View Full Version : Starting Biological?
11-28-2004, 02:22 PM
I a beginning to make my plans to start two hives next spring (First Time Beekeeper).
I was wondering is it possible to begin them on small cell foundation?
What steps would I need to do to accomplish this?
Is it possible to purchase small cell queens/packages, to start with?
What other steps should I take to minimize disease/mites in the hive without using chemicals?
11-28-2004, 02:29 PM
Do a search of this site. This subject has been extensively discussed. Just put small cell in the search box.
11-28-2004, 06:57 PM
You will find much discussion on small cell and other subjects.
Buckeye was selling small cell packages this last year. Bolling Bees was selling them but they aren't a big outfit so you'll have to get orders in even earlier than most places and most places you'll have to order pretty early to get bees at all.
Just starting off with small cell wax foundation is a good start. Asking questions here will help.
Reading the Lusby writings in the POV section (get there from the home page for beesource) will give you the long version, but you need to read it a few times to digest it.
The short version is that large cell bees (raised on typical 5.4mm foundation), left to their own, will draw about 5.1mm cells. These 5.1mm bees will build about 4.9mm cells, so it takes a couple of steps to get from here to there.
11-29-2004, 02:48 PM
A couple of questions I have since digging around on the site about small cell foundation.
I was figuring on buying the wax small cell foundation from dadant. Do I need to embed wires into the foundation in order to support it? I plan on extracting my honey.
Should I put the small cell foundation into the honey supers, or would normal reinforced foundation work well? There seemed to varying ideas on this I would like to get some more recent advice.
11-29-2004, 04:09 PM
Wiring is a very complicated subject. You're starting out so it's even harder to get the concepts across, but let's take run at it.
When rasing cut comb, most people use surplus foundation (extra thin and extra white) and no wires. This is available in medium and shallow depths. When using it you don't use wires (and being extra thin it needs wires more than medium brood does) but if you put it in the frames too soon it will sag if the bees don't draw it right away. This is less of a problem as the foundation gets thicker. But small cell foundation is pretty expensive. If you put it in the frames just before you put it in the hives and you put it in the hives at a time when the bees will draw it quickly you CAN get by without wires. I have extracted thin surplus with no wires many times. You have to be gentle, but that's a good plan anyway.
But wires are good insurance in case the bees don't draw the comb right away. Learning to wire, however, takes a lot of special tools to do it easily and well. The next step up from no wire would be just an "X" with one wire on each side either not embedded or spur embedded. This helps to hold the foundation flat without having to get into crimpers and embedders. You still would want to buy or make a "wiring device" which holds the spool for you.
If you want to do it "right" then you need the "wiring device" (see Walter T. Kelly item 159-S) good wire (the stainless steel wire from Glorybee seems to be the best I've found). Some kind of embedder (the electric ones do the best job but also take a bit of practice so you don't burn through the foundation see Walter T. Kelly items 109 and 153) Or if you want to go cheaper and not as well embedded you can get a spur embedder (Walter T. Kelly item 160) You also need a foundation device (see walter kelly items 59 for deeps or 59M for mediums or Brushy Mt Item # 693 for depp medium or shallow) wish you put the frame on to embed the wires. A crimper is nice (Brushy Mt Item #658).
I end up reworking most everything. I reworked the crimpers from Brushy Mt and the Embedder from Walter Kelly. You can see both on my web site near the bottom of the page:
11-29-2004, 04:11 PM
to wire or not to wire is often discussed. One thing that YOU will want to consider is this: how well will the bees you start with draw clean small-cell comb. If you will have to go through a number of shake-down regressions as laid out in the Lusby's article, then I don't see a need to wire. You will only be using those frames as step-down combs anyway and will cull then in each generation until the bees start drawing comb properly for you. So, I wouldn't wire. There's no need.
As for using anything other than small-cell for supering: it is of great convinience to you to have all your comb the same size. if not, you'll be required to exclude the queen in order to prevent her from laying in the larger cells. Plus, you will find yourself storing those combs when not in use only to have to remember that they can't be used for hiving a swarm or starting a split. I already have large-cell comb drawn, so that is the situation I am in. You are starting out, so it would be better to concentrate first on getting good frames drawn this year. I wouldn't even plan (again) to make much progress the first year, or even the second. Concentrate now mostly on getting things under control.
Good luck. WayaCoyote
11-29-2004, 04:23 PM
For an electric embedder you can use a 12 Volt battery charger. Remember, timing is everything!
11-29-2004, 04:27 PM
It bears mentioning that a staple, near the hole that the wire goes through, will keep the wire from sinking into the wood. It saves the extra step of inserting eyelets in the holes. I have 50 downstairs right now waiting for wire. I'm going to try wired frames with small cell starter strips.
Wish me luck.
11-30-2004, 05:51 AM
I'd like to emphasize "good wire". I bought a spool that every time you try to pull it tight, it seems to break. I believe it is tinned copper wire. Stainless wire does sound like the way to go. Also, if you do use the eyelets, the $1.50 punch to insert them is well worth it.