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  1. #1
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    After reading many threads about small cell advantages, I do not recall reading how the 5.4 mm cell foundation became the industry standard.

    Can someone give a brief synopsis on its evolution?

    Thanks,
    Oyster<br />Concord, CA <br />San Francisco Bay Area

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Dave,

    That website has me more confused now. The quote "These results are very interesting for anyone who believes bees have been artificially enlarged as a result of enlarged foundation. They haven't" is saying that the bees that are raised in larger cells are the same size as those bees raised in small cell. Aren't the bees emerging from small cells between 1/2 to 2/3 the size of the bees from large cells? I guess the important thing about bees from small cells is that they emerge one to two days earlier than bees from large cells, thereby disrupting the varroa mite cycle.

    Thanks,
    Oyster<br />Concord, CA <br />San Francisco Bay Area

  4. #4
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    so for clarity, Is it the shorter emergence time that helps in varroa management? I know I've heard that before, but is that pretty well the accepted thing or is the size itself also considered a possibility. If so I guess the drones take the longest to cap and emerge?

  5. #5
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    Hi Oyster,

    &gt;They haven't" is saying that the bees that are raised in larger cells are the same size as those bees raised in small cell.

    Essentially, yes. I've measured about 1500 of them from both small and large cell hives. Bees vary in size during the season, with cell size as a minor factor.

    I've put large cell comb in small cell hives and expected to see larger worker bees produced, but it didn't happen. The same size bees were produced in both the different cell sized comb. It's interesting to note that it had been purported that drones would be raised in the larger cell comb instead of workers. But it was wall to wall worker brood. And the small cell queen actually preferred to lay in the larger cell size. But that's another story :&gt

    Most small cell beekeepers regress their bees in early spring. After the first bees emerge from the smaller sized comb, a beekeeper will spot them and attribute them to the cell size. Yet, the same smaller spring bees are found in both large cell and small cell hives. Most just have never noticed them before. Check out:

    http://bwrangler.com/bee/ssiz.htm

    I've got the results, some measurements and a few pictures you can use to measure them for yourself.

    What do you think?

    It doesn't match much of the small cell rhetoric does it?

    What could it mean?

    Concerning A.I. Root's measurement, 5.4 is within the natural size range of worker comb before any foundation was made. It isn't artificially enlarged. It's quite natural in size.

    In Europe, they stepped up the foundation worker sized toward the upper 5.'s. Somewhat larger bees were obtained to a point. But these bees, when left to themselves, quickly reverted back within a normal range of cell sizes. They didn't dominate or take over the natural size bee world which is what should be expected if bees behave like other natural systems when pushed outside their natural limits.

    Regards
    Dennis

    [size="1"][ October 31, 2005, 10:26 PM: Message edited by: BWrangler ][/size]
    Last edited by BWrangler; 11-07-2007 at 08:08 PM.
    I once wrangled bees. But now, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  6. #6
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    Dennis, I've often wondered if diet (nutrition) caused the seasonal difference in size?
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  7. #7
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    Hi Bill,

    A similar discussion took place on Bee-L some time ago. Allen Dick, a Canadian beekeeper, noted smaller spring bees. But when he fed them a pollen substitute, early in the spring, none of the smaller bees were seen.

    I think diet plays a major role in seasonal bee size. Bee size could be selected for and breed within their natural size range, just like every other living thing. And that natural size range might be alot wider than we are accustomed to looking a horses, dogs, corn, etc. as examples.

    It would be interesting to find out if the seasinal size change is just diet or has a genetic component. But that kind of testing is way beyond me. Time for the guys in the white lab coats with all those resources. :&gt

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  8. #8
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    Dennis,

    Very interesting, your website! Creates some serious doubts regarding the validity of cell size being the determinant of bee size.

    However, the question of incubation time has not been addressed. Do small-cell bees emerge one to two days earlier than large-cell bees, and is this THE factor in reducing varroa mite populations -- the interrupting their reproduction cycle?

    If I don't reply, it's because I will be leaving for Bangkok tonight, returning July 3. Maybe I'll go check out Apis cerana while I am there!

