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  1. #1
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    Question

    I ask this question because I am not too certain of the specifics. The Lusbys have done a wonderful explanation of it I think, but some of the concepts I don't think I am grasping. I was considering trying to procure already regessed bees, but I think I have convinced myself that regressing from other parts of the genetic pool has some very real merit. I think I am going to do both, try to procure regressed bees potentially from Mike Bush, and also regress bees that have been working and breeding in the greater area. Does this sound like an ideal ? I think having already regressed bees might help in the regressing the big bees, and also add some genetic material to the regressed local stock.

    Ok my question is this though. I keep reading in the Lusby's articles that you try to get the bees to draw out 4.9mm comb. Ok that sounds fine, but won't the bees have to be regressed in stages? I mean if one successfully gets the bees to draw smaller comb, they won't be able to fit into the cells to do house cleaning and the will the queen be able to stick her abdomen fully into the cells to lay eggs?

    This being the case, do you regress the bees down to say 5.2 or 5.1mm first, let them requeen on the smaller comb, and then continue? I am not entirely clear how all this works.

    The casting eludes me too. Any help in clarifying what a caste is would be very appreciated.



    ------------------
    --
    Scot Mc Pherson
    "Linux is a Journey, not a Guided Tour" ~ Me

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Post

    Hi Scott,

    Ok my question is this though. I keep reading in the Lusby's articles that you try to get the bees to draw out 4.9mm comb. Ok that sounds fine, but won't the bees have to be regressed in stages?

    reply:

    Yes. If starting on 5.4 cell size the bees will draw 5.2-5.1mm the first step down. That may be the best you can regress the first year. If you start with bees on pierrco with 5.2- 5.25 cells you may get any where from 4.9mm to 5.1mm cell sizing the first years of regression. You keep working the combs for the smallest cells there after progressively instead of a shakedown.

    I mean if one successfully gets the bees to draw smaller comb, they won't be able to fit into the cells to do house cleaning and the will the queen be able to stick her abdomen fully into the cells to lay eggs?

    reply:

    I do think that is part of the reason the bees slowly step down due to physical aspects here and why one has to wait several brood cycles between each step down which takes time. However as far as the queen laying is concerned most queens except for rare occations will be able to lay the 4.8-4.9mm cells.

    This being the case, do you regress the bees down to say 5.2 or 5.1mm first, let them requeen on the smaller comb, and then continue? I am not entirely clear how all this works.

    reply:

    You could but not always necessary. I let the bees decide the first two years whether or not to supercede the queens. Many did and some didn't.

    OK now for castes. Within a colony the worker bees will break down into generally 3 sizes small, med , and large. Due to natural cell size variation and genetic factors. When we say 4.9mm cells it may actuallty have 4, 4.85 cells, 3, 4.90 cells and 3,4.95 cells in a ten cell run. Thus you get a small caste, medium, and a large. This is just an example and not ment to be actual here. So when looking at the bees you will see really small ones, medium sized, and pretty big looking ones. The more uniform the casting the more consistent the cell drawing,ect.I'll stop for now.

    Clay

  3. #3
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    Post

    You are correct about the steps. It's not that they can't squeeze in to do housekeeping, but they can't get inside the cell to draw it. I have wax coated PermaComb (fully drawn plastic comb) and gotten the equivelant of 4.95mm cells and put 5.4mm bees and queen on it and they do fine. The queen lays in it, the workers raise brood in it, in fact where I have wax coated PermaComb and regular wax combs they queens seem to prefer to lay in the smaller cells on the PermaComb.

    This has allowed me to regress pretty much in one step. I have done a shaken swarm from these smaller bees onto the plastic 4.9mm from Dadant to see what they do there. So far they are doing ok. The drawn cells are much more irregular than the PermaComb.

    On my hives with nothing but the wax coated PermaComb I saw a few mites a couple of months ago and have seen none since. Since the PermaComb is already drawn and is quite machine perfect, there are no subcastes except in the comb they build between one box and the next between the frames.


  4. #4
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    Post

    Clay,
    Thanx.

    So do I use 4.9mm foundatoin, or do I just let them draw their own comb?

    Is the shakedown something you do after you have some larger small caste population, to force them to redraw everything, Or can I just cull largish cell comb (move out of brood area)?


    Ok Michael posted while I was writing this. My questions above have been answered. Thanx Michael.


    That raises another question though, if you force them to regress in one step witht eh permacell, is there an increased chance of the bees failure to regress/survive?
    [This message has been edited by Scot Mc Pherson (edited July 30, 2003).]

