it. But bees naturally build from the top downwards(building upwards is much harder work), so in a hollow tree they will almost always start building from the roof of the cavity and of course brood is the first thing that they need to produce once they have comb to put it in so the brood nest will initially be there at the top with a void below, but as the colony expands over the second and third year, the comb will be extended lower and lower in the cavity and the brood nest will move down with it and the comb above back filled with honey, so that the brood nest in an established colony will be at the bottom usually nearest the entrance and honey above.
In an horizontal top bar hive the bees are able to build their brood nest nearest the entrance from the start because of the horizontal nature of the cavity and then build more combs behind to store honey.

I would imagine that the reason for having the layout like that with brood nearest the entrance and honey above or behind is firstly to ensure that the honey stores are well protected from robbers and secondly so that pollen is not lost/knocked off/dropped from bees having to climb all the way through a hive to deposit it in the brood nest. Carrying nectar through the hive is not a problem but pollen sacks are easily dislodged and in a hive full of bees crawling over each other constantly, it's likely very little would make it to the back of the hive if that's where the brood nest was located.

Hopefully that makes sense.


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New Bee

Joined: 22 May 2016
Posts: 3
Location: Brussels, Belgium

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barabara,

What you explain is what we had understood, but to us, that is relative to the existing comb. We do expect them to do it this way from this (second) year on, when they will expand their nest)

We were surprised to see them build their nest (in our empty tbh in which they've been moved beginning of july) to the front of the hive, really just behind the entrance holes. We thought they wouldn't like it all to much there because they would sit right in the wind/draft af the holes. The distance to the brood does make sense in a full hive, but in a hollow box like a new tbh? Guess they could pass the nectar straight to the bees inside without having to fly to the right spot in the nest.

Oh, yes, did forget to mention we have our holes in the long side of the hive, not the short side.

On the einraumbeute hives. The frames are beveled on the top and back edges. The colonies we had a chance to see during our courses started building in that order i.e. about as far away from the entrance holes as possible.

By the way, our entrance holes are about at about 1/3 from the bottom. A friend recommended this height. For now, they seem happy enough.

Impatient to open the hives in spring, move the Dadants to tbh and have our first swarm(s)!

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Golden Bee

Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1550
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Worth noting that not all bees have read the book. Laughing
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