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  1. #1
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    Some of you have probably seen this. But it sounds remarkably like what Dee Lusby has been saying for the last decade:

    "Effect of available space
    in the cell on mite reproduction
    For ectoparasities which reproduce in
    enclosed cavities the amount of space can
    be an important constraint on their ability to
    reproduce successfully...
    One consequence of space partitioning
    in Varroa sp. is that the first (male) egg
    is laid near the cell cap. This increases the
    survival probability of themalemite since it
    is the only place in the cell not affected by
    the bee’s molt (Fig. 2). However, the male
    mite must now pass the constriction caused
    by the bee’s appendages to reach the feeding
    site which is established by the mother
    mite on the bee’s abdomen (Fig. 2). Since
    only one male is produced per batch of
    eggs, its death will result in all the female
    offspring being unmated and so unable to
    produce offspring (Akimov andYastrebtsov,
    1984; Donzé et al., 1996; Martin et al.,
    1997; Harris and Harbo, 1999)."

    Reproduction of Varroa destructor
    in South African honey bees: does cell space influence
    Varroa male survivorship?
    Stephen J. MARTIN, Per KRYGER

    http://www.edpsciences.org/articles/....pdf?access=ok
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  2. #2
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    May 2005
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    Hi Michael,

    yea, I've seen that
    on page 7 of the pdf (looks like page 57 of the actual study) figure 2 shows the bee filling the cell so completely the mites are crowded out.
    Sounds pretty darn reasonable to me.
    Sounds like larger cell foundation didn't produce bigger bee's, it just produced bigger cell's so there was room for all kinda cooties in there
    Also kinda suggests to me that whole sheets of SC foundation might be a good idea (rat's, I like cheap)
    if you let the bee's build what they want, and they build a variety of cell sizes, and lay in different size cell's at different times in the year (as Dennis suggests) maybe you only get this advantage at certain times of the year.

    question: in your bee's that are well established on SC, if you give them a sheet of SC foundation, do they build it all 4.9 mm or do they rework parts of it to a larger size?

    this certainly sounds like another mechanism besides the shorter pre/post capping times to explain how SC could put the mites at a disadvantage

    Dave

  3. #3
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    >question: in your bee's that are well established on SC, if you give them a sheet of SC foundation, do they build it all 4.9 mm or do they rework parts of it to a larger size?

    I don't use much foundation. I'd have to go find some recent frames of foundation and see what they built. I'll let you know. My guess is they will still make some variety but not as much. But what they build without it varies a bit from 4.7mm to 5.1mm with most around 4.9mm. Actually there is occasionally some that's as small as 4.4mm and as large as 5.4mm (worker brood of course since drone is much larger) but that's not the norm. Maybe the variation in size serves a purpose. Maybe we should "celebrate diversity".
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    "Although reproduction of Varroa sp. is
    affected by the space between the developing
    bee and cell wall, reducing cell sizes as
    a mite control method will probably fail to
    be effective since the bees are likely to respond
    by rearing correspondingly smaller
    bees which explains the close correlation
    between cell and bee size (Fig. 1)."

    I admit I havn't read everything Dee, et al have written about small-cell for varroa control. But, I thought the theory was that the shortened pre/post capping times cause the varroa reproductive problems and hence varroa control. The above quotation from this same document implies that small-cell may help control varroa during the regression (big bees in little cells), but provide no control after regression (little bees in little cells). Comments?
    :confused:
    Triangle Bees

  5. #5
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    May 2005
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    unfortunately, on the next page, the last paragraph of section 4.3 (sorry, can't figure out how to cut/paste out of a pdf) suggest this reasoning will fail as the bee's will just raise smaller bee's leaving room for the mites.
    of course at this point they seem to switch from observation to speculation.
    the whole "bee size" thing seems to be not well undestood either
    Dennis seems to suggest the size of the bee's varies thru the year
    perhaps due to nutrition
    perhaps weather
    who knows?
    maybe the variation in cell size is so they have the appropriate size cells at different times of year to raise different size bee's
    whatever, it seems to me, that given the fact that the crux of the problem is the v-mites raising their young in the brood cells, it seems like a really bad idea to induce the bee's to build some un-natural size comb unless you have some REALLY good theory for how this would be good
    I've never seen a theory why larger cells would be good

    Oh yea: plus I'm a cheapskate and don't want to pay for foundation [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Dave

  6. #6
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    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
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    Tight space in the cells is one reason why multiple mites invading a cell to reproduce fail to produce the expected number of offspring. The speculation is this is due to competition for the feeding site AND space constraints.

