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  1. #1
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    May 2005
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    Hello Folks

    I'm a newbie at beekeeping, but from what I've read, it seems like SC is the way to go.
    I started out with a beeginner kit of 2 deeps and plastic foundation and now I'm trying to migrate to all mediums and SC.
    So my forst move ws to put in a couple of frame of SC foundation into the deeps to see what happened.
    Next, my plan is to introduce 1 medium box at a time of SC starter strips toward the bottom of the hive and let them draw, raise brood on it, then introduce another box. The first box have been in for a week and I took a picture I thought was interesting

    http://drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00779.jpg

    notice the starter strip, which is 4.9 mm is quite nicely drawn.

    Here's a deep sheet.

    http://drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00776.jpg

    My earlier experiments with whole sheets weren't nearly as evenly drawn. What I thought was interesting is it looks like when they got off the strip they started drawing larger cells.
    I'm getting my poop together and building a frame stand so I can take better pictures. I'm gonna get a scale in the picture so I can measure how many pixels an inch is then I can do a better inspection of the cell structure at my leisure after the inspection.

    Dave

  2. #2
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    May 2005
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    Ya know, another comment
    notice how on the full sheet of small cell, in the area where they are storing honey, it seems to be drawn out quite uniformly. in the area where they are laying brood the cell size is much more confused.

    Thoughts???

    I understand they aren't regressed yet, just an observation

    Dave

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hi Dave,

    I've sure seen alot of that kind of comb myself. And when I was following the typical small cell regression idea, I culled lots of it. It's a very expensive process!

    >Thoughts???

    Ok, here I go! :&gt))

    When the comb structure on your photos is compared to natural comb it's obvious something is very wrong. The comb is 'confused'. The bees obviously wanted larger worker cell size and some drone comb as well. And they made quite a mess trying to get it.

    A small cell beekeeper would say the artificially large bees need regression to handle the smaller foundation size. Yet, a closer look indicates there are some other possibilities.

    Those bees are quite capable of drawing out the smaller cell sizes and did so in several areas. It wasn't an inability of large bees to draw out the smaller foundation that caused the confusion. When given a choice, they chose to over-ride the foundation pattern and build something else. They didn't want small cell size comb there. Why?

    Yet, under the right circumstances, those bees would draw it out. Hence, the many recommendations from small cell beekeepers about how and when to get small cell foundation drawn out. Time of the year is important. Spring is often recommended. Hive size is another. Nucs will often draw it out almost perfectly. And location is mentioned. Comb is drawn out inside the broodnest and then rotated out and up.

    So, if it were just a bee size, cell size memory, and cell size thing, how could those factors noted above affect the process?

    Yet, take those same bees and let them draw out comb their way. And they will build a broodnest lacking any confusion in the comb. And that comb will contain perfectly drawn out small cell size comb. It will be drawn out at the proper time and in the proper location. And it will contain lots of other cell sizes that are built just as unconfused as the small cell sized comb.

    Now take fully regressed bees, Lusbees. Give them their head for comb building and they will build the same kind of comb, with the same amount of the different cell sizes as your bees do. They build beautifully unconfused large cell size worker comb. And they fill it with perfect worker brood and not drones as purported.

    So, is it the bee? Is it regression? Or is timing and location that control cell size? Just what is it about that small cell foundation that confuses the bees? If it's cell size, then their natural comb, in those cell size ranges, should be just as confused. But it isn't. Why?

    If it's not the bee, then why go through regression? It's a very expensive process in both money and time. That deep frame is just the beginning of your culling. In the long term, plan on a 60% cull rate if you want almost perfectly drawn out small cell comb.

    And you will be culling out those artificially enlarged, large cell bees as well. Plan on a 90% loss there. If you have three hives, what are your chances any of them will survive regression?

    If you have 100 hives, how long will it take to selectively breed your way back from 10 hives. And what kind of genetic bottleneck might you find yourself in 5 to 10 years later?

    If you have 10000 hives, what would that do to your cash flow???

    So, if it's the bee then regress. But if not, then how can a beekeeper work with his bees to get the benefits of small cell behavior. If we work with the bees, the process should be much easier, cheaper, and much faster than regression.

    Regards
    Dennis
    Who has regressed bees and knows both sides of the story.
    I once wrangled bees. But now, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Hi Dennis,

    first off, I want to thank you for all the informative info you have on your website.
    I write code for a living and I know it takes considerable effort.

