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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Hi,
    Sorry to bug you guys again with more stupid question.
    OK,I have been doing some reading on Small Cell after it was suggested that I might look into using it.
    As usual the more I read the more confused I get.

    I am using two deeps for the brood and then mediums for the supers as I need them. I am planing on using plain foundation in the supers with a queen excluder.
    The bees I will be getting will be Italians.

    So to start out I need 40 frames of foundation(2 hives) in the brood nest which I would like to be Small Cell.
    I have read about using starter strips and full size foundation. Which is best for me to use?
    What do I do after the bees are in and drawing the comb out?

    Basically what I am asking is if somebody could explain to me in an easy to follow(for dummy's) way what do I need,how do I do it,when do I do it and anything else that somebody of my non experience should know.

    I don't want this to turn out to be a hard and expensive hobby to have but I think I am making it that way myself.

    Anything you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hi Les,

    Have you considered a couple of top bar hives instead of the standard equipment? You have to build them. But they are very cheap and easy to build. I can build one from store bought lumber for about $30. You would spend more than that on just the small cell foundation.

    If you build a tbh, about the only things you would need to purchase would be a smoker, veil, hive tool, long serated knife and a bee brush.

    In a tbh the bees will build the comb their way. So you don't have to worry about such things as small cell, etc.

    I have a website describing my tbh at http://bwrangler.com/bee/tmyt.htm

    Goggling will yield several other good sites.

    Regards
    Dennis

    [size="1"][ October 24, 2005, 09:03 AM: Message edited by: BWrangler ][/size]
    Last edited by BWrangler; 11-07-2007 at 07:03 PM.
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  3. #3
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    If you are comfortable using foundation and you don't mind buying it, you can just use full sheets of foundation. Nothing that isn't standard operating procedures.

    If you would like to save money on the foundation, you can use starter strips. I'd cut them about 3/4" and use a wax tube fastener to wax them in. But you can nail them with the standard cleat if you want. It will go quicker and stay better with the wax tube fastener (see Walter T. Kelley for the Wax Tube Fastener).

    You can put popscicle sticks in the groove with glue and nails or cut a triangular comb guide if you like or just feed empty frames between the frames of brood in the brood nest with nothing on them but a drawn comb on each side of them.

    In my experience, any of these methods work fine. Take your pick. Or mix and match and see what you like the best.

    See my web site for pictures of foundationless frames and blank starter strips (from home made wax sheets).

    www.bushfarms.com
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    Aug 2002
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    Evansville, IN, USA
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    Les Evans . . .

    From one NewBEE to another, I must say that I would recommend that you start off using SMALL CELL foundation. To date, I have no experience w/ SC. But, anyone starting w/ bees (no experience) will have "best results" (not necessarly fewer mites) w/ foundation. After you have bees (and mites) for a while, THEN, try other ways of doing things. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Jenison, MI
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    The issue I have with foundationless (or starter strips) is that if you just put a frame or starterstrips in the hive at any given time, you are likely to end up with a frame of drone comb.
    Not so much when in the early spring or when starting out a swarm or package.

    Unless you start out with a package of specifically small cell bees(not just a smallcell queen), you might want to get familiar with them the ordinary way with ordinary foundation.

    I've never put a package or swarm of regular bees on small cell foundation, so I don't know what happens, but I understand from what I've read that they can mess it up. (don't know much about that though). If you put them on foundationless frames or starter strips then they will probably draw mostly regular sizes anyway, at least until they are regressed and that comb is replaced anyway.

    At least for me anyway, there were enough things going on in the hive and between that and my inexperience I don't need extra variables thrown in.

    Like I said, if you can start with package of small cell bees, then go for it with small cell foundation. That isn't an issue.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2004
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    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    Post

    I agree with some others. Start with full sheets of small cell at first. Expense is not the big issue in my opinion, more time it the issue.

