View Full Version : Documented Mite control by Small Cell?
03-31-2005, 09:15 AM
A bee journal publisher waits for proof of anti-mite effectiveness before publishing small cell effectiveness. I thought perhaps someone here could guide me, and them, to such.
03-31-2005, 11:37 AM
I think by what is meant by "proof" is "proof
in the form of a controlled study".
I have outlined a simple methodology for such
a study more than once, but the small-cell
advocates apparently do not wish to make
any of their regressed small-cell colonies
available for such studies, which involve
loaning them (and having them moved) to
some research facility or another for the
period of the test.
So, the white lab-coat set remains unwilling
to take the time to "regress bees" on their
very limited budgets, and the cell-cell set
keeps chanting "try it you'll like it", as if
that was some form of "proof", or as if mere
unwillingness to "drink the kool-aid" on the
part of the bulk of beekeepers and researchers
was stubbornness, rather than typical prudence.
Quite an impasse.
03-31-2005, 01:45 PM
My small cell colonies have remained untreated since 2000 and have thrived. Small cell bees when un-regressed, required treatment to survive in the same beeyard.
See: www.bwrangler.com/bee (http://bwrangler.farvista.net/qmar.htm)/sunr.htm (http://bwrangler.madpage.com/bee/sunr.htm)
I've tried small cell and it works. But I don't subscribe to most of the small cell rhetoric.
See: www.bwrangler.com/bee (http://bwrangler.farvista.net/qmar.htm)/smus.htm (http://bwrangler.madpage.com/bee/smus.htm)
Now for my little rant. :>)
Why should I donate a couple of my small cell hives and probably pay to have them transported to a university for testing. I've done the testing at my expense, and I bet my budget is more limited than most of the researchers budgets are.
If a research department couldn't spring for a few boxes of small cell foundation and a couple of hives on their own, they had better shut down the coffee machine and go home:>) Doesn't appear to be much curiosity there. Is money the only motivation? Or is it just like almost every other government driven enterprise?
And as for the "try it you'll like it" chant, that's what has provided the basis for almost every aspect of beekeeping today. Other than the strips and chems, can anyone name a single beekeeping practice that has been initiated from research alone, without having first been perfected in the field by the beesuit set?
It appears that small cell hives must be established for the researchers. Then maybe someone could prove to them that small cell works. Then when all doubt is removed, they could come forth and tell us why it works! :>)
I wonder why anyone would use a smoker, a Langstroth hive, an extractor, graft queens, cream honey, overwinter indoors, migrate, use foundation, wire a frame, or almost anything else without an official blessings? None of these have it.
I think the impasse is the result of a clash of beekeeping personalities and some political sensure. On one hand, the major promoter of small cell has quite an anti-establishment bent. Much has been linked with small cell that contradicts research done. And much is parroted in the small cell camp based upon faith in anothers testimony without much personal experience.
These personalities and attitudes definately turn off some more prudent beekeepers. And they definately prejudice the research crowd. Any researcher taking up a small cell project might get their lab coat dirty and loose the esteem of his peers if small cell doesn't work. Who would risk their pension for that?
There's no impasse for those who like to try things for themselves, thanks to Dadant and their small cell foundation. If you try it. Share your results. It's the difference between cutting edge beekeeping and dragging anchor beekeeping.
Gosh, this rant isn't very small. But it's ok. The drug store is rushing me a new bottle of Prozac and I will be ok in a few hours. :>)))))
Lesli St. Clair
03-31-2005, 04:03 PM
So, the white lab-coat set remains unwilling
to take the time to "regress bees" on their
very limited budgets, I'm near Cornell, Dyce labs. I'm also a graduate of Cornell. Believe me, they have the funds.
04-01-2005, 11:36 AM
Since small cell packages (which eliminated the regression step) are available from Buckeye and Bolling bees, it seems like the far better way to do a small cell experiment would be to buy X number of packages and X number of new hives and put 4.9mm wax in half the hives and 5.4mm in half the hives and put the bees in the hives. It would be cheaper and easier than shipping full hives of bees and it would eliminate the argument that the bees or some other variable is the issue, since many small cell beekeepers are trying to find and raise feral survivors.
The only impasse I see is that no one in the scientific community wants to do the research.
04-01-2005, 06:08 PM
I lost 66% of my small cell colonies (not medicated, (2 out of three).
At same yard - 32% of my large cell, some medicated, (8 out of 25).
9%, one out of eleven, large cell, all medicated, at another yard .
Lesli St. Clair
04-02-2005, 04:47 AM
I lost 100% of my large cell (1 colony) to starvation. ;)
Lesli St. Clair
04-02-2005, 05:04 AM
or as if mere
unwillingness to "drink the kool-aid" on the
part of the bulk of beekeepers and researchers
was stubbornness, rather than typical prudence. Drink the kool-aid? That analogy would be more appropriate for those putting antibiotics and chemical strips in the hives twice a year. There's nothing prudent about using antibiotics to prevent disease. We've known for a looong time that it's a recipe for creating resistant strains. And yet, nearly every beekeeping book I have tells me to dose the girls once or twice a year.
And why shouldn't researches try this? As Michael pointed out, small cell bees are available, small cell foundation is available. It doesn't cost any more to set up an SC hive than a regular one. There's nothing wrong, and a whole lot that's right, with trying to keep bees (or cows or goats or raise food) without extra chemicals.
I would be glad to have some real research. But in the meantime, I can learn from the experience of others who are doing small cell and compare it to my own experience.
04-02-2005, 07:15 AM
On a related note, has anyone gotten a look at the fully drawn plastic small cell combs yet?
Leslie, Don't even get me started on Dyce. I like Joe Calderone but feel kind of short changed. I worked with a group and attended meetings with then State Senator Randy Kuhl to promote the re-invogoration of Dyce. As a result Dyce got a state grant ( soft money in the beginning) to do research. ( I think around $50,000) Looking back I think the money could have been better spent at Beltsville. As far as meds go we do all know what a long term bomb antibiotics are. It looks much different though if you have $30,000 worth of equipment at risk (which is only for a still small time operation like mine) or if you have $300 at risk. We strive to integrate new techniques for management ( like the very intensive non-medicating management study out of New Zealand aimed at control of foulbrood). Having destroyed a couple thousand old frames in the last 2 years, no longer making frame exchange for equalization, management of honey supers and such has had a huge impact on foulbrood for us. I still rotate antibiotics hoping that I can stay on top of it until I have mastered a kinder/gentler but high percentage of success management method.
Lesli St. Clair
04-02-2005, 08:19 AM
I agree that it is much more difficult for a commercial operation, when there's more at stake than there is for a hobbyist.
What was it that Dyce did or didn't do that made you feel shortchanged?
#1 Hired a very intelligent field assistance who had extensive experiance in setting up an extremely successful honey cooperative in some developing island areas who couldn't be bothered to give a local bee club an hour or so talk on how it was done. That group was very interested in forming a cooperative. Imagine that we spent hours of our time going to meetings, doing promotion, writing letters and the guy who gets hired because of that can't be bothered for an hour to talk to a group. (he did talk to groups as long as they were throwing 75 or a $100 his direction.)
#2 Worked very hard (as researchers should) at maintaining a beeyard heavily infested with varroa mites for study right at Cornell, not much isolation from outlying beekeepers.
#3 Did not have any easily accessable updates and usable information for the general beekeeping public relating to new methodology, studies which were in progress, etc. unless you invested in their "Master Beekeeping Course" which most commercial guys don't have a need for or time for.
Not that we don't need to learn, we just don't need to take a course in hiving packages to get information which as taxpayers we are paying for anyway.
Sometimes it was more about academia than really helping the beekeepers that initially supported the program with their time and tax dollars in the beginning.
When I had contacted Beltsville in those days I always found the staff extremely intent on helping me resolve issues. Although Dyce is much smaller I think much could have been accomplished through web updates and possibly some type of forum.
04-02-2005, 01:23 PM
In this cell size study by Piccirillo in De Jong, they state:
"When all of the approximately 300 worker brood cells analyzed in each colony were compared, we found a significant positive correlation between cell width and the number of invading varroa females per cell in four of the six colonies."
"As varroa is more prevalent in the larger European-sized brood cells than in the naturally built Africanized worker brood cells, the use of unnaturally large comb cell size should be re-examined in the light of its effect on parasite levels."
"The small width comb cells produced by Africanized honey bees may have a role in the ability of these bees to tolerate infestations by Varroa destructor, furthermore it appears that natural-sized comb cells are superior to over-sized comb cells for disease resistance."
