Look Ma! No Bees! (or: How To Make Trees Breed Themselves)

Omicron

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Jul 29, 2019
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Hey you!

Yes, you! Do you want to breed some trees? No? Bit of a hassle, you say? Can’t be arsed to manually refill a beehouse all the time, or breed a bee that handles it reasonably quickly?

Would you maybe like to breed some trees if the breeding happened all by itself, then?
What if it saved you all that worrying about safely automating your ignoble bees in 1.6.x?
What if you didn’t have to pay attention to biome tolerances of your bees?
If you didn’t have to worry about potentially affecting random nearby trees?

If you could do it underwater or in a cave, without direct sky access? (Thanks, Celestialphoenix!)
If you didn’t even have to breed a single bee in order to do it?
If it was also faster than bees ever could be?
If you could impress your friends with your creativity while doing it?


Well, do I ever got a bridge to sell you then!

...Just kidding.

About the bridge, that is.

Stick with me for a few minutes, and I’m going to show you how you, too, can make your trees breed themselves while you sit back and enjoy a nice glass of fruit juice laced with bio-ethanol.

(...What? It’s fruit punch!)

The Setup

First things first: location, location, location! You will want a large, enclosed space in a jungle biome. Only two trees in Forestry are biome dependant, and both of them can be bred in a jungle; all other trees can be bred anywhere, including jungles (Note: your Binnie tree experience may vary). But, if you don’t have a jungle nearby, then any old biome will do, you’ll just have to make do without willows and sipiri trees.

How large and enclosed a space? Well, consider this:https://imgur.com/a/F4rxk


It is a 35x23x15 glass dome / hall. A greenhouse, if you will. It seemed themely and nice-looking. Since foolish trees grow pretty much anywhere they can find torchlight and enough headroom, though, you could literally do it in a cave. But why would you want to do that if you could have a glass dome? See, there we go. Now go build a glass dome. In a jungle. I remembered too late that I should have built mine in a jungle. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Your friends will mock you later if you do.

Starting It Off

As a next step, fill your newly built glass dome with trees. If you have not yet done any tree breeding at all, I recommend roughly a 3:3:2 mix of apple oak, silver birch and red spruce. You must use Forestry trees here - in other words, you’ll have to treealyze your vanilla saplings before you plant them, so they gain genome information. A multifarm arboretum can do this for you if you let it plant the saplings and then steal them right back; or, if you absolutely can’t keep your fingers off of bees, I suppose you could also centrifuge some combs for honey and use a plain old treealyzer. Lesson of the day: even though the trees will breed themselves without bees, it’s always a good idea to have a small amount of honey around…

If you already have some Forestry trees and want to continue with those, that’s fine too. You don’t even need to treealyze them. They already have a genome by default, and it doesn’t need to be analyzed. Just present.

Finally, if your shiny new greenhouse is not near your base, you might want to chunkload it. After all you want those trees to have at it without having to hang out there all the time.

And then, voila, you’re done. All you need now is patience, and soon you'll be able to go in with a bunch of grafters and come back out with a bunch of saplings.

Wait What? When? Why? How?

You think I’m pulling your leg? Well, take a look at this:https://imgur.com/a/ykkxG

Not a single bee in sight, and plenty of crossbreeding going on between some pretty advanced trees. It really works! But how? Here’s how:

Leaf blocks with Forestry genome information (which is why I told you to treealyze those vanilla saplings) have a small chance to randomly spawn… butterflies. These buggers have the annoying habit to instantly fly off and get lost in Minecraft’s gigantic world, which is why you almost never see them even if you have Forestry trees all over the place. Put them into an enclosed space, however, and you will be surprised what these pretty little flyers can do for you.

Because they crossbreed trees. They will randomly land on a leaf block, pick up pollen, and then later randomly land on another leaf block and drop it there. You could even kill a butterfly and get the pollen as a drop if it had one on it. But we don’t want to do that. We want to have as many butterflies entrapped in our glass dome as we can!

Naturally, the start is slow. The chance for butterflies to spawn is small, and even if you have two dozen trees, you might have to wait a few Minecraft days for the first one to spawn. Maybe. You may also get lucky, who knows? But over time, they will definitely come. They will come in masses. And they will never stop coming as long as you have Forestry trees inside there. More and more and more butterflies, making your trees crossbreed faster and faster and faster the longer you have this setup. With just 15 of them, I easily outpaced the breeding speed of six bee houses worth of tropical bees. And I don’t have 15 butterflies anymore, now.

I have well over four times that.

