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  1. #1
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    Aug 2002
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    Dee,

    There are a lot of people who are intimidated by the amount of work and the complexity of a shake-down regression. I understand that because I'm doing it and it is a commitment of time and energy and stress on the bees.

    I understand, do to your commitment to not use chemicals, why you recommend doing it in shake-downs so that it can be accomplished quickly. But for those who are not willing to do that, and intend to use alternate methods of mite control, don't you think they would benefit from simply using 4.9mm foundation? Eventually their bees would get regressed, especially if they culled brood comb in the spring when a lot of it is empty. With no real change in managment and no real commitment in time and energy they would eventually have a regressed hive, wouldn't they? Or am I missing something in my thinking.

    I just wanted to know your thoughts on this.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2002
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    I have a few questions about this also, I am trying to start a commercial operation and have so many questions/theories/practices to wander through and some experiments of my own.

    Sol Parker

  3. #3
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    Since Dee has not responded to this question, I would love to hear from people with regression experience on this question. Does anyone see a problem with just using 4.9mm foundation from now on and eventually ending up regressed? I am mostly interested from the point of view of what to recommend to a beginner who doesn't want to do shakedowns.

  4. #4
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    Dec 2000
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    crown point, NY, USA
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    Hi Micheal,

    I understand, do to your commitment to not use chemicals, why you recommend doing it in shake-downs so that it can be accomplished quickly.

    reply:

    Also to remove chem contaminated combs.

    . But for those who are not willing to do that, and intend to use alternate methods of mite control, don't you think they would benefit from simply using 4.9mm foundation?

    reply:

    Sure. One will have more cells per comb to increase population. The size of the bees will change in relation to the flora. I think some selection occurs too. So that when one does pull the chems out there will still be some lose.

    Eventually their bees would get regressed, especially if they culled brood comb in the spring when a lot of it is empty. With no real change in managment and no real commitment in time and energy they would eventually have a regressed hive, wouldn't they?

    reply:

    Yes. I could take awhile however maybe up to 5 years. Most beekeepers use some type of foundation so why not 4.9?

    I missing something in my thinking.

    reply:

    I see where your going. I don't have all the answers but understand what your getting at. One needs to make sure the begginer follows up with the comb change out and doesn't bail out and leave all the transition and peppered combs in. Basically just following through.

    Since Dee has not responded to this question

    reply:

    She's busy with spring chores at the moment, no work no eat deal as it is there livelihood.

    Does anyone see a problem with just using 4.9mm foundation from now on and eventually ending up regressed?

    reply:

    No. But reccommend the shakedown as first option for those more serious. Then progressive to the begginer who isn't so sure or is really green.

    Clay



  5. #5
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    Apr 2002
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    Berkshire, UK
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    Question

    Is it a responsible stance to be recommending 'small cell' culture to beginners at all?
    Would it not be best to wait until there is some evidence to support the efficacy of the method before encouraging widespread adoption. I fear that many beginners may become disillusioned with the craft because of the difficulties associated with, what may well prove to be, an ineffective procedure.

    Richard
    UK

  6. #6
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    I guess that's why I was asking the question. To see if I'm missing something before I go recommending it to beginners.

    For all of the advantages listed above by Clay, it makes sense to have the bees on comb the size they wish to build anyway. I'm just asking the question, if you just use 4.9mm foudation from now on, what is the downside?

    I'm still waiting to see what I think of it from a mite standpoint, but it still makes sense to me.

    I realize the Dee has a life, I was just hoping someone else might help.

    Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hello Everyone,

    It appears from my limited experience and very short season compared to the south, that the timing for drawing out good small cell is very limited up north. I have trouble getting more than about 6 frames at one time. Then the bees switch modes and storage sized cells become the norm. That's how fast the bee season progresses here.

    There is very little time between the need for feed and the beginning of some surplus which makes comb sorting and rotating a real pain. Sometimes it's less than a week and large colonies can easily starve to death.

    I tried to place the culled comb below an excluder in the bottom box so it would be emptied and I could move it out. The bees filled it with pollen! Now it's too precious to move out.

    When I visited the Lusbys operation a very different dynamics appears to take place. The bees have an abundance of empty comb. Frames could be rotated out very easily. The amount of surplus feed was minimal so the bees must be able to forage on something most of the year.

    Maybe a more gradual approach would work better up north as long as the wax remains clean. As much as I hate to divide the brood nest, I will be inserting some foundation there this year and gradually rotating stuff out.

