Communication Holes

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Flyman, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. Flyman

    Flyman New Member

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    Was ask a question that I should probably know but could not answer with confidence. What are the communication holes for in foundation, i.e. Duraguilt?

    Seems like I remember reading that Langstroth notice them in his studies and I have noticed them, not holes but "leave outs" in foundation along the bottom corners in really strong hives.

    Can anybody quote a definitive study or have a WAG regarding their purpose?
     
  2. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Now ya got me thinking, and it hurts. :confused:

    I've not seen this addressed in any of the books, but my WAG is that the girls do it to facilitate passage in and around the comb.

    Why walk all the way around when you can just walk through.
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I've read one theory that the bees use vibrations to communicate through the comb. With my foundationless deep frames, I find that often a good portion of the bottom of the comb is sometimes left purposely hanging free, with just a couple of attached bits, and then the sides are all attached. I imagine that if bees do indeed like to have the bottom unattached and able to vibrate, it must be frustrating for them having plastic foundation that is closed and rigid. It's interesting to me that the folks who make plastic foundation knew that they needed to at least add a couple of holes.
     
  4. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I have tested holes in foundation. This year, I went with round holes as seen in the picture. Bees closed up the holes in over 90% of the foundation.

    To me, the small holes in the corner of foundation means liitle. It's not like they can't go another half an inch and around the edge or under the bottom bar.

    And I also do not think that bees somehow purposely leave the foundation open for some need at the bottom of foundationless frames. They leave the same amount open regardless of whether it is shallow frames or deep. You would think they need additional space for the length in deep frames, but bees shows no more desire than shallow frames.

    In truly natural comb, bees may have rather large combs with little communication holes. Sometimes much larger than what any frame dictates. So it is hard to think that bees really need holes. And if this was a concern, I think you would be better off using smaller frames.

    I have some rather large TBH and trench hives where the comb is 19 inches. All drawn with no foundation. And it's not like the bees make holes themselves. Except on the edges and bottom, which is comparable to the space that standard frames provide. It tells me that punching holes in foundation or suggesting bees are being harmed by not having comunication holes (at some yet to be found measurement) is questionable at best.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I'm thinking that perhaps bees like to leave the bottom edges of comb free so that they can build swarm cells off them. I mean, isn't there even a queen raising system that takes advantage of the bees' natural desire to build queen cells off the bottom free edges of comb that's cut into strips or triangles?
    When bees are given plastic foundation that is attached all along the edge, don't they then try to build swarm cells right off the bottom wooden edge of the frame? Seems like they'd be happier to build the swarm cells off the bottom free edge of the combs rather than having to build over and from the hump of the bottom wood frame edge. I'm thinking bees prefer to have swarm cells hanging free rather than built into the side of comb or hanging off a wooden frame edge.
     
  6. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I think bees build queen cells where it is convenient. You can find queen cells just about any place on the comb.

    Now, do they find it convenient to build in drone cells and open void areas where the cell will not be inhibited? Sure. But I don't think the comparision of wax, plastic, or foundationless systems play into it. They will build thre queen cells where and how they need too, with equally great results.

    For every "pro" for one type comb, I can name a "pro" for what it is being compared too.

    People trash plastic. But it is very convenient to use, especially for those using mite trapping via drone comb systems for mite control. If you use full sheets of worker cell plastic, while offering drone comb, you can isolate most of the drones on the frames you want. Thus being much more effective for mite trapping. With natural comb systems, you may find a half sheet of drone placed throughout the hive. Not always the best for efficient mite trapping.

    So it really comes down to what complete IPM approach you are seeking. While I use much natural comb and promote it, it's just another path, with pro and con issues. Just like every other thing you do in the hive.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I think Steve Tabor kind of approached this question long ago in one of his writing (very old ABJ I think???). In one of these he spoke of the years (I think he was working for one of the bee labs) in trying to construct various assorted shapes for hives and place these in extreme location to see if shape of hive effected survival rate. I think the one I recall in regards to the holes in the foundation were almost perfectly square in shape and placed at significant elevation with very severe winter temperatures.

    I seem to recall Mr Tabor's little story went this way... one year they placed almost perfectly square boxes and the bees in the box built almost perfect comb from one side of the box to the other. By the following spring this 'perfectly formed' hive had perished and there was still plenty of stores inside the hive. Evidently during a significant bout of cold weather the cluster had been unable to move from one side of the frame to the other and had perished not from the severe cold but from starvation. In the next years attempt on the same box Mr Tabor cut 'communication' holes (with a knife) in the almost perfect comb and this time the hives survived quite well. I think this speaks well to the fact that even in fairly severe weather bees can move within the cluster but not external to the cluster. So in extreme cold moving across top bars or bottom bars may be almost impossible.