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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Kent, WA
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    10

    Post

    I have posted a question on sell size and bee resistance to pest and disease on my local forum, Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, but the only response I have gotten is that if natural cell size was better then 5.4mm then the native bees wouldn't have died out with the introduction of mites. But what I'm curious about, are the native bees of the U.S. at 4.9mm cell size(bumblebees etc.) or some other size. The native bees around my place are still alive and well to the best of my knowledge, large numbers on the plants at my place but I would still like to start a couple of hives with as little poison as neccessary. The research I have done on this site and others points to smaller cell size being a factor in bee health.

    Is there anyone on this forum from my neck of the woods with an opinion against this point of view or do you think I am on the right track?

    Thanks
    Darcy Snodgrass

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Darcy:

    You wrote:
    But what I'm curious about, are the native bees of the U.S. at 4.9mm cell size(bumblebees etc.) or some other size.

    Reply:
    Actually in the true wild honeybees range from average 4.7mm to 5.1mm with the majority below 4.9mm, the upper half of the spectrum being more single hybrids in transition zones.

    Even as far north as Sweden honeybees have been found as small as 4.6mm surviving for years and years since WWII.

    I would imagine (IMO) that for the most part absconding swarms from domestic colonies are the ones normally seen not surviving and dying due to parasitic mites and secondary diseases. Just don't have enough time to get smaller before they get blowed-up by the problems!

    Bumblebees is altogether different along with sizing.

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    7,923

    Post

    Does the smaller cell size seem to have any effect on other pests and diseases besides varroa? I know I have read quite a bit of info on varroa control with the smaller cell size, but am having trouble finding any info regarding other bee problems. Is it possible to be totally chemical free? It would be great if so.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,384

    Post

    I used to see a lot of feral hives and now I haven't seen many at all. There are some small black honey bees around my place that I'm pretty sure are feral. Kind of look like the caucasians but darker and smaller. Everything else looks like domestic bees. Now that I know about cell size, it does help in identifying the difference between true feral bees and domestic, or first generation feral bees.

    I have wondered why they all died if small cells are good, you'd think they'd mostly be that. But it's true that domestic ones are constantly escaping to the wild and that may have been a primary source of feral bees in the past that now are not making it.

    Of course if I go to small cell and my bees do well I will assume it was the small cells that did it, and it could just be the weather, genetics etc.

    Post hoc ergo procto hoc.
    After this therefore because of this, is the primary error in logic, but it makes a good basis for a theory. I hope it proves out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

    Post

    Dragonfly wrote:
    Does the smaller cell size seem to have any effect on other pests and diseases besides varroa?

    Reply:
    Yes, trachael mites, AFB, EFB, para-foul, and especially chaulk.

    Also IMPOV, I feel that when we can get someone in a beetle area with enough bees fully regressed onto 4.9, we will also see it controlling beetles, due to greater number of bes produced changing the division of labor within colonies, thus giving the beekeepers more bees to control this problem also.

    You further wrote:
    I know I have read quite a bit of info on varroa control with the smaller cell size, but am having trouble finding any info regarding other bee problems. Is it possible to be totally chemical free? It would be great if so.

    Reply:
    That's because there isn't much research done to date by scientists on small cell foundation and how it works in the field. But I think you will find the information will be coming in the future as the movement grows and it's usage expands.

    As for is it possible to be totally chemically free? Well, we use no chemicals, drugs, acids, essential oils, FGMO, powdered sugar, etc and are holding at approx 700 colonies and with an El Nino coming in this fall, trying to get ready to expand by putting more equipment together. We're into our 6th year going on 7 since shaking down our colonies onto 4.9mm foundation.

    Sincerely,

    Dee A. Lusby

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Michael Bush wrote:
    I used to see a lot of feral hives and now I haven't seen many at all. There are some small black honey bees around my place that I'm pretty sure are feral. Kind of look like the caucasians but darker and smaller.

    Reply:
    Yep, we got them here also. Funny thing is nowone can identify them. We know they are similar to the small black bees in San Diego area also in S. Calif and DNA done even says they are similar to caucasian. But similar does not in my mind mean "same".

    But no one seems to want to label "Native bees". Yet, this is what I believe they are!
    Surely, something to think about.

    Michael further wrote:
    Everything else looks like domestic bees. Now that I know about cell size, it does help in identifying the difference between true feral bees and domestic, or first generation feral bees.

