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Thread: Small Cell Test

  1. #1
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    Figured I'd move this over to Biological Beekeeping list, it's getting lost in the traffic on Bee Forum.

    This small cell test appeared in the September 2005 issue of Bee Culture, in the article
    "Commercial Beekeeping in Norway"
    by Hans-Otto Johnsen

    Small Cell Test 2002-2004

    The Test:

    * 40 colonies were tested in the same apiary.
    * 20 with cells 5.5mm measured in the broodnest.
    known as "Big cell group".
    * 20 with cells 4.9mm measured in the broodnest.
    known as "Small cell group".
    * All queens in the test apiary were sisters
    and mated in the same apiary.
    * when small cell colonies were given new foundation,
    the large cell colonies where given the same.

    Results:

    * Throughout the season in 2004 the mite population was significantly lower in the small cell group.

    ------>
    * Big cell group: The natural mite downfall average peaked at 7 mites per day, decreased and then increased again.

    * Small cell group: The natural mite downfall average in the small cell group peaked with 2 mites per day and then decreased steadily.

    ------>
    * Large cell group: An alcohol wash in Autumn during broodless period revealed 29% mites per 100 bees, the range was 3-64%.

    * Small cell group: An alcohol wash in Autumn during broodless period revealed 14% mites per 100 bees, the range was 3-26%.

    ------>
    * Large cell group: The 3% colony in this group gave a very small crop and was also weaker in strength.

    * Small cell group: The 3% colony in in this group gave an average crop.

    ------>
    * Small cell group: Averaged about one box stronger at peak strength in the middle of summer than the large cell group.

    ------>
    * Large cell group: Average honey crop was 79.2 lbs. range 17.6 - 125.4 lbs.

    * Small cell group: Average honey crop was 98.1 lbs. range 50.7 - 136.6 lbs. 24% bigger than the large cell group.

    ----->
    * An interesting observation was that the honey from each colony harvested the small cell group was more even, besides the top colony and had few at the bottom. The colonies with top crop were similar in both groups.

    ----->
    * Both groups were affected by chalkbrood. But
    anecdotal observation indicated that the large cell group was more affected.

    ----->
    * There was no observation that small cell size had any negative effect on the performance of the bee colony.

    Thanks to Prof. Stig Omholt, Dee and Ed Lusby, Dr. Eric Erickson, Staff at Dadant, Bee Culture Magizine, Raymond Cooper, Myron Kroph, Erik Osterlund, Hans-Otto Johnsen and others involved I may have missed.

    Best Wishes,
    Joe

  2. #2
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    Keep in mind that this is only an initial regression as far as I can tell.(they state new 4.9 foundation) Successive regression should have even greater effect.

    It certainly mirrors my experience this far. (one year in with 32 colonies on small cell)

  3. #3
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    >Keep in mind that this is only an initial regression...Successive regression should have even greater effect.

    I agree. In my observation the shorter emergence times at 5.1mm (typical first regression) are not as short as 4.9mm (typical second regression). So the difference would be even greater at second regression and even more at a third regression (especially on natural comb) where, by my experience, it will probably stabilize.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    hmm, regression, hmm
    I'm gonna built 2 of what Michael calls "long hives" over the winter
    ~48" long to hold mediums (I'm gonna cut the first ~20 or so frames down to 1-1/4")
    I'm gonna order 2 or 3 packages in case my current 1 hive fails.
    So, when I start the "long hives" in the spring it will either be from packages of from splits off my current hive
    either way, it will be a small amount of bee's
    so I figure it will be a couple of frames, with a small amount of bee's, and some kind of follower board to reduce the space.
    Question:
    I'm thinking, that once they get going, I'll obviously need to start inserting empty frames.
    If I insert the empty frames at the front of the hive (toward the entrance) will the bee's draw that comb out as brood nest? (which is what I've read is their natural tendency)
    I figure one of two things can happen

    1) they continue to draw the comb as brood nest and therfore as new generations of bee's emerge, I kinda get "auto-regression" [img]smile.gif[/img]

    2) they draw the comb out as honey storage and the broodnest moves away from the entrance (un-natural from what I've read)

    I know there's no hard and fast rules here
    just wondering if folks who have messed with topbar hives have thoughts on wheather this is a effective approach
    I just started with one hive of all foundation this year and now I'm trying to move to SC and the process is kindof a pain.
    Trying to figure out a more efficient approach for next year

    Dave

  5. #5
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    Useing starter strips alternated between fully drawn frames has worked the best for me. I have tried 1/2 sheets, 1/4 sheets, and 1/6 sheets with no real difference that I can tell in draw out times. If they aren't between fully drawn frames the strips can get a bit wild.

    Not sure I see your "auto regression" concept/

  6. #6
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    Sundance
    I just want it to be easy dude
    my idea was that the older combs continually get moved away from the entrance. presumably the older combs were drawn by less "regressed" bee's
    I thought I'd leave the first comb in place, folks seem to suggest the broodnest begins one frame back from the entrance.
    that way if I introduced a new frame every few days, it would be between that first frame and the rest of the broodnest
    maybe I'm overthinking it, wouldn't be the first time

    keep in mind that a "topbar/long hive" creates a whole different situation from a lang

    Dave

    [edit]
    hmm, that makes me think
    ya know, in a lang the entrance is perpendicular to the comb and in a topbar hive the entrance "could" be parallel
    wonder if that has any impact
    I'm just trying to make the most natural cavity for em I can
    I'm thinking in terms of winter protection from draft

  7. #7
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    Interesting Dave........ Keep measuring your cell size and let us know your results. Easy is good...