    The shorter time to emergence of bees in smaller cells is in and of itself enough to impact the mite's ability to reproduce. Add to this the difficulty the mites have in moving around in a smaller cell and things begin to make sense.

    As for the space-effect vanishing when the bees start making smaller bees in smaller cells... Even if over time you end up with smaller bees growing in smaller cells a) the mites aren't getting any smaller... and b) while there may be proportionately the same percentage of open space in the cell, there's still LESS space, and this is going to cramp the mite's style, even after regression is complete. Does this make sense?

    George-
    Dulcius ex asperis

  7. #7
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    May 2005
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    db_land

    Hi, I really enjoyed stopping by and meeting you the other night

    back to the mite questions
    if you look at the figure 1 they refer to
    it really doesn't say anything about how the size of the bee changes as the bee's are regressed from LC to SC
    it refers to the size of different strains of bee's and the relationship between the size cell they build and the size of the bee
    the point is that this psuedo-clone they're looking at falls outside of the scatter of data for other strains, producing a larger bee relative to the size of the cell they are raised in
    it's not clear to me that the data represented in this suggest's that if I regress my bee's to SC I will get a corresponingly smaller bee that in turn leaves ample space in the cell for the v-mite to do it's dirty work

    it seems to me that this doesn't really provide "proof" one way or the other, it just suggest a possible mechanism to explain the apparent success many folks seem to report with SC

    Dave

  8. #8
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    Jun 2005
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    I have noticed with my bees that are on starter strips that they build cell aize according to there needs. Some of it is real big and others small, but what I have noticed is that I have less mite issues so whether it is bee size or cell size I do not really know. But, it seems to work.
    I also think the wax they build while not been treated is not polluted with chemicals which build up weakening the bees. You have to wonder about the chemicals that end up been rendered from old comb into new foundation and its effect on the bees.
    Just thinking out loud [img]smile.gif[/img]
    \"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

  9. #9
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    &gt;&gt;"...reducing cell sizes as
    a mite control method will probably fail to
    be effective since the bees are likely to respond
    by rearing correspondingly smaller
    bees..."
    &gt;The above quotation from this same document implies that small-cell may help control varroa during the regression (big bees in little cells), but provide no control after regression (little bees in little cells). Comments?

    That statement was not based on any facts they collected in the research. It was merely their speculation. Dee's continued success more than a decade later would seem to contradict that speculation.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    Jul 2005
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    Do I understand correctly that the inside dia.
    of a cell decreases with the developement
    of each generation? If so, how would this affect
    the subject at hand?
    “It is only as the intelligence of man moves along harmoniously with<br />the laws of Nature, that any improvement can be expected.”<br /><br />G. M. Doolittle

  11. #11
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    Post

    Murphy brings up a good point.

    "You have to wonder about the chemicals that end up been rendered from old comb into new foundation and its effect on the bees."

    For those of us using "store bought" foundation,
    we could be contaminating our hives right from the start!

    [size="1"][ November 18, 2005, 01:08 PM: Message edited by: Man O' War ][/size]
    “It is only as the intelligence of man moves along harmoniously with<br />the laws of Nature, that any improvement can be expected.”<br /><br />G. M. Doolittle

  12. #12
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    &gt;Do I understand correctly that the inside dia.
    of a cell decreases with the developement
    of each generation?

    Up to a point, yes.

    &gt; If so, how would this affect the subject at hand?

    The cell will decrease (very slightly) in size from the cocoon of the previous generation of bee in the cell up until the bees decide they are too small and they chew out the excess cocoons. With large cell foundation this will not happen until there are an awful lot of cocoons.

    My guess is (and it is, of course, speculation on my part) that a lot of the old abandoned hives we find still surviving without intervention have been "regressed" by this method. That would be consistent with my small cell experience.

