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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    6,080

    Post

    In converting over to small cell, what is the size of drone brood when regression is complete? Is there a requirement to cull drone brood on small cell in mite control.

    I'm asking this question when thinking about the new hives I install on full sheets of foundation and no/little drone cells. Seems it is when drone brood increases after the first year that more mites are present.

    If you have to cull small cell foundation(?)
    as with regular foundation, what is the advantage of small cell vs just culling/replacing old standard foundation as drone brood increases. I ask this question in searching the best path to travel. FGMO, small cell, SBB, chemicals, genetics, feral, etc. Seems mind-blowing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,213

    Post

    According to Dee Lusby you should cull comb that has more than 10% drone. The bees will build it the right size, but by my calculations natrual size drone cells are about 6.0mm

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    You wrote:
    Is there a requirement to cull drone brood on small cell in mite control.

    Reply:
    Yes there is. As you regress your bees and work the newly drawn foundation back up to drawnout combs, you need to cull the drone comb to no more then 10% on any one frame. Then place the better drawn out worker combs (free of drone cells) in the center of the broodnest and the ones culled to 10% drone on either side of this centered.

    You further wrote:
    If you have to cull small cell foundation(?)
    as with regular foundation, what is the advantage of small cell vs just culling/replacing old standard foundation as drone brood increases.

    Reply:
    With small cell and culling drone cells to 10% on any one frame you can gain two advantages.

    1) The varroa will be hard pressed to be able to reproduce in the smaller worker cells due to less Juvenile growth hormone present, to trigger their reproduction, as any female mites enter and take their first blood meal.

    2) By culling to 10% drone cell levels in working combs back up, you will help to trigger the chewing out of varroa in both worker and drone cells throughout the active beekeeing year by the bees themselves automatically.

    You also wrote:
    I ask this question in searching the best path to travel. FGMO, small cell, SBB, chemicals, genetics, feral, etc. Seems mind-blowing.

    Reply:
    Yes, it does seem to be that way.

    Small cell by the way also helps the bees to have a better diet, by making the bees fit smaller plants better for pollenating. It also makes for better outbreeding and better genetics by increasing variability within the bees themselves.

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    I THINK the drone comb in a 4.9 hive should be around 5.9mm; I'm sure I found the info out there somewhere but I lost all my bookmarked pages (and a lot else) in a computer crash a few months ago and have no idea where to look. I remember because there is a 5.9mm mould out there somewhere in the UK and I had the vague idea of tracking it down and getting some foundation made off it so I could try it for small cell drone comb. Then I decided that a bit of drone on each frame would probably work better than a single frame of drone, and changed my mind.

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

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Hi Dee,

    I have started this year 3 hives on 4.9mm foundation strips or whole frame (with packages).
    I have found that those hives working on strips of foundation are make a lot of drone cells (up to 30 or more % of the frame). Those started on whole frame 4.9mm foundation make much less drone cell (and are drawing directly to 4.8-4.9 mm cells for the most part).
    Last year on hives built on 5.4 mm foundation I saw very little drone cells.

    Then, I wonder:
    1) Why do the bees make so much drone foundation when left to build it from strips?
    2) How does one cull to less than 10% drone? Do you remove the whole frame and put fresh foundation or strips? Do you cut out the drone cell section with a knife?
    3) Should one kill the excess drones if left to hatch by now?

    Thanks a lot

    jorge

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi Jorge,

    1) Why do the bees make so much drone foundation when left to build it from strips?

    reply:

    They have no blue print and are still struggling in regression. This is normal the first year especially off strip. This is why I recommend full sheets of foundation as I've been there done that.

    2) How does one cull to less than 10% drone? Do you remove the whole frame and put fresh foundation or strips? Do you cut out the drone cell section with a knife?

    reply:

    You first identify the comb and place it to the outside of the box and allow the brood to emerge, this is different than drone trapping, no bees are destroyed. In this position the bees will probably put honey there and will not use for brood. But if they do then you need to place above excluder. You can let the bees fill with honey and harvest it by brush or just get it out once brood is out. Once out replace with strip or foundation ( I recommend the later). But don't rush as you need to build up the population each step. As for cutting out the drone you could do this. But on an older comb this is tough cutting and no garantee that the bees won't put drone back again.