    Thanks,
    Oyster<br />Concord, CA <br />San Francisco Bay Area

  9. #9
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    http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby/part4.htm

    Early foundation was 4.83mm.

    Based on foundation acceptance A.I. Root went to something around 5.0mn (I'd have to go look it up and recalculate it in mm to get exact).

    Baudoux did much research on cell size and bee size and was convinced and convinced others that we could get bigger bees. Cell size was gradually increased until the norm in the US is now 5.4mm and the norm in Europe seems to run about 5.5mm.

    Yes, the bees on small cells (4.9mm and below) cap the cells between 7.5 days and 8 days. They emerge between 18.5 days and 19 days. Try it. Time it.

    Here's some natural comb drawn by large cell commercial Carniolians:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/47mmCombMeasurement.jpg

    It's 4.7mm.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    Hi Michael and Everyone,

    Actually, the 4.83mm is a mistake made by the Lusbys in the small cell beekeeping literature. And, as far as I know, this figure has been promoted to the present time, in spite of the fact that I discussed its erroneous nature was them years ago.

    Here's what actually happened. A.I. Root built his first foundation mill at 5 cells/inch. The bees worked the comb, but preferred their own natural sized comb. So, he went back and measured lots of natural comb and built another foundation mill at 4.83 CELLS/INCH (for emphasis). These measurements were linear and were taken in the same way as small cell beekeepers measure cells today.

    The bees readily accepted that sized foundation, so that's the size he manufactured for almost 100 years.

    And when others measured natural cell size at different intervals, during that 100 years, they came up with the same range of measurements as Root did before foundation was manufactured! No foundation enlargement. No enlarged bees! Not in the beginning. Not ever!

    And now the most interesting part. Just what does 4.83 cells/inch work out to? By Root et. al. own linear measurements, it works out to 5.210mm to 5.375mm.
    That's the size foundation we buy today.

    Hey guys, don't take my word for it. Read the text for yourselves at:

    http://bwrangler.com/bee/sair.htm

    Check out the table! Just follow the yellow brick road:&gt

    So, is this mistake a minor clerical error with little consequence? What do you think?

    On another note, I'm leaving the different hatching rates vs cell size issues to Michael. Eventually, we're going to better understand why small cell works. And this could be part of it. It's not a simple issue and goes way beyond cell size alone.

    The only hatching rates I've monitored have been on queen cells. And the rates are the same. But, then again, the cells, if they are good ones, are the same size also. :&gt But that's another story. :&gt))

    Regards
    Dennis
    Last edited by BWrangler; 11-07-2007 at 08:07 PM.
    I once wrangled bees. But now, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  11. #11
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    As a newbie I thought from the very start that the bee's size was irrelevent as far as mites go.

    The incubation period seemed to be the relevent factor. Enough so that I am using small cell foundation exclusivly in the brood chambers. Costs no more than "regular" sized foundation. More work setting up though.

  12. #12
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    Jim Fischer didn't give exact measurments, but he recently said that the mills he measured in the museum in Wooster, Ohio were definitely smaller than we have now.

    The typical "five cells per inch" version of foundation which was a common size at one time, is 1"/5cells =.2" per cell = 5.08mm per cell. A long ways from 5.4mm.

    This is the size that was common at the time and the size that A.I. Root was complaining was too small when he went to 1"/4.83cells = 0.207" = 5.26mm per cell, still a lot smaller than 5.4mm. And that's when the game was afoot.

    Acceptance was the issue for A.I. Root. The bees really want a variety of cell sizes from 4.6mm to 6.7mm (with a gap between the upper end of worker size and the lower end of drone size), so neither is really right and the issue is what size the bees want at the time of year you're trying to get them to build comb.

    But later the issue was bigger bees. Regardless of the reasons, the size increased several times.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
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    Hi Michael,

    &gt;the issue is what size the bees want at the time of year you're trying to get them to build comb.

    This hasn't been my experience at all. Time of year had nothing to do with the cell size that my tbh bees built. In fact, they built most of the the small cell sized comb during the middle of the summer in the midst an extensive honey flow! And they built none of it during the early spring or late fall periods at all, even with the lighter flows. That is just opposite of what is promoted in small cell beekeeping!