Here's the link:
I emailed Prof. De Jong about this a few weeks ago. When asked about disease resistance in the small cell bees he said:
"that it makes sense that the bees would be more efficient at taking care of brood in natural sized comb."
"There is a more or less
related paper in ABJ - , E.; Piccirillo, G.A.; De Jong, D. A semi-natural bioassay for hort-finding behavior of Varroa destructor. Am.
Bee J., 144: 625-627, 2004."
May be more good small cell stuff, because he stated that:
"We will be publishing a few more on this theme, and we will continue to work in this area."
04-02-2005, 07:04 PM
Dennis, beekeepers will quit asking for scientific proof the day we develope a squirt application for small cell.
04-02-2005, 09:17 PM
> The only impasse I see is that no one in the
> scientific community wants to do the research.
Research has been done, and the results were less
than stunning. The reaction was for everyone
to groan and moan about the methodology used,
and construct elaborate conspiracy theories
about the "pesticide industry" somehow influencing
Now it is suddenly claimed that no one "wants"
to do the research? That's just untruthful.
Even if yet another research project was done
using the "small cell packages" and the results
were less than stunning, the researchers would yet
again be pelted with rotten fruit, stones, and
random clods of earth by the small-cell true
believers, and some sort of excuse would be
trotted out to "prove" that the methodology was
(once again) flawed.
As I have said before, don't give the researchers
any room for error - loan them hives that YOU
agree are "true small-cell hives", and then you
will know that they are looking at the same hives
that you claim are superior due solely to their
small cell regression. It need not be a formal
study at first, and it need not be a large number
of hives at first. Just enough to let them see
how the hives do against varroa. If the hives
are as robust as claimed, they can certainly
survive the test period without any problem,
and the test period need not be long, nor need
it conflict with the usual honey-production
cycle, as mites tend to be worst in late
summer, after the main harvests are over.
While I agree that the most recent studies done
clearly did stumble on the whole "regression
technique" issue, it is NOT necessary that the
researcher do the regression work.
So, who is going to put a hive where their
mouth is, and accept the results as valid?
I'm still waiting to see if anyone will.
Raise, call, or fold. Your choice. smile.gif
04-02-2005, 09:36 PM
> Now it is suddenly claimed that no one "wants"
> to do the research? That's just untruthful.
Okay, give us names.
> As I have said before, don't give the researchers
> any room for error - loan then hives that YOU
> agree are "true small-cell hives",
A better way is to have the researchers go to where the bees are and perform their testing in "the real world."
> So, who is going to put a hive where their
> mouth is, and accept the results as valid?
No one has to accept the results as valid. Valid happens when the study is clearly done with respect to the dynamics of the whole hive. Using bits and pieces of different cell sizes in a hive proves nothing except that the study was embarrassingly poorly done.
04-03-2005, 08:32 AM
>Raise, call, or fold. Your choice.
No one else has anything on the table and I have nothing on the table. I have nothing to win or lose here. My hives are doing fine.
You're asking some small cell beekeeper to provide hives to some unnamed researcher in some unnamed location to do some unspecified research that supposedly will have something to do with small cell and Varroa, which has no benefit for those of us who are already succeeding with it. I'd have a hard time convincing the IRS I'm trying to make a profit, if I gave away quite a few hives with no possible return on my investment.
On the other hand it is very tempting to try to help out the beekeepers of the world with this. If you can get a SPECIFIED researcher in a SPECIFIED location that will do a SPECIFIED protocol that is workable, then I'd probably seriously be interested from a strictly altruistic point of view.
But as far as "Raise, call, or fold" there is currently nothing on the table for me to win or lose.
04-03-2005, 11:17 AM
--So, who is going to put a hive where their
mouth is, and accept the results as valid?
This has been done.
Here is the study:
04-03-2005, 09:59 PM
My one small cell hive survived the winter up here at latitude N. 61º. The other day, after returning from NY, I thought they were dead, so pulled off the tarpaper wrap and removed the cover. They were alive and well. Sometimes it's good to be wrong......
04-04-2005, 09:02 AM
naturebee, thank you. That is just what I hoped to find. I forwarded the link to the editor.
04-04-2005, 06:50 PM
It would seem to me that you could debate this issue until your blue in the face and not resolve it. If commercial beekeepers choose to use chemicals over other methoeds without at least trying these other ideas, that even if you had a study that was above board in everyone's view, they still wouldn't try it. Having said that, Jim, this is directed right at you, why don't you try a very limited study of your own? What would it cost you to set up a yard with x-number of hives in it and try small cell? It certainly shouldn't cost anymore than the cost of the chemical controls your using. My point being that anything that might work to lower mite levels is worth trying, even on a limited basis.
We kinda have to help ourselves out of this mess, researchers arn't going to do anything more than toss us a patch to temporary fix the problem, which in the meantime becomes harder to deal with as time goes on. Resistant strains of mites will continue to show up, and then what? I for one would as Micheal said, put a hive on the table for a specified study, for a specified peroid of time, for a specified hopeful outcome. Now for you na sayers: put up or fold.
04-04-2005, 07:24 PM
OK, I'll bite...
> If commercial beekeepers choose to use chemicals
> over other methoeds without at least trying these
> other ideas...
Commercial beekeepers bet their livelihoods every
season. Don't expect them to try "other ideas"
that require several seasons of work to implement,
often result in losses of 50% or more during the
"regression" process, and have not been shown by
controlled studies to provide any specific
long-term advantage. (On the other hand, they
clearly ARE willing to try all sorts of "other ideas"
that take less time to implement, even if the
approach is not quite legal just yet...)
> why don't you try a very limited study of your own?
Because it would prove nothing, would settle nothing,
resolve nothing. It would be merely another
anecdotal report from yet another random beekeeper.
...oh, wait a sec - I get it, you want me to
set up the study, fund it, do all the work, write
a paper, get it published, and then, if the results
don't match with what you want to be true, put up
with the hate mail, all so those who believe in
small-cell can avoid facing up to doing anything
at all to back up their claims. smile.gif
> What would it cost you to set up a yard with
> x-number of hives in it and try small cell?
You wanna talk about lost honey crop, just while
I try and get them to draw all that new comb, or
do ya wanna talk about lost pollination income?
Or do you wanna talk about the cost of losing
colonies as I refuse them treatment, and watch
some significant fraction of them die?
> researchers arn't going to do anything more
> than toss us a patch to temporary fix the
I disagree. Strongly. That's why I advocate
the loan of existing small-cell colonies to
research programs by small-cell owners. Why
not make it easy for them to use colonies that
you yourself would agree are true "small cell
What is everyone afraid of? I'd think that
people would jump at the chance to prove what
they claim to be the salvation of beekeeping.
Not to be insulting, but the operative phrases
here are "Put up or shut up." "Actions speak
louder than words." "Put your hives where your
mouth is." And so on.
04-04-2005, 08:54 PM
>I get it, you want me to set up the study, fund it, do all the work, write a paper, get it published, and then, if the results don't match with what you want to be true, put up
with the hate mail, all so those who believe in small-cell can avoid facing up to doing anything at all to back up their claims.
No, what is wanted is (not to be insulting) for you to "put up or shut up". It isn't that difficult or expensive to try. Why even I can do it.
04-04-2005, 09:39 PM
> No, what is wanted is (not to be insulting) for
> you to "put up or shut up". It isn't that
> difficult or expensive to try. Why even I can do
I have made no extraordinary claims.
Therefore, I need not provide extraordinary proof,
or any proof at all.
I've gone to great trouble to explain several
times what would be a path to getting the proof
that is desired, and the steps proposed do not
involve me in the least. Don't expect me to spend
any time on it, as it is not my pet project.
Don't expect any more help from me on this -
you can continue to languish in your self-imposed
exile on your Gilligan's Island of science, or
you can join the real world, and give people
a reason to view your claims as something other
There is a growing acceptance of the idea that
there "might be something to it" among researchers,
so a wise man would take advantage of the
04-04-2005, 10:48 PM
Jim, I just don't get you. You drone on all the time about you elitist elevation in life, your money, your education, your sucess, and the fact that you are not in need of anything in life, and then you show concern about losing honey crop (minor for a sideliner) or pollination money and the cost of setting up a couple of hives.
The real cost is a couple of already regressed packages and some SC foundation, less than one of your high roller dinners you spoke of reciently. You are the one doing the bashing asking for proof, I would think that you would have enough interest in beekeeping to try a little experiment for your self even if it is only for your own interest.
I am sure that a wise man like you could take advantage (and credit in a bee mag) for a little experiment. If YOU said SC worked, I might even believe it.
