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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Lake Linden,Michigan USA
    Posts
    52

    Post

    I'm adding another 5 colonies this spring & noticed that Dadant sells the small cell foundation. Are there any downfalls to using the small cell vs brood foundation that is sold by other suppliers? Also, for my supers, I assume that I would still use the regular size foundation. Your thoughts are appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Post

    I use 4.9mm foundation on all brood chambers and regular foundation in all honey suppers and thin foundation in cut comb suppers.
    Clint


    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan
    Beekeeping sence 1964

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,479

    Post

    If you use the small cell wax I don't see a downside. IMO the small cell plastic should be reserved for bees that are already regressed to 4.9mm.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Lightbulb

    Thuroughly read the lusby article under Digital Dialouge. Realize that "normal sized" bees will have trouble adjusting to the smaller sized foundation print. This isn't a problem in the long run. Lusby does discribe the process it takes to get them to draw it properly. Just be aware of the initical effort. As an alternative, you could start out with buying already "regressed" bees who will do the job well. Or perhaps feral bees in your area can do it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,479

    Post

    If you want to be able to use no treatments that won't happen until you hit 4.9mm, but just using small cell foundation gives you a start and some benefits. Other than 4.9mm being more expensive foundation, I don't see a down side.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Lake Linden,Michigan USA
    Posts
    52

    Post

    Thanks for the info,4.9mm it is!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Centreville, VA, USA
    Posts
    50

    Post

    Michael: I must admit I do not understand what 4.9mm foundation is and why I would use 4.9mm?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,479

    Post

    >Michael: I must admit I do not understand what 4.9mm foundation is and why I would use 4.9mm?

    In our hives bees are almost always faced with foundation. An imprint of the cell size is there to induce the bees to build that size cell. In "normal" foundation that cell size is 5.4mm or so. If you take bees raised on that 5.4mm foundation and let them build what they want they will build worker brood comb that is 5.1mm or so. If you take bees raised on that 5.1mm comb or so and let them build what they want they will build 4.85mm or so. If you take those bees and put them on foundationless frames spaced 1 1/4" (as opposed to the normal 1 3/8") they will build mostly 4.6mm cells or so.

    So the concept is that 5.4mm foundation is not natural sized foundation. It has been used to make larger bees. As far back as Francois Huber in the 18th century it was observed that bees raised in larger cells came out larger. Bees raised in smaller cells came out smaller. In the late 1800s and early 1900s a scientist named Bardoux decided that he could manipulate the bees and make larger bees by using this principle and larger embossing on the cells.

    The issue is whether or not the larger cells are the cause of our current mite problems. From my experience, I think it is.

    If you look at the difference in the diameter of a 4.9mm to a 5.4mm cell it is a ratio of 100:110 or a 10% increase. In other words a 5.4mm cell is 110% of the diameter of a 4.9mm cell. But bees aren't in one dimension, they are in three. The difference in VOLUME of a 4.9mm cell to 5.4mm cell is 100:130 or a 5.4mm cell is 130% of a 4.9 cell.

    The difference in volume of a 4.6mm cell to a 5.4mm cell is 162:100 or 162% of the size of a natural cell.

    This is not an insignificant difference.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    224

    Post

    Hmm. Heading in the other direction, C.P. Dadant and Francis Smith advocated 1.5" spacing for European bees (and the latter, 1 3/8" for African bees). I remember Charles Koover's experiments with 1 1/4" spacing in the 70's Gleanings mags. Ormond Aebi tried this, too but was unimpressed and dropped the idea.

    1 1/2" spacing gives better ventilation and Dadant was convinced it cut down on swarming. He designed the Dadant hive around the deeper frame and this wider spacing.

    I can't imagine trying to use 11 frames and get them in and out of a standard hive body, even with narrower end bars. Over time, it seems like it would be difficult. On the other hand 10 of the narrower frames along with some type of follower board would be easier. I haven't tried it, but in any case it's interesting that narrower spacing would result in more small cells.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,197

    Post

    JWG,

    This is one of the very few times I have to disagree with Dadant. I've used 11 frames 31 mm wide in standard Langstroth brood chambers since 1977. It does NOT directly contribute to swarming. It does enable earlier spring buildup which means a colony can start to crowd up to 30 days earlier than with wider combs. The best explanation of Dadant's conclusion is that he was working with the typical swarm oriented Mellifera or Ligustica of that day and time. As for taking 11 frames in and out of a brood chamber, its no harder than with 10 frames. You do have to be more careful about building frames so they hang straight and must wire the foundation in so it can't warp and bow.

    Two things are very important to avoid swarming: lots of expansion space, and young vigorous queens from a non-swarming strain. I started a thread in this area called Frame Spacing in a Langstroth Standard Hive that might be worth reading.

    Fusion

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,479

    Post

    I've tried brood nests of 1 1/2", 1 3/8" and 1 1/4" and I prefer the 1 1/4" for a lot of reasons. I have not seen any difference in swarming between them all. I have had more problems with comb that runs in and out and is difficult to remove without hurting bees with wider spacing and less of it with narrower spacing.

    It's true, if you think it will be difficult to remove the frames you could put in a follower on one side to give you some space. The followers may help with swarming more than the wider spacing because they create a beespace for clustering of field bees at night without them being in the middle of the brood nest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    224

    Post

    Thank you for the detailed info, F.P. and Michael. I did see the previous thread on shaving down end bars and will go back and review the comments there. Interesting to hear from those who are already utilizing this plan.

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