    Reply:
    Yep, it certainly does. ONce you train your eye to see, you just keep seeing more differences. Both awsome and wonderful at the same time to look at and ponder.

    Michael also wrote:
    I have wondered why they all died if small cells are good, you'd think they'd mostly be that. But it's true that domestic ones are constantly escaping to the wild and that may have been a primary source of feral bees in the past that now are not making it.

    Reply:
    If beekeeper keep ketching them and placing them back onto enlarged combs, the selection pressure by man is horrific towards the artificial large. Especially with spray and treatment programs all around and killing or trapping of feral colonies.

    Michael added in writing:
    Of course if I go to small cell and my bees do well I will assume it was the small cells that did it, and it could just be the weather, genetics etc.

    Reply:
    Yes, the small cell comes first Michael, but then think aobut how it changes mating, foraging for food,foraging for propolis, normal minute changes in the bees by latitude and altitude variance, and yes weather/climate plays a part i.e. tropical vs temperate zones. So, you will be having much to think about and rationalize.

    Michael ended:
    Post hoc ergo procto hoc.
    After this therefore because of this, is the primary error in logic, but it makes a good basis for a theory. I hope it proves out.

    Reply:
    Yep!!

    Best regards,

    Dee A. Lusby


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    I suppose it's possible that there is a native bee that was overlooked. First of all, it may be flourishing because the competition with the domestic bees has lessened. I am curious about these small black bees. Has anyone tracked some back to a tree? Has anyone hived any to observe them? I am tempted to try to find their hive and steal a few bees and some brood and see if I can get them to raise a queen. My luck it will be 200 feet up a tree with a hole the size of a bottle cap. I would be interested in anything anyone else knows or has observed about them. Seems like they are surviving well, and maybe they would be good to keep.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    Post

    Dee- that's impressive results you have had. Thanks for the info. Now, I guess I'll have to try it for myself, but I guess it's a slow process. Back to the drawing board!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

    Post

    Michael wrote:
    I am curious about these small black bees. Has anyone tracked some back to a tree? Has anyone hived any to observe them? I am tempted to try to find their hive and steal a few bees and some brood and see if I can get them to raise a queen.

    Seems like they are surviving well, and maybe they would be good to keep.

    reply:
    Well, sounds like you have found some survivor bees, they seem different and you think they would be good to keep.

    A new stock line to work up in numbers then?

    What could be better, surviror bees and they are free for the taking if you can just get to them.

    Best regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    Here's the only other reference I've seen to a native American black bee:

    it's at this site: http://sunsite.tus.ac.jp/pub/academi...ping/Jan01.txt

    "My two favourite books are a 1908 edition of ABCs and XYZs of Beekeeping
    written by AI Root himself, and a 1917 Edition of First Lessons in
    Beekeeping by CP Dadant.

    It is interesting to note that these books refer to the American black bee
    as inferior to the European strains strictly based on the size of the bee.
    The reason it is interesting is due to the fact that European strains are
    natively the same size as the American but have been bred larger by a slow
    but steadily forced enlargement of brood comb cells. The European strain
    have an average native cell size of 4.85 mm and the Americans having 4.82
    mm. It can also be noted that American bees are/were better suited to
    beekeeping in a America due to their nativity, and being already inoculated"

    Does anyone else know of references to a "Native black bee" in America?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    California- bay area
    Posts
    188

    Post

    I have been seeing a smaller black bee similar to your you have described, but it has two red stripes, the stripes aren't easily visible until the bee bends down into a flower. Is this the "American black bee"?

    Joseph

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

    Post

    Joseph:

    You wrote:
    I have been seeing a smaller black bee similar to your you have described, but it has two red stripes, the stripes aren't easily visible until the bee bends down into a flower. Is this the "American Black Bee"?

    Reply:
    Hard to say without looking at them. I know what we are seeing are small and black, and bees have white hairs on workers tergits, but queens are like tigertails, but with black and reddish/brownish bands bands between the tergits when expanded. Drones wings are longer then abdomen. Older bees when robbing are shiny black after pulling each others hairs out.

    Chow:

    Dee-

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    The ones I see don't have any red stripes.

    I always wondered about the shiny black robbers. So they get their hair pulled out? I have observed regular bees ending up this way from robbing, but had no theory on how that happened.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

    Post

    Michael:

    You wrote:
    The ones I see don't have any red stripes.

