There’s an interesting phenomenon that seems to occur in the beekeeping world… maybe you’ve noticed it too.  We call it The Theory of Immutable Truths.  It’s the theory that says that any statement that is repeated oft’ enough becomes true.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be logical, you just have to say it lots  and lots of times.  And since beekeepers like to tell their stories over and over, there are a lot of “truths” that have attained that status in the 157 years since the invention and patent of the Langstroth hive in 1853.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting a couple of these supposedly immutable truths that we personally have seen honeybees “give the lie to”.  Here are the most prominent “truths” that a novice beekeeper may encounter early in their new found endeavors:

Bees must go “up”.  This one appealed to me when I first heard it because it seemed to simplify things.  If bees must go up, then all I need to do is keep stacking up boxes in a tower, and the sky would be the limit!  Then I got one of those phone calls that I plainly should have allowed to go to voice mail –>  someone had bees in a building.  In a house, specifically.  In the roofline of a house, to be exact.  Did I want them?  I said yes I did,  and so I fetched my bee jacket and gathered up what tools I expected to find useful, and off I went to relocate some errant honey bees.  What did I find when I got there?  You guessed it.  Bees that were going (gasp) sideways.  Sideways for a long ways, in fact.  That call was the first in a long line of phone calls received by what has since become a thriving department of Gold Star Honeybees – the Live Bee Relocation Department.
Now I don’t know about you but I know that humans have a tendency to get some things backwards.  This would appear to be one of them.  When the Reverend Lorenzo Loraine Langstroth created his moveable frame Langstroth beehive – using the logic of three-eights of an inch of bee space and a box he had hanging around in his garage – he created something else as well.  What, you ask?  He created the beginnings of an immutable truth!  We began to use a beehive that only allowed bees to go up, and the truth that sprung forth from this was “Bees must go up!”
Since that early phone call I’ve relocated a lot of bees from various situations in buildings.  And I’ve seen situations where bees occupied large branches of trees – that reached out horizontally from the vertical tree trunk.  The thing to know is that bees are “cavity nesters.”  They need to build their homes inside a cavity, or an empty space.  And they accommodate themselves to the cavity they have chosen.  If that cavity goes up, then so do the bees.  If that cavity goes sideways, well… you can see where that’s going, I bet.

Now doesn’t that make more sense?

Does this attitude match up with yours?  Check us out at  We’ve been looking for you – we need your help in saving the bees.


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  1. Phil Chandler Says:

    Spot on, Christy! Isn’t it amazing that people can go on repeating nonsense without ever bothering to do the observations themselves. If you put bees into any hollow cavity, they will go to the highest point and build their comb downwards, and, if necessary, sideways – and yet some beekeepers continue to try to tell us that they ‘work upwards’!

  2. the Luddite Says:

    Great post Christy! The “Upward Expansion” school of thought regarding hive design remains predominant. Attended an Adult Ed Beekeeping class and the Langstroth hive was featured almost exclusively.

    Looking forward to your continued posts!

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