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  1. #1
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    I just measured the cells in my observation hive. They have a 4.9mm starter strip and are building natural comb withoug foundation. These are Buckfasts that were raised on 5.4mm foundation put in the observation hive with a with a Russian queen. It's hard to be sure with bees still on the comb but I took my best measurments on several places and came up pretty consistently with 5.15mm. (ten cells were 5.15cm). This is a drop of 1.5mm in one generation. I'm begining to think I can get to 4.9 in the next generation. In fact, in 10 days when the brood starts emerging from the 5.15mm cells I could put some 4.9mm foundation in and see if they will draw it.

    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited August 18, 2002).]

  2. #2
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    How wide were your starter strips? Last year I tried to regress one colony this way, gave them strips of 5mm (smallest I could get) an inch wide, and they drew them out at 5.25mm. This year, I shook down that colony, and gave a swarm the same treatment. I was more generous with the foundation this time, and alternated full frames with two-inch starter strips. This was pulled out at 5mm in both cases. I have to conclude that the amount of foundation in the hive will have an influence on the size of comb drawn onto strips.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  3. #3
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    Michael:

    Robert is giving you good information from his personal experiences in sizing down.

    It is good what you have accomplished so far!
    for the bees size down .1mm to .2mm each regression as there are limits as to how fast they can proceed each jump.

    Now, you must know that bees have both a short term and a long term memory. The more smaller foundation you give to them, the more they have to key to with short term memory for better drawing out of wax foundation. This is what Robert was explaining to you from his experiences.

    Wait for a good brood turn and "OLD" bees died off (Key feature to going further now) so you only have bees born on the smaller to draw the new smaller combs you want.

    You do it too fast and you will have bees born of two sizes trying to draw out combs, and could make a mess in trying to get what you want and foil success.

    So watch and wait and time times for bees of new smaller sizing to do the work.

    Very good so far!

    Best regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  4. #4
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    I was wondering about what will happen when bees of two sizes are drawing the next one.

    So you think if I give them strips again and it's a mixed batch they'll make a mixture of sizes of cells?

    If I give them a full sheet of 4.9mm do you think they might do all right with it?

    You think I should let the larger bees die off first, but what do I give them to draw for now? Right now they are in an observation hive with three deep frames of 4.9mm starter strip. What would happen with the full sheets of 4.9mm with the large bees? Would they draw it decently enough to be worth giving it to them or will they just tear it up and redo it so badly it's not worth it?

    As I said once before in a post, I had some bees once that drew some really strange comb on regular foundation. Looked like a crazy quilt with the angles of the cells running every which way. I guess I'm afraid that's what they'll do with the 4.9mm. Also I've used 7/11 a lot in the past and they tear it up and rebuild it into drone comb, so I know if they don't like it, they might do something I don't want with it.

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing your experience.

  5. #5
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    I had bees of two sizes drawing 4.9mm recently when I got some of the experimental plastic and needed to get it on a hive. They did far better than expected, with only a few unusable cells. Most of the comb is fine. Maybe I was lucky. One thing I noticed was that the plastic was being pulled a little better than the wax I mixed it with.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  6. #6
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    Michael:
    You wrote:
    I was wondering about what will happen when bees of two sizes are drawing the next one.
    So you think if I give them strips again and it's a mixed batch they'll make a mixture of sizes of cells?

    reply:
    One thing here is, there is a tendency on the part of beekeepers to rush! Now you know the bees will live for 6-8 weeks and then be gone. You also know you have new bees coming out sized and sizing down to replace the larger ones.

    Why make life difficult for you just to have something to do? unless you want to watch and see and then add a little more extra work!

    You know already the limitations of the larger in sizing down, for you already have their results. Why not give the smaller a chance by themselves, and not muddy the waters with larger bees polluting the outcome you really want?

    You next wrote:
    If I give them a full sheet of 4.9mm do you think they might do all right with it?

    Reply:
    Please see above! Then place you bets. But I think it best to give the bees a decent chance to be able to do it right and not complicate matters for them.

    In the field they would swarm out of a bigger hive scenario and size down once. Then shift queens and maybe swarm again and do it all over. This though takes time.

    Your forcing the issue is doing what? compared to a realistic letting go of the bigger and using the smaller you really want?

    You further wrote:
    You think I should let the larger bees die off first, but what do I give them to draw for now? Right now they are in an observation hive with three deep frames of 4.9mm starter strip.