04-04-2005, 11:57 PM
At first most beekeepers scoffed at small cell. I was among those, but I did try a couple of small cell hives. Plain and simple, they didnt have mite problems. No ifs, ands, or buts. They simply werent pestered with mite infestations. The first small cell hive I ovewintered did have problems with EFB the following season, but no mites. I admit to still having some skepticism, so well see how this winters hive turns out. My regular size bees will be treated this summer with Sucrocide. The small cell is going to be left to its own devices.
>Don't expect any more help from me on this - you can continue to languish in your self-imposed exile on your Gilligan's Island of science, or you can join the real world, and give people a reason to view your claims as something other than comedy.
Lighten up Jim. You were the first to throw out the put up or shut up. I simply cut and pasted what you wrote and sent it back. Do you suffer from the dish it out, but cant take it syndrome?
Here is a famous quote from Herbert Spencer:
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
Bill made some good points. With all the education and money you regularly inform these lists that you have, it seems to me it would be no trouble at all for you to try a few small cell hives. You have claimed before to have spent money and time doing research on the mite fungus, but cant afford the money and effort to downsize a couple of hives. Or, is it a simple matter of not quite understanding the process and being afraid to ask for some help from those who are of less stature than yourself?
Some people find pedantic drivel entertaining; others grow weary of it after a time.
04-05-2005, 03:24 AM
As I suspected, even if it does work, and it does, large commercial beekeepers just can't be bothered by alot of extra work regressing their bees. Even one or two swarms is too much to mess with, as is clearly evident from Jim's reaction to a simiple suggestion. That suggestion was not ment to inflame anyone, it was ment to point out the fact that if it will work with one or two hives, then it will work on a larger scale. After the bees have been regressed, most of the labor used to treat bees would be gone, and look at the increase in the profit from not having to buy chemicals to treat your hives. Again, this is a personnal matter, simply put, most people want a magic "pill" to make all their problems go away, without any real investment in work to accomplish it. Seems to me if you increase the number of small cell hives and decrease the population of mites in your area it would be a win-win thing. But that's just me.
04-05-2005, 04:03 AM
A childish trick.
Dodge and weave and avoid any effort to support
YOUR claims, but turn the whole thing around, and
make it seem like everyone else (including me,
apparently) has some sort of obligation to do
the work of supply proof for you. Don't even
say "thank you" for the effort put into mapping
out a specific game-plan for attaining the
credibility you desire so much for small-cell.
I am under no such obligation. Get over it,
and please understand that I have other things
to do with my time. Apples will bloom soon, so
this is the busiest time of the year for us
in the beeyards as we super up the honey colonies,
prepare the pollinators for movement, make
splits, and so on.
Make demands on someone else's time, please.
I'm booked solid.
04-05-2005, 06:04 AM
I'm not the one who needs "proof". I accept things as they are, knowing that those who will only accept irrefutiable proof are the ones who won't change no matter how many studies are done to prove that something works. It matters not to me what you do, and being angry at those who make suggestions for you to try something is misplaced folley. I have in no way indicated that you are under any obligation to try anything, nor is anyone else obligated to try anything. I am simply pointing out that if something as simiple as small cell regression cuts down the enviromental load of verona mites in your area, it is worth considering. Nobody is going to come to your house, pin you down and force you to try it! But in the same respect, don't continue to bully those who feel it worth doing into providing you with proof, when you wouldn't do it anyway! Continue your chemical treatments, replacing your deadouts, and be happy.
And some of us are willing to supply hives of small cell bees for study if and when a researcher comes up with a study that will truely define the advantages of small cell bees, withing a set time frame. So WE have put up, and in writing too!!
04-05-2005, 06:16 AM
Wow, Can't say that I have "officially" tried the small cell yet (other than what the PermaComb's smaller cell size has afforded me). But I will say that I sure am enjoying this thread. Great reading!! Thanx, all.
04-05-2005, 06:17 AM
Seeing is believing. My mother, (rest her soul), had a favorite saying, "There are none so blind as those that WILL not see." (For you wise-guys out there, that means to REFUSE to accept what is clearly in front of you.)
I don't need someone in a lab coat to tell me what I can see in my own yard. And that is the simple reading of the trays, my PC (5.1) hives have less mites than my all LC and mixed hives have. The logical conclusion to me is IF I had true SC hives (mine got robbed out and died), I would probably see the same results others have been reporting.
04-05-2005, 07:30 AM
>you can continue to languish in your self-imposed
Personally I'm enjoying my bees and I don't think "languish" or "self-imposed exile" are at all descriptive.
>Don't expect me to spend
any time on it, as it is not my pet project.
Nor is it my pet project. Small cell wasn't my idea. I'm just doing it because it works, not because I have any STAKE in PROVING it works.
>"Put your hives where your
I repeat myself at the risk of being rude:
"If you can get a SPECIFIED researcher in a SPECIFIED location that will do a SPECIFIED protocol that is workable, then I'd probably seriously be interested..."
04-05-2005, 07:35 AM
I have an idea: let's start a discussion forum where we can all share our experiences in beekeeping, ask questions of each other, and discuss new possibilities for the future. Maybe even debate which of several methods in a given area may be better.
Then let's invite someone in to advise us at every turn that we are undereducated, that the things we observe in our hives are "comedy", that we languish on a "Gilligan's Island of science," and that we all often drink kool-aid. Also, that person should inform us of the fact that when we share our observations on that forum, and then defend them when told we must be hallucinating, that we then must crave credibility, and should rush our hives off to some unknown person to prove our observation. If we are not willing to do so, that person should remind us to "shut up". As a side benefit, that person should pick apart every post that BjornBee and Michael Bush make.
Wouldn't that be fun?
04-05-2005, 08:46 AM
On testing, the paper cited above, which checked small cell in AHBs for mite control, used what I think is a wise approach.
They started with regressed bees, then created three hives, I beleive with a queen and so many pounds of workers each, then gave some hives small cell and some large cell. After a season, they used SBB and catchments or sugar rolling to screen for, and quantify, varroa mite levels.
This seemed like a good method to me - at the start, all the bees are the same, only the cell size varies. This isolates the variable as cell size, instead of both cell size and bee size.
Do you think this is a worthwhile approach? Are there other factors that would help make a convincing study?
04-05-2005, 08:57 AM
>Wouldn't that be fun?
Your funny! But how true.
BTW, was the kool-aid bit a referance to poison kool-aid of Jim Jones in Guiana, or the Electric kool-aid of Ken Kesey era?
04-05-2005, 09:32 AM
Jim has a point regarding implimenting the commercial implimentation of a long term strategy. But I know that commercial beekeepers are more than willing to test an unproven short term mite solution, especially if it appears to be cheap and easy. And if it can be sprayed, fumed or dropped into a hive.
If small cell was a dust, liquid or a pill, the proporters o fsmall cell couldn't make enough of it to meet the demand :>)))
I suspect most beekeeping equipment, in this country, is contaiminated beyond re-use. Those costs haven't been factored into the total. Small cell make look alot more attractive to the commercial guys when they have to trash their equipment in order sell their hive products as food, especially in the health promoted honey market.:>) And with the new testing limits and focus on food safety, beekeepers won't be the neglected stepchild of the food industry.
And under some circumstances, bee equipment might incure some extra hazardous waste charges just to dump it :>))))
For me, varroa mites are not an issue in my small cell hives. They are, if I put the same bees back on large cell comb. And there is no comparison if they are placed on contaiminated large cell comb. Since the initial hive loses in 2000, I haven't lost a single hive to anything, including overwinter, but only to queen failure.
When I first reported my results on another list, they were met with scepticism. Most beekeepers wanted to see what the long term results would be. When those were met, the time frame was extended. Then the stock/selection issue came up and was debunked with the multiple races I'd run on small cell. Eventually, one beekeeper suggested it was MY responsibilty to prove to him that it would be economical at his location for his operation. Can you believe it?!!!! I can't figure out whay such a risk taker was in the bee business.
That's when I stopped sharing small cell specifics. I'll still talk generalities but the information is out there for anyone who has the desire. I not going to waste any more of my time on it.
I would suggest that anyone wanting to do research on small cell, just get some bees on some kind of clean small cell comb. It doesn't have to be perfectly drawn. The bees don't need to be regressed. Just get the bees on it and keep them on it for a few years. If the bees need an initial treatment to survive the mites, use a non-contaiminating treatment. Shift the poorly drawn comb upward and outward until the broodnest is mostly small cell size. Then watch what happens.