    [This message has been edited by Scot Mc Pherson (edited July 30, 2003).]

  5. #5
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    Post

    Use starter strips for the first regression - wide ones, a good couple of inches - to save on foundation you're only going to melt. Once they've settled down on that, give them full sheets, but the first lot may be a mess. Work them out gradually. Alternatively, if you're getting some small cell stock, use them to draw combs which you then give to the large cell colonies.

    When you shake down a large cell colony onto small cell, make sure they've got no brood or supers in the large size, you need to get rid of it all. Put an excluder under the broodchamber to stop them absconding, and seal up any gaps they might go through. Its not a nice process, but you get there.

  6. #6
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    >That raises another question though, if you force them to regress in one step witht eh permacell, is there an increased chance of the bees failure to regress/survive?

    All I know is that so far I have no mites and they are thriving.

    >Use starter strips for the first regression - wide ones, a good couple of inches - to save on foundation you're only going to melt.

    IMPOV if you go with the wax, I wouldn't melt the 1st Regression. I'd mark it and save it for the next time you shake down a hive so the bees don't have to draw it again.

  7. #7
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    Of course, I keep forgetting we are talking about a TBH here. When you start with natural sized bees it makes sense to just give them blank starter strips and let them do their thing. I don't see a problem with that. But if you have 5.4mm bees and you let them do their thing it will take shaking them down at least three or four times to get them down to 4.9mm. I think you need 4.9mm starter strips and I would make them wide as suggested already. You're trying to encorage them in a direction they already want to go, but if you can get them to go a little more it may save another shakedown.

  8. #8
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    So if I am using a KTBH, then instead of a shakedown, should I perhaps cull the largest brood cells and/or whole top bars? Move them to the edge of the brood chamber and let the bees emerge, then move to the back of the hive for this year's honey crop? Or do you think a full shakedown is wise?

    If a full shakedown, should I just remove top bars and reintroduce new foundation?


    Is this permacomb stuff modifyable for use within a tbh? I was thinking perhaps having a perhaps 5 topbars per hive for regression purposes. Either that or use regressed bees to create my small comb for me.

    [This message has been edited by Scot Mc Pherson (edited July 31, 2003).]

  9. #9
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    I had thought of doing a tbh with the top portion the size of a medium box and then slope it after that. Then I could put frames from my other hives in the tbh and I could steal bars and by cutting the bottom sloped portion off, fit them in my other hives. If you did that you could put permacomb in as it stands and it would work well.

    I tried doing shakedowns and it was pretty traumatic for the bees and a lot of waste. You could just keep adding empty bars in the middle of the brood chamber, stealing honey off the back and moving everything back and as they raise more bees and make more comb for the brood it will get smaller. Of course you end up with a lot of old brood in the honey area of the hive which doesn't taste quite as good, but you can wait until it's capped, squash it to extract and feed the honey back to the bees later.

    I think that's what I would do with a TBH. I'd put starter strips of 4.9mm to minimize the stages and do a gradual regression, but then you have to do something to get them to survive until you get them regressed or the mites will do them in. Fog FGMO, oxalic acid, drone magnet, or something.

  10. #10
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    >> I had thought of doing a tbh with the top portion the size of a medium box and then slope it after that.

    Sounds like a semi catenary hives

    >> You could just keep adding empty bars in the middle of the brood chamber, stealing honey off the back and moving everything back and as they raise more bees and make more comb for the brood it will get smaller. Of course you end up with a lot of old brood in the honey area of the hive which doesn't taste quite as good, but you can wait until it's capped, squash it to extract and feed the honey back to the bees later.


    I was planning on something like that, but I was thinking of moving culled comb to the edge of the brood chamber while the queen is most likely laying in the center/front of the brood chamber and let the bees emerge. If it still within the confines of the brood chamber, but on the edge, I was thinking if done one comb at a time, that it might deter the bees from filling it with honey. I dunno, I guess its one of those things the bees will tell me. Of course as you say, I could just leave it in the honey stores and let the bees over winter with it, and then remove all oversized and already culled comb before the spring buildup.

    Begin Edit >>> Actually I guess that halfway defeats the regression, if the bees overwinter on teh larger cells in the honey stores, they'll have that influence their idea of properly sized comb?
    <<<End Edit
    >> but then you have to do something to get them to survive until you get them regressed or the mites will do them in.

