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Thread: Cell Size?

  1. #1


    I dont understand how cell size matters in a bee hive, could someone post some websites or books explaining it, and how it works? The documentation i have found confuses me. Thank You

    Thanks again, Jojo

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    Here's a link to the full version by some of the pioneers in this field:

    There is a lot of detail on cell measuments and on the history of a lot of this.

    Here's my short version:

    Back as far as Francis Huber (late 1700s) it had been observed that there was a variety of sizes of brood cells and that larvae raised in larger cells were larger and smaller cells were smaller. This was a function of the size of the cell and not genetics.

    Over the years there has been an increase in the size of the cell on the foundation we give the bees to raise brood on. The size of natural brood cells from natural sized bees is from 4.7mm to 5.1mm. The size of the artificial foundation beekeepers typically use is 5.4mm to 5.5mm. This has cause an artificial enlargment of the bees. This was done on the theory that larger bees could carry more honey.

    If you have paid attention to why the Africanized Honey Bees are taking over wherever they go, most of those advantages are actually due to cell size. The Africanized bees are on natural sized comb becuase they built it and it was not built on foundation. Also most people who raise African and Africanized bees do so on smaller foundation (4.8mm).

    Advantages to natural sized bee:

    The drones are smaller and tend to catch the mating queens, so the natural sized drones have a mating advantage over the enlarged ones.

    The trachea is smaller so the trachael mites can't get in.

    The time during which the cell is capped before emergence is shorter giving the Varroa less time and to reproduce. (19 to 20 days vs 21 days)

    The space in the cell of the larvae has less room to spare giving the Varroa less room to reproduce.

    The cell is smaller and less attractive to the Varroa because they prefer larger cells. The effect of artificially enlarged cells is to create what Dee Lusby calls a "Psuedo-drone" cell. One that appears to a Varroa to be a drone, even though it is not.

  3. #3
    thank you very much!


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