    Reply:
    I wouldn't actually call them red stripes, nor actually brown stripes either. Sort of a mutted mixture inbetween the tergits where they come together.

    Michael, ever look at a tootsie roll candy where it's dark with the segements and then you pull them apart and the ends then get lighter? Sort of this way with the band colour alternating with a reddish brownish colour sort of. Alternating colors with majority black. Tigertailish!

    you also wrote:
    I always wondered about the shiny black robbers. So they get their hair pulled out? I have observed regular bees ending up this way from robbing, but had no theory on how that happened.

    Reply:
    Had some two frame obseration hives outside and had panels that went over the glass. When I wanted to observe I would take the masonite panels off and watch the bees. Since the two framers were hinged, I would also unhinge tem and watch inside with them slightly apart also.

    You ever see bees pulling at each other and grabbing hold with mouth parts. Hair is a great thing to grab besides legs, wings, etc in rolling fights inside and outside and at hive entrances. Bees are brutal little fighters when they joust and roll around this way. They are there for the honey and pollen and not to get killed, especially when they get into a dead out and many are lobbying for the same food.Also Hair gets pulled out later in grooming to get that sticky honey off after like wallowing in a mud pit, but instead here it's honey robbing, etc.

    Haven't you seen bees covered and dirty from robbing bringing home the goodies? Then they got to clean up.Watch them close robbing with goggles, it's a regular frenzy and the wrestling is fascenating to watch.

    Sincerely,

    Dee A. Lusby


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,384

    Post

    I have watched the wrestling, but I usually had on a veil becuase they're usually not in a good mood under those circumstances. Never noticed the hair pulling. I did recently get an observation hive and hope NOT to observe robbing, but if it's happening I guess I'd like to watch.

    Yesterday I pulled the last of the old supers off of the hives and was stacking them by my back door. They were only there about five minutes and thousands of bees showed up. The supers were sealed up but the bees were all fighting over them anyway. I'd never seen anything like it. They'd be in little balls of multiple bees the size of a golf ball wrestling around. I moved all of the equipment and still couldn't get them to leave. They were buzzing around there until dark.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

    Post

    Michael:

    You wrote:
    The supers were sealed up but the bees were all fighting over them anyway. I'd never seen anything like it. They'd be in little balls of multiple bees the size of a golf ball wrestling around.

    Reply:
    Fighting over the smell of honey? did they manage to get to any?

    You further wrote:
    I moved all of the equipment and still couldn't get them to leave. They were buzzing around there until dark.

    Reply:
    Did they manage to slip into the supers as you moved them and got seperation here and there between the supers?

    Size of Golf Balls rolling around and jaws holding and pulling at everything then! Wow.

    Bet it was a sight.

    This the last of the big combs off now, leaving the small cell size ones on?

    How goes the war effort? They done buzzing yet? How are your bees in the field doing?

    How many different cell sizes did you manage to locate?

    Best regards for now,

    Dee-


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    >Fighting over the smell of honey? did they manage to get to any?
    No.

    >Did they manage to slip into the supers as you moved them and got seperation here and there between the supers?
    A few (less than a dozen) probably got in as I was moving everything.

    >Bet it was a sight.
    It was strange.

    >This the last of the big combs off now, leaving the small cell size ones on?
    Yes, it's the last of the big cell combs. I wondered if part of it wasn't them feeling a bit homeless when I stole the last of it.

    >How goes the war effort? They done buzzing yet?
    They settled down that night and it hasn't happened again.

    >How are your bees in the field doing?
    They're not taking the honey I'm feeding them as fast as I expected. I went out and looked at it today. It's very thick, kind of congealed and turning to sugar. I wonder if that would slow them down that much?

    >How many different cell sizes did you manage to locate?

    Haven't had time. I've been extracting all of this that I pulled off.

    I'm in a delimma about what to do with the supers. Usually I'd put them on top of an inner cover on the hives and let them clean them up, but with so little comb of their own, I'm afraid they'll just move into them.

    Any ideas?

    Also my observation hive got robbed yesterday while I was at work. They cleaned out the feeder (which I had just filled with 12 oz of honey) and all of their stores. I'm not sure what to do to help them. I shut the entrance up for now. I thought if I closed them off for a day maybe the robbers would find another source somewhere. It's probably my stronger hive.


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