Regressing towards small cell

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by SlickMick, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. SlickMick

    SlickMick New Member

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    I have heard a lot about regressing to small cell and its benefits with control over varroa. Whilst we have no varroa here in Oz it is suggested that it wont be long before it rears its ugly head.. a sobering thought.

    I understand that small cell colonies restrict the amount of room the mite has to breed its young when compared to large cell. Perhaps this is true but I am unable to say. I measured comb from a swarm that I took the other day and it measured at 5.2mm which I understand is about natural cell size

    What is the process of regressing this to small size?

    Mick
     
  2. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I thought small size was natural size. :confused:
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Natural cell varies over a wide range of sizes. Small cell is one size only preformed foundation. BIG difference.

    Jennifer Berry, with the university of Georgia, did a comparison of small cell and large cell, and found NO benefit in using small cell for varroa control.
     
  4. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    A quick reveiw of smallcell....

    At first, the thought was that smallcell inhibited the mites from reproducing due to not enough room in the cells. This was questioned from day one as junk science, and quickly fell by the wayside.

    Then came along the idea that smallcell inhibited mites by a shorter cell capping time. Sounded better than the first proclaimed item, but still many questioned.

    During these early days, smallcell was referred to as natural cell. Forcing bees on smallcell is as unnatural as forcing them on large cell. Smallcell is NOT natural, period.

    It was easy to dismiss anyone a few years back with claims of "You don't have any smallcell" or "It takes three years, so until you go through the regression, selection, and changeover, you will not see the results that others claim".

    I said at least 6 years ago, that I was NOT seeing the results that so many claimed by smallcell. Others commented that perhaps other "selection" or synergies were at work, and openly questioned smallcell claimed.

    Many questions were raised by maps presented years ago regarding cell size dictated by enviromental triggers, elevation, and other factors. How could a one size fits all foundation, and be natural when previously it was claimed otherwise?

    So, I said years ago, that EVENTUALLY, when studies were presented, it would be debunked in time. It was easy to dismiss a few like myself who may have "personal motives".

    Now, four independent studies (2 USA, one Canadian, and one New Zealand) all have come to the same conclusion.....smallcell does not eliminate, or better yet, does not diminish the number of mites....period!

    There has been some wild claims that "mite leveling" threw off the results. That somehow the tests were compromised. That somehow something went wrong.

    So we are in a transition period. Those previously known to promote smallcell as natural, are backpedaling of sorts. They are now sliding over to "natural cell" (The proper term for comb drawn by bees as per foundationless systems) and I see smallcell being left to the few holdouts that continue to sip from those red plastic cups, while chanting the same tune as the world goes on without them.

    I'll see if I have the mags at the house. Bee Culture just had an article mentioning all four studies just a few months ago...... all dismissing smallcell claims.
     
  5. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Bee Culture, Nov 09, page 49

    Entitled "Small cell foundation and varroa mites - So far, the numbers don't add up"
     
  6. SlickMick

    SlickMick New Member

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    Thanks BjornBee for that. Not having experience with varroa I assume that we can be somewhat panicky about the prospect of having to deal with something as startling.

    One would hope that by the time varroa does turn up here I would hope that there are strategies developed to deal with it

    Mick
     
  7. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Sadly Mick, it's only a matter of time before they somehow get transported down there and you do have to deal with them. All part of the "joys" of a global economy.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    well thank ya' slickmick for providing a thread where bjorn and I wholeheartly agree. for myself somethings (and likely directly tied to my educational background) will not work out for sound theoritical reason and bjorn has simply demonstated the application (experiements) to change the 'highly likely' unto the 'proven to be so'.

    kind of hurts to say so (incert your favorite smiley face here) excellent job bjorn.
     
  9. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Well thank you..... :hi:
     
  10. SlickMick

    SlickMick New Member

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    OK guys, here's an observation.

    This evening I opened 3 hives, all came from swarms, 2 were queenright and 1 queenless. All were foundationless in various stages of development. In some the comb contained a combination of small and large cell.. I assume that the larger cell was to populate with drones or fill with honey. The comb varied in size as it got closer to the bottom of the frame. The larger cells were towards the bottom of the frames and I would imagine that drone cells were being built here.

    I am interested in your comments

    Mick
     
  11. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Although bees build depending upon need, time of year, resources, etc., there are some somewhat given patterns. Bees will build drones to the outside or on the bottom, etc.

    Bees in nature build from the top down. Brood cells are first built, then as the combs expand outward and downward, the cells may include more larger honey cells and drone. But in the center of the comb, from the top to the bottom, is usually the smaller brood cells.

    What we as beekeepers need to understand, is that bees are hardwired to build in certain patterns. If we place boxes above the brood and allow them to make foundationless comb, many times they will make honey storing cells (unless the bees are brood bound and the queen automatically goes up into the new area). If we place a foundationless box below the cluster, the bees will make smaller brood cells, as the bees continue to fill above and work lower.

    Although certain things can be assumed, there are always combs with combinations and patterns that include a wide range of cells. I am always amazed when the bees make a complete comb in the middle of the hive, of drone cells.