Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    If I convert my Lang raised bees to top bar hives, will they naturally regress to small cell? Or do I need to actively regress them with small cell foundation before switching to top bar?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    Ken,
    Well yes and no is the short answer.

    The longer answer is, yes they will regress in a TBH, because they can build comb the size they want. In order to complete the process of regression it will take 2 or more years, and then after that you have the tools to nearly instantly regress any other large cell bees you might get your hands on. Once you have regressed your bees, you will always have small cell bees when you use your TBHs, and they'll be smaller than if you used foundation. You must as time goes on, cull your larger and bad combs and replacing them with empty top bar blanks int he same spot, doing this EARLY in the year will produce the very best results. Once they start to build giant cell honey storage, you really need to stop trying to regress for that season and work again on it in the spring. Alternatively if you are really pushy and don't mind sacrificing a honey harvest you can keep splitting your hives so they remain small and have the necessity to continue building brood combs to get big again. It works well if speed if your main problem, but regressing in early spring has the best results as far as comb quality. In the end though if you are agressive the 1st season and then can in the 2nd season focus on last steps of regressing in spring only you can achieve a lot.
    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>

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    The other thing is, that natural comb hives like TBHs or foundation frame langs are mixed cell size, the cells aren't entirely uniform. There is some speculation as to wheather this variety in size increases the health of the hive. Although I am entirely foundationless I still strive to cull the worst combs.
    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>

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    OK, say that next spring I split an existing hive raised on standard foundation. I would transfer some of that "big" cell brood comb to a TBH and intersperse it with empty top bars. As soon as the new TBH is established I would begin removing the transferred brood comb built on foundation and let them build their own comb. Then second year I would cull the larger celled comb in the hive in the early spring, repeating each spring until I have small cell bees.

    Does this sound about right?

    Would it help if get some small cell foundation and start mixing it in this year? Or how about mixing in foundationless frames this year?

    Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    Any comb that is on 4.9mm foundation or natural sized will help greatly in the long run. The sooner the better. The more the better. I'd quite using large cell foundation and use 4.9mm if you want to use foundation or nothing if you don't. A simple empty frame between two drawn comb works fine for natural comb.

    I tend to think of small cell comb as comb built on 4.9mm foundation. I tend to think of natural cell comb as anything the bees build themselves. In the end using natural comb there will be some smaller cells than the 4.9mm but also some larger. There is more variety. But the end result is similar as far as control of mites.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Assuming that I want to immediately start using foundationless frames, what are the mechanics of switching? Can I take a frame from the outside edge of the box, remove the comb and foundation, and reinsert it in the middle? If so, do I just destroy the comb I removed?

    Or would it be better to insert a new, foundationless frame in the middle, removing an existing frame from the middle, destroying whatever brood exists on it? Or should I move the frame I remove to another part of the hive?

    How would you do it?

    Thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Hookstown PA USA
    Posts
    581

    Post

    Yep. That's exactly how I would do it. Make certain the frame is altered correctly for foundationless use though.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    233

    Post

    i'd take an outter frame out, put new frame in center.
    \"You\'ve got to stop beating up your women because you can\'t find a job, because you didn\'t want to get an education and now you\'re (earning) minimum wage.\"<br /><br />-Bill Cosby

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    &gt;Can I take a frame from the outside edge of the box, remove the comb and foundation, and reinsert it in the middle? If so, do I just destroy the comb I removed?

    If it's full of honey, I'd crush and strain the honey. But basically yes, but you have to have some kind of comb guide.

    Workable comb guides:

    o One drawn comb in the center and proper spacing (1 1/4") on the rest (Huber's method).

    o A triangular comb guide on the top bar (L.L. Langstroth's method).

    o A starter strip of foundation. (foundation cut to about 1" wide and attached to the top bar)

    o A starter strip of wood. (a strip of wood put in like the starter strip except made of wood. Some people have been using popscikle sticks)

    o The wax layout of the previous comb left on the top bar (and it helps to leave it on the side and bottom as well) This can be as much as a full row of cells or as little as just the outline of the cell walls.

    o An empty frame put between two nicely drawn combs. This does not require a comb guide as the drawn combs on the sides act as a guide.

    &gt;Or would it be better to insert a new, foundationless frame in the middle, removing an existing frame from the middle, destroying whatever brood exists on it?

    Why destroy brood? Why not either move it above an excluder or wait for it to emerge. Take honey out. Take empty frames out. Don't waste brood.

    &gt;Or should I move the frame I remove to another part of the hive?

    If it has brood, yes. If it's honey, I'd harvest it and either feed it (if it has been contaminated by chemicals) or eat it (if it's clean).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Thanks. I'll give it a try.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    I guess it's too late in the year for regression. Over the past three weeks I have inserted 12 frames without foundation in the three brood boxes (mediums). They have all been used for honey with huge cells even though they are mixed in with brood frames.

    I guess I won't add any more this year.

    I assume it'll be OK to leave these in.???

