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Thread: 4.9mm

  1. #1
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    Question

    Hi All
    Can someone explain just what the deal is with 4.9 mm cell structure. I see alot of pro and con but I cant seem to get the facts. If you cant tell me then point me in a direction please.

    Thanx
    Mike Garitta

  2. #2
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    Medford Lakes,NJ,USA
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    Cool

    Hi Maggiebee, The big WHOHA about 4.9mm foundation has to to with varroa mites and a back to basics theory about beekeeping and natural treatment for pests and diseases. On this site you can read about how this was developed. Check out Element of Beekeeping and you will find the article about how the Lusby's came to this conclusion. Steve

    [This message has been edited by NewBee (edited January 18, 2003).]

  3. #3
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    There is reasearch and history to support that feral bees build cells closer to 4.9mm than what is currently used in foundation, which is 5.3 to 5.5mm (usually around 5.4mm). In fact they probably build closer to 4.85mm for worker brood cells. The bee industry was founded on 4.84mm cell size foundation.

    There is also research to support that varroa cannot reproduce well in a worker larva in a 4.9mm cell because basically they can't find each other to reproduce.

  4. #4
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    I should also say, there is speculation backed by some experience, but no study that I know of, that tracheal mites can't live in the smaller bees trachea.

    I suppose I also didn't say that the cell size determines the bee size and 4.9mm brood cells result in smaller bees.

  5. #5
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    Michael,

    Some other place you have said that to regress to 4.9 mm you would start right away with 4.9mm foundation although on their first pass they will most likely build 5.1 mm cells. Wouldn't bulding 5.1 mm cells on wrong foundation be unnecessary stress for the bees? Since you have to chuck the 5.1 comb on your 2nd round anyway, common sense indicates to me that the bees would be sligtly happier building 5.1 mm cells on 5.1 mm foundation.
    What do you think?

    Jorge

  6. #6
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    I agree about the stress, which is why for a first regression I've been using just a starter strip of 1/2" wide 4.9mm foundation. Once they get started on a size they are happy with, they build what they want, so they don't have to rework it.

    Others have used the 4.9mm full sheets though, without too much problems.

    My next experiment in this realm is PermaComb (fully drawn plastic comb) heated to 200 degrees F and dipped in 212 degree F wax to make already drawn cells equivilant to 4.95mm.

    This should make a two regressions on the first time out. Then I can either see how many generations it takes for the coccoons to fill it to 4.9mm or do the last regression to 4.9mm foundation.

  7. #7
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    Hi Jorge,

    Some other place you have said that to regress to 4.9 mm you would start right away with 4.9mm foundation

    reply:

    I would recommend using 4.9 right away.

    although on their first pass they will most likely build 5.1 mm cells. Wouldn't bulding 5.1 mm cells on wrong foundation be unnecessary stress for the bees?

    reply:

    I found that on the first regression that most colonies built combs around 4.98 to 5.05 with the average colony being around 5.0mm cells. There will be variation amoung all colonies buy giving them the size you are trying to achieve you will have some regress further than others so as not to limit the bees. I don't think that the bees build a larger cell size on smaller foundation is much stress here. I think the process of the shakedown is the cause of most of the stress here. The bees are quite capable of adapting and changing the cell pattern of the foundation. I have seen some colonies that WILL NOT regress these colonies will often chew the cell walls off the foundation and build what they like.

    Since you have to chuck the 5.1 comb on your 2nd round anyway, common sense indicates to me that the bees would be sligtly happier building 5.1 mm cells on 5.1 mm foundation.

    reply:

    Why chuck the comb? Why not start the next hive with it? Why not sell it as an intermediate step to someone else for regression? Harvest the wax and get the frame back in again? As I mention before some bees will do better than 5.1mm, 80% of my colonies went further than 5.1mm on the first regression. So by giving them 5.1mm foundation you don't get bees worked down any further than that. Also another reason is without consumers buying enough 4.9 foundation Dadant could be liable to pull it off the market should there not be enough demand for it. I think the 4.9 gives the maximum flexiblity here the bees will build what they like regardless of cell pattern. Wouldn't one foundation be easier to keep track of too?

    Clay- my POV



  8. #8
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    It depends on how you are going about things and what you want to accomplish in what time frame. I have been doing shakedowns, which require that you brush all of the bees off of all of their combs and put them in another hive. I find the starter strips better for this, myself.

    I have not tried, but was suggesting that it might be practicle to just use 4.9mm foundation all the time and let things go as they will. The bees don't seem to mind much, they just cheat a little on each cell and build an occasional smaller cell to make it all fit.

    I don't dispose of any of the comb. I would use the 5.1mm comb for regressing another hive.

    I would use 5.1mm foundation for the first regression if I knew where to find any.

  9. #9
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    By all means, don't throw the comb away. Use it on another hive, or even make candles or something. I am going to try starter strips, and 4.9 direct, and see what happens. By doing it together, the same scenario, as far as environment is concerned, will be present. This way, I can see which way is smarter, and less time consuming for my area.


    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

  10. #10
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    If you want clean wax for making your own foundation, one way to get some is to melt down the 5.1 mm.Here in the UK its currently quite easy to get 5.1, but there are no sources of 4.9 yet.

  11. #11
    Dzug Guest

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    When would you shake down a hive from 5.1 to 4.9? How do you know when it is time to do a shakedown? How do you clean out the 5.1 foundation? What about the brood in it?

    Doug Z.