    Dennis


  8. #8
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    The other question I'm asking here is not just is it a good idea to regress this way, but what if a beginner simply buys and uses 4.9mm foundation? Then maybe when they feel comfortable handling bees, they can worry about swapping out larger comb for new foundation etc., but what would be the downside to just always using 4.9mm foundation without worrying about the rest of it. This is from the point of view of advising a beginner who does not feel confident in all the concepts of regression, but just wants to raise bees.

    What is the downside to simply using 4.9mm foundation compared to using 5.4mm foundation without any other managment techniques involved?


  9. #9
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hi Michael and Everyone,

    With large cell plastic foundation timing and location were not important to correctly getting it drawn out. A super of foundation could be placed on a hive. Any foundation not drawn out would be finished the next season. Any size hive could do it in any kind of season.

    Going back 20 years when I used wax foundation, timing was somewhat important. If put on too early or too late the bees would chew out the foundation rather than draw it out. Not enough bees and it would warp or melt. All that was really needed was a good hive and a honey flow.

    Location in the hive and timing are very important to getting small cell foundation drawn out correctly. A frame of small cell foundation put in the wrong location will be reworked by the bees. A frame of small cell foundation at the right location at the wrong time will also not be drawn out correctly.

    It appears the bees want the small cell only in the center of the broodnest. It gets harder to draw the smaller stuff farther away from the broodnest. The bees prefer to draw larger cells and drone cells, then storage cells.

    It also appears that they are very efficient in their wax use. When a flow starts they will build storage cells which are larger than drone cells anywhere there's space. The traditional techniques of drawing small cell during a flow results in misdrawn comb.

    For a beginner the subtles of these shifting priorities can easily be missed and alot of misdrawn comb could be the result. Maybe it's not as important for the bees as for the beekeeper.:> ) It certianly could be better than no small cell at all. I have some evidence that a range of sizes could be important with the small cell in the center of the broodnest.

    These concepts are not hard to learn but would certianly seem to contradict what is generally written about getting foundation drawn.

    Why the bees draw out the larger stuff so easily most of the time is a mystery to me. Maybe the size is perceived as adequate for most situations, where the smaller stuff is perceived as good only for worker brood.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis




  10. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    From what I have observed using starter strips, the bees draw small cells for brood. They draw larger cells for storing honey. Maybe the draw 5.4mm foundation better for honey supers, because that's about the size they would build for honey if you gave them starter strips. I guess I don't see a down side to "misdrawn" combs. They will put honey in them, so what do I care? They will prefer nicely drawn smaller cells for the brood and if I keep putting frames into the brood chamber whenever it's honey bound or cull out the drone comb when it's too much, then they will draw nice small cells again. If we started all of this with 4.83mm foundation, why is 4.9mm not fine? I realize the first generation of bees won't like drawing it that small because they don't fit, but after that it shouldn't matter much.

    I'm musing, of course. I just don't see the down side.


  11. #11
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    Dec 2000
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    crown point, NY, USA
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    Hi Richard,

    Is it a responsible stance to be recommending 'small cell' culture to beginners at all?

    reply:

    Yes and no. To those who show an intrest in this off the get go, yes. The foundation is available to all in the USA. Those that just want a hive in the back yard and will put little work into the keeping of the bees, no.

    Would it not be best to wait until there is some evidence to support the efficacy of the method before encouraging widespread adoption.

    reply:

    There is "some " evidence. The lusby's, Bill Gafford's operation- bolling bee. Various beekeepers through out the US.

    I fear that many beginners may become disillusioned with the craft because of the difficulties associated with, what may well prove to be, an ineffective procedure.

    reply:

    It should be known to those interested the work involved. Also the cell size of 4.8 to 5.0 is perfectly fine for mellifera. Even if using this cell sizing where to fail in gaining parasitic control it is still fine for keeping bees. With Eriksons work when AHB's were placed upon 5.4mm cell sizing infestation levels increased and they began to crash. Upon placing back to 5.05 cell sizing they stabilized. This was done with EHB's and they also stabilized yet with a bit higher infestation rate. I belive that with some natural selection that the EHB's would do as well as the AHB's. This info is in back issues of ABJ.

    Clay

    NY- USA


  12. #12
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    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    Post

    Michael Bush wrote:

    I understand, do to your commitment to not use chemicals, why you recommend doing it in shake-downs so that it can be accomplished quickly. But for those who are not willing to do that, and intend to use alternate methods of mite control, don't you think they would benefit from simply using 4.9mm foundation? Eventually their bees would get regressed, especially if they culled brood comb in the spring when a lot of it is empty. With no real change in managment and no real commitment in time and energy they would eventually have a regressed hive, wouldn't they? Or am I missing something in my thinking.