    I'll try again next spring.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Milford, MI
    Posts
    328

    Post

    It's not too late Ken, feed the foundationless frames into the center of the brood nest, preferrably bottom box. I could almost guarantee you they won't fill it with honey. I insert four foundationless frames at a time, minimum, sometimes 6 or 8. Yes if you insert foundationless frames above the brood nest or on the sides of the box, they often are drawn larger than drone cells, and filled with honey.

    It is not ok to leave honey cells or drone frames in the center of a brood nest, always move the large cell frames toward the outside of the box, then up, and eventually out, as you continue to feed foundationless or small cell into the center of the brood nest. You'll need to continue with this regimen even if your not trying to achieve retrogression, for the sake of keeping the brood nest from becoming congested and causing the colony to swarm.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    OK. I'll continue feeding them in.

    Regarding the very large cell, foundationless frames that are now in the midst of the brood nest, it sounds like you recommend I first move them to the outside of the box, then up to the honey super level. Currently these have foundationed brood frames on each side of them. My inclination is to simply replace them with new foundationless frames as I move them to the outside, hoping that sooner or later the bees will build brood comb on the foundationless frames. I have four of these in each of the three brood boxes (12). Perhaps I should only do this in the bottom box and just rearrange the frames in the other two boxes.??? By rearrange, I mean to move the large honey cells to the outside and condense the foundationed, brood cells in the middle.

    What do you suggest?

    Thanks

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Milford, MI
    Posts
    328

    Post

    Here is the top view of a 10 frame box, of the first stage in regressing your bees.

    [Drawn Foundation]
    -[Foundationless]-
    [Drawn Foundation]
    -[Foundationless]-
    [Drawn Foundation]
    [Drawn Foundation]
    -[Foundationless]-
    [Drawn Foundation]
    -[Foundationless]-
    [Drawn Foundation]

    Position the frames containing the smallest and most uniform cells in the middle, make sure frames containing a large amount of honey and drone comb are on the outside of the box. If there are full frames of honey, put them in the top super to bait them up.

    After those foundationless frames are drawn, take the largest cells, whether it be the frames that are on the outside now, or two of the foundationless frames just drawn, and put them on the outside of one of the top boxes. Spread the gap in the middle of the box, it will now look like this, if you only took the two out side frames.

    -[Foundationless]-
    [Drawn Foundation]
    -[Foundationless]-
    [Drawn Foundation]


    [Drawn Foundation]
    -[Foundationless]-
    [Drawn Foundation]
    -[Foundationless]-

    Analyze the cells to determine which are the smallest, and whether or not the cells are smaller than the drawn comb in the center of the brood nest. If they are smaller, they get positioned in the middle. If not, push the two previously drawn frames back to the middle and insert another foundationless frame on either side of these. Determine whether or not you have two more frames that need to be moved out in order to make room for smaller cells.

    When inserting foundationless frames it is critical to make sure this frame is flanked with nice uniform comb and not wavy frames. And make sure the end bars are tight against each other to achieve the most straight and uniform foundationless comb.

    As you are going to be acquiring smaller cells, you may want to modify your end bars as Michael Bush has suggested. The cell depth is directly proportional to the diameter, when it comes to rearing brood, so as we get frames of smaller cell comb drawn, the center to center frame distance will no longer need to be 1-3/8". Michael has suggested shaving 1/16" off each side of the end bar which will give you an end result of 1-1/4" center to center spacing of your frames. If 10 frames are modified in this manner you now have enough room to fit 11 frames in a ten frame box. And with this method you can now insert a foundationless frame into the exact center of the brood nest in the above examples. This method has worked very well and seems to help encourage the drawing of smaller cells.

    Whatever you do, I would not suggest condensing the foundationed frames in the middle of the brood nest if you are trying to regress your bees. This will defeat the purpose, as the colony seems to graduate the size of cells from smallest to largest, starting in the center of the brood nest.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Great and thorough instructions! Thank you.

    I assume there is no reason to delay shaving the end bars and perhaps it may even help get small cells started. Correct?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    Phoenix and Ken,

    This time of year you can't almost guarantee small cell drawing in the brood chamber. The bees are so focused on honey production that they are more likely to build honey comb in the center of the brood nest. You might get some worker comb at the very bottom of the comb, but its also just as likely to become a solid wall of drone comb. Yes you can do it, but the level of success has a likelier chance to be disappointing UNLESS you cut the nest down to 1/2 or 1/3 size, meaning you do splits to force the bees to refocus on brooding instead of honey. You can also instead of installing already existing large cell comb, shake the bees down into the empty topbar hive, and cage the queen to keep them there for a few days. That will produce better results for regressing. You'll loose future honey crop for this year, but it will get the bees back to brooding for sure.

    I prefer splits if you have the equipment to split into.
    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>

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    I'm seeing all different sizes of cells in Gilligan's Island, my tbh. I used starter strips originally, and the bees generally drew the size I gave them at the beginning. Later they changed the cell size to whatever they wanted. I'm also seeing, right now, small cell being drawn on the edge of some comb that was not small cell to begin with. The bees were 'standard size' Carniolan from a new package this spring.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads