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Crooked Combs A Disadvantage






Category: WAX.

These few irregular cells have been considered a great disadvantage. It
is thought, or pretended, that there is a vast difference between the
prosperity of a stock with straight combs and one with crooked ones. To
avoid them, or cause the bees to make them all straight, has given rise
to much contrivance, as if a few such cells could effect much. Suppose
there were a dozen sheets of comb in a hive, and each one had a row or
more of such irregular cells from top to bottom, what proportion would
they hold to those that were perfect? Perhaps not one in a thousand.
Hence we infer that in a hive of the proper size, the difference in
amount of brood never could be perceived. This is the only difference
it can make, because such cells can be used for storing honey as well
as others. But sometimes there will be corners and spaces not wide
enough for two combs, and too wide for one of the proper thickness for
breeding. As bees use all their room economically, and generally at the
best advantage, a thick comb will be the result. It is said they never
use such thick combs for breeding. How are the facts? I have just such
a space in a glass hive; one comb two inches thick. How is it managed?
Towards fall this sheet is filled with honey; the cells outside are
lengthened until there is just room for a bee to pass between them and
the glass, when they are sealed over. In spring these long cells are
all cut down (except at the top and upper corners) to the proper length
for breeding, and used for this purpose. This has been done for five
years in succession.

I will grant that there is a little waste room in such spaces, for part
of the year. It amounts to but little, as it is only outside. They are
necessitated to make such combs, because the inside combs, if built in
a breeding apartment, however crooked one may be, the next one will
generally match it, the right distance from it. But when they are built
expressly for storing honey, in such as are made in boxes, the right
distance is not so well preserved; hence it is not recommended to
compel bees to use such storing apartment for breeding. But suppose we
should compel a swarm to labor under these disadvantages, I should not
apprehend such disastrous results, (providing they have a proper
proportion of worker cells,) as no swarms, or even no surplus honey, as
has been represented. Imagine a hive filled with combs that are all too
thick, and room wasted when cut down, to the amount of one-fourth of
all that is in the hive. Now here are combs enough left to mature
three-fourths as many bees as in an ordinary hive, where all are right.
We can now suppose a good swarm will bring home the same amount of
honey as though it belonged to other hives; only three-fourths as much
can be fed to the brood, and stored in the hive; and the result ought
to be, that we get a quarter more surplus honey in boxes. Even if we
get no swarm, I cannot see how our surplus honey can be less, as in
this case there would be more bees at all times than in a hive that had
been reduced by swarming.

Does experience substantiate the theory that stocks with crooked combs
are as profitable as when they are straight? When combs are built
expressly for breeding, I could never discover any difference. Any
person can easily test it by a little observation; not by taking a
solitary instance of only one hive, because some other cause might
produce the result. Take a half-dozen at least with straight combs, and
as many with them crooked; have them all alike in other respects, and
carefully watch the result. I think you will have but little interest
which way the combs are made, providing _they are made_, as far as
profit is concerned. It is true, it would gratify order to have them
all straight, and if it was not attended with more trouble than the
result would pay for, it would be well to have them so.

In ordinary circumstances, when a swarm is first hived, they set about
comb-making immediately; yet sometimes they will remain two days, and
not make a particle. I have known them to swarm out and cluster in the
usual way, and when rehived, commence at once. This seems to prove that
they can retain the wax, or prevent secreting it, till wanted. This
seldom occurs.





Next: Uncertainty In Weight Of Bees

Previous: Manner Of Working Wax



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