    On second regressions you can integrate 1/4 sheets between fully drawn frames. My limited experience is that they draw out much better between drawn frames.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Northern California
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    Hi Dennis,
    I already have all of the standard equipment built but the TBH sounds very interesting. Maybe I will build one next after I get situated with what I have now and get the hang of things.
    Great web site,I have it book marked so I can go through it more thoroughly.

    Hi Michael,
    Personally I would feel more comfortable using full sheets as I have no idea what will happen when using starter strips,but then again I have no idea what will happen using full foundation either?
    I have read that the bees will mess up full foundation and I have read bad things about starter strips.
    What I don't want to happen is to invest time and money into this and have it all fall apart.

    If I start with full foundation,am I set to just leave it alone after that or am I going to have to keep on top of it doing other things?

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for your input. I put another tally mark under the use foundation score sheet.

    Hi Rick,
    I have also read that about using starter strips that I could end up with drone cells.
    No idea if one full frame will be bad or not?
    I plan on getting Italian packages,not sure where I would look to get small cell bees and I have a feeling they are expensive.
    I have read about the bees regressing(sp?) I know that has to do with them getting down to natural size but to be completely honest I am lost on that part as well and I wouldn't know what to do during?
    Maybe I should do what you mention and just use regular foundation?

    Hi Bruce,
    Thanks for the help. Expense is an issue for me but I do have time between then and now to save.
    So If I use full sheets when do I know they are in their second regression to start using 1/4 sheets between the fully drawn frames?

    I am still completely lost on what to do and when or what I need to get.
    I don't mean to bug you guys with all of the questions I have been asking lately and I will try and not post anymore so as not to wear my welcome out.

    Thank you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >Personally I would feel more comfortable using full sheets as I have no idea what will happen when using starter strips,but then again I have no idea what will happen using full foundation either?

    There's nothing wrong with full sheets if that's what you want.

    >I have read that the bees will mess up full foundation and I have read bad things about starter strips.

    The will mess up regular large cell foundation sometimes. Sometimes they build fins or parallel combs on standard foundation. I have seen less mess ups on small cell wax foundation than large cell plastic.

    >What I don't want to happen is to invest time and money into this and have it all fall apart.

    What is there to fall apart? The bees build comb and make more bees.

    >If I start with full foundation,am I set to just leave it alone after that or am I going to have to keep on top of it doing other things?

    Well, regardless of regressing to small cell, I'd swap frames out of the brood nest for swarm prevention. Others would swap them out to rotate to have new combs for control of AFB. This process will also help them regress another step. But I'd swap out frames in the brood nest even if you don't go to small cell.

    >have also read that about using starter strips that I could end up with drone cells. No idea if one full frame will be bad or not?

    Studies have shown the bees will rear the same number of drones no matter what you do. I don't see a problem.

    >So If I use full sheets when do I know they are in their second regression to start using 1/4 sheets between the fully drawn frames?

    I would use NO sheets between fully drawn frames. An empty frame works as well or better. I would use either a full sheet, a 3/4" wide strip or nothing. A small gap at the bottom is ok, but I woulnd't use 1/4 of a sheet.

    >I am still completely lost on what to do and when or what I need to get.

    Buy small cell foundation. Read about wiring:

    http://www.beesource.com/eob/wire_embedder/index.htm

    If you want to keep it simple, just follow standard beekeeping practices.

    >I don't mean to bug you guys with all of the questions I have been asking lately and I will try and not post anymore so as not to wear my welcome out.

    Don't try not to post. Be involved.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Rochester NY
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    I am also starting my spring 06 setup for this new beekeeping endeavor. Michael B. has helped me out quite a lot. I am going with small cell in all eight frame mediums. Does small cell require that much more prep for the foundation? I am going to use it regardless but is that the only method with small cell? Wiring the frame looks easy but what's up with the embedding? Is that a hot iron? The foundation is Wax I presume? Can someone explain that part of the process to me?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    >Does small cell require that much more prep for the foundation?