  12. #12
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    I only do shakedowns once a year when there is a good honey flow going. This seems to have the bees draw the 4.9 mm foundation properly. Some others do it again after 2 to 3 different broods have been raised in the hive to create smaller bees to regress again. When I tried this the bees absconded after 2 weeks on the new foundation after I removed the queen includer so I only do it once a year and seem to keep my bees
    Clint

    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  13. #13
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    Now I've got bees on 5.1 I'm hoping to avoid having to do it a second time. I discovered last year that the bees will draw 4.9 so the strategy now is to give them 4.9 foundation and just let them roll. My one surviving hive is weak so I may have to get some more bees, which may require shakedowns onto the 5.1. Alternatively, it may be possible to do it more gently. In my climate bees don't lay much in the outer frames of a box so the frames of a nuc could be removed one by one during the season, forcing them onto 5.1 gradually. I may try that if it comes to it. Bees hate being shaken down, and I'd rather not stress them like that if I can avoid it.

  14. #14
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    Now that I've tried wax coating the PermaComb and coming up with fully drawn 4.95mm comb, I'm hoping I can regress that far in one shot. We'll see this spring. The ones I had on 5.1mm didn't make it. The mites did them in. Of course they often do in the 5.4mm bees I've had in the past too.


  15. #15
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    >>>The ones I had on 5.1mm didn't make it. The mites did them in.

    Michael I think it has nothing to do with your 5.1 cells. There are questions from Alfred for “Dee” but to bad, there are no answers so far.

    I believe too, the 4.9mm cells working only in the combination with the blood from Africanized bees.
    A small bee with less pheromone production because of the 4,9mm cells and higher cleaning behaviors (Africanized bees) is an possible answer but after a few year breeding with regular drones the effect might be gone.

    I hope “Dee” can give us the answer???

    I don’t know why should have ONLY a little difference an impact? From 5.1mm to 4.9mm = 0.2mm that’s only 0.008 of an inch!


  16. #16
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    From Dee's experience she did not notice any significant change in the health of hives until she reached 4.9mm. At 5.0mm the problems remained. I was only at 5.15mm. A long ways from 4.9mm.

    I don't think the cell size had anything to do with my mite problems. For some reason the mite population exploded just when it turned cold.

    I still don't understand why there seems to be little problems with mites in the summer, but I have a lot of problems in the fall.

    It's not like the bees aren't making a lot of brood all summer. There seems to be something that allows the mites to really take off in the fall.

  17. #17
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    Michael that’s not your problem, it is the way Varroa kills the colonies all over the western world.

    The end of summer (August) your colony has approx 45 000 bees with maybe 2000 Varroa. Now the colony goes into the winter stadium (November) with approx 10 000 bees.
    During the year the mite’s doublet the population every 3 weeks (August= 2000 / November= 6000 Varroa) but the bee population goes the opposite way in fall.

    In August every 22 bees have 1 Varroa. Now in November every 1.7 bees have a Varroa and the colony can’t survive!!
    The numbers of bees here are only an illustration, some colonies stronger some not.
    Same with the Varroa, but I will give you an idea how that system works.

    I think in a long run we have to deal with other specie of honeybees, maybe from Asia or India. I have no idea what the future is???

  18. #18
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    Michael,the late summer mite explosion seems to be what does us in.Axtmanns explanation seems correct,but another factor is the late season robbing out of dying hives.If you have a lot of hives in an area and they are being treated sucessfully for mites,some will swarm carrying a few mites with them to their new site.By next summer these swarms are reaching the crash stage and are re-infecting the managed hives as they get robbed out.This is what has been wiping me out as far as I can tell.My strategy to deal with this is to do a better job of swarm prevention(wont help with the other guys swarms) and get the supers off faster(need a faster extracting system)so that the bees can get treated before they crash.This is a race against time.Small cell,SMR or Russian isnt going to stop your bees from picking up the thousands of virus carrying varroa until such time as all weak strains of bees are gone.
    ---Mike

  19. #19
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    >The end of summer (August) your colony has approx 45 000 bees with maybe 2000 Varroa. Now the colony goes into the winter stadium (November) with approx 10 000 bees.
    During the year the mite’s doublet the population every 3 weeks (August= 2000 / November= 6000 Varroa) but the bee population goes the opposite way in fall.

    Yes, but the life expectancy of a worker bee and the life expectancy of a mite are not that different. A varroa mite has an expectancy of about 50 days. So why don't the mites die at the roughly the same rate as the bees? Also, wouldn't the mites die WITH the bees? Maybe not, maybe they crawl onto another bee. But the mites on the bees dying outside the hive wouldn't make it back and the ones in the hive would still be dying of old age at 50 days. Of course bees life expantancy changes as the seasons change. I suppose in the middle of the honey flow the mites outlive the bees, but in winter the bees are supposed to live 3 to 6 months. Do the mites live longer also? I don't know what the mechanism would be to cause this.

    >In August every 22 bees have 1 Varroa. Now in November every 1.7 bees have a Varroa and the colony can’t survive!!

    I assume that is 1 in 7? Anyway, I've observed this kind of mite population explosion, but I still don't have a model to explain it.

    Your explanation is the same as others have purported to try to explain this explosion of mites, but I still think they should die at approximately the same rate as the bees, according to the data I have available. Obviously there is something I'm still not understanding, that is happening in the fall.

    Perhaps the data of the life expectancy of the Varroa is wrong and your explanation is correct. Or maybe I'm not taking into account that the life expantancy of the bees is shortened by the mites and so we have the vicious circle of less and less bees because their life expectancy is being made shorter and shorter by more and more fat healthy mites per bee. At least it would explain some of it.

    Thanks for the ideas.

  20. #20
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    I feel breeding has as much to do with surviving varroa as small cell,mineral oil,etc. The varroa can't reproduce during the winter unless there is brood present.Hives which wait until late winter to start brood rearing may have an advantage over hives which start brood rearing say late dec. or early jan.

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