Hive-Mind

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Bees Build Down

Well, thus far my latest sculptural experiment has been a dud. Witness:

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No, don’t get excited, the comb that’s actually in the sculpture, I put there as bait, hoping they’d work off it. The comb that’s gorgeous and full all around the sculpture but not touching it? The bees put it there.

First, if you have no idea why there is a tiny living room in my bee hive, see theĀ Bees in the Living Room previous post.

However, I think I have a good idea of what’s going on. It’s not quite apparent in this picture, but the bees draw comb down, not up. This is more obvious if you look at the bottom of the box that I took off the top of this one. The “blank” areas you see here are filled with comb hanging from above. It’s also obvious if you know anything about bees, which I apparently do not.

So, humans, lacking wings and such, build their homes from the ground up. Bees, possessing wings and such, build their homes from the ceiling down. Thus, if I want them to build comb around my home, I’ve got to put it on the ceiling, not expect them to build up from my floor.

Next plan: attach the furniture to the floor as shown above, invert it and hang it in the hive. Update to follow.

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Top Bar Update

My top bar bee hive is making good progress. Installed just over a month ago, they’ve built out 12 solid frames of comb so far. Most of that development was in the first weeks. The last couple of weeks, it appears they’ve been adding about one frame per week. In the photo below, you’ve got frames 12 and 13 (that tiny thread of white in the middle of frame 13 is the beginnings of the next round of comb).

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It’s interesting to see the small cell comb be built. The cells are noticeably smaller than those in the comb built from pre-marked foundation (4.9mm compared to 5.4mm, I’m told). Interestingly, I’m also noticing two distinct sizes of bee on the comb, presumably the larger, darker ones from the package as it was delivered and the smaller, yellower ones hatching from the new small cell comb. I had thought I had Carniolan bees with a Carniolan queen, but perhaps I’m mistaken. The bees are definitely different colors, so they must be different breeds, right?

Two species of bee?

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The puzzling part is that my photos of the hive when I installed it shows bees that look more like the smaller, yellower bees than the larger, darker bees. But small cell should lead to small bee, right?

I’m also a little worried about the ability of larger bees to tend to the smaller cells. Really, they’re so large and the cells so small I’m not sure they can fit their fat heads into the comb to clean it, but I suppose they must have, or else I wouldn’t have successfully hatching brood and set honey.

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