    The same as any wax foundation, large or small cell. As OD Frank is fond of pointing out, the bees much prefer the wax to the plastic. Most beekeepers have wired and waxed for the last 100 years or so. Plastic is really only recently gotten popular.

    >I am going to use it regardless but is that the only method with small cell?

    You have several choices, but the most straigtforward, from a "standard beekeeping" point of view is just use the small cell like any wax foundation. From a work point of view, the simplist may be the starter strips or a comb guide.

    >Wiring the frame looks easy but what's up with the embedding?

    The wax needs to be connected to the wires if it's going to hold it well until the bees draw it. The longer you wait to put it in before the bees draw it the less problems you'll have. The wax is a slow liquid. It will fold and collapse. How quickly is a function of how well it's connected to wires and the frame and how cool it's stored. The hotter it is the more quickly it will sag. It will ALWAYS sag. It's just a matter of time and steps to lengthen that time. If the bees get it drawn first, then you're in business.

    >Is that a hot iron?

    You can buy electric embedders from Walter T. Kelly and I think Dadant. Or, if you're handy with electrical devices, you can make one.

    >The foundation is Wax I presume?

    Yes.

    >Can someone explain that part of the process to me?

    The pictures are most helpful. You can get by with a lot of things, like a spur embedder instead of the transformer, or just pull the wire tight instead of crimping, but IF I'm going to go to that much trouble, I'd just as soon crimp the wire and electrically embed it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Aug 2002
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    BTW You can search the web and beekeeping books and look for info on embedding. It's a standard beekeeping function and not special to small cell by any means.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Hi Michael,
    Thank you for answering my questions.

    Well I was thinking about the small cell again today and reading more on it and have just about decided to just go with regular large cell(seems less complicated).
    Still not sure though. I wish I was the type of person that makes things more difficult then they need to be.
    What I mean about having things fall apart is.....invest the time and money into this($52? for 50 sheets) and then have things go wrong like not swapping frames when and how they should be and all of that other fun stuff. If it can go wrong I am the person it happens to.

    My dad is going to help me with the bees as he used to keep them something like 20 years ago or so. He isn't up to date on this stuff but he thinks I should just stick with regular foundation since that is what he is knows and he also agrees that I am making things more complicated then should be.

    You have answered my questions in such a way(bluntly so say) as I can understand them. I appreciate that.

    Thank you again for all of your help and taking the time to do so.

  13. #13
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    Oct 2004
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    A french guy living in Chester, UK
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    I am also very interested in building my own tbh hive, and was wondering where i could get some plans?

    How many types of tbh are around and which one of them would give the best results for small cell/fight against varroa?
    thanks

  14. #14
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    >...and have just about decided to just go with regular large cell(seems less complicated).

    What seems less complicated about it? There is no difference in complication between large cell wired wax and small cell wired wax. There is LESS complication if you're using starter strips or popscicle sticks in the groove.

    >Still not sure though. I wish I was the type of person that makes things more difficult then they need to be.

    And you're not?

    >What I mean about having things fall apart is.....invest the time and money into this($52? for 50 sheets) and then have things go wrong like not swapping frames when and how they should be and all of that other fun stuff. If it can go wrong I am the person it happens to.

    If you don't ever swap frames you'll still be ahead of the game with smaller cells and less mites.

    >My dad is going to help me with the bees as he used to keep them something like 20 years ago or so. He isn't up to date on this stuff but he thinks I should just stick with regular foundation since that is what he is knows

    Then wired wax will be quite normal to him. He'll never notice the difference in cell size on the foundation. The mites will. The bees will, but I bet he never noticed the size before.

    >I am also very interested in building my own tbh hive, and was wondering where i could get some plans?