    That's why I was asking whether the permacomb was modifyable, if I could modify it to fit the comb space of my hive, I could secure it by punching 3 or 5 holes through the top most row of cells and secure it to the topbar with wire.

    I am also considering that perhaps its better to build a small 10 bar KTBH and use that like a nuc, and use permacomb topbars for the brood chamber, and when the bees have gone through the forceful 1st stage, shake them down to a full hive in their permanent location. I am not sure why that would be very tramatic if done correctly. Since the KTBH whill be empty I can move it readily, place the nuc in the KTBH's final resting place and orientation, and replace the nuc with the KTBH and shake them down. I guess with a KTBH that would really be a "brush down" wouldn't it??

    [This message has been edited by Scot Mc Pherson (edited July 31, 2003).]

  11. #11
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    I think it's a matter of your preference. Both methods will work. One is quicker than the other. I suppose it's a "brush down" but "shake down" has more of a "gangster" appeal to it.

    Leaving the comb on over winter doesn't worry me so much about their ingrained ideas of comb size, but that the queen may lay it all up before you get in to cull it.

  12. #12
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    I was thinking about going back to single deep brood boxes to do my regression.
    How does this sound and feel free to add any helpful comments.

    Make splits to get back to a single deep brood box. Then super with another deep, no excluder, with 4.9 starter strips. Let them draw this box out and fill with brood and honey. Once they draw this one out, add another brood box on top with 4.9 starter strips and take the bottom brood box with the largest cells and place it on top of the newly added box, which will make it box 3 now, with a queen excluder under it. Let the young bees hatch out, 21 days, and then cull this comb and keep going with this method until you get 4.9 drawn comb. This way you will keep at least one brood box with drawn comb and brood and you will not have to do a complete shake down. Less stress on bees.

    What do you think?

  13. #13
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    I think it would work fine. I think after the first regression I'd use full sheets. Also if you don't use full sheets and they decide to use it for honey storage they will build much larger cells than if they are using it for brood.

    My only concern is how they will view what they are building. What if you just keep finding the queen and pulling some frames of capped brood above the excluder and adding frames of foundation to the brood nest. Thate way, since it's in the middle of the brood nest, they will see it as worker comb instead of honey comb.

    If you measure what you are getting as you go you can mark the frames and keep track of what is 5.2mm 5.1mm 4.9mm etc.

    I'd keep all of them because later you can reuse them to regress other hives.

  14. #14
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    Regression is a wierd process. I started with package bees from the same place this spring, and a few that I had. The bees that wintered actually regressed much easier. I thought it would have been the other way around. The package bees, drew out some good, other real lousy comb. I had alot of drone comb in the beginning. I just kept removing it, about once a month, and placing new comb in. I put the new comb in, next to the somewhat good ones. I found out early, if you don't do that, it seems they want to copy the adjacent comb. Anyway, the wintered bees went down pretty quickly, probably because there were alot of them, and drew comb alot faster. I think the first year went really well. Next spring, I think I will get ideal 4.9 combs.
    As far as mites go, in the beginning, I had mites, but we must remember, also alot of drone comb. That has a longer time frame for emergence and allows the mites to reproduce. I used FGMO all this year, and all of my hives are doing well. Even the mating nucs show no mites visible. I don't know if it is the fog or the comb or both. I do know, that getting the bees to look more like wasps, and yellow jackets, meaning there outer texture, seems to be what we want to achieve, That shiny smooth surface seems to be very difficult for the mites to grasp on to.
    I less foundation than I thought I would too. I did not do a shakedown, I just did it slowly. I used full sheets too. I actually had the starter strips prepared, and never used them. I figured, if I am going to do this, lets start with the target size to start with. I got a somewhat decent one here and there, and slowly built on it.

    No matter what, it is a slow process, but I think the rewards are going to be great.


    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Post

    Hi Scott and Everyone,

    I placed already regressed small cell bees in a tbh this spring. The results were quite surprising.

    I now have a different perspective on regressing. Check out "Confessions" at:
    www.geocities.com/usbwrangler

    Let me know what you guys think.

    Regards
    Dennis

  16. #16
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    I did find it very eduacational letting the bees build their own comb. They build every size from 4.8 to 6.6 but most worker comb seems to be average closer to 4.85 but there is plenty of 5.2mm worker comb too. I, like you, wonder if all the subcastes serve more of a purpose in the overall health of the hive. I found it much more difficult than I imagined to say exactly what the bees do as far as size and orientation because there was so much variance in both.


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