As you move from north to south mammals within the same species get smaller and reptiles get bigger as u go south. I was wondering if honey bees have any natural size gradient as you move from north to south ? Is 4.9 comb size only right for a certain laditude ?
Dee Lusby would be best to answer your question as she has been studing it for years. If you are asking is 4.9 right for you in NY? Yes. The old books (Wedmore, Cowan, Philips) state 5 worker cells to the inch which equals 5.0mm . These are northern beekeepers! So a range of about 4.85 to about 5.15 would be OK. But 4.9 has been chosen as this is where Dee and others have gained control over parasites in there bees.
Also elevation changes cell size too.
Is 4.9 comb size only right for a certain laditude ?
It is good for a wide range.
I was wondering if honey bees have any natural size gradient as you move from north to south ? Is 4.9 comb size only right for a certain laditude ?
Clayton has already given a very good reply, but I shall go deeper a little more for you.
There is roughly a 2% size difference for each degree of latitude from the Equator to the poles north to south. Also for each foot of elevation there is an altitude size differentiation also. For this please see Humbolts law.
If one were to plot old natural worker comb sizes to be found in texts measured the old rhombic way you would find that bees the world over range in size between about 4.6mm to a high of about 5.1, with most being in the middle range of 4.8mm -5.0mm sizing.
Since bees naturally fall out into a small, medium, and large sizing, keyed to the largest used worker comb sizing with the other then being smaller for more variability, then by using 4.9mm sizing you have bees ranging for the most part 4.7mm - 4.9mm in colonies once stabilized and spheres of dominance are in place in the field.
4.9mm size was choosen because it is in the natural spectrum of sizing with associated accompaning sizing of small and medium in the middle range.
Also we used 5.0mm - 5.1mm sizing while having a USDA contract on a technical exchange of information involving usage of natural small cell size for parasitic mite control and after 10 years approx on the program our colonies crashed due to the parasitic mites, then necessatating a retooling downward further into the natural spectrum of sizing to gain harmonious balance.
When this was then done to 4.9mm sizing, the drop of .1mm, success was achieved for control of parasitic mites. Also obtained was the natural control of all foul broods and chaulk broods etc (also all other secondary diseases)as an added benefit.
Worker comb is put in and while working up the colonies drawing foundation, all combs drawn with more then 10% drone cells on any one frame are culled. This then stimulates the chewing out of varroa for cleansing the broodnest of varroa mites in an out of control situation in both worker and drone brood.
Dee A. Lusby