Bees adapting to spaces

Problem – our new swarm had lost its queen

Solution – Peter  gave us a thriving swarm of his Botley bees

Problem – they came in a single box approximately Warré width and length but 250 mm deep. My boxes are 220 mm deep. The box also had a lid made of 6 mm hardboard. The bees had attached their combs to this lid (not surprisingly).

Solution – make a Warré box deeper than usual and transfer the lid plus combs to this. Place this box at the top of the hive containing the queenless colony. The hope is that they will expand downwards and eventually leave this comb behind.


Confession – I didn’t make a whole new box but rather dowel jointed a quilt box (destined for a new hive)onto the bottom of an existing Warré box (box-3). This gave the necessary extra depth in quick time. Fortunately the comb all fitted into the box; the excess was trimmed off to allow a standard roof to fit over a quilt box on top of the hardboard. There are some small holes in the hardboard.

Here is a snap of the hardboard and comb from the underside. In a Warré sized space they have elected to only create 6 sections of comb.


This appears to give them more workspace rather than wider comb. And now I wonder if this is worth doing for a standard Warré box, i.e. 6 top bars instead of 8.

Next time the lid is off I will try a measure the comb depths, they seem to follow an interesting curve. There was a lot of buzz going on when Faith took this picture.

But they all seem settled and productive

The comb that the first swarm constructed in the middle box is now pretty much deserted. We are waiting with interest to see if the new lot use it this year – fingers crossed!

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2 Responses to Bees adapting to spaces

  1. Ann Welch says:

    Hi Brian, that’s great to see thanks. I do remember the hardboard from Peter’s swarm box, I’m sure my swarm occupied the box earlier this year Is the fact that they only made 6 frames in the same space that would usually take 8 a consequence of the bees building at an angle? My swarm from Peter built at a slight angle and cross combed so that they have 9 combs on 11 top bars ?


    • brianandfaith says:

      Hi Ann, The combs are directly onto the hardboard – no bars involved. The combs are orthogonal in each dimension, so a neat job by the bees.
      I did consider trying to get the comb off the board and attached to some bars but not for long.


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