    There's nothing complicated. I have pictures and dimensions on my web site, but no carefully drawn plans. Mine is just one by twelves cut square to length and a one by six for the bottom.

    www.bushfarms.com

    >How many types of tbh are around

    The two basic kinds are TTBH (Tanzanian Top Bar Hive) and KTBH (Kenya Top Bar Hive). The Tanzanian has straight sides and the Kenya has sloped sides. I made my TTBH the same as my long medium hives. I make the KTBH as simple as I could to construct. The advantage of the shorter bars is the bees stay on the bars better than the longer ones.

    >...and which one of them would give the best results for small cell/fight against varroa?

    As far as varroa, I don't see any difference. It's all natural sized comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Aug 2002
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    Evansville, IN, USA
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    >You have answered my questions in such a way . . . as I can understand them.

    Thats what makes him "MrBEE"!!!

    >I appreciate that.

    Me too [img]smile.gif[/img]

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Northern California
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    Hi Michael,
    Ok,I know I should have been convinced a long time ago but you have convinced me now so I am going to go with SC foundation. Case closed.
    Now the only thing I need to decide(I know...Oh boy here we go again)is wether I should go with full sheets or starter strips?
    I feel more comfortable with full sheets,for what reason I don't know but starter strips seem to be the way to go price wise.

    >Still not sure though. I wish I was the type of person that makes things more difficult then they need to be.

    >And you're not?

    Let me rephrase that...... I wish I wasn't the type of person that makes things more difficult then it needs to be. That sounds more like it.

    So to lay it out here is what I need to try and do some more reading on to understand....
    Do I want full sheets or starter strips?
    When/why/how do I swap frames?
    And anything else that might(and I am sure they will)pop up along the way.

    Thanks for all of your help and patience in helping me Michael its most appreciate.
    Hopefully one day I will be able to repay you.

  17. #17
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    >I feel more comfortable with full sheets,for what reason I don't know but starter strips seem to be the way to go price wise.

    If price is the issue, go with starter strips. If you have the money and feel more comfortable with the full sheets, go with the full sheets. I think you'll be happy with either.

    >So to lay it out here is what I need to try and do some more reading on to understand....
    Do I want full sheets or starter strips?

    It really doesn't matter that much. Take your pick.

    >When/why/how do I swap frames?

    I swap frames to prevent swarming. I always did. The only difference now is, I check them for size and decide whether to move them to the outside or cull them. But I really don't cull many. I just put them on the outside edges of the brood nest or in the supers if they are larger than 4.9mm. It's no rush. You need to open up the brood nest anyway to prevent swarming in the spring. Some people cull combs when they are darker etc. An easy time to cull combs is first thing in the early spring before there's any flow when most of the combs are empty, or anytime when the combs have just honey in them and not brood. I just do it when I'm doing manipulations anyway or the comb is empty anyway. Don't work too hard at it, just keep it in mind. When you have an empty comb, measure the cell size and decide if it belongs in the center of the brood nest (4.9mm or smaller in the center of the comb) on the edge of the brood nest (5.0 to 5.1mm) or in the supers (larger than 5.1mm). Even if there's brood or honey in the comb you can move it to the edge instead of the center of the brood nest or move it up a box to open up the brood nest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    Aug 2005
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    Hi Michael,
    I think I will go ahead and go with full sheets to start out and then latter on if/when I get more hives I will go with starter strips or none at all. at least by then I should know what I am doing.

    So lets see if I understand.... In the spring I want to open the brood box up to help prevent swarming by doing this I am swapping out drawn frames with new un drawn comb while at the same time I am measuring the cells for size.....smaller in the middle and bigger on the outside edges.

    I think I understand now. I printed your last post of and will keep that for records on how to do this.

