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Structural stability of natural honey comb
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Posted by: cinnamon

05/24/2004, 07:25:59

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my hobby is to keep bees and let them build their own comb in top bar hives, as opposed to the traditional way where bees build upon man-made foundation sheets.

Lately, on the bee mailing list, we've been discussing comb failures and the factors that lead to it.

I'm wondering if it would be possible to create a mathematical model of the comb in order to play around with all the possible factors and see which conditions lead to such failures? (if one comb goes, the rest of them do and the hive is lost)

Natural comb is a lovely structure, but its not regular, and the weight changes depending on whether there is brood or honey in the comb.

What would be the best way of going about making such a model?



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natural honey comb vrs man made base sheet
Re: Structural stability of natural honey comb -- cinnamon Post Reply Top of thread Forum
Posted by: RandyKimball
05/25/2004, 21:28:03

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OK, ya hooked me,
I'd bet that most failures are due to (forgive me) the lack of a projcet manager (stay with me). Bees build bee sized tubes stacked to bee sized tubes that are staggered in the stack like pipe or logs in a rack. Thus they tend to become hex. If bees at one end and bees at the other end build faster than a group in the middle the ends become a slightly different pitch per foot (counted cells per foot). Being they are building slightly different pitches per foot, when the gap is finally filled in the geometric pattern brakes down. ... a mis-match. There would become a fault (a weak place of poor geometry and structural strength) as the trapped structures are morphed to connect.

The strength in the shape is the fact that tube stengths build on the tubes around it in a regular six sided pattern. Some cells will not be able to do so, due to the mismatched pitch per foot. Every side of a cell is braced by two other sides in a 120 spread. Each union forms a structure like a three flutted shaft. This three flutted shaft would fail if any of the flutes folded, however each flute is again braced at the outer edge by another two flutes at 120 each, and so on and so on.... Is this clear as mud?

With the mismatch some cells do not have fully braced walls of equal 120. They are the weak links even more so because the ones that are properly formed around them are members of a stiff structure that will transmit any external stress to bear on the mis-shaped cells and they crush under such loads. ... a fault ... or a stress crack..

Here is the part that hooked me... by giving them a man made foundation sheet, "you become the project manager".... I love it!!!!! ... No matter where they build the pitch per foot is already 'managed' or ....... engineered .... KOOL .... So the different build speeds match in the mid sections and the geometric pattern that gives it strength maintains. .. I think?

Thank for putting up with me!!! -wink-

The worst suggestion of you lifetime may be the catalyst to the grandest idea of the century, never let suggestions go unsaid nor fail to listen to them.

Modified by RandyKimball at Tue, May 25, 2004, 21:59:42

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Re: Structural stability of natural honey comb
Re: Structural stability of natural honey comb -- cinnamon Post Reply Top of thread Forum
Posted by: Cragyon
05/24/2004, 07:39:58

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Interesting,  I'll bet a mathematical model already exists.  Many aircraft structures are composed of honeycomb type geometry for strength combined with lightness. 

In a nut-shell,  you may be able to predict the comb characteristics using basic plate strength equations which can be used to theorized and predicted based on knowledge of  the moment of inertia, and physical constants associated with the comb.

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