    3) Should one kill the excess drones if left to hatch by now?

    reply:

    I have mixed feeling here. I don't like to kill the drones. But if it will cause a severe rise in varroa population then maybe. I have found that this is one of the major reasons for loss the first season. That and improper regression. All that extra drone comb that you just can't work out the first year. Do what you feel is best.

    I am making a page that show good and bad comb on my web page so others know what to look for. Only one picture there of an OK comb being drawn(big and close up so you can see it real well), others will follow soon. Went to take the pics yesterday but battries went dead go figure :>(. supposed to rain next few days so will try in a couple days. Go to: http://wave.prohosting.com/clay2720/ then hit the 4.9mm comb drawing link.


    Clay


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Dear Clay,

    Thanks VERY much for your advice. I did not consider the suggestion of using full foundation (i did not read about it) until now. But from the little experience I got this month it makes tons of sense. The frames with full foundation are beatiful and drawn at close to 4.9mm on the first pass (some even below that, which surprised me ver y much!).

    The strips make a big drone mess. When will the making of small cells out of strips stabilize? That is, when is the use of strips recommended during this process of regression?

    Also, is it a good idea to move the drone-covered frames to the outside even if they sit in the middle of the brood? I understand that it is stressful to them to brake the pattern they are making. Then again, I wonder if this pattern of having lots of drone in the middle is any less stressful to them. The poor workers are working their little behinds off to find mostly lazy drones.

    Jorge

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Clay, your "4.9mm comb drawing" page is not working properly.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi Jorge,

    Thanks VERY much for your advice. I did not consider the suggestion of using full foundation (i did not read about it) until now.

    reply:

    Yes. I only recommend strips for those that can't afford to buy lots of foundation or who insist.

    The frames with full foundation are beatiful and drawn at close to 4.9mm on the first pass (some even below that, which surprised me ver y much!).

    reply:

    Very good.

    The strips make a big drone mess.
    reply:

    This is what I have found and why I abandoned them the first season.

    When will the making of small cells out of strips stabilize?

    reply:

    This is a huge question. First let me say this. When regressing bees you do NOT change the genetics they are the same you still have the up sized genetics in there and the bees break down into different caste sizes that why you see bigger bees even when the bees are fully regressed. So when you start you are rather corralling the bees onto 4.9 to gain survivablity using window of opportunity and manipultion techniques to rather trick or work with natural inclinations to get seed combs. You will find that at certain times the bees won't draw 4.9 well at all. The window for comb drawing is then closed. You need to work with this timing as the genetics have NOT changed the propensity for large cell is still there. After stabilization on 4.9 which takes a few years you will still fight this inclination. What comes next is a breeders game and not all can do this. You will need numbers and start selection of colonies with small casting setting up drone mothers to rather weed out the large cell breeding. Remember it took 100 years to get here so it will take a lot of dedication to undo what has been done and won't happen over night to actually change genetics. So for the small guy one should aim for regression alone and just work up via comb sizing. You will have to always work with the bees but should get better in time (which I am seeing). But you will have to go all out as a breeder with probably a life long commitment to undo things so you get are locked in and do as you say. Now when Dee discusses things you must remember that the Lusby's been at this for years and years with large mating influnce in there area. Just lots of work for those crazy enough to do it. I know this all seems daunting but its real life and well, is daunting.

    Also, is it a good idea to move the drone-covered frames to the outside even if they sit in the middle of the brood?
    reply:

    Its OK but move them when the brood is capped. They will have been fed then and require less attention from the bees. Don't worry bees been dealing with there keepers for along time now:> )

    Clay

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi Jorge or others,

    Clay, your "4.9mm comb drawing" page is not working properly.

    reply:

    What is not right? Is the page coming up blank or not at all? Need your input to help fix it. Comes up fine for me but I have it on my hard drive. Kinda suck as I spent a good bit of time on it.

    Clay


  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    South Mississippi
    Posts
    128

    Post

    Clay,
    I went to your page great picture. I am looking forward to the additional pictures. I found nothing wrong with the page worked like charm for me.