  8. #8
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    In a top bar hive I like inserting the empty bars between two nicely drawn brood combs. First, they will tend to be drawn as brood. Second, they tend to be drawn nice and straight.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
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    I think the idea that is being missed is this:

    Your combs will be drawn by younger house bees than field bees. Regardless where combs are placed, they will always be drawn by the same group/age of wax yielding house bees.

    Also,
    Frame placement in the hive does not impact cell size. What does impact it is the number of regressions that the house bees that are drawing comb have successed through.

    What forward frame placement "could" do is prevent (or at least make them feel uncomfortable) in placing stores in freshly drawn (regressed) comb. This "push" of old combs to the rear is a good idea as you said, because older/larger combs will become the stores frames and be easier to extract.

    Also consider that the placement of old broodframes with foundationless - starter strip frames will force regression. House bees will have to draw comb to have any area to rear brood.
    This is a dangerous fall endeavor but your idea was to do this in the spring, I'd not be so worried that my brood stock would dwindle in the spring as it might if this process was done in the fall.

    Also keep in mind a small degree of regression occures with each broad hatch, cells diminish in diameter with larva cocoons. Used cells are eventually re-built when the diameter becomes unacceptable, but regressed bee have a smaller "acceptable" diameter than unregressed bees too.

    This "dirty regression" if you will, is not as effective as starting a new shook swarm regression or systematic frame replacement. The bees do have a range of acceptable comb diameter. Newly hatched and regressed bee will have a smaller cell expectation than older unregressed bees. And the point that I am trying to make here is if you have a hive that is under the direction of older bees, a larger cell could be acceptable whereas the shook swarm will result in younger direction where only a smaller diameter will be acceptable.

    At some point the used cells become too small for the queen to properly lay. I guess I have found a new question that I'll post in a new topic:

    Do queen bees evolve to lay eggs that hatch with regessive tendancies or are workers regressed by their crampt cell size alone?
    Is it a product of both?

    Thanks,
    Jeff
    There is always more than one way to skin a cat, that's of course if you're into eating cats.

  10. #10
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    >Your combs will be drawn by younger house bees than field bees. Regardless where combs are placed, they will always be drawn by the same group/age of wax yielding house bees.

    Yes.

    >Frame placement in the hive does not impact cell size.

    That has not been my observation. Cell size IS related to where it is in the hive and related to the spacing of the combs. Closely spaced combs in the center of the brood nest are measurably smaller cells than combs drawn on 1 1/2" centers in the honey storage area. In my observation it has a very measurable impact on cell size.

    Cell size is determined by the intended use for the cell as perceived by the bees that are working on the comb. These bees change constantly so they look for clues as to what the intention is. Clues like where it is (in the brood nest or not) how widely it's spaced, what size cells the last bees built etc.

    If the intended use is honey storage or drone brood or worker brood it changes the size cells they draw. One clue for the bees is the spacing of the comb and the location in relationship to what is around them. A 1 1/4" spaced comb in the center of the brood nest is obviously intended to be worker brood. A 1 3/8" spaced comb in the center of the brood nest is obviously intended to have some worker and some drone on it. 1 1/2" spaced comb outside the brood nest is obviousl inteneded for honey storage. But a 1 1/4" spaced comb outside the brood nest might be intended for honey or it might be intended for brood.

    >What does impact it is the number of regressions that the house bees that are drawing comb have successed through.

    That is one thing that affects it.

    >What forward frame placement "could" do is prevent (or at least make them feel uncomfortable) in placing stores in freshly drawn (regressed) comb.

    It also does that. They want to fill the brood nest with brood and there is now another empty comb in the brood nest. What it also does is help prevent swarming.

    >This "push" of old combs to the rear is a good idea as you said, because older/larger combs will become the stores frames and be easier to extract.

    That may happen too, but mostly during the spring and summer it expands the brood nest and builds prevents swarming.

    >Also consider that the placement of old broodframes with foundationless - starter strip frames will force regression. House bees will have to draw comb to have any area to rear brood.

    They still have all of the space they used to have, but now they have an empty space to fill with a comb and then a comb to fill with brood.

    >This is a dangerous fall endeavor but your idea was to do this in the spring

    Once the nights are cold I wouldn't do it. Mine are still drawing comb and it's still hot. In the early spring they aren't strong enough for this yet. In the late spring it works well to prevent swarming and to further regression.

    >I'd not be so worried that my brood stock would dwindle in the spring as it might if this process was done in the fall.

    It depends on the weather.

    >Also keep in mind a small degree of regression occures with each broad hatch, cells diminish in diameter with larva cocoons. Used cells are eventually re-built when the diameter becomes unacceptable, but regressed bee have a smaller "acceptable" diameter than unregressed bees too.

    In the long run. But it's a pretty long run to get very regressed this way.

    >the point that I am trying to make here is if you have a hive that is under the direction of older bees, a larger cell could be acceptable whereas the shook swarm will result in younger direction where only a smaller diameter will be acceptable.

    A shook swarm as in only younger bees? I'm not sure of the "under the direction of older bees" and "younger direction" is going. You're assuming a shook swarm is only younger bees?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Bruce:
    Thanks for the information on the honey yield with small cell vs. standard cell size.
    Dr. Rodriguez
    Dr. Pedro Rodriguez

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