    &gt;But later the issue was bigger bees. Regardless of the reasons, the size increased several times.

    Well, in this country, foundation has been manufactured with in the 4.6 to 5.4mm range since its inception and that's the same range it's manufactured in today. So, where's the enlargement of the worker bee? Where's the size increase? When given their choice, they will build about 60% of the broodnest toward the larger end of that range.

    A.I. Root wasn't impressed with the larger bee is better bee idea. In fact, he was highly opposed to it. And he spent lots of ink writing about it on the same page as the cell size issue. I have scanned and posted these on my web page.

    &gt;Acceptance was the issue for A.I. Root.

    And that re-introduces the old question. If it's so natural, why is it so hard? Why does a small cell beekeeper have to work so hard against the bees natural propensities?

    A.I. noticed the bees had problems with 5 cell/inch comb before foundation was manufactured. And today, small cell beekeepers have the same experience. Why? Have the bees been artificially enlarged? They weren't in Root's day. Yet, he had problems with it.

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  14. #14
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    &gt;And that re-introduces the old question. If it's so natural, why is it so hard? Why does a small cell beekeeper have to work so hard against the bees natural propensities?

    That's why I like natural comb.

    &gt;A.I. noticed the bees had problems with 5 cell/inch comb before foundation was manufactured. And today, small cell beekeepers have the same experience. Why?

    IMO anytime you try to make the bees do a particular thing, it very well may not be what they want at the time. Sometimes they want smaller and sometimes they want larger cells. It depends on the purpose for the cells.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    You guy's make me want to throw all my foundation away [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Actually, the angled top bars Michael talks about would result in more surface area for the attachment of the comb to the bar. Should be stronger. Popsicle stick would do about the same.

    Dave

  16. #16
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    &gt;Sometimes they want smaller and sometimes they want larger cells.

    That's what I've noticed in Gilligan's Island, the name given to my TBH. I used starter strips from pieces of broken foundation. Some were small cell, some "standard" cell size. The bees at first drew out their cells about the size given them--although I say that only from doing eyeball checks not actual measurements.

    Later, as the comb progressed some of the cells had gotten larger, and of course some were drone cells, too. The other day I looked in on Gilligans Island. Some of the newest cells were back to small cell size.

  17. #17
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    hehe
    "gilligan's island"
    I might call mine "Land of the Lost"
    I built a box with a window in the side and it's taken me a bit to try to figure out how to take pictures.
    The box started of with a fully draw bait frame (from SC foundation) in the center and then all SC starter strips.
    I have to admit to being "photographcally challenged".
    extreme closeup
    thru a piece of glass
    some kind of F stop issue thingy
    here's a few that are worth looking at
    here's the box

    http://drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00783.jpg

    here's 3 pics

    http://drobbins.net/bee's/window2.jpg
    http://drobbins.net/bee's/window3.jpg
    http://drobbins.net/bee's/window4.jpg

    It worked well because they draw out the frames closest to the bait frame first and so you get kindof a cascading effect outward toward the glass and can see a lot.

    I took pics last weekend (outside the box) with a scale in the picture and they're drawing about 5 cells to the inch.
    They're so out of focus I'm imbarresed to post em.
    They'll be better this weekend. (I hope)
    The comb is much more evenly drawn than when I tried using full sheets of foundation.

    Dave

  18. #18
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    Hi Michael and Everyone,

    &gt;That's why I like natural comb.

    Me too! The Lusbys broke ground by stressing how important cell size is to colony function. But things get real interesting and complicated when more than just the cell size is considered. The bees propensity to construct a structured broodnest is very consistent. But it easily disrupted with foundation being a major factor.

    I've tried to 'manage' the situation in my tbhs, but haven't found any method that doesn't disrupt the broodnest structure.

    I do have a few more experiments in progress now, concerning natural comb and broodnest structure.

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  19. #19
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    Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion. It's going to take some time to digest, evaluate, understand and come to my own conclusions regarding the multitude of explanations given, but at least they're all in one convenient thread.
    Oyster<br />Concord, CA <br />San Francisco Bay Area

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