My experience is the same as Beemandan's. New queens refused to lay in 4.9 cells, and when forced to do so, supersedure cells were built on the first eggs laid. When the queens were removed and place in a new nuc on drawn 5.1 or 5.2 comb they performed well and headed colonies that overwintered.
Went & checked the hive today forgot the camera though. They have built a surprising amount of both drone & worker comb. The worker cells are still just a tad larger than my normal LC foundation though, shaking the bees & removing all the comb has not really changed that.
They must realise they now have to do some serious brood raising, the worker cells are nearly all full of eggs, and surprisingly, most of the drone comb also. I spotted the queen she is swollen up larger than last time I saw her, must be getting ready to really pump out some eggs, after all the drama the bees have been through lately.
Yes, starting to wonder about that.
But to be fair I'll have to do it over at least a 1 year period if not longer, to take in seasonal influences. If there is some time of the year they build smaller cells, get them to do a lot then and keep moving the smaller cells to the middle of the brood nest.
However the problem for now, is that I was hoping for at least slightly smaller cells. But with them bigger, I can't even start moving towards regression.
In another thread RRussell said (if I have this right), that cell size is influenced by distance from the equator. The further from the equator, the bigger the cells. If you read this RRussell and I have that wrong please correct me!
Which runs counter to many of the small cell advocates who live waaayyyy far from the equator and assert that their bees naturally draw small cells or at least thrive on small cell foundation.
As part of her small cell study, Jennifer Berry collected a hundred and fifty samples of brood comb from bee removals. All indications were that many of these were long established colonies. About 1% (1 instance) had cell sizes of 4.9mm or less. The vast majority were between 5.1 and 5.3.
As I said.....I'm convinced that it's genetics.
You have it right Oldtimer.
Here is a quote from the thread...
""""We run many many foundationless hives... AMM, Caucasian, and Russians usually get down to about 4.8mm - 4.9mm, while the Italians, Carnica, and most of the hybrids will only get down to about 5.1mm - 5.2mm. A few things to keep in mind about regression...
1. Each breed has it's own size... this is because of their adaptation to their native environment and forage... So some bees are simply going to be bigger than others and that is the true natural order.
2. Regression works the same way that enlargement does... be careful not to force the regression based on what others say about how big Your bees are supposed to be... its hard to let them get to their true natural state because each brood cycle will be effected by the wax that was built by the bees of the size before it...
3. The size of all creatures on earth is effected by their distance from the poles (or how close they are to the equator)... the further something gets from the poles, the smaller it becomes... The same specie of bee that is kept naturally in Brazil (4.9mm), will naturally be 5.1mm-5.2mm in the US...
These things said, I think its important to use natural comb nuilding methods if you are concerned about the size of your bees... Bee keeping is extremely "location sensitive", so what one person's natural bees would be, may be far less than natural for a different person... depending upon breed and location.
When you start building your hives into all natural cell, you may actually start to see some increase in their size... but this doesnt mean that you are doing anything wrong... it just means that mother nature is correcting our alterations. I must warn you however, we have kept natural cell for well over 100 years... when foundation first came out we had thousands of hives already and when we started using the foundation side by side with the natural cell, there were no noticable differences in production or health... just larger bees... when mites first arrived, our natural cell hives had just as many losses as our foundation hives... So I cannot honestly say that natural will make any difference in health, productivity, or survivability... but it is indeed neat to play with and for those of us that love to study creatures and natural order, it is quite fun to adapt colonies to theiir natural state and record the changes and methods."""""
Hope it helps!
Its basic biology. The colder the environment the more mass is required for survival. Natural selection and adaptation takes place. Not to say that other influences do not have their effect as well, such as predation and disease... which can cause creatures to adapt to be smaller, darker, and more aggressive. Also, food supply has a lot to do with it.
This rule applies to creatures that exist across the world of course...
A member of our research group from Belem reports average Carnica sizes of 4.9mm amoungst hundreds of study colonies.
The same exact strain in Bolton has been showing 5.1 over the past 15 years... this is both from regression through natural cell, and enlargement from small cell to natural cell.
The end result is that the bees will decide how big they are suppose to be by allowing natural cell year after year... And it is more dependant on the location and situation than anything else...
