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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Thanks CB. All good advise.

    Another couple days have passed and the combs have been built some more, but nearly all drone comb!

    Oh well, I'll just have to let them do drone until they're happy then hopefully they'll do worker.

    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Knox County, Ohio
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    2,694

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Are the bees storing honey in the combs, or has the queen laid them full of eggs?

    If the bees are filling the combs with nectar and honey, this means the bees drew the larger cells for honey storage, and these combs are not drone comb. If the queen laid them full of drone eggs, then yes, they are drone comb - the bees drew them for the purpose of drone production.

    Yes, honey storage cells and drone comb cells are pretty much the same size, and they can be used interchangeably both ways. However, when you see the first use the bees have for these combs, it gives you a better idea of the bees intentions for these combs. Unless you shook off a bunch of bees off that frame, I'd almost bet that is honey storage comb with larger cells, and not drone comb.

    This is another reason to start foundationless frames in early spring, when they need worker combs for population buildup. When you give the bees foundationless frames later in the summer, the bees often build combs for honey storage.

  3. #23
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    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Yes I shook the bees off to show the cells. They are full of eggs, so relative to hive size, there will be quite a crop of drones.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
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    483

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Oldtimer,

    this is exactly what happened to me last year - I ended up with a lot of foundationless frames full of drone comb and drones (and I suspect as a result of this, a rapid acceleration in the growth of the population of mites and eventual PMS killing the hive - I didn't know enough my first summer to recognize the signs).

    I had thought that with available drone combs on the outside of the brood cluster, that the bees would want to draw worker comb on empty foundationless frames inserted into the middle of the cluster, but I was wrong. If the bees think it is time to raise drones, they will apparently take advantage of any available opportunity to draw new comb to make a nice place for the queen to lay more drones. Many of my foundationless frames were drawn as half-worker / half drone (split down the middle).

    I am going to try drawing any new foundationless frames this season in the winter and see if I am more successful at ending up with worker combs.

    The other alternative I am considering is making a true simulated swarm in the spring by making a split where only a single partially drawn frame of worker brood is provided along with empty foundationless frames so the bees can really draw what they need but starting essentially from scratch.

    I appreciate continued reports of your progress as you are 6 months further into the season than we are here.


    -fafrd

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
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    2,694

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    They are full of eggs, so relative to hive size, there will be quite a crop of drones.

    You may find that the bees decide they have no need for that many drones and cannibalize the extra eggs. They may not allow those drone eggs to develop.

    I won't guarantee the bees won't raise tons of excess drones, because then they will just to prove me wrong.

    Keep an eye on it and see what happens.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Bergen, Norway
    Posts
    248

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
    Oldtimer,

    this is exactly what happened to me last year - I ended up with a lot of foundationless frames full of drone comb and drones (and I suspect as a result
    I have this little theory that since drone-rearing are often suppressed. -The mating drones will often come from the hives where the bees really strive to get drones by making burr comb, rebuilding cells etc.

    IOW - Current practice favors queens/hives that lay more drones than average despite the beekeepers attempts to keep the numbers down. I assume that these hives will produce more than average drones when they are given the chance.

  7. #27
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Good thought.

    In times past it would have been a balance between drone production versus survival of the hive. But now, as you say, it's the hives that manage to produce the most drones despite the beekeepers best efforts, that have the most drones out there.

    That's excepting commercial breeders who intentionally run drone producing hives, but still the majority of drones in many places will be a bi product of "normal" hives.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,331

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
    I am going to try drawing any new foundationless frames this season in the winter and see if I am more successful at ending up with worker combs.
    Try drawing them in nucleus colonies. When building up, nucs rarely make drones. I sold hundreds of 4 frame nucs last spring, and they were in 5 frame cardboard nuc boxes. Of course they made a fifth comb in the empty slot...always beautiful foundationless worker comb.

  9. #29
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive



    The 3 combs are now almost fully drawn, all drone comb, and most of it with eggs and young larvae. A little honey in the few worker cells so the hive obviously doesn't think it needs workers yet.





    I've removed two frames of worker larvae, and put two new empty frames between the 3 drawn drone combs. this leaves the hive with almost no worker larvae, so will be interesting to see if they now feel a need to produce worker comb or if there will be more drone comb made.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
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    483

    Thumbs Up Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Oldtimer,

    I had exactly the same experience as you last season, but abandoned the foundationless frames in favor of drawn worker combs when I kept getting drone brood, so I did not carry it forward as far as you are going.