All that takes is a few hundred dollars and some time. That's less than a air fare from anywhere to Casper, Wyoming.
04-05-2005, 11:34 AM
You opened up a whole new area that hasn't even been touched on, and that's chemical contaimion of equipment. This chemical treatment thing is a big witch's culdron of future problems being faced by beekeepers everywhere. I hadn't thought much about contaimnation of stuff until I read an article about beeswax foundation being contaimated. That's when I decieded I would make my own, or use none at all. And now you bring up the possibility that woodenware could also be contaimated beyond reuse. With all the different chemicals that have had to be made to deal with these mites, and restant mites, it's a wonder that some of these chemicals arn't reacting(between each other) within the hive and causing "real" problems, beyond just messing up the queens ect, ect. How much do we really know about how these chemical treatments interact with each other? I will be the first to admit that this will be my first year back into beekeeping since the mites hit in the nintys. I have always had some kind of animal, be it cows, chickens, turkeys, bees ect, and have not relied heavally on antibotics, or chemical treatments, that did not have all the cons clearly posted on the label, and usually only as a last ditch effort to save the animal. The first posts I read on small cell use told me there was something too this, and it was logical. Logical being the key word here. I don't need alot of studies to look at to know that if something didn't work, it wouldn't be raved at like this is, besides, it just makes sense.
04-05-2005, 12:54 PM
Lots of non-sense has been linked to small cell beekeeping. Much of it contradicts basic genetics and bee behavior that has been documented for almost a century. But a beekeeper doesn't have to swallow it all in order to get the benefits from using clean wax and a small cell size.
One of the most destructive aspects for small cell testing and acceptance is the almost fanatical following that has developed with some in the small cell camp. That attitude turns alot of people off who have had a experience similiar to this in another area such as religion or politics.
For others this issue has become bigger than the problems it addresses. I truely feel sorry for anyone whose whole reason for existense or self importance/value depends upon a specific understanding of beekeeping.
So, keep your common sense intact, especially around the small cell camp. Try it. Keep the best. Discard the rest.
04-05-2005, 01:41 PM
I would be interested in doing a formal study on small-cell. I don't think it is as simple as getting a couple small-cell colonies and monitoring mites on some time interval. Maybe this is just the science geek in me, but - to be valid, I think such a study should address:
(1) Duration of study: this could likely take a year, and quite possibly two or more. I have frequent monitorings from 'large cell' bees that started on normal foundation, and the mite population developed so slowly in some of these, that I didn't have to treat them until the 2.5-year mark. These colonies were headed by queens of non-mite-tolerant stock. The reasons for occasional slow mite development are likely many.
(2) Genetic factors: The small-cell bees should come from a common source. Ideally, these would be daughter queens from artifically-inseminated queens, where both the mother queens and daughter queens were themselves inseminated by drone semen from a common small-cell breeding stock. Or - small-cell bees from a truly closed-population breeding yard. This would help at least reduce the wide genetic variability in all bee stocks with respect to hygienic behavior and its impact on varroa. Having queens produce offspring already geared to small-cell seems to be an important aspect from what I read above and elsewhere.
(3) After the small-cell foundation was drawn, each frame would have to be inspected to confirm that the colonies met the criteria for qualifying as true small-cell hives (is this 100% small cells, 90% good enough?).
(4) For statistical validity, there would need to be 10 or more small-cell colonies, which would have to be compared simultaneously to 10 or more large-cell colonies. The common source of stock requirement should be applied to the large-cell colonies as well.
(5) All colonies would have to start with a known population size and a known varroa infestion level. The USDA Baton Rouge lab has a great method for this, and it's on their website: http://msa.ars.usda.gov/la/btn/hbb/jwh/measure/measure.htm
(6) Sticky board readings are not universally accepted as the ideal monitoring device for mite populations - probably because hygienic behavior (mite removal) will throw-off the counts - more mites could be on these sticky boards which can be read as "high mite levels", when in fact, it's simply evidence that there is hygienic behavior going on in the hive. Ether roll, sugar roll, and alcohol wash samples also have correlations to actual coloy-level mite populations that may not be strong enough to provide "good enough" mite load estimates. That USDA website also has a way to accurately estimate mite loads over time. If you visit this website, you'll see that it does take some time to do these measurements.
(7) More than mite counts should be addressed, such as the other qualities we desire our bees to have: honey production, gentleness, burr-comb, propolis use, swarming tendency, robbing tendency, overwintering, etc. Most, or all, of these traits are genetic, and should not be affected by small-cell or large-cell, but for thoroughness, I think those characters should be evaluated as well.
A project like this, when you take all the factors in, would not cost a great deal, but it would cost a great deal more than most people believe. There is equipment, bees, and labor.
I agree that more attention should be given to small-cell, and these trials can be done by researchers and/or beekeepers if they follow a specific plan. I'm not saying my study style above is the best, and it probably isnt't - but you get my point.
For researchers, our projects usually occupy 2- or 3-year chunks of time (or longer), meaning that almost invariably we are tied up with existing projects needing attention before we can move onto something new.
I bet there will be more formal small-cell trials over time - and it will be interesting.
04-05-2005, 01:46 PM
There may be a few people who are not worried
about comb contamination, but they would have
to be living under a rock somewhere to not have
heard the bad news by now.
I really don't think Apistan use caused much
problem. While the contamination was there,
it did not test as harming the bees, nor was
it at a high enough level to cause mites to
become resistant. Tiny amounts at the very
edge of detection were claimed to have been
found in honey, tests that I would not want
to see repeated with the current crop of
"parts per trillion with ease" gear.
The scary one was (and still is) CheckMite.
Its an organophosphate, for crying out loud,
what more need I say?
04-05-2005, 04:11 PM
You raise good points for not using chemical treatments, or at least some of them. But what happens if there is a chemical reaction between two different treatments? Granted this may or may not be the case, but there is always a possibilty that it "could" happen, (not saying it will). It would seem if checkmite is the latest treatment, and it's not a good thing to use, that chemical treatments are just plain not working, and we need to as an industry, move past these invasive treatments to something more natural. Any ideas???
04-05-2005, 05:54 PM
> what happens if there is a chemical reaction
> between two different treatments?
That's not to say that someone, somewhere, isn't
going to do something really silly, like mix
formic acid by pouring water into the acid,
rather than pouring the acid into the water,
all while not wearing any safety equipment,
> chemical treatments are just plain not working
While there are places where resistance to
multiple chemicals has been reported, this
is much less widespread than one might think
from all the wringing of hands, tearing of
hair, rending of garments, and lamentations.
While Api-Life is approved in some states,
and Sucrocide in others (perhaps all, I'm not
sure) these "soft alternatives" are not covered
by a Section 18 in all states, due to the
stubborn insistence on the part of some states
to only request one section 18 per pest.
> we need to as an industry, move past these
> invasive treatments to something more natural
No, something more effective. "Natural" has
nothing to do with it. One of the safest and
surest ways to truly kill all stages of AFB
with zero side effects is to use cobalt radiation
or E-beam, but neither one of these treatments are
"natural" at all.
04-05-2005, 06:59 PM
Natural has everything to do with it.
04-05-2005, 07:24 PM
Mike Stanghellini said:
> Duration of study: this could likely take a
> year, and quite possibly two or more.
> I have frequent monitorings from 'large cell'
> bees that started on normal foundation, and the
> mite population developed so slowly in some of
> these, that I didn't have to treat them until
> the 2.5-year mark.
This brings up a BIG point that is not stressed
often enough or clearly enough to beekeepers by
the research community in articles or presentations.
Yep, you could have apparent "success" in
"defeating varroa" for 2 seasons in a row using
nothing more than incense and crystals. smile.gif
Now, when you combine this with the average
"highly productive" life of a queen being
no more than 2 years in a typical honey
producing and/or pollinating colony, you have
all sorts of chances to fool yourself into
a) My idea WORKS!!! No varroa crashes for
two whole years without any treatment
except the Van Der Graf Generator placed
atop the hive! I'll make millions!
I'll win a Nobel Prize!
b) Darn, I should have bred from that queen
I replaced - I requeened, and the new queen
clearly does not have the same "hygienic
traits", as the colony now has varroa.
c) Wow, I shouldn't have split that colony.
After the split, all splits and the parent
suddenly were overrun with varroa.
So, if you want to claim that something really
"works" in regard to varroa, you can't simply
take the results of a season or two as evidence
...and Mike, you can pay me off in mead for
handing you the outline for your next
presentation on a silver platter. smile.gif
04-05-2005, 08:39 PM
Jim, it's a deal. I can work the need for multi-season, multi-year monitoring into a number of talks. Thanks for the "sound bites".
