Journal of Apicultural Science

Is the orientation of cells in the natural honey bee comb, chosen by bees, random?

Journal of Apicultural Science. Volume 50, Issue 2, Pages 33-38, ISSN (Print) 1643-4439
The orientation of cells in the natural honey bee combs attached to the horizontal and sloped surfaces was investigated. 263 samples of newly constructed natural combs were obtained. The orientation of cells was measured with 1° accuracy and every comb was classified as having horizontal, vertical or intermediate type of cell orientation. No statistical difference was found in the occurrence of three orientation modes for combs with bee cells. A small (10 - 20%) advantage of vertical orientation in the combs with drone cells was observed. The distribution of cell orientation modes in the naturally-built combs was independent of cell orientation in the neighbouring combs. Most of the combs attached to sloped bars had an intermediate orientation of cells, but an evaluation of their orientation according to the top bar demonstrated that the majority of combs had a "vertical" orientation with rows of cells parallel to the sloped bar. The regular cell pattern appeared to depend on the starting position on the top bar, not on gravity. The orientation of cells in the combs depends on the orientation of the first cell, built by bees.
Apis mellifera, comb construction, cell orientation
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