And if that's not fast enough for you... did you realize that you could also have bees working at the same time? ;)

Known Issues

For starters - building height. Due to the need to have a fully enclosed space, you might run into issues with some really tall trees. My 15 block ceiling height is enough to fit balsa, just barely; kapok and yellow meranti, for example, will not fit, and they are used in several breeding pairings.

Thankfully, as mentioned before, foolish trees will grow anywhere they can find enough headroom and some torchlight. So you can simply dig a shaft straight down, plant your sapling(s) and a torch at the bottom, and grow the tree with some bone meal. The trunk will be mostly inside the shaft, but the tree crown with all the leaves will spawn up above ground yet still below the ceiling. All ready to be pounced by your army of breeding-happy winged insects.

However, you’d be wise to close the shaft around the tree trunk as soon as you’ve grown the tree, for trees are not the only thing that’s foolish. Butterflies will happily get stuck for all eternity in a hole that’s even two blocks deep - seriously, you guys have wings! What the heck? Anyway, don’t offer them any holes they can fall into. And if some slip through before you can close it, remember that you can pick them up with a scoop and carry them back out. Or you could just murder them for their foolishness. You know, your choice.

The second issue is - pollination pollution. A large number of your butterflies will be carrying pollen at any given time. If you have already reached your breeding goal and go plant the next set of trees, then all that old pollen will still be there. And it’ll be unloaded on the new trees before the butterflies can pick up new pollen.

So if you just finished crossing hill cherry with common walnut, and move on to cross mundane larch and bull pine next, don’t be surprised if your first few pollinated leaves spit out cherry/larch hybrids. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

Finally - massive scale. Note that the Forestry config places limits on how many butterflies can spawn and take flight. If you want a really mindbogglingly large setup (much larger than mine), or if you play on a server that has been running for a while and/or has other people toying with Forestry, then you might need to tweak those numbers. Butterfly breeding is also available to get around the spawn limitation (but not the flight limitation).

I hope this little guide at least amused you a bit, and much like my other guides, hopefully even taught you something new about another little-studied aspect in the world of modded Minecraft. :)
 
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Celestialphoenix

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Tartarus.. I mean at work. Same thing really.
Hot Damn!! - this is awesome! (Love the look of it too)
If you're worried about the cross-contamination; you could look into a retractable wall with TiC drawbridges.​

Random Question though- do butterflies need direct sunlight to spawn/function?
(sunlight is surprisingly hard to come by on the ocean floor)
 

Omicron

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That... is actually a good question. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmm. I have never read anything about this, but come to think of it, there is a flutterlyzer. Which is the butterfly version of a beealyzer. And that shows, IIRC, that the butterflies have quite similar traits to bees, including such as nocturnal, flyer, and cave dwelling traits. This would mean that, technically, they should behave similar to bees - in that they do in fact need direct sunlight unless they are cave dwelling.

There is also supposedly a butterfly breeding system, which is even more obscure than tree breeding with butterflies.

That said, you won't know for sure unless you try it out. Maybe you do need a cave dwelling butterfly, but there's a kind that natively spawns with this trait? Or maybe the mechanic is so new that the trait checking isn't implemented? Maybe spawn some in and see what traits they have, and how they behave. I'd be very interested in your findings!
 

Henry Link

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Dec 23, 2012
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Great work. My 1st thought on the butterflies that have contamination (pollen left over from previous breeding) was to do MFFS to cleanse the building.
 

Celestialphoenix

Too Much Free Time
Nov 9, 2012
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Tartarus.. I mean at work. Same thing really.
I'll leave this running for a bit and see what happens.


(Survival build is a long way off)

Edit-- pratting around trying to get images to work, and came back to 1 butterfly.
Not sure if it spawned before or after as the trees grew before I could get all the water on top.​

DoubleEdit-- butterflies do not need direct sunlight/line of sight to the sky. 3 now :).

TripleEdit-- Flutterlyzer (*yay!*) - Species, Size, Lifespan, Speed, Metabolism, Fertility, Flowers, Effect, Temp/humidity tol, Diurnal, Nocturnal, Flyer, Fireproof. (nothing about cave dwelling)

QuadEdit-- Dropped in a stack of butterflies from creative. Still no sign of mutations.

QuintEdit-- Before you ask- those blocks are from Chisel mod (and AE glass- ooh glowey :)). There's some pretty neat designs. (DigitalReality modpack- MC 1.5.2)

SectEdit-- Anyone know what them fancy glasses that kill you framerate but show up mutated leaves?
 

Omicron

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Great work. My 1st thought on the butterflies that have contamination (pollen left over from previous breeding) was to do MFFS to cleanse the building.
Hmmm... with the inventory cleanser? I'm not sure that works on Butterflies, but well, you could try!
 