By the way, in reference to character comments above, I personally think your well-developed, often mock-abrasive sense of humor is hilarious. I sometimes think you're channeling a 1950's thug from Brooklyn (this is a good thing).
04-05-2005, 08:42 PM
Jim, I thought you promised us you were going out to pick apples or something......
04-05-2005, 08:50 PM
Dick - you're as "bad" as Jim. smile.gif
04-05-2005, 08:56 PM
>...and Mike, you can pay me off in mead
Kool-aid flavored mead? ;)
04-05-2005, 09:16 PM
Mike, thanks for your unsolicitated testimonial about my Alaska honey you gave the other day on another forum. FYI, some of that honey came from small cell bees.
04-05-2005, 09:34 PM
Cool. If I can manage to get some small-cell bees, I'll run a trial. I'm one of those stubborn fellas that has to see it for myself to be fully convinced, even when I'm comfortable accepting the comments from people I believe are on-the-level. The regression steps sound a little awkward, and the change-overs in ownerships in the very few apparent suppliers of small-cell bees will likely make this a 2006 study.
Don't even get me started on that other "forum". ;)
04-06-2005, 05:38 AM
Can anyone tell me the risks of regressing bees?
I also read this....
"The effort and cost of going through two changes of all the comb in all of your hives "
Can you tell me about this? I read about the effectiveness of small cell from time to time, but I don't know where to read about the how-to-do-it-and-what-are-the-problems part.
04-06-2005, 08:19 AM
I think that you may want to start here with the articles written by the Lusbys.
However there are some quicker ways to get the job done.
04-06-2005, 08:38 AM
I have a couple of top bar hives that started as large cell packages and I've never done any extra regression and they are doing fine. But Dee Lusby's defined threshold for controling mites and secondary diseases was 4.9mm. So the goal is to get 4.9mm cells, at least in the center of the frames of the center of the brood nest. The first regression usually ends up closer to 5.1mm worker brood cells. If you take the bees that were raised on these cells and put them on small cell, or let them build their own comb, they tend to run as low as 4.6mm but mostly run around 4.9mm for worker brood cells.
This is "The effort and cost of going through two changes of all the comb in all of your hives "
If you want to simplify your life and not do regression, just buy small cell foundation and use it when you need foundation. Put your packages on it. Monitor the mites and treat as needed. I'm sure you'll find a lot less mites.
But if you want to be completely clean and have no need for treatments you may need to make sure you have 4.9mm or smaller cells in the center.
Dennis, as I understand him, has decided that regression doesn't matter. He's been doing this longer than me. I'm being cautious and assuming I need to meet the target of 4.9mm or smaller in the center of the brood nest in order to not treat at all.
As Bullseye has observed, even 5.1mm cell size makes a significant difference in mite levels.
04-06-2005, 08:55 AM
>On testing, the paper cited above, which checked >small cell in AHBs for mite control, used what I >think is a wise approach.
>They started with regressed bees, then created >three hives, I beleive with a queen and so many >pounds of workers each, then gave some hives >small cell and some large cell. After a season, >they used SBB and catchments or sugar rolling to >screen for, and quantify, varroa mite levels.
The above is completely wrong, sorry. I hadn't read more than the abstract. The method they used is much better. It doesn't require more than a few weeks.
They put three empty frames, each with differently-sized cells, into hives, then returned to observe varroa levels in brood soon after.
They didn't wait a whole season, or even manipulate entire hives.
I think their method is importantly better.
04-08-2005, 07:43 AM
Unfortunately the method they used only measures infestation rates of the capped cells, which is useful information. But it does not take into account the shorter post capping times which would cut the Varroa reproductive capabilities in half by itself. If the smaller cells and one day shorter capping times hadn't cut the infestation rate this method would never have caught the change in Varroa populations that occur because of the shorter post capping times and therefore might have come to the conclusion that there was no difference because of cell size.
04-08-2005, 08:05 AM
Most of the small cell research has focused on what effects the smaller cell size has on mite behavior. Yet, mite behavior in my small cell hives has remained much the same. But bee behavior toward the mites has drastically changed.
Measuring mites in different sized capped cells would yield little information as my small cell hives detect, uncap and remove the mites. :>)
04-08-2005, 12:03 PM
If they'd used hives made up with a single cell size, and measured the mite levels after a year, they'ds have had something a lot more meaningful!
04-11-2005, 11:19 AM
While Micheal Bush, demerl51 and Robert Brenchley have well-thought points, and this easy method of documenting small cell control of Varroa thus can NOT prove that small cell FAILS to control Varroa, it still might be able to prove that small cell SUCCEEDS in controlling Varroa, and with a much easier method than whole-hive season-long surveys, as ought to be done.
This easy, quick method appparently did prove success of SC against Varroa with AHBs.
John D. Smith
04-11-2005, 05:06 PM
I just thought I'd add something. I'm currently doing a research project, in WV, regarding the effectiveness of small cell. My focus is on the hobby beekeeper and what they can expect if they choose to regress their colonies. I have a small data set so far and have just completed the second regression. At the first regression after OA treatment, I saw a statistically significant difference (reduction) in mite levels for SC vs LC. I have not used chemicals since 2001 and have never lost a colony.
04-11-2005, 06:15 PM
> I'm currently doing a research project,
> in WV, regarding
> the effectiveness of small cell.
Great! You gonna publish in a real peer-reviewed journal?
I hope so. Can I drive over from East Virginia to
take some photos, and ask some dumb questions?
Anyone who is willing to put their hives where
other people's mouths are deserves at least a
1-page article in Bee Culture.
Need funding? Apply to the EAS grant machine,
pull the handle, and maybe you will be the lucky
winner of a cash grant.
John D. Smith
04-11-2005, 07:09 PM
I've talked to ABJ and they are interested, but said I shouldn't be too technical, whatever that means. I guess they aren't interested in t-tests and standard deviations. There are other journals as well. So, yes it will be subject to the peer review process. The outcome of that matters little to me, though.
I just got tired of the chin music regarding v. destructor and so I'm doing something about it to see what works. Regardless of my results, some people live to be disagreeable and will tear the study apart. I'm well aware of the flaws, but it's designed to be what it is. I've funded it myself and honestly I'm only interested in finding a way to help the old beekeepers I know keep healthy bees again and be chemical free. If others benefit from it, that's good too. If SC works, great, if not...I still won't use chemicals, but at least I'll know for sure. I'm recreating what a backyard, suburban beekeeper might go through. In other words, I won't be waving a flag that says "this study sponsored by Dr. Bucket's Mite-B-Gon" and I won't be making assumptions for my benefit or for others. I was asked that I seek to publish. It wasn't my idea as I don't place much stock in peer review in matters such as this. A group of people can say a square is round. That doesn't make it so. Another group will argue that the square was measured wrong and it actually has three sides. Still another will say the square could be a box or line, depending on conditions. I don't have the patience or desire to be another Dr. R. That combined with my experiences on this very forum have somewhat reduced my opinion of the process (that's why the above was my first post in a year). Emotion and opinion have no place in science. The numbers will either support your theory or they won't, they rarely "prove" things; especially given the uncontrolable nature...of nature. Having said that, if you want to be underwhelmed look me up when the study is complete.
04-11-2005, 10:40 PM
> I've talked to ABJ and they are interested, but
> said I shouldn't be too technical, whatever that
ABJ is not really "peer reviewed" like the "real
journals", but I'm surprised. Joe said that?
He wants READABLE articles suddenly? smile.gif
(I can kid Joe, he knows I'm only having fun.)
> That combined with my experiences on this very
> forum have somewhat reduced my opinion of the
Don't let a group who has never been published
discourage you about publishing. Every point
you make is sometimes correct, but by publishing,
you add another brick to the bridge. Others
can add their own bricks atop yours, and they
may not agree with you 100%, but if your data
is solid, and your stats are fair, you can
stand your ground, and ignore anything except
different data from someone who did as much
work as you did.
> Emotion and opinion have no place in science.
Yeah, right. We're all supposed to be a bunch
of Vulcans, just like Mr. Spock. Uh huh, sure.
Get real! Science is just a place where you
MIGHT be able to settle an argument with some
actual hard facts, and admit that you were wrong!
Next conference, skip a session. Head for the bar.
That's where known facts are accelerated to nearly
the speed of light, and smashed head-on into other
known facts to see which one breaks first. smile.gif
04-12-2005, 03:46 AM
John, if you let us know when you are ready, I will most certainly read what you have! Though, at the moment I just get an olive green box with the words "my friends in the box" on it.