    Now, my take on all this.
    I'm a rookie, first year, 1 hive.
    Equipment is your standard beeginners kit. (2 deeps)
    I hate the idea of pesticides in a hive, that just has to be a last resort.
    Playing with these other ideas is easy and inexpensive because I don't have much gear and I'm having to buy some stuff anyway.
    SO, I wanna try 2 things
    small cell, natural size cell, or whatever ya wanna call it
    and using all mediums for the whole hive.(parts are interchangable)
    So first I got some SC foundation and made up a deep frame and stuck it in my bottom deep.

    wait for something to happen

    while waiting I thought how to integrated these 2 things together?
    I got 3 medium boxes.
    I figure I'll make up a medium box with SC foundation, wait for the bee's to draw it out and raise a generation, then insert another. This should give me basically a 3 step regression schedule.
    Now wheather or not regression is necessary doesn't really matter to me because I want to insert these 3 medium boxes anyway.
    So, I'm making up the first box, I've been reading your and others ideas, and I think, well don't give em a whole sheet of foundation, just a starter strip will do. Get em going straight and let them build what they want to build. They know better than I do what they need.
    So, I pulled my original deep frame of SC foundation, cut it down to a medium, and use it as a bait frame in a medium box of SC starter strips.
    The picture is from the starter strip next to the bait frame. I put the medium between the 2 deeps, I kinda think that was a mistake, I'm gonna move it to the bottom.

    So, I figure I can do all this by end of summer.
    I end up with brood chamber made of 3 mediums.
    All boxes are full of comb that the bee's made the way they want, not what I made em do.
    My 2 deeps are on top hopefully full of honey.
    I can take em in the house, cut em down to mediums and decide if I want to give some back to bee's or keep it.

    The biggest problem I see with my plan is the time of year, most folks say do this in spring.
    Well, next spring I'll slip another medium box of starter strips on the bottom of the stack.
    This way the old stuff keeps rising to the top where it get's harvested. Maybe just make it regular practice to do that in the spring. We have a very strong early nectar flow here. This would seem to me to be a really good idea for somebody who used pesticides, that way they'd constantly be introducing clean wax into the broodnest.

    Anyway, that's my plan.
    Thanks again for making all your observations available to us newbies.
    Any comment on my ideas are much appreciated

    Dave

    Oh, I made a medium box with an observation port

    http://68.142.29.112/bee's/Dsc00783.jpg

    another good reason for starter strips, should make for some good pictures

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
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    Greetings drobbins (Dave, I like that name [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Why are your frame top-bars white? Is the INSIDE of your super painted?

  6. #6
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    Hey Dave (hmm, I can remember that one )

    if you're refering to the picture of the box with the window in it, it's just because they're new and in the bright sun.
    They're just light colored pine

    I've heard various ideas about painting the inside of a box, mostly having to do with moisture flow.
    Mine are bare wood.

    Dave

  7. #7
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hi Dave,

    Neat observation window.

    >Any comment on my ideas are much appreciated

    Just keep that single hive going. Don't get hung up on any particular beeologies :&gt And don't interfer with the bees too much. You live in an area with a longer season, but any colony is going to struggle through the first year, even under the best conditions.

    And if the situation warrants, don't be afraid to treat them with some non-contaiminating chems, although they shouldn't need it during the first season. Dead bees are a real emotional drain. And you can't learn a thing from them except how bad they smell :&gt

    Most of all, just have fun and learn as much about them, by watching them, as you can. And share what you see with others.

    Don't worry about them too much. Bees are very adaptable and can tolerate much and survive. Just look at all the stuff we beekeepers do to them and yet they thrive! :&gt))

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

  9. #9
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
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    Dave,

    "Dave" must = "photo-nut" [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Just got "my" first digital camera [img]smile.gif[/img] , planning to take nothing but BEE photos [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Somehow, I think a hive should be UNpainted inside . . . all natural, like inside most trees [img]smile.gif[/img]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    The inside of a hive should not be painted. That is correct.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  11. #11
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    May 2005
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    Knoxville, TN
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    BWrangler,

    what would you say is the best way to go from standard large cell beehives to small cell beehives. What you say about regressing makes sense to me. I don't like working against the bees.
    I have 3 hives that I am going to split in a week or two and mix a 5-6 frame "NUC" with empty frames to get natural comb, hopefully with small cell. I will put empty frames into the hive I pull the split from also. I'll have to feed heavily since our flow is over. On the new hives, I'll add a super of empty frames on top (one drawn in the middle) when they get the bottom going. Is this a good way to get small cells going, or am I alittle late in the year? If so, whats the best way for someone to get their beehives to have small cells?

  12. #12
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    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hi MichaelW,

    For a 5 frame nuc, I would put in a frame of bees and a frame of honey. Then fill the rest of the nuc up with small cell foundation. Rotate the larger cell comb out and replace it with small cell foundation when the bees are established on the smaller comb.

    For a single deep, I would keep the broodnest intact and surround the brood comb with small cell foundation. As small cell comb is drawn out, I would rotate it into the center of the broodcomb and rotate the larger cell brood comb, toward the outside edge.