    Marty

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Clay,

    this is what I get when I try toget in there (I use Netscape ... perhaps it's relatedto this?):

    <html>
    <head><title>4.9mm comb drawing</title></head><body bgcolor="FEDCBA" link="FF0000" vlink="00FF00"><center><h1>4.9mm comb drawing</h1></center><hr><br>
    <p>There are two effective methods I have found to regress bees to 4.9mm cell sizing (or natural cell sizing). The first is a complete colony shakedown. The


  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    South Mississippi
    Posts
    128

    Post

    Jorge,
    It may be I am not sure. I use IE 6.0. It might be some setting you have disabled in options.

    Marty

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hmmmmmmmmmm..............your not supposed to be able to see the source code (html) that is quite odd. Could be do to netscape as I use IE also. Just not sure as you are seeing the code. Very weird as you see the homepage fine but not the other. Will have to keep working on this.

    Clay

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Clay, your replay left me thinking that perhaps the best I can do is to go for a long walk through the woods around here and look for a feral hive, then go and hive it and later use the queen to start a new stock to requeen everyone i have.
    The task seems rather daunting and it makes me wonder if i should have embarked in it this soon in my beekeeping "career". Anyway, I did and I will keep trying but it made me cringe today when I went out to cull some of those frames that have more than half drone cells with eggs and larvae in them.

    I have another question now: So far I am dealing with brood boxes. Assuming I get to supering, is there any reason to not start with strips and let the bees build large cell or whatever they want there? I guess they could get more confused that they already are. Would you use an excluder then to prevent the queen from moving up there following those easy large cells to lay in? Then again, the workers could lay in there if they feel like it.

    Thanks again for your advice.

    Jorge

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi Jorge,

    Clay, your replay left me thinking that perhaps the best I can do is to go for a long walk through the woods around here and look for a feral hive, then go and hive it and later use the queen to start a new stock to requeen everyone i have.

    reply:

    This is actually "NOT" what to do. Finding a feral hive would be good though ;> ) Actually what you need to do is first and fore most establish your hives onto 4.9mm cell sizing using foundation having a full compliment of good drawn combs. This will allow for stability and survivablity. As a small beekeeper you could stop here and go no further just raising your own queen and trying to make a little progress in breeding. Or you could work for lots of years trying to change genetics which isn't for everyone thing or aspiration. The first is for those who just want to keep a few hives and the later for those who want to dedicate themselves to a beekeeping and breeding. Now our commercial stock has small cell genetics in there so all isn't bleak you just must be willing to work it up over years of committment. I don't mean to crush anyones hopes or dreams as the breeding can be done, but just don't want to make too light of the situation either. First phase fo getting good combs should take 2-5 years depending where one started from # of colonies, ect. Then you should make simple splits raising queens from all stocks so as not to eliminate any lines yet gain numbers. Then say you did this and have 20 to 50 colonies. You want to establish out yards that are 2-3 miles apart and which overlap so drones will exchange between yards. Or alternatively you can transport nucs back and forth for matings. Then you cull poor stocks outright each year. Then when you have say 40-50 colonies you can do some grafting from colonies that draw 4.9 excellently and have good small casting and other traits. Then keep working up each year and expanding out. Remeber you can add to the pool of bees by buying package bees and placing them on whole supers of drawn 4.9 later to add new blood. Also on organic list a queen exchange is being set up for SC (small cell)beekeepers to exchange stock. So in a few years more resource will be available.

    The task seems rather daunting and it makes me wonder if i should have embarked in it this soon in my beekeeping "career".

    reply:

    The regressing part is fine, and something you, me, and anyone willing to stick it out can do. But breeding you can get into more and more later if you wish too. Hey, your in the beggining stages don't worry about a full scale breeding program just enjoy your bees, learn, make honey, eat some too:> )Take things one day at a time.

    out to cull some of those frames that have more than half drone cells with eggs and larvae in them.

    reply:

    Did you actually cull? Or just move to the outsides?

    have another question now: So far I am dealing with brood boxes. Assuming I get to supering, is there any reason to not start with strips and let the bees build large cell or whatever they want there?

    reply:

    Sure whatever you want. You can also move culls up there to fill in with honey. I find that the bees draw unsuitable combs for brooding for the following year. So you could consider making some cut comb and extracting anything that had brood in it.