One question...."second regression?" What's that?
04-12-2005, 09:08 AM
Hi Jim and Everyone,
>Can I drive over from East Virginia to take some >photos, and ask some dumb questions?
That's great! It's about time someone in the peer-review group puts some of their own money out where the rubber meets the road :>).
Although, I have had the small cell beeswax candle lit for a visitor, for 5 years, and the candle has done burnt out. So much for Casper, Wyoming as a destination spot :>)))
But be careful Jim, if you find some indications that small cell works, and you write about it. You might loose your status with your peers :>))))
Have a great trip!
04-12-2005, 10:46 AM
> But be careful Jim, if you find some indications
> that small cell works, and you write about it.
> You might loose your status with your peers :>))))
Nope, all that would impact "status" (as if I
give a hoot...) would be to make claims without
evidence, or infer to much from mere "indications".
Hey, I'd love for it all to be true.
We all would.
I'd also like a flying carpet, faster than
light travel, free energy without pollution,
and perpetual motion. They'd be fun.
But what I'd like to be true is not going to
sway anyone's views. One needs some hard proof.
04-13-2005, 07:39 AM
Can anyone tell me what is meant by "second regression?"
04-13-2005, 10:04 AM
The first time you put LC bees onto SC foundation, they may not take the cells down to the desired size, so you would put in fresh SC foundation, one or two frames at a time, and remove one or two of the larger cell frames. Remember, your desired worker cell size is 4.9mm or smaller. Or you could shake the entire colony onto new SC foundation and place the brood above the broodnest with a queen excluder between them to force the workers to draw the new foundation for the queen to lay in.
04-13-2005, 03:31 PM
04-14-2005, 02:25 PM
peggjam is there a website that shows the process you just described? I'd like a visual.
04-14-2005, 05:19 PM
Not sure about a website, that would be a better question for MB. How about it Michael?
04-15-2005, 08:46 AM
How do you do a visual of feeding empty frames into the brood nest? When the bees are strong you move empty frames in. You can put removed frames up a box, take them out altogether (if they are empty or full of honey) or put them above an excluder.
This has been described many times on Beesource in many postings.
04-21-2005, 06:22 PM
I've read through this whole thread and I have to say I find it pretty odd that this would become a somewhat heated topic.
Is it an established fact that
A. the period from larvae to emergence is shorter in a small cells
Is it an established fact that
B. mite reproduction rate is impacted by the time available for breeding within the cell?
If both A & B are true, then the fanciful analogies of magic carpets, free energy, etc. are more appropriate for those who would lean towards the view that SC would have no impact on mite populations, regardless of "hopes." If either A or B are not true, then perhaps the magic carpet comments are not too far off base.
If no one has tested A & B-- why the heck not? A seventh grader could do these studies.
04-22-2005, 01:33 AM
I have to agree with Darrel Wright. If his A & B above were to become established facts I'd like to change over to SC too, otherwise it seems like too much work for what might be an entirely fanciful idea. My doubt over SC is based on the matter that it seems that nearly 100% percent of feral hives, presumably mainly naturally regressed to small cell, were wiped out by Varroa in the 80's and 90's. So, why should it now make a difference?
04-22-2005, 08:53 AM
>I have to agree with Darrel Wright. If his A & B above were to become established facts I'd like to change over to SC too, otherwise it seems like too much work for what might be an entirely fanciful idea.
>If no one has tested A & B-- why the heck not? A seventh grader could do these studies.
Precisely. So whey the heck don't the rest of you do this simple experiment for yourselves? If you don't have a lot of time to spend on it, buy an observation hive (if you don't have one you should anyway) and watch the bees in there. Put some small cell foundation in. You can mark on the glass the cell you watched the queen lay in with a letter and write down the exact date and time on a list. Check it every morning before you go to work and every evening when you get home and every night before you go to bed. You can wait few days, since you know it won't get capped for sure before day 7 (more likely day 8), so you could start there. Even with the 5.1mm (which they will probably draw to start off) you'll see a difference. With 4.9mm you'll see a bigger difference and with natrual drawn 4.6 or 4.7mm you'll see even more. So write down the day and time you saw the cell was capped and the day and time you saw the cell was empty or emerging. You can start looking for this on day 18 or so. With an observation hive you don't even have to disturb them and you can do it in the comfort of your living room. According to research and modeling you only have to shorten pre capping by 8 hours and post capping by 8 hours to stablized the reproduction of the Varroa so it doesn't take over a hive.
>My doubt over SC is based on the matter that it seems that nearly 100% percent of feral hives, presumably mainly naturally regressed to small cell, were wiped out by Varroa in the 80's and 90's. So, why should it now make a difference?
That has not been my observation. I find feral colonies. The ferals got hit with a lot of things at once. Tracheal mites, Varroa mites, viruses and crashing hives all around them with lots of Varroa to bring home. I'm sure it put a dent in the population of the feral hives, but I see quite a few.
04-22-2005, 01:26 PM
I'm not a commercial beekeeper, nor am I a scientist, but I think that there's a possibility that there simply will not be a "one size fits all" solution to this issue.
I suggest that there are too many variables in beekeeping to establish an experiment protocol that would produce a result that could then be offered as a universal methodolgy utilizing small cell to control varroa. Surely everything that cannot be controlled for has some influence on the success or failure of a particular test regimen; geography, climate, size of the operation, proximity of other bee yards, skill of the beekeeper, etc. Additionally, even though SC is effective in a given situation, will it be economically viable for a guy with 10,000 hives? From a scientific standpoint I'd like to see the study done by qualified people just to see what happens. I would not, however, expect the results to provide any sort of panacea or for it to be adopted by everyone.
04-22-2005, 05:17 PM
>Additionally, even though SC is effective in a >given situation, will it be economically viable for >a guy with 10,000 hives
Precisely! So why are so many requiring others to do their work! It should be enough that those who have taken the time to explore these areas, have freely shared their ideas, tests and results.
In most areas of commerce, such discoveries would be considered a trade secrete and wouldn't even be patented to protect the information. Look at the history of cultured pearls, the silk trade and even in our day, commercial bumble bee rearing.
I'll bet the same could be expected with commercial discoveries concerning solitary pollinators like orchard bees, etc.
The honey business, in the US, is very different. Beekeepers have freely shared almost all info for a hundred years. I think the bee mags have been a large factor in this area and that is one real plus that a trade journal has when compared to a peer reviewed one.
Wondering why any beekeeper would use a smoker? I'm not aware of a single study proving that it works! :>))))
04-23-2005, 08:56 AM
Obviously there are so many factors to keeping a hive that it would be difficult to prove to scientific standards that small cell will protect a hive from Varroa or anything else. Who cares? If it can be proven that small cells inhibit mite reproduction TO ANY DEGREE (which as I say should be ridiculously easy) then at the very least you have a proven dog in the hunt. And I would think that any enterprising bee scientist would be delighted to cherry pick this study.
I have to wonder if the small-cell rhetoric developed by the Lusby's (which supposes a "natural" cell size and urges a lamarckian understanding of genetics) has simply poisoned the scientific community and created irrational hostility to the basic idea.
Just because someone proposes an incorrect description of the way something functions does not mean that the thing does not function. Helios may not hitch up flaming horses and drag the sun through the sky, but the sun does act as if he did in many respects. Pushing the bees towards a heavy weighting of small cells could be as totally "unnatural" as pushing them towards all large cells. It could have little or no "genetic" or "learning" component at all. And yet we may be able to get bees to draw smaller cells, and it could help remedy the problem of hive crashes. A sweeping bow to Dennis for all the excellent work he has done which basically points this up.
Again, if SC shortens developement time, and development time impacts mite repreduction, how could it fail to have an effect?
04-23-2005, 03:47 PM
I have to wonder if the small-cell rhetoric developed by the Lusby's (which supposes a "natural" cell size and urges a lamarckian understanding of genetics) has simply poisoned the scientific community and created irrational hostility to the basic idea.
Well, one might assume that genetics may play a factor in cell size, otherwise how could one do a study on THE EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND GENETIC FACTORS DETERMINING THE CELL SIZE OF HONEYBEE COMB Pirk, C, Hepburn, HR Hepburn, C and Tautz, J. The manuscript to my knowledge has not been published as of yet, but Im sure the results will be interesting.
04-23-2005, 04:42 PM
>And I would think that any enterprising bee scientist would be delighted to cherry pick this study.