    I wouldn't draw out small cell foundation in larger hives. There's just too much foundation waste.

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

  13. #13
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    May 2005
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Thanks,

    So you wouldn't recommend trying it on empty frames for natural comb?

  14. #14
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    May 2005
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    Dennis,

    I'm curious about your recomendation
    I'm doing something similar, not making a split but just trying to convert a hive.
    My early experiments with sheets of SC foundation didn't work to well
    here's a pic

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00776.jpg

    Pretty confused cells in the center which is the brood nest.
    Next I tried starter strips and it looks a lot nicer.
    This is after a week

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/Dsc00779.jpg

    this is after ~4 weeks

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/closeup.jpg

    [I had to edit this to make a point, the full sheet of SC was placed in an existing box, the starter strip frame was in a medium box with 9 frames of starter strips and the "confused" frame as a bait frame after I had cut it down to a medium]
    that's a superimposed scale
    that works out to ~ 5.1 mm/cell
    Now granted, that's not 4.9 mm, but they sure drew it out nice.
    I'm doing this and trying to switch to medium boxes at the same time so my plan is to give em a box of starter strips, let em draw it and raise a generation of brood, then give em another box, then a third. Sort of a 3 step regression/switch over to all medium boxes program.

    There's some more pics here

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/

    the ones at the top are pretty boring, just me going thru a hive
    at the bottom are pics of some neat stuff I've been doing since this crowd of folks around here made me go BEE CRAZY!!

    Thought/Ideas
    Dave

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

    Thanks for sharing the comb photos.

    I have been reluctant to promote foundationless frames as a way to get a small cell sized broodnest core. I just don't have any experience with it.

    This season, two beekeepers have offered to photograph the comb drawn out in foundationless frame hives and send me a copy. I will analyze them in the same way as I did with the various top bar hive combs.

    When bees are given the space, they build a nest with a very consistent broodnest structure. I just don't know how or if the frames might interfer with that structure.

    There's a vertical component to that structure. When the vertical element is restricted, the broodnest structure is truncated on the bottom. In very shallow spaces such as in soffets, etc., there's evidence that the bees tend to build just one cell size on each comb.

    Just how will the bees work a standard hive filled with foundationless frames? Will they they work the whole vertical space as a single unit and build a small cell core in the bottom box? Or will they work each frame as a single unit thus restarting the process over beneath each frames top bar? Or???

    It will be interesting to find out. I expect to find some surprises as nothing is as simple as it seems with the bees.

    As you have seen, there's not much comparison between bees drawing out natural comb and those on foundation. There's something about foundation that interferes with the bees comb drawing behavior.

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

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    San Francisco Eastbay, CA
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    Hi all great topic,

    I have two weak hives that I was thinking of putting into Nucs. I was also thinking this might be a good time to introduce some SC deep foundation.
    Any suggestions, recomendations etc.

    Thanks
    \"I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree<br />And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made<br />nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee<br />and live alone in the bee-loud glade.\"<br />-- WB Yeats

  17. #17
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    Murphy,

    I don't have enough experience to be giving advice but I would think anytime you think they're gonna be building comb is a good time.
    Maybe the fact they're weak makes this idea wrong, I just don't know.

    Dave

  18. #18
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    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    I am of the opinion that the best time to draw comb is during a strong flow and earlier in the year. Not saying that it can't be done on 1-1 syrup in the heat of the year, just not the best of timing.

    There is also the bees need for the comb. If they are expanding and need brood they might draw it smaller. If they are drawing comb for stores they may want to draw it larger.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Anytime they will probably build 4.9mm foundation smaller than 5.4mm. [img]smile.gif[/img] So if what you have is all 5.4mm it's probably an improvment. But the best smallest comb seems to be drawn when there isn't a flow (a flow drives them to build storage comb rather than brood comb) and in the middle of the brood nest (again because that is for brood comb instead of storage) and with the frames spaced 1 1/4" (which is what they naturally space worker brood comb) rather than 1 3/8" or larger (which is what they space storage comb).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    Raleigh, NC, USA
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    Since this spring, I've experimented with many different combos of interducing SC into a hive. So far, using stackable NUCs works best. To do this, I put a 1/2" plywood partition in the middle of a deep brood chamber to split it into 2 5-frame NUCs (the SC foundation frame ends for each NUC are sanded down to about 1 1/4" to fit). When the bees have filled each NUC, I add a 2nd story deep brood chamber partitioned like the 1st so the partitions join (keeping the two swarms separated). Each NUC has a top entrance on opposite ends. (Note: seems like the bees readily expand the broodnest upwards and use the outside combs for storage). When both levels of the NUC are drawn and filled with bees, I move them to separate single deep hives and place a medium super of SC above.
    Triangle Bees

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