    Reply:
    Just let them be for now. They made the smaller combs the bees are sizing down on. Bee happy! They know what is happening or they would not have tried to go this far.

    Michael added:
    What would happen with the full sheets of 4.9mm with the large bees? Would they draw it decently enough to be worth giving it to them or will they just tear it up and redo it so badly it's not worth it?

    Reply:
    Well, it's your money with the foundation.

    You really know what is best now.

    You playing or doing this for real? For learning experience to do it right in the field!

    Michael finished saying:
    As I said once before in a post, I had some bees once that drew some really strange comb on regular foundation. Looked like a crazy quilt with the angles of the cells running every which way. I guess I'm afraid that's what they'll do with the 4.9mm. Also I've used 7/11 a lot in the past and they tear it up and rebuild it into drone comb, so I know if they don't like it, they might do something I don't want with it.

    Reply:
    So if the comb is too big for the bees they drone it you are saying as pertains to 7/11.Also with regular foundation youve used they squirel it every which way at times.

    Yep, sounds like your bees in your area are trying to tell you something.

    But are you patient enough to give them a chance until the old bigger bees die off and the newer comb building ones are in place to do the job right.

    To regress properly you need a 60 day waiting period from emerging brood.

    That's why regression is hard for some beekeepers with limited time.

    Regression is only best in early spring, following swarming, or following changeover of broodnest and going into winter. Now you and I know you can best draw combs only following early spring and swarming (or artificial shakedown to simulate swarming).

    Have patience Michael. You are doing fine.

    But in the end. It really is your choice.

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby (keep asking, for that is how one learns. Also keep trying, that is how one sees results.)


  7. #7
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    Dee,

    I would assume, after all is said and done, that you're suggesting I just leave in the starter strips and let them do whatever they do. I'm rather enjoying watching what they do on their own anyway. I do have to give them something to work and they will be a mixture of different sized bees when they draw it no matter what I do. I was not so much trying to speed up the process (although that would be nice) as I was worried that the consistency of what they would build without foundation for a patter, and a mixture of sizes of bees might be more inconsistent than if I gave them foundation as a pattern and the small and large bees had a pattern to work with. Since you have much more experience at this than I do, I would gladly follow your advice. I've experimented a lot, but not on cell sizes (other than standard foundation sizes of worker, drone and 7/11).

    I have shaken down all of my hives now and hope to rebuild them by winter. I have enough deeps full of honey to give them if I need to. But if I feed them honey I'm hoping they can stock it away quite quickly.

    I'd like them to start out the spring in smaller combs if I can.

    What do you think of just using starter strips all the time? I have been pleased to see about half a frame of nicely drawn worker comb with only two drone cells so far. If I keep regressing on starter stips alone will they get to 4.9mm just about as fast?

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

    Michael

  8. #8
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    Michael:

    You wrote:
    I would assume, after all is said and done, that you're suggesting I just leave in the starter strips and let them do whatever they do. I'm rather enjoying watching what they do on their own anyway. I do have to give them something to work and they will be a mixture of different sized bees when they draw it no matter what I do. I was not so much trying to speed up the process (although that would be nice) as I was worried that the consistency of what they would build without foundation for a patter, and a mixture of sizes of bees might be more inconsistent than if I gave them foundation as a pattern and the small and large bees had a pattern to work with.

    Reply:
    Thought you said you had a good sizing down in progress to 5.1mm? But 4.9mm whole sheets or even half would help, though you might ruin a sheet or two in the process, until fully regressed down.

    You also wrote:
    Since you have much more experience at this than I do, I would gladly follow your advice. I've experimented a lot, but not on cell sizes (other than standard foundation sizes of worker, drone and 7/11).

    reply:
    I recognize the old 7/11 name. It was first used in the 1960s and was mid-way sized between workers and drones for making cut comb honey. Wonder if they've changed it any since first sold. How do you measure it's linear cells in 10 for distance? Just curious!

    You also wrote:
    I have shaken down all of my hives now and hope to rebuild them by winter. I have enough deeps full of honey to give them if I need to. But if I feed them honey I'm hoping they can stock it away quite quickly.

    reply:
    You not feeding frames then from bigger stuff, you extracting and then feeding back I take it? They should be able to sock it away with a good flow simulated. At least here they do. Don't know about where you are.

    You added:
    I'd like them to start out the spring in smaller combs if I can.

    Well, you've certainly made a start at it.

    You further stated:
    What do you think of just using starter strips all the time? I have been pleased to see about half a frame of nicely drawn worker comb with only two drone cells so far. If I keep regressing on starter stips alone will they get to 4.9mm just about as fast?

