How do honey bees nest in tree?

Honey bees nests in trees consist of one or more vertical honeycombs containing hexagonal cells of two or (at least for Apis florea bees) three different sizes.

The longitudinal axes of these cells are slightly inclined to the horizontal so that the entrance holes are above the cell bases. Also, during cultivation in the family uterus on the honeycomb cells appear hanging, reminiscent of the shape of the uterine peanuts.

The larvae of drones and worker bees are brought up in honeycomb cells, which in this case are often called brood cells. The same cells store pollen and honey.

The new honeycombs consist entirely of wax, emitted by the glands located at the bottom of the worker’s belly. Later on, the brooding cells, which have already bred several generations, contain a certain amount of cocoons and larvae excreta, and the wax of the whole honeycomb is dark and contaminated with impurities of pollen, particles of cocoons, and other materials. The darker the honeycomb, the older it is.

Two types of honey bees – giant (Apis dorsata) and dwarf (Apis florea) build their nests during the day and from a single honeycomb. types of honey bees – giant (Apis dorsata) and dwarf (Apis florea) Nests of giant bees can be found attached to the lower parts of the horizontal branches of large trees or the wall of rock, to the arches of bridges, and even under the eaves of buildings. A family of giant bees is building up one huge honeycomb, reaching a length of 1.8 m and a width of 90 cm; its large cells, in which both drones and work bees are removed, are the same not only in shape but also in size.

The adult worker bee of this species is almost the same size as the womb of an Italian race western honeybee. The nest of a dwarf bee is much smaller, often no bigger than a human hand; bees attach it to the bottom of branches of bushes or small trees. Tiny cells of honeycomb can be three sizes: the smallest, in which the worker bees are derived, by 1 cm four such cells; cells of larger size, in which trunks are raised, and the largest cells for honey and pollen, located on top of the honeycomb.

Compared to bees and drones, these cells are very deep, so the honeycomb at the top of the honeycomb protrudes to form a small area where bees gather to dance, recruiting other bees for bribes from the flowering plants they discovered.

Honeybees of the other two species – Oriental (Middle Indian Apis indica) and Western (Apis mellifera) usually build nests in the dark in the hollows of trees, in the hollows of walls. The nest of each species has several vertical, parallel to each other honeycombs, each of which will stand at a distance of about 12 mm for the western bee and slightly less for the eastern bee. The line of the upper surface of the honeycomb corresponds to the shape of the cavity in which bees build the nest unless it is so large that the bee family does not need so many honeycombs; the shape of the honeycomb resembles an ellipse. Each of them is attached to the ceiling of the cavity in the upper part.

Since the average Indian and Western honeybees are used to building their many honeycomb nests in dark cavities, they are easy to learn in wooden hives and other boxes or vessels and are really hive bees. Giant and dwarf honey bees building nests from one honeycomb outdoors do not take root in every hive, and as a result, they are relatively useless to humans; people can only become “hunters of such bees” by robbing their nests and taking away wax and honey from them.

The average Indian bee builds about three bee cells per 1 cm of a honey cell, while the western honey bee builds about two. The former is more primitive in behavior than the latter, but better adapted to the hot climate and easier to avoid a predator like the Asian hornet. It is about 3 times smaller than the western honeybee. However, the latter bee is better able to withstand long cold periods than its eastern sisters.

In natural conditions, the vertical honeycomb nests of the Western honeybee are more or less parallel to one another along the entire length. Although they are often placed inside the cavity and randomly, the distance between bee brooding honeycombs from the middle of one honeycomb to the middle of the other is about 34 mm. Honeycombs with trumpet brood stand one from another a little further – about 3 mm. The distance between honeycomb honeycombs often reaches 40 mm or more.

 Approximately in 1850 Lorenzo Langstroth improved his hive with a bar frame, increasing the distance between the ceiling and the upper wooden bars of the honeycomb framework to 9 mm. He found that at this distance, it is easier to remove the ceiling: bees do not stick it to the top bars of the frame propolis – sticky substance released by some plants, such as poplar; this substance is collected by Western honey bees, but do not collect Eastern honey bees.

Langstroth was not satisfied with the fact that to examine the honeycomb framework they had difficulty separating from the walls of the hive, to which they were attached propolis or honeycomb. In October 1851 he discovered that it is possible to avoid such a fixation of honeycomb frames if left between their side strips and the walls of the hive space of 8-9 mm. This distance, which in modern beekeeping is usually 8 mm, is known as the “bee space”.

If the space between the walls of the hive and the frame is less than 8 mm, bees will fill it with propolis and wax; in the same way, if the distance is more than 9 mm, bees will either fill it with this substance or build binding honeycombs (bridges).

Langstroth’s discovery of the bee space led to the creation of a hive as we know it today – with frames that can be easily removed from it because they are surrounded by bee space on all sides; after this discovery, modern methods of beekeeping became possible.

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