    Would you use an excluder then to prevent the queen from moving up there following those easy large cells to lay in?

    reply:

    Yes. Use an excluder. I'm not an excluder person but when needed I use them. The drone cells will be like a magnet for the queen, I'd keep her out and down into the small cells or your varroa populations could soar. Make sure you keep an eye out here too.

    Clay

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Clay:
    First phase fo getting good combs should take 2-5 years depending where one started from # of colonies, ect. Then you should make simple splits raising queens from all stocks so as not to eliminate any lines yet gain numbers.

    Reply:
    OK. I think I understand: Once you have them regressed they will be stably drawing cells of small size if helped with strips or full foundation. I will leave the breeding to naturally small cell-producing bees for the future.

    Clay:
    Then say you did this and have 20 to 50 colonies. You want to establish out yards that are 2-3 miles apart and which overlap so drones will exchange between yards. Or alternatively you can transport nucs back and forth for matings.

    Reply:
    One could do this, but drones are everywhere there are other beekeepers. You would have to make sure that other drones from hives producing large cells don't come close to your precious ones. How do you prevent that? Moving to the boonies? I understand that drones from many places will congregate in these breeding spots in the sky.

    Clay:
    Hey, your in the beggining stages don't worry about a full scale breeding program just enjoy your bees, learn, make honey, eat some too:> )Take things one day at a time.

    Reply:
    OK. Fine, I definitely will. It's just that all of a sudden it looked like a real mess there and the prospect did not look very bright, especially with this louzy spring we have had.

    Clay:
    Did you actually cull? Or just move to the outsides?

    Reply:
    Yes. I did take 3 frames from one hive that were half drawn and had anywhere between 50% and 70% or so of drone cells, all filled with mostly eggs. From your question, now I am afraid I made a big mistake. My thought was: there is almost only eggs in here, comb not fully made yet, and only a couple hundred worker eggs to sacrifice in exchange for saving a lot of work in brood caring and feeding those monster drones. I did move several other in 2 other hives to the edge for later culling. Did I screw up?

    Thanks again Clay. It sure is reassuring and helpful having people "out there" so willing to pass on some hard learned experience.

    Jorge

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi Jorge,


    One could do this, but drones are everywhere there are other beekeepers. You would have to make sure that other drones from hives producing large cells don't come close to your precious ones. How do you prevent that? Moving to the boonies? I understand that drones from many places will congregate in these breeding spots in the sky.

    reply:

    Yes and this is why it will take years Jorge. Also why one need colony #'s and yards that overlap to gain slowly breeding dominance. But it is impossible to completely isolate for most and I won't even try as you will get some outcrossing which is good. As for the boonies I already live there.

    monster drones. I did move several other in 2 other hives to the edge for later culling. Did I screw up?

    reply:

    Neither way is really a screw up. But do allow the bees to build up even if they do make a bit of drone. Then phase out. A 70% drone comb at egg stage I'd of rid of too. But you need brood to keep the life well of the colony going so don't get too particular at first. Build up double deep. Then rearrange the combs best to the center worst outside. Then add foundation and phase out. But don't go crazy and jepardize winter survival either.


    Clay

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

    Post

    Some folks will find it easier to get somewhat isolated, pure matings. If you were to go south into Illinois, Indiana, Ohio you would get much more pure matings than here because there are darn few bees there. Here is the land of migratory bees and it is a completely different ballgame. Here you need more like 100 colonies minimum concentrated within a 3.0 mile radius to get decent matings.


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    Clay,

    in a previous replay to my saying that "perhaps the best I can do is to go for a long walk through the woods and look for a feral hive, then go and hive it and later use the queen to start a new stock to requeen everyone i have", you said:

    "This is actually "NOT" what to do"

    Why isn't it the thing to do? If it is an old, well established feral hive, it would probaly have 1) regressed by itself, 2) already bred several generations of queens, which, being selected for small cell production naturally by the decimating action of varroa mites, may very well be genetically there.

    Jorge


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