At the bee conventions and seminars Ive attended when the subject of 4.9mm or small cell foundation comes up during a question and answer session, it gets met with little more than a patronizing response on the part of the researcher. Sometimes, too, the audience will heckle the questioner for asking.
At the beginning of this thread this was said:
>> Now it is suddenly claimed that no one "wants"
> to do the research? That's just untruthful.
In response, Barry asked this:
>Okay, give us names.
We are still waiting for the names......
(Mike Stanghellini did subsequently write that he wants to look into it himself. I hope you are able to do it Mike)
04-23-2005, 06:06 PM
If you are waiting for documented proof that it works before trying it yourself, you'd better stock up on chemical treatments. Enough to say, last you the rest of your beekeeping career. For those of us that feel it is worth trying without "documented proof" we're already on it. If it works, it works, if it don't, so what, at least we tried it. The proof is in the hive.
04-23-2005, 08:46 PM
After converting to small cell, I was able to toss all my mite chems, all the research files and notes and put the v mite out of my mind. It's amazing how much energy and time are required to deal with mites in the traditional way. And how much simpler beekeeping becomes once the bees are on small cell.
For most beekeepers, once they get their bees on small cell and see the difference, then they can speculate all they want about hows and whys. The Lusbys, Barry, Joe, Clay and I all have. Another much larger group of beekeepers like Michael, etc will soon have more than a couple of years experience with small cell and have the proof they need and their own ideas of the processes at work.
And it can be great fun as long as we don't take our speculations too seriously. For I am sure there are mechanisms and behaviors connected with cell size and the bees that none of use know anything about :>)))
Knowing that that bee mags are much thinner when the mite related articles can be skipped. :>))
04-24-2005, 11:13 PM
Having recently returned here to Tucson I was totally unaware of anything to do with SC, mites or other beekeepers here, Lusby's included. I did know that AHB was believed to be in the area or they soon would be. I transferred a feral colony living under a neighbors mobile home into modern equipment using Pierco one piece frames and foundation in wood frames. Soon after I began to split this colony into two, then split them again and again until I had 10 colonies -- several of which would usually have a fall surplus each year despite my highly inadequate supering. During this time I subscribed to the ABJ and learned about the recent influx of parasitic mites and about the chemicals used to help control them. I dont like the thought of using toxic chemicals, and since I hadn't then and still havent lost a single colony for any reason, I determined not to use any toxic chemicals. I also learned about the SC idea and decided it would be fun to see if I could grow smaller bees (I began keeping bees when I was 10 y.o. in 1966 because they fascinated me). I met a local beekeeping supplier and he had all-wax SC foundation. I purchased a small quantity and since it was full size and the majority of my bees are in medium depth supers exclusively, I cut the sheets in half and wired them leaving a gap at the bottom. I rotated the SC foundation into the brood chambers as frames of brood were sealed (I use 2 mediums- sometimes 3 for brood). I did not replace all brood frames with SC, but about 8 out of 10, usually the outer frames are still Pierco foundation. Before I finished rotating SC into all 10 hives I discovered, through my local supplier that wax coated plastic SC foundation was available and I began using that instead of the all-wax.
I still havent used any chemicals at all. I still havent lost a single colony. Its been more than 8 years now. I cant really say if SC has helped with mites. Though I often see mites on pupae I examine and adults as they go about their business, all the colonies have been storing a good surplus, I am still too stingy with supers, and this January every colony was boiling over with bees, the strongest Ive ever seen them and they still are.
And it is fun, the majority of the bees do look much smaller.
04-25-2005, 07:44 PM
I still havent used any chemicals at all. I still havent lost a single colony. Its been more than 8 years now.
Oh Great! You had to bring that up didnt you?! As the bee wrangler down there in Wyoming has mentioned more than once when mite resistance and cell size was first brought up many said it had to be done for more than 2 years to be considered worthwhile. When that happened the time frame was raised. Now with 8 years being mentioned, it will probably take at least 10-12 years to be considered as a method for keeping mites at bay.
>I cant really say if SC has helped with mites.
Nope, you cant. To do so only causes a lot of theatrical....well you know...
04-28-2005, 09:35 PM
Hey Joseph where did you get the sc plastic cell foundation?
Lesli St. Clair
04-29-2005, 03:23 AM
Dadant has it, for deeps.
06-14-2005, 05:51 AM
--This has been done.
Yes, but the same or similar study needs to be done in many differant environments to support, clarify or debunk the results.
Interesting results like this should encourage experiments by researchers.
The insignificant differances between Italian and Africanized cells may become very significant with 1000 to 2000 or more bees coming out of cells daily.
It would be interesting to see if the differance between small cell and standard hold up through following trials.
06-15-2005, 02:30 PM
Hi this post is for Dennis.
I looked at your pages and was very impressed with the information you have porvided. I have wanted to go to small cell for some time but have been put of by the amount off work and loss of hives following the Lusby methods. I had some questions on how you go about moving to SC.
You say you just replace gradually the inner 4 or 5 frames of the broodnest with SC and leave the rest LC frames. Is this correct?
Also do you leave the honey supers LC?
Do you find they will draw out a full sheet of foundation if it is used or do you use the 25mm method.
I would appreciate any and all comments. I do believe the way forward is without chemicals and am please dto find a forum with such great information.
06-16-2005, 06:18 PM
I am going to restrict this discussion to methods using conventional equipment and fixed cell size foundation.
First, my perspective. The results seen by small cell beekeepers is due to a pesticide free broodnest and the smaller cell size in the core area which is a better approximation to a natural broodnest. It doesn't have a thing to do with artificially enlarged bees, cell size memory, small cell bees or anything to do with regression.
A little bee behavior. In a natural broodnest the bees only draw out so much small cell comb. In standard equipment the same is true. So if you give the bees lots of small cell foundation, they will just build so much small cell comb and then convert the rest of the foundation to a larger size. My experience indicates that the best will do about 6 to 8 deep sheets max before converting the rest to larger cell size. A 5 frame nuc will draw out almost all it's foundation small cell size.
So, I just operated within these parameters. Give the bees a small cell foundation for the core, but also provide them with enough drawn large cell and drone comb toward the exterior.
I actually have used drone foundation to satisfy the bees need for a certain amount of larger cell size. It was left over from my queen rearing days.
The bees naturally draw out the smaller cell sizes close to the hive entrance and the larger sizes toward the top of the hive. Don't put a box of small cell foundation on top of the hive and expect to get any kind of good results.
If the bees draw out larger cell size comb, just move it to the exterior or use it in the supers. It will be clean and won't have any effect on the 'state' of the bee.
Forget all the regression stuff. Treat your bees with a non-contaminating mite treatment, when needed, to keep your bees from perishing. Then when they have enough small cell core area, you will have a clean broodnest and won't need to treat again.
And that's it. It's that simple.
No areas of influence, search/selection the small cell bee, worrying about trying to keep the small cell genetics pure or viable, etc. No need to worry about unregressing bees if they get on larger comb, or about a few select, small cell bee suppliers, etc.
06-16-2005, 08:01 PM
Bwrangler, so I want to split some of my colonies next spring and begin them on small cell. I had planed on removing an entire box, since all my hives have three boxes, and placing a hive body of small cell foundation on top of that.
"The bees naturally draw out the smaller cell sizes close to the hive entrance and the larger sizes toward the top of the hive."
So I guess I shouldn't do that but instead just pull about 4 frames. Should I alternate drawn comb, foundation drawn comb. Or put the drawn together and the foundation together? Or something completely different?
06-16-2005, 10:35 PM
Thanks for the info.
I was wondering how best to start introducing the SC foundation into existing hives. I have several hives that are single brood boxes and was wanting to try this out on them first. Would I just start replacing the frames in the center of the boxes?
Give the bees a small cell foundation for the core, but also provide them with enough drawn large cell and drone comb toward the exterior. I have chemical free frames of Perco some of which is drawn, could I use this on the outside? I was thinking maybe 6 SC for the core and 4 LC Perco frames to fill out the box. Does this sound ok, or should I skip the LC Perco and use all SC and let them build their own LC?
I actually have used drone foundation to satisfy the bees need for a certain amount of larger cell size. Did this not cause problems due to varroa prefering the drone foundation? Did the bees clean out the varroa?
The bees naturally draw out the smaller cell sizes close to the hive entrance and the larger sizes toward the top of the hive.What do you mean by the SC sizes close to the entrance, and the larger sizes towards the top?
Are you referring to the frames top and bottom?
I appreciate the matter of fact answers that help make the SC waters less murky.
