I've been cleaning up the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) version from "The Hive and the Honey Bee Collection". I have an original (different edition than that one) but the binding is shot so I've been reading the online text one. Of course all the "s"s are "f"s and it's very difficult to make sense of it. Anyway, I found these excerpts interesting:
"The worm of workers passes three days in the egg, five in the vermicular state, and then the bees close up its cell with a wax covering. The worm-now begins spinniiig its cocoon, in whichoperation thirty-fix hours are consumed. In three days, it changes to a nymph, and passes six days in this form. It is only on the twentieth day of its existence, counting from the moment the egg is laid, that it attains the fly sate."
FranÃ§ois Huber, 4 September 1791. From the 1806 edition of "New Observations on the Natural History of Bees" page 151
Isn't this a shorter capping time and shorter emergence time? Twenty days instead of the currently accepted 21? Wasn't Huber on natural sized comb? Eight hours shorter is adequate to stabilize varroa populations.
It's not difficult, of course, to verify shorter capping and post capping times on natural sized cells. But it is helpful, if you let them make their own, to measure it on various sizes since they will build from 5.1mm to 4.6mm and the times run from about 20 days for 5.1mm to 19 days on 4.95mm to 18 days on 4.6mm give or take some time depending on the temperatures and the strength of the hive. Cool weather and weak hives tend to lengthen the times.
And how about comb spacing?
"The leaf or book hive consists of twelve vertical frames or boxes, parallel to each other, and joined together the sides, should be twelve inches long, and the cross spars, nine or ten; the thickness of these spars an inch, and their breadth fifteen lines (one line = 1/12". 15 lines = 1 1/4" = 32mm). It is necessary that this last measure should be accurate"
http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/length (If you want to see how much a line is put in 12 for lines and convert to see one inch. Then put in 15 lines and convert to see 1.25 inches and 31.75mm)
FranÃ§ois Huber, 18. August 1789. From the 1806 edition of "New Observations on the Natural History of Bees" page 5.
Isn't the "accepted" number for natural comb for a European bee 35mm (1 3/8")? But Huber's observation is the same as what is currently accepted for AHB or Scutella which is 32mm. And consistent with my observations that it averages about 32mm and goes as small as 30mm:
Obviously natural cell size has always been about 32mm spacing on combs and twenty days or less from egg to emergence. Or at least since 1806.