Standard (or Large cell) foundation may not be natural, but on the same hand, neither is Small cell... the only way to get bees to their natural size for the location and situation is with natural comb.
let that person go "natural" and eat whatever they want, they will probably not lose weight...they will eat junk food and stay overweight.
doing something "unnatural", like introducing a better diet and proving to them that they will feel physically better with 100 less lbs is much more likely to result in a healthy individual. when a system is broken, it often needs some intervention to fix it.
although we do recommend HSC in our book (honeysupercell.com), we have since had excellent results with the Mann Lake PF-100 series. these frames are not as strong as the HSC, but also a lot cheaper (available waxed or unwaxed), and the bees accept them and draw them beautifully. they are 4.95 (with is 0.002" larger than 4.9), and are a one piece frame/foundation (not fully drawn plastic comb like the HSC).
HSC works, but the bees are somewhat resistant to using it...when a package is installed on it, they will draw comb anywhere possible before using the HSC...it seems to take about 2 weeks for a package to start laying in it...and that 2 weeks is critical with a package.
we shook a few packages into completely foundationless boxes last year, and they all drew about 5.1 in the middle of the broodnest.
also, remember that wax is resource intensive for the bees to produce...and the smaller the cell size, the more wax is required.
whatever the preferences and pressures are relating to cell size, one might consider that bees in a very stressful situation (haven't raised brood for a while so the population is getting old, their comb keeps disappearing, and they have to build things up in a hurry) _might_ use a larger cell size to conserve resources (much like you might be willing to pay a higher interest rate for a loan you need to pay the mortgage).
if you have looked into the history of foundation and cell size, you no doubt know that badeaux was a firm believer in Lamarckian genetic theory. he demonstrated quite explicitly that bees enlarged with large foundation/comb would stay large for some number of generations.
this demonstration was used as evidence supporting Lamarckian genetics.
Don't forget to take measurements in all three directions. Take an average of the three. Here they measure 5.2mm.
Well thanks all what a fascinating discussion.
Good work Barry you found in a pic what I couldn't find on the real thing! I did take several measurements at the different angles and they all came out the same, so I guess I just didn't do enough. When there is more comb I'll take more measurements, plus put up a pic for those who want to try it for themselves! Just a comment on the part you have measured Barry, notice it is where they are joining two "bits" together and have had to adjust size somewhat to make it "fit". On the bits of comb being built without obstruction the cells are bigger.
The other thing, I've measured wild comb ( years old wild hives), and there seems to be a virtual standard 5.3. Very rare to get anything else. Our bees here BTW are italian and carniolan, with a remnant of AMM genes in them from when we once had AMM.
I'm doing this experiment to see if it is possible, by following writings on various nc & sc web sites to get the bees to go smaller, but without forcing them onto anything pre-made.
Anyhow, sc/nc is to me anyway, about varroa control, at least that's what it's proponents claim. So bees on 4.9 supposedly resist varroa ( but not in scientific studies). So the question is, if bees have fitted themselves naturally to something larger, say, 5.2, would that make them resistant to varroa, because since they have fitted up themselves to what they want, and given quite a few generations incase lamarckian genetics applies, would they then be resistant to varroa? As per RRussell he had similar losses in NC to foundation when varroa arrived.
BTW I'm asking the question not endorsing anything!! This is all new ground to me.
Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-21-2011 at 12:48 PM.
Hi from Hawke's Bay, OldTimer
I see you noted earlier that there is no small cell foundation in NZ. I've just recently made contact with Roy Arbon from the West Coast who has brought in small cell rollers and has them with one of the wax manufacturers - it just escapes me which one at the moment.
I think Roy was asking a 5cent premium per sheet, which seems more than reasonable to me given he's taken the leap of faith and made it available to all of us.
I'll try to remember to look it up when I get home.
Will be following your experiences keenly.
oh boy... you better get those studies going too. Lol.
I just want to say that I am not against sc or nc... but I don't see them as silver bullets.
Oh Hi DeeJayCee, another Kiwi! There's a few of us here.
So small cell has arrived in NZ!
I don't think our kiwi bees build as small as 4.9 by themselves, or at least based on what I've seen so far. So it will be interesting to see what comes of bees using Roys small cell foundation. Perhaps one day I'll try it but for now I'm just wanting to see if building their own natural comb will advantage them in any way, the only unnatural thing I'll be doing is juggling things around a bit to try to encourage the smallest cell size they will build.
Came across this study the other day . http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/documents/m08138.pdf
differs to some of the anecdotal evidence. Anyway if some kiwis tried small cell for 2 or 3 years they could the say if it seems to work here in NZ or not.