I just got into beekeeping about 3 years ago and after doing a little research, decided to go with plastic frames (Pierco) instead of foundation and frames. Now I am at the point where I want to go organic and I've learned a lot about the benefits about SC and varroa control. I have seen that these frames have about 7700 cells per frame. Is that accurate and how does that equate to cell size? Does anybody know what the cell size is? Do they qualify as SC?
Worker cell sizes:
Natural: 4.6 to 5.1mm
Turn of the century foundation: 4.83mm
Lusby foundation: 4.8mm to 4.9mm average 4.83mm
Dadant Small Cell foundation: 4.9mm
Wax dipped PermaComb: 4.95mm
Pierco deep frames 5.25
Pierco med frames 5.35
Pierco foundation 5.25
Standard Worker 5.4 to 5.5mm
Natural Drone 5.9mm to 6.6mm
Standard Drone 6.4mm to 6.6mm
According to Dee Lusby a cell size of no MORE than 4.9mm is necessary to handle all of the pests and diseases we have so far encountered.
So it appears that nobody makes a one piece frame to those specs. I would have to switch over to frame/foundation or permacomb foundation.
Thank you for the info.
Straight PermaComb is not the right size, but it's close (4.95mm equvilent) if you wax coat it. There is a discussion on the eqiupment forum titled "permacomb replacement" about a product that is not available yet, but claims to be either 5.0mm or 4.9mm. Since it's not on the market I can't say how they arrive at the measurement. They could be measuring across 10 cells and ignoring the cell wall thickness, which in a natural comb is .1mm and they claim (in corespondence with other people) to be .6mm. In which case it's quite small inside diameter. Or they could be saying it's 5.0mm inside in which case it's the equivelant to 5.1mm (when you add in the cell wall on one side). Or it could be any number of other convolusions. When I see one and measure it, I'll tell you what I think.
If you are in the process of regression I'd skip the plastic 4.9mm until the bees are regressed. Then it works about like any plastic does.
But for now you'll probably have to use wood frames with wax, or foundationless frames or starter strips of some kind.
Here are some of my foundationless frames.
Two questions, first, with natural comb or foundationless frames, is there a natural size the bees will instinctively draw out or are some bees programmed for drawing out smaller cells and some are programmed for drawing out larger cells? In other words, if left to their own devices, do bees normally draw out one size of cell?
Second, what is the right protocol for measuring across ten cells. I have access to a digital micrometer and I'd like to measure some of my plastic foundation. How do you account for the thickness of nine cell walls when measuring across ten cells?
>Two questions, first, with natural comb or foundationless frames, is there a natural size the bees will instinctively draw out or are some bees programmed for drawing out smaller cells and some are programmed for drawing out larger cells?
Bees build cells, I believe, based on a combination of THEIR body size and their instincts. If you take typical artificially enlarged bees (as are in most hives raised on 5.4mm worker brood cells) and give them free reign to build their own cells they tend to build worker brood cells at about 5.1mm and drone cells at about 6.3mm or so with an assortment of in between sizes for transitions and honey storage. If you take bees raised in 5.1mm sized cells and let them build what they want they move on down. I often measure large areas as small as 4.6mm for worker cells with most natural sized ones in the 4.8mm range. But they are not all the same size.
>In other words, if left to their own devices, do bees normally draw out one size of cell?
>Second, what is the right protocol for measuring across ten cells. I have access to a digital micrometer and I'd like to measure some of my plastic foundation. How do you account for the thickness of nine cell walls when measuring across ten cells?
You just start on the inside wall of the first and measure to the outside wall of the last. In other words you don't account for cell wall thickness because cell wall thicknesses built by bees are rather consistently 0.1mm. Cell wall thickness only becomes an issue if it's "fully drawn" plastic where the entire cell wall is plastic and is more likcly about 0.6mm or so. Then you have to allow for the difference in cell wall to figure the equivelent inside diameter of a cell.
For more accuracy sometimes people measure in all three directions, acroos, down to the right and down to the left and average them out.