    Thank you

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Raleigh, North Carolina
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    Les,

    I'm a first year beekeeper trying to do the things you're thinking about.
    Let me describe my experience, maybe it'll clear some stuff up for you.
    Ok, you get a package of bee's and put em in you hive which is 1 box tall.
    They release the queen and start drawing comb and raising more bee's, life is good.
    After about a month, they've filled up about 75% of the box and it's time to add another box.
    Now's your first good opportunity.
    The bee's you bought are old and nearing the end of their life.
    The eggs the queen layed are emerging and these new bee's are ready to build comb.
    These new bee's have been raised in comb that was built on your small cell foundation or starter strip, whichever you used.
    So you take a couple of frames of drawn comb out of the original box, and put em in the center of the new box your getting ready to add.
    This will help attact the bee's up into the new box.
    Now you have free space in the original box.
    You can put in some new frames of SC foundation, which will get drawn out by your new bee's [img]smile.gif[/img]
    This is you first "shuffeling" of frames
    Didn't hurt a bit did it?
    Later in the year you'll probably need to add another box.
    Another chance to go through the same process.

    Now, it's important to understand, you'd be going thru this process even if you were using regular foundation. But since you're trying to use small cell, your using this process to allow you to keep introducing new sheets of SC foundation into the brood nest.

    Fast forward, your bee's do great and make it thru the winter in good shape.

    The bee's natural tendency, is to have explosive population growth in early spring. They're getting ready for the honey flow.
    They tend to get overcrowded and swarm.
    This is how they reproduce, but as beekeepers, we don't want em to do that. (you lose half your bee's)
    We want em to all stay in the hive and create an un-naturally big "super hive" that will go out and gather more honey that a regular hive would.
    Then we can steal most of it. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Bingo, here's your next chance to shuffle frames.
    There are lot's of ideas about the best way to do things at this time of year, let's look at the simplest.
    There will be frames on the outside of the hive where the bee's have used all the honey and pollen so the frames are empty.
    Take em out, now you have room to insert some
    frames with SC foundtion.
    Shuffle em around so you put the new frames in the center. Do kinda of an old frame/new frame/old frame pattern

    Ha! that didn't hurt either, did it? (unless you got stung)

    The point here is that you would be making all these manipulations regardless of whether you were trying to do SC or not. They're just part of managing the bee's.
    What you're doing is using these routine manipulations to have an chance to introduce some new opportunity for the bee's to build small cell comb.
    It's really not different from using regular foundation.

    Here's my thoughts on starter strips vs foundation
    I didn't like my first attempt with foundation
    I tried strips and had better luck
    But clearly the majority here is recomending foundation.
    How bout this, half strips, half foundation, and alternate em.
    I've never done that but I kinda like the idea
    It would also be a nice experiment to see which one the bee's like best
    Whatever you do the bee's are gonna build a box full of comb, the point is to get em to draw it within the plane of the frames.
    If they mess one up you get to take it out and eat the honey and

    give em another frame of SC foundation!

    There's nothing really that hard about it
    the bee's will build a hive no matter what you do.
    But there is one point.
    You can't assume this or anything else will handle the varroa problem
    You have to monitor them and be prepared to treat them if needed.
    There are many treatments available, that's another topic.

    Dave

    [size="1"][ October 27, 2005, 07:48 PM: Message edited by: drobbins ][/size]

  20. #20
    Join Date
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    Hi Dave,
    Wow,Thanks for such a great reply.
    This added to what Michael and others have told me is just what I needed.
    I can honestly say I get the whole process now. Thank you.
    After reading this I don't understand why I was making this out to be harder then it is. I feel like an idiot now.

    What I think I am going to do is start out on full sheets and then when it is time to swap I will use starter strips.

    I know that this wont be a cure all for mites and I plan on monitoring for mites about every other week to start off and then going to once a month.
    I have been reading up on FGMO as I would really like to keep this as chemical free as I can so I will probably be going that route when and if I need to.

    Thanks again guys for putting up with me and answering all of my question. I don't even have the bees yet and I already feel like I am getting the hang of it Thanks to all of you and this great site.
    Imagine what I will learn when the bees finally arrive and I get some hands on learning.

    Small Cell it is.

    Thank you.

    [size="1"][ October 28, 2005, 01:43 AM: Message edited by: Les Evans ][/size]

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