Small cell foundation?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by hlhart2001, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. hlhart2001

    hlhart2001 New Member

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    So I have been reading a little about small cell size/foundation and regression. And I have some questions:

    -Are there many experienced beeks here that use small cell foundation?

    -From what I understand it is what the original size of cells used to be before humans got involved, correct?

    -Does it help to control mites and overall health of the hive(because it is more natural for the bees)?

    -Are there more bees in a small cell hive? or less? Do you get more or less honey?

    -What exactly is regression? Is it simply the process of returning the hive back to the original small cell size?

    -Can you take out a few frames at a time(out of a larger cell hive) and replace with small cell?

    Thanks in advance for any and all answers:) Halley
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    First, there is a BIG difference in small cell and natural cell.

    Google Jennifer A. Berry. She has done studies on small cell.

    Here is a couple of examples....
    Berry, J.A. 2009. Small Cell Foundation and Varroa Mites. Bee Culture 137(11):49-51 PDF file

    Berry, J.A., W.B. Owens, & K.S. Delaplane. 2010. Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies. Apidologie 41: 41-44 doi 10.1051/apido/2009049 PDF file
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Iddee = fearlessly going where many fear to tread! :lol:
     
  4. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Halley, assuming that you read Iddee's links, do you still want to present your list of questionss for discussion?
    Perhaps you want to re-present and re-word your questions for the forum to answer. :?:
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    To your questions, one has to question what the word "original" small cell size is referring to. Just because it may (or may not) have been 4.9 a 100 years ago, does not necessarily preclude it from being different today in any event. Who knows that if bees had been left to their own devices that they may not have chosen or adapted different cell sizes themselves. Omie does natural cell size, allowing the bees to draw out whatever size cells they are comfortable with, be it 4.9, 5.1 or whatever.
    As to the debate of small cell versus the varroa mite, I have read too much differing opinion to be able to conclusively say either way is right or wrong (note my post above) :wink:
    There are some very diverse and strong opinions on the subject by greater minds than mine. To give it a fair chance, why not try both and see if there is a difference for yourself? :thumbsup:
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Natural cell is a variance of sizes. Small cell is all one size. The bees have NEVER made all cells an equal size throughout.
    If we are going into discussion, let's not confuse the two.
     
  7. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Perry, I think it is safe to say that if there were clear and conclusive evidence one way or t'other, that the jury would not still be out! Maybe you and I should have started younger if we wanted to solve that riddle!
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Crofter, there's too many Raye Collins in the world. ""That's my story and I'm sticking to it""

    Once their mind is made up, they could care less about facts.
     
  9. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Is there any information about the honey collecting capabilities of these smaller bees raised in small-sized cells?
     
  10. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I hear they get a lot more miles to the gallon!

    Your mileage may vary.

    Seriously, I dont know whether the theory of bigger bees = more honey pays out.

    One thing I read somewhere is that bees tend larger the further away from the equator. I watched some of mine working the fondant on the top bars yesterday and they sure were of all sizes even though I am at 46* North.
     
  11. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Makes you wonder if the bees in Texas are bigger. Isn't there a saying "everything is bigger in Texas"?
     
  12. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    As others have said, there's a ton of conflicting information out there. My plan is to find out for myself by trying it, and see how my bees react and how it affects their health and well-being. I do listen to other's opinions and studies and all that, but I'm mostly just searching for what works best for my bees, in my area, in my hives. And that can differ vastly from, say, a keeper in California with Top Bar hives.

    So that's not really an answer, but it's the answer I feel most comfortable giving: try it and find out for yourself and your bees.


    That said, my personal feelings about foundations are more related to my own opinions about natural living in general. I dislike that deep beeswax foundations have plastic in their centers, and that I have no idea where that wax and plastic came from, how it was processed, or what might be in it. I would like to know what my bees are living in, just like in my own home I like to know there's no lead or asbestos, you know? I also tend to do things "on my own" when I can, and so I'm slowly switching to foundationless for that reason.