    Reply:
    Actually with foundation they will go faster, especially in the later parts of summer. They can use the wax on the foundation sheet, instead of having to make it themselves.Helps to build up combs faster.But this decision is up to you. They are your bees and you are leading them.

    Take care for now!

    Chow:

    Dee A. Lusby


  9. #9
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    Dee's right about the last point, they go far faster with full sheets, and I find I get a lot more drone using strips. It's OK while you're sizing down, but I aim to work them out and replace with combs drawn from full sheets over the next 2-3 years.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  10. #10
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    >I recognize the old 7/11 name. It was first used in the 1960s and was mid-way sized between workers and drones for making cut comb honey. Wonder if they've changed it any since first sold. How do you measure it's linear cells in 10 for distance? Just curious!

    The 7/11 is 5.6mm a cell (5.6 cm for 10). Not much bigger than standard brood, but the queen doesn't like to lay in them and will lay drones if she does.

    I always liked running a hive with no queen excluder and this allowed me to do that. Although occasionaly the queen would get it in her head and lay a patch of brood in it.

    I'm guessing in the "progressing" they upped the size until they got to the 5.6 and found out she wouldn't lay, so they backed off to where the queen was happy to lay, which was 5.4.

  11. #11
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    Michael wrote:
    The 7/11 is 5.6mm a cell (5.6 cm for 10). Not much bigger than standard brood, but the queen doesn't like to lay in them and will lay drones if she does.

    Reply:
    Aaah, not what I remember for sizing when dad used to use it.

    You further wrote:
    I'm guessing in the "progressing" they upped the size until they got to the 5.6 and found out she wouldn't lay, so they backed off to where the queen was happy to lay, which was 5.4.

    reply:
    Yes, they certainly did progress in upping size.

    You go to: http://www.beesouce.com/pov/lusby/ look up papers on Roy Grout, and Baudoux for references and I think you will get a good idea of what has been done the past 100 years or so.

    Regards,

    Dee-



  12. #12
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    I agree, it does seem like 7/11 should be bigger. If worker is 8 (800 cells per square decimeter?) and drone is 6 (600 cells per square decimeter?) then 7/11 (700 cells with 11 left over?) should be about half way in between. But 5.6mm is what the foundation I have right now measures, and it's labled 7/11.

  13. #13
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    Michael wrote:
    I agree, it does seem like 7/11 should be bigger. If worker is 8 (800 cells per square decimeter?) and drone is 6 (600 cells per square decimeter?) then 7/11 (700 cells with 11 left over?) should be about half way in between. But 5.6mm is what the foundation I have right now measures, and it's labled 7/11.

    Reply:
    Yep it is, but is this the original 7/11 sizing? How have measurements changed over the decades? Most of today's beekeepers don't even know there was a big battle on the proper way to measure combs in the early 1900s.

    Beekeepers used to measure combs with rhombic measurements in the field. Keeping to rhombic measuring, the math would work out, but today somehow it doesn't. Things have changed.

    YOu can take 5.4mm for 10 cells and get 800 with USDA measurements, and take the old rhombic measurements and 5.0mm does the same thing if I am remembering correctly here.

    regards,

    Dee A. Lusby


  14. #14
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    Acutally, when I was using 7/11 25 years ago or so, I almost never had a queen lay in it, but now they seem to want to lay some drone in it. Of course, if it was larger then you would think it would be the other way around. I never measured it then, but I might have a piece of it around somewhere from back then. I should look around and see if I can find it and measure it.

  15. #15
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    Michael wrote:
    Acutally, when I was using 7/11 25 years ago or so, I almost never had a queen lay in it, but now they seem to want to lay some drone in it.

    Reply:
    So they perceive the comb as drone brood for them. Could this suggest an upsizing of worker cells then with foundation over the years?

    You also wrote:
    Of course, if it was larger then you would think it would be the other way around. I never measured it then, but I might have a piece of it around somewhere from back then. I should look around and see if I can find it and measure it.

    Reply:
    Yes do check around for a piece. How many different types of foundation and manufactures of foundation can you find if you check around? How many differnet you got in your colonies that maybe measure difference confusing your bees and queens trying to lay?

    We found over (7) when we looked. All those different sizes in colonies. Which is worker and drone to the bees then?What do they do with the rest in management? Stress, stress, stress is all we could picture for our bees and problems galore arising.

    Regards,

    Dee

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