    I am very interested in the results you are getting - thanks for the updates and please keep them coming!

    -fafrd

    p.s. I ended up allowing about 4 frames of drone brood to hatch into my hives which I believe may have contributed to the accelerated problem I had with Varroa later in the season, but I have learned a great deal since then and need to approach the entire subject more methodically this time around...

  11. #31
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Yes good point about the varroa. It's part of the experiment to see where that will lead. However no brood has hatched in the hive for some weeks now as I've been removing it to keep the hive weak, so that might have a positive effect on current varroa levels.

    As it's a test of natural comb (regressed), against varroa, I can't really let the hive fend for itself until they actually achieve a reasonable level of regression, so I'll be managing varroa until then although allowing a reasonable level of varroa just to see how the bees go.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,394

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
    I ended up allowing about 4 frames of drone brood to hatch into my hives which I believe may have contributed to the accelerated problem I had with Varroa later in the season, but I have learned a great deal since then and need to approach the entire subject more methodically this time around...
    Dee Lusby says to keep drone population to 10 percent or lower. Sometimes when you try to make management changes it either throws the hive off or you get whatever they are in the mindset to do at that moment, which may not be what you are wanting to have happen. In this case, too much drone comb. If they were forced to draw out all new comb at once, they may have produced a different size and amount of cells.
    Regards, Barry

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
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    483

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Good point, Barry. The hive had nothing but small cell foundation frames in it when I added the foundationless frames and they drew all four of them out as drone comb.

    Next time I will make sure there is already some drone comb in the hive before I insert empty foundationless frames and I will also insert only a single frame at a time to monitor what they are doing with the free space.

    -fafrd

  14. #34
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    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Yay! Worker cell at last, being built on the two empty frames wedged between the three drone combs.

    Problem though , there has been no regression at all in cell size, cells are 5.5 mms. In fact, 10 cells are just a tad over 55 mms, where my foundation is right on 55 mms, so can you believe, they are building cells BIGGER than my LC foundation!

    Why is that? Seasonal? You small cell guys are going to have to help me out there.

    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  15. #35

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Problem though , there has been no regression at all in cell size, cells are 5.5 mms.
    I started ten foundationless hives a couple of years ago and excluding drone (over 30% of the cells) didn't get anything smaller than around 5.1. The vast majority were 5.2+.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    Worker cell? Are there eggs in that comb?
    Regards, Barry

  17. #37
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    No eggs yet, why?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
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    2,694

    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    No eggs yet, why?

    Then why do you call it worker cells? By the nectar I can see, it appears to be honey storage cells, which can vary widely in size.

    Usually the bees will draw the smallest cells at the core of the broodnest. Get a broodnest of worker cells, and then check to see what size cells they draw at the center of the broodnest.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
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    1,585

    Re: Natural Cell Hive

    I think the size of the bees is where the problem comes in... they are 5.5mm bees, thus they will build cells to their size... In most cases they regress the cells to be .1-.2mms smaller with each new brood cycle... this is found in the center cells of the frame, but to do this, you would need to keep building frames 2-3 at a time, and remove the old as soon as the new is layed... this cycle would have to continue until all the frames were the size that you expected...

    Big headache... I would ship you some HSC if I could find some for sell... if you were to give them nothing but HSC to lay in, all of the bees would be forced to be "small" bees... then you could cycle 2 frames at a time and they would get larger until they reached their natural cell size... it is much easier for them to increase than it is for them to decrease.

    Anyone know who carries HSC?

    I have a thread discussing this in detail on my site in the "Questions about Breeds and Strains" forum... its kind of hard to notice, but the thread is titled "Natural Cell (4.9) and best queens"...

    Great work btw!
    Last edited by rrussell6870; 01-16-2011 at 08:51 PM. Reason: forum title error

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Hive

    "why?"

    From the looks of it, I see honey starting to be stored. If there were some eggs in the lower cells, then you could call it brood comb, but if they continue to store honey in the comb, you would need to refer to them as honey/storage combs. This is the problem you are going to run into doing the comb building piecemeal. They are not at all focused on brood rearing right now, at least not in the location you are putting the frames in. Again, best time to be doing this is your early spring when the brood is expanding, or do a forced swarm by shaking them all off existing comb into a hive of no comb and let them start fresh. This can be very stressful on a hive though.
    Regards, Barry

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