Democretes

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Because they crossbreed trees. They will randomly land on a leaf block, pick up pollen, and then later randomly land on another leaf block and drop it there. You could even kill a butterfly and get the pollen as a drop if it had one on it. But we don’t want to do that. We want to have as many butterflies entrapped in our glass dome as we can!
Do butterflies spawn on the leaf blocks or do leaf blocks that are hidden increase the rate of spawning? If butteflies can only spawn on leaf blocks and the total amount doesn't matter, having a bunch of trees with smaller surface area, like a balsa, would be inefficient where as a desert accacia, silver lime, or teak trees may have the natural advantage over other trees due to their butterfly spawning capabilities.

Another thing is sheared leaves. If you just shear a bunch of leaves and lay them out layered on top of one another with a block of air between the two, would those possibly spawn butterflies? You could make a nice little farm for the lot and create a buttefly army to take over the world!!

Good guid btw. Never new that about butterflies. I always thought that there were still planned features for them that were never added.
 

Omicron

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Actually I was thinking more along the lines of killing the butterflies off and let the repopulate naturally.
You're aware that the "repopulate naturally" will take many hours, for a breeding job that could be done in 10 minutes even with carry-over pollen in the system? ;)

Do butterflies spawn on the leaf blocks or do leaf blocks that are hidden increase the rate of spawning? If butteflies can only spawn on leaf blocks and the total amount doesn't matter, having a bunch of trees with smaller surface area, like a balsa, would be inefficient where as a desert accacia, silver lime, or teak trees may have the natural advantage over other trees due to their butterfly spawning capabilities.

Another thing is sheared leaves. If you just shear a bunch of leaves and lay them out layered on top of one another with a block of air between the two, would those possibly spawn butterflies? You could make a nice little farm for the lot and create a buttefly army to take over the world!!

Good guid btw. Never new that about butterflies. I always thought that there were still planned features for them that were never added.
I have no idea how the actual spawning works in detail. All I know is that butterflies are spawned by leaf blocks with genome information. Just that fact, not the how - if you wanted to know the how, you'd have to examine the source code, because Sengir never made that public. I can definitely say though that you won't get many from balsa :p But at the point you have balsa trees, you should have a very well filled greenhouse already from the many generations prior.

And I wouldn't count on leaves retaining their genome information after being sheared... it's easy to lose such complex metadata when using tools that don't expect it. But it's easy to try out - shear some leaves, place them down and try to apply pollen. If it works, graft the sapling and see in the treealyzer if it gave you the expected result.[DOUBLEPOST=1381270108][/DOUBLEPOST]
*snip*
DoubleEdit-- butterflies do not need direct sunlight/line of sight to the sky. 3 now :).
*snip*
SectEdit-- Anyone know what them fancy glasses that kill you framerate but show up mutated leaves?
Great discovery!

And, try "spectacles" or the "apiarist's hat". Both should do it. Show mutated leaves, that is. They never killed my framerate.
 

PierceSG

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To Omnicron: Regarding your sig with links to guide. Maybe make a post with links to all your guides and link that post in your signature instead? You can always update your post with new links then?
 

glepet1962

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Nov 15, 2012
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That's awesome. I'm not a fan of bees, but I like the trees, so this is now on my todo list!
 

Pyure

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Omicron: Thanks, this is really clever. For some reason I seem to always avoid bees, so this is a boon to players like myself.
 

Omicron

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What he means is: some people like building an ocean base and live underwater completely. As water blocks off sunlight, all game mechanics that rely on direct line of sight to the sky - such as solar panels for example, or almost all bees - are unavailable by default.

However, butterflies do not seem to care, meaning they work where bees cannot work. That's a big win for ocean dwellers, since it makes the whole tree breeding thing available to them when previously it seemed impossible.
 
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draeath

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Is this functional in Unleashed 1.1.3? I ask as I have yet to see a butterfly, but then again nobody has used a treealyzer or happened to work with bees near any Natura stuff (meaning no eligible leaves for butterfly spawning, if I understood the mechanism correctly)
 

Omicron

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Natura stuff doesn't do anything with bees. It's completely incompatible with Forestry (just like it is with all other mods except itself).

Vanilla trees are eligible targets for bees, even if un-treealyzed. If crossbreeding happens, then the pollinated leaves even gain genome information and are eligible to spawn butterflies. However, the chance per single leaf block is really extremely low. You want a group of genome-based trees to see spawns at any noticeable rate.

As for the Unleashed pack, this should be perfectly functional there.