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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,824

    Default Natural Cell Hive

    Since joining Beesource I've followed the natural cell / small cell debate.

    Because of all the conflicting opinions, I've decided to do it myself & see if it can keep a hive treatment free, as some claim.

    A disclaimer, i am NOT endorsing small cell / natural comb as a mite control mechanism. I'm just going to run a hive & see what happens, plus update the thread with developments so others can follow.

    As I've never done this before I'm hoping for input from "small cellers", to guide me along the way.


    Where I am up to now, is I've selected a weakish single decker, with a small varroa infestation, and a young carniolan crossed queen, to be the hive. The dot on the queen is not a date code, just the pen color I had at the time. I've also removed most of the brood. I'm hoping this configuration will get them building worker cells straight off as well as drone cells.



    This is the hive, there are 3 empty frames put in, marked with nc (natural cell). I've done it this way to keep the combs straight. The plan so far, is that as these combs get built I'll swap out other frames, till the whole hive is natural cell. Then, I'm aware that these cells will only be first regression, so when a new generation of bees is available I'll be cutting the comb out of these frames to allow 2nd regression.
    Trust my thinking on that is sound, but any input welcome.




    This pic is a frame I put in 2 days ago. Going wireless was just a bit "too much" for me, so the frames are wired. I also hung a strip of foundation 1/3rd inch wide from the groove in the top bar, to get them started in the right place. The queen is also visible walking on the top bar. There is some worker cells and some drone cells. There is also some variation in size between both worker and drone cells.

    As new developments happen, I'll update with pics.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-04-2011 at 04:55 PM. Reason: fix picture size
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,386

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    From now on, any photos you include must meet the size requirements.
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=225753

    What season are you in there in New Zealand?

    Your method so far is not recommended by anyone that I'm aware of. Trying to gradually work a hive over to SC will end in a mess. SC and natural cell are not the same thing. I have SC experience but no natural cell experience. Your title suggest NC, but you refer to SC within your post.
    Regards, Barry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Orange, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    382

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    I am confused...

    I thought small cell is considered natural cell size of 4.9. Correct me if I am wrong.

    I know when first starting with foundationless or natural cell the bees seem to make a lot of drone or honey cells first then they convert to a smaller cell. When I first started with foundationless it confused me, thinking it was drone cells, then I was corrected and it was pointed out to be honey cells. The bees did fill in a majority of the larger cell with honey and no brood. They eventually made smaller cell sizes however I did not measure it to see if it was 4.9 to 4.95 cell size, but it was noticable side by side.

    I should have added..the wire will more than likely end up with zig zagging comb. I would have waited since they build the center first. To add the wire once they have the foundation a lower in the frame. In my opinion, biggest difference in you pictures and top bar hives are the extra side and bottom on the frame.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,968

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    You might consider using small cell foundation. As long as you are working on brood comb that will never see an extractor the wires are just to help YOU ease into it I guess. Looks good though.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Bergen, Norway
    Posts
    248

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Natural cell is not magic. Ii will probably be a nice experiment and you will probably learn something.

    It's mainly about the genetics, and even then a single hive is a bit like a coin-toss.:-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Orange, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    382

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Well I will give my honest opinion like I always do.

    Natural cell size (4.9ish) has been the bread and butter of feral bees. We as humans have made cell size bigger to produce, "bigger, better, stronger" bee. Now with modifying their natural lifesytle (which is there for a purpose) we have to deal with the consquences, which is up for debate.

    In my opinion, natural vs non-natural is up to the beek. I always say dont knock it until you try it. I even noticed on website sales warning on buying small cell which in my opinion should be called natural cell, that its made for the experianced beek. Does that tell me something? If it is good for bees in the wild and they have lived for millions of years that way, why fix it if it isnt broke?

    Just my opinion, but I have to be honest, I do have plastic frames and foundations, I have regular ole wax foundations. I have started like the above pictures naturally drawn comb in all of my hives, not a few to test, but there is at least 3 frames in each hive deep. I will be converting to the "small cell" this year and foundationless in my brood chambers.

    Its not enough we change where the bees live, but we change how they live too. At some point it has to give. Unlike other animals we try to domesticate, we can not the bee, but we continue to try.

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