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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    kalamazoo, mi
    Posts
    113

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    why is it recommeded that only those with extensive beekeeping experience and a knowledge of bee behavior switch to small cell foundation? i am interested in it but confused? it sounds like it may be a natural way to keep v. mite populations down. also, are small cell and natural cell the same things? thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    >why is it recommended that only those with extensive beekeeping experience and a knowledge of bee behavior switch to small cell foundation?

    Well, I've wondered that myself. I think part of it is they don't want you to just buy small cell foundation and assume that you don't have to worry about mites. When you have to actually get the bees regressed before you don't have to worry about mites. The concept of regressing, depending on your stregy for it, can require some expertise at managing bees.

    But I don't see any reason not to use small cell wax from the start. Then as you learn you can spend more time on the issues of measuring cell size and getting them fully regressed.

    I also wouldn't recommend using the plastic 4.9mm unless you have bees that are already on small cell. All the large cell bees I've tried it on hated it. Only regressed bees have been willing to work it at all.

    >i am interested in it but confused? it sounds like it may be a natural way to keep v. mite populations down. also, are small cell and natural cell the same things?

    Mostly they are the same thing.

    To me natural cell size is when I give them foundationless frames or blank (umembossed) starter strips and the bees make all the decisions as to cell size.

    When you use 4.9mm foundation then YOU have made all the decisions as to cell size and you have set it at 4.9mm. Granted the bees will cheat a bit and the first regression they will build about 5.1mm but you have still laid out all of the cells at one size.

    With natural cell size the bees build a variety of sizes depending on their intended use. They build large blocks of 4.6mm cells for brood all the way up to 5.1mm for brood. They build a few here and there as small as 4.5mm and some as large as 5.4mm, which most averaging around 4.8mm or so.

    They build drone cells all the way from 5.9mm to 6.6mm. They build honey storage in every size with most of it around the 5.9mm size.

    So with "small cell" you have all 4.9mm foundation leading the bees to that size. With natural cell size you have the bees building all different sizes. The point, though, is that 4.9mm is closer to what the bees would naturally build for worker brood than the 5.4mm to 5.5mm "normal" sized worker foundation used throughout most hives.

    I have used 4.9mm wax and 4.9mm plastic (and am still using it sometimes in some places) but most of my hives are wax coated PermaComb(which I dipped in wax and which is about 4.95mm when you take into account the thicker cell wall) and foundationless frames or blank starter strips. I've also used 4.9mm foundation as starter strips. I use the blank starter strips in the old frames that I have and all the new frames are foundationless with a beveled top bar.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Post

    Sarah,
    Where are you right now in beekeeping? How many hives? My first year of beekeeping, I already had a high-mite infestation. I think that there is no better time for regressing than "now". "Now" meaning "ASAP", such as first thing during next-year's build up.

    I agree with Michael on why the suggestion for only "experienced" keepers... The beekeeping supplers' industry is based on making a profit. First, those that make their own foundation for sale already have Large Cell foundation in major manufacturing. They also have a large clientel for it. Secondly, they sale chemical treatments. These two products may support one another leading the company into making further sales of both.

    However, there is no reason a keeper can't start regressing soon if they have basic skills. Especially if they can capture a feral swarm. In my area, feral swarms are already regressed and only need a hive with some frames of starter strips or of small cell foundation.

    WayaCoyote

    WayaCoyote

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    kalamazoo, mi
    Posts
    113

    Post

    thank you both for your replies. Wayacoyote, i am a first year beekeeper and i am not sure how badly my hives are infested with mites right now. i have not done any drop counts. i use sbb's and fog with fgmo once a week. i saw some bees without wings earlier in the season but have not seen anything bad lately, except for some dead pupae outside two of the hives (i have three total) i dont know, though, if they were out there because of mite infestation. they diddnt have any mites on them. anyway. thank you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central PA
    Posts
    144

    Post

    test

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central PA
    Posts
    144
    Sorry, 'bout the test post. Couldn't remember if I registered & didn't want to do a long post to have it not work.

    After asking this question myself, I joined the organicbeekeepers yahoo group and took the plunge. the only bees I've ever had have been on small cell since day one. I'm in my second year with bees. What I've found is that it 'might' be trickier to do small cell beekeeping if you've never had bees before, because, not only do you need to learn the basics of beekeeping, but you need to learn to ignore a lot of the traditional methods.

    Having a local mentor to come by and look at my bees with me might have been a big help (or maybe a crutch) but it seemed pretty rude to ask someone for help, already having decided I would not take any advice about adding chemicals to the hive. As result, my mentors are all on the net.

    There is a lot more to small cell beekeeping than just buying a different size foundation. Generally, the idea is to allow the bees to return to as natural of a system as possible, which means not adding essential oils or artificial feeds as a matter of course, allowing bees to requeen themselves...

    It can be hard not to intervene too much when there is a problem. You just have to decide if you're committed tot he concept.

    Diane W

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    >After asking this question myself, I joined the organicbeekeepers yahoo group and took the plunge. the only bees I've ever had have been on small cell since day one. I'm in my second year with bees. What I've found is that it 'might' be trickier to do small cell beekeeping if you've never had bees before, because, not only do you need to learn the basics of beekeeping, but you need to learn to ignore a lot of the traditional methods.

    I guess I never followed the books to start with. I read them to learn everything I could, but I started with the assumption that bees are natural creatures that naturally know how to survive.

    >Having a local mentor to come by and look at my bees with me might have been a big help (or maybe a crutch) but it seemed pretty rude to ask someone for help, already having decided I would not take any advice about adding chemicals to the hive. As result, my mentors are all on the net.

    I can see your point, but a mentor would still be nice. You can get answers to questions about queens and finding them and what is normal as far as comb color and cappings etc.

    >There is a lot more to small cell beekeeping than just buying a different size foundation.

    There is a lot more to organic/biological beekeeping than just buying different size foundation. But IMO buying natural sized foundation is a good idea regardless of what else you intend to do or not do.

    >Generally, the idea is to allow the bees to return to as natural of a system as possible, which means not adding essential oils or artificial feeds as a matter of course, allowing bees to requeen themselves...

    In biological beekeeping yes. But this is hardly MORE complicated. It's much LESS complicated.

    >It can be hard not to intervene too much when there is a problem. You just have to decide if you're committed tot he concept.

    This is a problem for all beekeepers regardless of their dedication to being organic or not or using small cell or not. It's hard not to intervene, and usually it's better not to. Sometimes intervention (such as requeening a queenless hive that has no hope of rasing one) may be necessary to the survival of the hive.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
    Posts
    1,966

    Post

    >allowing bees to requeen themselves... <

    At first look this seems to be such a great idea. It was my first way of thinking. Breed from the survivors! The problem is that:
    1. The queen will avoid breeding with drone from the same hive. (They are her sons). She will go a mile or more looking for your neighbors drones.
    2 If she does breed with her own drones, the virgin queen is likely to be of poor quality for genetic reasons.
    3. the traits that made yhe origional queen successful may not appear in her daughter because:
    A. Traits for foulbrood tolerance are recessive. (There are between 2 and 7 genes for this)
    B. Traits for hygenic bees are recessive.
    C. Recessive means that both the queen and the drone must carry the trait.

    Only when the place is saturated with hygenic bees will we be able to trust our neighbors drones and reliably breed queens.

    Dickm

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