    So, I'm sort of in support of natural cell sizes, but at this point it's a personal/environmental opinion for me, and until I try small or natural cells in my own hives and see how my ladies take to it, I won't know how it affects them or their health. If I do find that the foundationless seems less good for the bees, then I'll switch right on back to foundations, or try small cell, or do whatever I need to do for their best health.

    Either way, I try to keep an open mind about the small cell debate, and welcome other people's experiences and opinions about it.
     
  13. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    There are so many unknowns that can be effecting a persons experiments that unless very large long term and controlled studies are made and results are reproducible in other locations, you still have to wonder about the conclusions arrived at. Something from left field like local soil selenium levels or different Ph could have been a more influential factor in the outcome than that of the major point in question. I have a hard time disciplining myself to only change one parameter at a time. Different timing or order of the same moves can have real influence. All too easy sometimes to convince ourselves of something that isn't so.

    Fun though, isn't it?
     
  14. rail

    rail New Member

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    In my foudationless hives the cell size vary. Cell size varies in my hives with foundation, but not as great.

    Read Brother Adams book about "disease" and Dadants book about "bee size and gathering nectar".
     
  15. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Whether small sized cell or large sized cell, man-made foundation tries to force bees onto uniformly one size of cell. The theory is to produce fewer drones, more workers, and hopefully more honey, yet bees may then produce more burr comb in an attempt to create places to build drone cells.

    I am not a commercial beekeeper. I only keep 4-6 hives for fun and to be able to harvest the purest honey I can for my family. Commercially sold wax foundation has been tested and shown to contain a variety of pesticide residues and other chemical residues, so I avoid it.
    I figure it can only be healthy for the bees to let them build the sizes of cells they need to. And it's healthy for me to eat honey harvested from natural wax foundation from my untreated bees. Thus, letting my bees create their own foundation is a win/win situation for me. Plus, no foundation to buy or store!
     
  16. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies p. 40
    Jennifer A. Berry, William B. Owens and Keith S. Delaplane
    Published online: 25 September 2009
    DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/apido/2009049
    Abstract | Full HTML | PDF (83.43 KB) | References

    Brood-cell size has no influence on the population dynamics of Varroa destructor mites in the native western honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera p. 522
    Mary F. Coffey, John Breen, Mark J.F. Brown and John B. McMullan
    Published online: 4 February 2010
    DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/apido/2010003
    Abstract | Full HTML | PDF (216.7 KB) | References
    Harbo J.R., Harris J.W. (1999) Heritability in honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) of characteristics associated with resistance to Varroa jacobsoni (Mesostigmata: Varroidae), J. Econ. Entomol. 92, 261–265. Martin S.J., Kryger P. (2002) Reproduction of Varroa destructor in South African honey bees: does cell space influence Varroa male survivorship? Apidologie 33, 51–61 [EDP Sciences] [CrossRef].
    Message D., Gonçalves L.S. (1995) Effect of the size of worker brood cells of Africanized honey bees on infestation and reproduction of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa jacobsoni Oud., Apidologie 26, 381–386 [EDP Sciences] [CrossRef].
    Piccirillo G.A., De Jong D. (2003) The influence of brood comb cell size on the reproductive behavior of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor in Africanized honey bee colonies, Genet. Mol. Res. 2, 36–42 [PubMed].
    Keith Delaplane's study at the University of Georgia was over three years with the same results. August 2006 to April 2008 and it includes a declaration from another entomologist involved with Varroa. "A field test of no more than 9–10 weeks is adequate to accurately appraise Varroa population change (Harbo, 1996)."
    and Tom Seeley got the same results. Tom's studies are over the longest period. That man has time for bees.
     
