Monday, December 28, 2009

Small Cell & Crossing the Great Divide.

We were discussing natural comb building on the yahoo warre group and again on the NBN forum. Other beekeepers were saying that after just one season of bees building comb foundationless they were finding cell size in the brood nest at 5.1 to 5.2 and even less. Well I measured as much comb as I could this year from all the deadouts. They built consistently at 5.3mm in the brood areas. I never found anything less than 5.3. Now Stefan in Las Palmas who is a Dee Lusby disciple and therefore small cell advocate maintains that to get small cell the comb spacing must be 32mm. My Kenyans were all 35mm and my warre were the standard 36mm so he may have a point. This may also be part of the reason I saw so much comb curving in the kenyans. Scott from the yahoo warre group has said he puts nine 20mm wide bars in his warre hives instead of eight. I did the maths and realized if I did the same, I would get 32mm spacing. So this batch of 4 warre boxes and all subsequent boxes will have nine bars.

These photos show exactly how I achieve the spacing.

The first photo shows an end spacer of 9mm and the first bar pinned into place, the 12mm spacer with the screw as a handle and the next bar also pushed up and pinned.

This photo shows the 9mm spacer removed and the 12mm spacer put into the next position.

The next photo shows the next top bar being slid along before pinning into place.

All bars now in place and pinned in position. The pins are 'gimp' pins or what the Americans call frame nails.

Four boxes pinned and ready for the top surface of the top bars to be laquered with pure linseed oil.

These and several others will have a couple of months to dry and air before use.

In these next photos, you can see I have waxed small pieces of comb between the middle top bars, set on top so that when it is put under the warre hive it will crush slightly between the combs. This is to act as a bridge which the bees will be able to cross from the comb above. Bees are reluctant to cross a divide and have been known to swarm through lack of space even though there was an empty box below!

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