    Reply:
    It depends upon what their alternative methods of mite control are, which would be a lot to the bees as pertains to wax, propolis, future natural outbreeding, and diet.

    Also the time frame would play a big part here as pertains especially to natural breeding and diet, which would also have effect upon the propolis and subsequently secondary disease.

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Jameson, MO USA
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    76

    Post

    Hi Michael
    This is basically the way I worked at regressing my bees. I just kept putting in new frames through the season (fortunately a fairly long one here in NW Misery).I rotated the bad ones (those drawn out with too much drone/screwball sized comb) out of the brood chamber, and replaced with new foundation. As the season progressed each hive began to develop better small-cell foundation, but none did it wonderfully well. The Russian Queens I got from Jester seemed to do the best. I figured that the screwball foundation would serve well as honey storage, and so it wasn't really costing me any more this way, as I needed to provide frames with foundation for that purpose anyway.

    This year I will put a full brood super (I know that is a contradiction of terms) of new 4.9 foundation under the hive and put the queen and some workers in it under an excluder as soon in the season as I can open them up. Is that a shakedown? I'm not sure I really understand if that is what Dee is describing, but if I understand her correctly, early in the season is best, and this will force them to build comb quickly, and hopefully, accurately. I am making Miller feeders now to place on the hives when I do this, to stimulate comb building and brood rearing.

    Any suggestions, anyone?

    Joel

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

    Post

    Michael Bush wrote:

    What is the downside to simply using 4.9mm foundation compared to using 5.4mm foundation without any other managment techniques involved?

    Reply:
    I myself haven't found any downside to simply using a natural spectrum 4.9mm broodnest foundation, since this is the majority of comb built in the wild.

    From this then the honeoy/drone combs follow in ratio.

    The only part that is frustrating is that on not fully regressed bees i.e. bees of mixed strain/race where subfamilies are of varing size, much transitional combs can be built that need constant culling until the beekeepers achieves full regression goal and uniformly mated queens by race/strain.

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby (P.S. sorry for taking so long to reply as other then trying to follow the OrganicBeekeeping discussion, I have not been too active lately due to a bad bout of walking Pneunomia the first half of Jan, then vbisitors from Sweden/Norway the second half of Jan and now Feb a very fast season coming on and little time to prepare.)


  15. #15
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    Aug 2002
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    I understand the delays. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  16. #16
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    Oct 2002
    Location
    Festus, MO
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    33

    Question

    I have a wild bee hive in my area and I hope to get a swarm from it this year. This hive has been there for at least 10 years and is a very strong hive. If I get the swarm can I start them out on 4.9mm cell size since this is what they must be making now? This hive must swarm since the hole in the tree isn't getting any larger.
    Bigearl

  17. #17
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    >I have a wild bee hive in my area and I hope to get a swarm from it this year. This hive has been there for at least 10 years and is a very strong hive. If I get the swarm can I start them out on 4.9mm cell size since this is what they must be making now?

    It's hard to say what size the bees where when they moved there and how much comb they have replaced since then. They might be on 4.9mm cell size. I would start them on it anyway and see what happens. Measure the comb they draw and see what they do. For instance if they were 5.4mm (typical enlarged bees from a hive) they probably would have drawn something between 5.2mm and 5.1mm for the brood nest. If they didn't replace much of it the coccoons probably would have regressed it quite a bit. I don't have any actual measurments on this kind of regression (e.g. how many cocoons does it take to make the inside diameter of the cell the equivilant of 4.9mm?) But my guess is they are close. On the other hand they may have already been feral bees when they swarmed and were already 4.9mm.

    > This hive must swarm since the hole in the tree isn't getting any larger.

    I'd set a swarm trap or a bait hive with the bait pheromes in it near there and see what happens. I've been checking into bait hives and they are remarkably effective.

    If they will let you cut the tree and you are inclinded to do it, then you could hive the whole thing, but frankly you might get as good a results by keeping a bait hive there. You might get more than one swarm a year with no work on your part other than checking the bait hive occasionally and not kill any bees or disrupt them. You might have a steady supply of feral survivor bees.



    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited February 14, 2003).]

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Festus, MO
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    Post

    Thanks Mike, I would not want to distrub the main hive but I will set up my swarm trap close by.
    Earl

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