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a Perry snip..
    Makes you wonder if the bees in Texas are bigger. Isn't there a saying "everything is bigger in Texas"?

    tecumseh....
    without a doubt if you believed all the stories this would be the conclusion you would come to once all the hot air left the room.

    some snipped Halley questions followed (>) by my response...

    -Are there many experienced beeks here that use small cell foundation?

    >I guess this would depend on how you defined experience. I myself don't see any interest by anyone who has been doing bees for several generations. I also don't see any large interest by anyone that has been keeping bees in numbers ALIVE for any length of time.

    -From what I understand it is what the original size of cells used to be before humans got involved, correct?

    >no one CAN know what these measurements actually were for any number of good reasons. yes the various races of bees where somewhat different in regards to size and the intermingled of these races likely produced bees with some natural variation in their size. secondly (and likely more important) man's ability to measure small things accurately now vs 100 plus years ago is not even comparable.... you can pretty well conclude that whatever error term there was in doing this kind of measurement was very large 100 plus years ago.

    -Does it help to control mites and overall health of the hive(because it is more natural for the bees)?

    >the science as provided by Americasbeekeeper say NO.

    -Are there more bees in a small cell hive? or less? Do you get more or less honey?

    >I don't think there is anything to suggest either of these measures would be much influenced. the environmental factors (available nectar and rain for example) likely plays a lot large effect than the size of the bee.

    -What exactly is regression? Is it simply the process of returning the hive back to the original small cell size?

    >likely the first question most folks should have asked from day one. as far as I can tell this is rhetorical garbage and thereby can mean whatever you want it to mean... which also means that it means nothing at all. I would guess if you were willing to do 'the heavy lifting' you could select and rear a bee that was smaller and more compact. This would require a good deal of effort and there would still be natural variance in the size of the offspring (F2, F3, etc).

    -Can you take out a few frames at a time(out of a larger cell hive) and replace with small cell?

    >I have no experience with natural cell or small cell since I just drop frames and foundation in my boxes and 'the girls' produce cells of whatever size they desire. I do not force them or insist that they produce cells of any particular size. With no experience to back up any claim I would GUESS that yes you should be able to do this with little problem.
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Don Kuchenmeister (aka "Fatbeeman") is a respected member here and has been using small cell for many years. He has tons of bees and sells them, also teaches beekeeping. I doubt he'd want to waste time on something he didn't feel was useful in any way. You should ask him about it, since he has a lot of actual experience with small cell. he often makes his own small cell wax foundation.

    Halley, you should read through the recent thread we had here that debated the issue of small cell beekeeping:
    http://www.beekeepingforums.com/thr...e-beekeepers-trust-science-more-than-opinions
    -you'll see that there are a lot of very strong feelings concerning this issue. So much so that it's difficult to even discuss it here.
     
  19. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Don also uses oxalic acid, boric acid and other novel treatments. To say that small cell has any effect when you change so many things unnaturally is simply wrong. It is truly remarkable that the bees can adapt and survive all our ineptitude. For survivability of business practices, life is full of wrong examples - DDT, flat earth, enemas for mental patients, radical mastectomy, scorched earth policy, etc.
    I too teach and sell about 80 to 100 hives a year, do not treat or use small cell, raise "survivors" with mite rolls of less than 5, less than 3 SHB in a hive, and make a living strictly from bees.
    "But we really never have had or ever will have a mastery over the honeybees. She is wild by nature and will at all times have her own way and will unfailingly and unerringly follow her instincts. It is up to us to understand her ways and adjust ourselves to her truly marvelous nature, not attempting the impossible of `mastering’ her, but rather doing all we can to serve her needs."
    Bro. Adam
     
  20. hlhart2001

    hlhart2001 New Member

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    This is the first time I have been back since I posted the questions...it has been a very busy work week. So thanks for responses, suggestions, Looking forward to reading the articles and comments. It seems I have stumbled upon a subject with a variety of opinions/ideas. Since I am so new to this I am open to it all(gathering information, considering and studying it).