Limiting space in the hive


Bob Wilson:
I was just reading that bees tend to do better when they don't have a lot of empty room in the hive. For instance, a small swarm or split would do better in a 5 frame nuc than in a 10 frame hive body.
That leads me to consider my long hives. It seems that sometimes topbar/longhive beekeepers use followboards, but often not. We just shift or rearrange the broodnest back close to the entrance and let them begin building there.
Likewise, a feral swarm grows and contracts in the same large space.
Why can these manage their space well and other colonies languish in an overly large space?

Ben Framed:
Your question is a good question. One that I have 'not' asked myself. This is one thing taught by many experienced beekeepers which I have simply accepted without question. David Haught at barnyard bees was the first to point this out to me, 'limiting space for fast build up'. Oldbeavo mentioned this briefly in the recent topic "Very slow hive growth over spring / summer. Lazy genetics or requeen?"

My thoughts there on that topic (even before Oldbeavo posted his thoughts on this),  was; "These bees are not doing bad considering the location, size of swarm, time captured, and large amount of space given." "I wonder if they would have build up even faster if they had been placed in a nuc box."

I for one could list a couple of 'possible' reasons but will refrain from guess work, leaving it to the experts lol.

The amount of space you give the bees depends on what is in that space. If it is open or just has empty frames or just foundation frames, the bees do not have to protect it. In this situation, they can grow fast if there is a good usable food source.
If that same space is filled with drawn comb, they expend a lot of time protecting it and they don?t grow as fast.
If the hive is busting at the seems with bees and you add drawn comb, they will fill it with honey or brood based on their needs.
Keep in mind that entrance size also matters, if it is a large entrance, again they have to expend a lot of resources to protect the hive.
Jim Altmiller

Bob Wilson:
Thanks, Jim.
I have wondered about this issue before. That makes sense.

Michael Bush:
Actually they can't manage it well, but they can manage.  My experience and the research is that they thrive on being crowded.  They struggle when there is a low density of bees.


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