06-17-2005, 08:16 AM
Some ideas on mixing different cell size frames:
Another aspect of regression that can be dropped is the shake down of bees into a hive consisting of small cell foundation. A shake down is exceedingly disruptive. Some kinds of bees will abscond or kill the queen under those circumstances. Hence the advice to use includers, etc. This is about the most disruptive management technique I can think of!
In areas with a short bee season, a hive treated this way, won't make any surplus. And it will certianly need to be fed.
In addition, a beekeeper with a few hives, will have lots of brood, feed, etc in large cell size frames. It is essentially wasted with a shake down and a one cell size focus.
My advice, try to work with the bees. Use all of your resource to the best advantage. Use the Pierco. Don't waste the brood or the food.
Just give them a small cell core. Once you get the small cell core and clean wax, lots of options are available.
I've run six frames without any problems. My tbh observations indicate four should work. And I would have tested four frames had my focus not shifted to top bar beekeeping.
>Did this not cause problems due to varroa prefering the drone foundation...
It could have,if the drone comb was left in the center of the broodnest. But I placed it to the outside and eventually rotated it out which is another interesting subject.
>What do you mean by the SC sizes close to the entrance, and the larger sizes towards the top?
With natural comb the smallest cell sizes are drawn on comb closest to the hive entrance which is at the bottom of most hives. Feral colonies with entrances near the top of the cavity, also construct the smallest comb at the bottom. The bees are genetically wired to build the small cell sized broodnest core below their food supply(large cell) and near the entrance when possible. Hence a swarms preference for cavities with a bottom entrance.
Some small cell beekeepers have reported the bees do a better job with small cell foundation when it's in the bottom box rather than on top.
>I appreciate the matter of fact answers that help make the SC waters less murky.
It's a curious fact that small cell beekeeping, which is purported to be so natural and in tune with the bees, has so much stuff associated with it. And all that stuff requires a lot of highly skilled beekeeper intervention to make it work. And that amount of work must be continued or all that effort to get those small cell bees is lost! Yikes! What's wrong here?
Thinking if working with the bees is harder than working again em, then maybe how one is working with them is still actually working again em :>)
06-17-2005, 09:34 AM
Thanks for clearing this up. I have never liked the shakedown method and that was one of the reasons I havent gone SC. All the discussion of bee size also didnt make sense as my bees are on LC and I have bees of all sizes.
My plan is to change out all my brood frames to clean frames, as the whole treatment with chemicals is making honey not seem so pure anymore, as well as becoming futile with the mite resistance.
>It could have, if the drone comb was left in the center of the brood nest. But I placed it to the outside and eventually rotated it out which is another interesting subject.
Dennis, by rotating the drone comb, do you mean that you removed the drone combs that had been capped? Did you freeze, or uncap the comb and replace with another comb for laying drone in?
The information is great.
06-17-2005, 05:07 PM
Actually, those drone frames are now used in the supers for honey production.
07-27-2005, 08:44 PM
A population model for the ectoparasitic mite Varroa jacobsoni
in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies
Stephen Martin *
"The idea that bees with a shorter sealed period
are more resistant to the mite has been the focus
of much research and bee breeding programmes.
By combining the offspring mortality data (Table
3) with their developmental times (Martin,
1995b) the effect of shortening the sealed brood
period on the mite population development was
investigated. Fig. 6 indicates that even a 1-day
reduction in the sealed brood period would only
delay and not prevent the mite build-up. The
model indicates that unless worker post-capping
times approaching 9 days can be achieved it is
unlikely that selecting bees with shorter capping
times would give rise to mite-tolerant bees (Martin,
Is it possible small cell only gives a little extra push in concert with other forms mite control like resistant queens?
Does regretion act merly as natural selection?
I have no experience with Small Cell, but I will. Even an extra push is important.
Plus no foundation can have benifits.
Just trying to figure all of this out.
I have found other research that casts doubt on small cell, so in all fairness I think the sceptics (read Jim Fisher) have cause for questioning.
07-28-2005, 10:20 AM
>Fig. 6 indicates that even a 1-day reduction in the sealed brood period would only delay and not prevent the mite build-up. The model indicates that unless worker post-capping times approaching 9 days can be achieved it is unlikely that selecting bees with shorter capping times would give rise to mite-tolerant bees (Martin, 1997b)."
How about a one day reduction in sealed brood period and a one day reduction in pre capping times? I've seen estimates that an 8 hour reduction in EITHER would be sufficient to control the mites. This research is merely a model based on a lot of assumuptions.
>Is it possible small cell only gives a little extra push in concert with other forms mite control like resistant queens?
It seems sufficient by itself, but I'm all for resistant queens.
>Does regretion act merly as natural selection?
Not that I can see.
07-28-2005, 02:55 PM
>Is it possible small cell only gives a little extra push in concert with other forms mite control like resistant queens?
It seems sufficient by itself, but I'm all for resistant queens.I'm trusting you both mean: queens that produce resistant offspring, and not just that the queens themselves are resistant, after-all if just the one solitary insect (the queen herself) were resistant that wouldn't be worth very much.
07-29-2005, 07:48 AM
The queens pass on various characteristics that are useful. Behaviors such as: Hygenic (as in chewing out infested cells); Grooming (as in getting the mites off of each other and biting and killing the mites); SMR (where the mites don't manage to produce fertile, viable offspring for some unknown reason, possibly some kind of immune response or some kind of difference in chemicals or phermones); Mite tolerance (where the bees don't die from the viruses and manage to survive despite heavy mite loads, possibly because of a good immune system); Early capping (where the cells are capped sooner so that less varroa infest the cells); Early emergence (where the varroa can't make as many offspring because they have less time); and possible other currently unkown behaviors or strengths.
But yes, it's the bees that use these genetic advantages. The queen just passes these qualities to them.
08-16-2005, 01:56 PM
is it ture that a fair amount off bees that swarm from man made hives that go into the wild and start up there new home still sircome to the mite problem,
if so, with out man interfearing wouldn't this swarm build small cell broad comb which would in prove there chances of survival
08-16-2005, 02:45 PM
>is it ture that a fair amount off bees that swarm from man made hives that go into the wild and start up there new home still sircome to the mite problem
>if so, with out man interfearing wouldn't this swarm build small cell broad comb which would in prove there chances of survival
They will build an intermediary size of about 5.1mm. The bees raised on that that swarm and build another colony will build about 4.9mm The bees that swarm from that and build another colony will build about 4.8mm.
The two issues I see are:
1) surviving when hives are crashing around you and your forgager are bringing in varroa at a large rate, far more than they would reproduce on small cell.
2) not being fully regressed is not enough to handle the mites. You don't get down to a full day shorter capping and post capping until you get down close to 4.9mm. That's two regressions minimum.
08-17-2005, 12:05 PM
thanks for clearing that up for me Michael, lol,
there is so much info and help on beesource.
i know one bee keeper up the road from me and i do ring him from time to time about things a don't under stand, but i have noticed that he is getting a little fed up with me and my phone calls,lol,
so i will have to rely on you guys on here,
08-17-2005, 04:33 PM
So maybe if bees from a small cell/natural cell operation were to swarm and find a good cavity, there might be some chance for longer term survival.
Some friends of mine in Iowa have a large bee tree in their yard. It's had bees in it for at least 20 years, but I think they routinely die out and the hive is recolonized. If small cell bees were to move in, do you think they would just use the old comb (potentially large cell) that was there or might they tear it down and start new.
I know any answer would probably be conjecture, but it's an interesting question.
08-17-2005, 05:03 PM
hmm, an interesting idea
a long existing bee tree might not be feral survivors, but being continually recolonized
I've got friends with a bee tree in their yard
been there a long time
I assusmed they were feral survivors
they don't want to cut it and it's way high
it swarms every year, I'm gonna put out traps in the spring
I'm a rookie, and learning a lot from the folks here
next spring is gonna be VERY interesting
08-17-2005, 05:17 PM
If I understand it corectlly, small cells bees will use big comb if thats what they have. Thus no more varroa protection. Regular bees will use small comb if put on it. Thus instant varroa protection. The thing is getting your bees to build the small comb.
08-17-2005, 05:23 PM
I think I'm gonna get 10 frames of permacomb and wax dip em like MB suggests
then use em for starting bee's next spring
a NUC with 2 frames of permacomb interlaced with starter strips
that ought to start em out right
I'm gonna start 2 or 3 packages and try to catch a swarm from the tree I mentioned
10-15-2005, 03:30 PM
10-17-2005, 08:38 AM
Yes, small cell bees will use large cell comb. Yes many feral hives die out and get repopulated by new swarms.