    I don't know how the cocoons (other than the affects that come with changing the size) affect the varroa.

    Some worry about the accumulation of AFB spores and, according to that theory, the more layers of cocoons the more of a problem that would be.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
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    "Some worry about the accumulation of AFB
    spores and, according to that theory,
    the more layers of cocoons the more of
    a problem that would be."

    Is this where the suggested,
    replacement of combs after five seasons,
    comes from?
    “It is only as the intelligence of man moves along harmoniously with<br />the laws of Nature, that any improvement can be expected.”<br /><br />G. M. Doolittle

  14. #14
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    &gt;Is this where the suggested,
    replacement of combs after five seasons,
    comes from?

    Yes. The theory is, more layers of cocoons leave more places for spores to hide.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Oct 2004
    Location
    Casper, WY
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    Post

    Hi Guys,

    An interesting mite study was conducted in Europe, some time ago. The videotaped mite behavior by using clear, plastic cups for broodrearing rather than a beeswax comb. On critical point occurs when the mite must push aside the hind legs of the bee pupa to get to the feeding area on the abdomen.

    It was speculated by some of the first small cell advocates that the smaller cell size could restrict the mite in this way. And that maybe the 'commotion' created by that activity would allow the nurse bees to detect(hear) infected pupa.

    Regards
    Dennis

  16. #16
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    Just for the sake of debate, has anyone out there tried small cell and then abandoned it?

  17. #17
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    Nov 2005
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    re: Lusby's success

    Bear in mind when you listen to their "success story" that they keep bees in Arizona. This state is completely africanized, as well as sub-tropical in climate. Low levels of mites could be attributed to either of these factors. Further, african bees make and prefer small cells -- just the size that Lusbys provide.

    Remember the rules of cause and effect. I can say that the sun comes up each morning because I wish it, but that is not the reason. I can say the sun goes round the world, but that is not so. I can say small cells reduce mite reproduction, but have I considered all the other variables (african bees, mild climate, etc).

    If they raise their own queens then it's a pretty sure bet the queens mate with african drones.
    I G

  18. #18
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    &gt;Bear in mind when you listen to their "success story" that they keep bees in Arizona.

    There are a lot of us doing natural or small cell beekeeping who are NOT in AZ and NOT raising AHB. I'm certianly not in AZ and I won't tolerate mean bees. And it's succeeding quite well here. I have serious doubts that Lusby's are raising AHB. Dee works her bees bare handed with either a jacket and veil or just a veil. Her bees aren't the nicest I've seen, but neither are they the meanest bees I've seen. They've been doing this for 10 years now. No one was claiming it was AHB then. That's just the most recent explaination for why they are succeeding, since blaming it on luck ran out a while back.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
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    &gt;Further, african bees make and prefer small cells -- just the size that Lusbys provide.

    Here's the cell size a package of commercial Carniolans provided for themselves in my Kenya Top Bar Hive:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/47mmCombMeasurement.jpg
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/47mmComb.JPG
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
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    Mar 2005
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    Post

    Michael,
    Great pictures!
    I see you found some small cells on the comb. I did today also!

    Looks to me like *most* of the brood rearing comb in your pictures are of larger size (about 5.1 mm from a guess).

    I have been going through deadouts today culling comb. I find plenty of all cell size comb in my brood comb.

    Cell size is not an exact science. One can keep culling comb of the larger size if a small size is what they want. Culling smaller size if a larger cell size is wanted. Bees quickly adapt.

    Elbert Jaycox was interested in cell size and included his experiment conclusions in his book "Beekeeping in the Midwest". Jaycox found bees would increase or decrease cell size by up to 17% of what was considered normal. One amazing thing to me is that the bees never seem to tear down and rebuild cells which have became smaller due to years of brood rearing. I wonder why?

    I personally have better ways to spend my time than the measure of cell size. Today has been a culling of combs and I have taken taking the time to measure. I must admit since i went to 5.1mm. cell size (which I consider the correct cell size) I rarely see the 5.3mm & larger cell used by the bees AND cell size in the brood nest is more a uniform size.

    My comments are only sharing of todays observations and have nothing to do with small cell and varroa control.
    Bob Harrison

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