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  1. #1
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Small vs Larger Bees

    I have read a few articles on regression with natural bee size and was wondering about some things.

    It seems that man is always trying to make animals or plants produce more all the time for his benefit. Take
    for example the angus cow. It's a farmers dream cow for meat production. Yet, it's survival in the wild would
    not be long unlike it's ancestors. Farmed trout and salmon grow faster now than they did 50 years ago as
    well because of man's breeding efforts. They too don't do as well when released in the wild. The list goes
    on. Some improvement is fine but the medicines used in food production is out of hand. I guess to have
    power is to abuse it and man does this all too well.

    Some of my questions are:

    1. Does a hive full of small bees produce the same amount of honey as a hive full of larger bees?

    2. If larger drone comb is usefull for controlling varroa wouldn't smaller comb size mean less varroa after a while?

    3. Wouldn't a larger amount of small bees bee able to survive easier in the winter compared to fewer larger bees?
    I imagine nucleus of small bees in the winter would be able to fit tighter and stay warmer. I also think that
    each large bee that dies in the winter makes a bigger gap in the nucleus than a small bee dying.

    I do know that larger honey comb size makes it easier to harvest the honey. I'm not knocking large bees.
    I'm just wondering what are the differences if any? I wonder if there will be smaller queen excluders made?
    I can see a 4.9 mm queen going thru a regular queen excluder.

    I only ask now as to avoid mistakes later and may we all learn together like a good hive.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    5,079

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    You are askIng good questions, many of the ones I asked when I was early in the game. However one thing you have that I did not is archives. Many of these questions have been asked many times over the years. Some have been answered, and some like #1 cause massive arguments still today. Take some time and go treasure hunting. If you thirst for information, I think you'll enjoy it. You'll get some answers here, but not as many and as quickly as you will find in the archives.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    729

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Organisms in the North tend to be bigger than the south. Your Natural bee size would be very large than 4.9mm. It is why Russians in the north have huge cells for their bees.

    I don't think size of bees will matter on amount of honey. If there is a good honey flow and both a small bee(4.9) and large(5.3?) are placed and both are strong then both should produce the same.

    This is also a topic that could be going for pages. So please do read the archives...they will inform you more about this topic.

    Also my suggestion is to try small and big cells and see what works best for you...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    New Port Richey Fl USA
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    238

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    As a new beek I am not concerned at all if "large" bees will outproduce "small" bees, my primary concern is about pest, deseases, bees health and colony survival.

    As a new beek I am open to new ideas, and also pay attention to history of modern beekeeping started by Lang revolution.

    Many blames extensive and invasive manipulation and alteration of bees by beekeepers in last 100+ years for current status of bees worldwide.

    There is many valid points to that thinking.

    The indisputable fact is that bee cells were made larger by comb producers with hope that larger be will be a better bee and bring in more honey.

    The indisputable fact is that bees left to their own comb drawing will draw smaller cells, and eventually regress to 5mm or less (worker combs).

    Use your brains and draw your own conclusions.

    Personally I like Michel Bush's ideas and I followed his idea of small cells from the get go. So far so good no mites and 3 healthy and growing colonies my first year.

    Many hardcore old beeks will not agree with any unorthodox thinking including small cells (you can not teach old dog new tricks).

    Also I did notice that beekeeping classes associated with Universities or any form of Government have hidden agendas either bowing to commercial interest or/and toward treatment industry.

    They will tell you that it is not possible to have treatment free bees, and in my State (Fl) official line by authorities is not to catch wild swarms cause they may be "africanised" or carry a decease.

    Never mind that all those swarms are survivors and they've been living in the wild for who knows how long, they learned how to deal with the newest bees enemies like SHB and Varroa mites otherwise they would be long time DEAD.

    Nobody treated them with any drugs or chemicals them neither Gov licensed them or regulated them but they are well and alive.

    I am fortunate to be able to attend a small local beekeeping group led by 35 year beekeeping experience beek, friendly and helpful to new beeks, and the only agenda of this group is to share experiences and help new people to enter the mysterious and wonderful world of beekeeping.
    Last edited by pascopol; 10-16-2011 at 08:26 PM. Reason: misspell

  5. #5
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    moravia,ny
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    1,208

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    rather than improving the honeybee you would better benefit yourself better to learn good basic beekeeping. most of the theorys about small cell bees cannot be proven by research labs. I,m not saying the people that advocate it are wrong but when universities like cornell cannot see a difference its time to just do good beekeeping rather than reinventing the wheel. good luck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,212

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    >1. Does a hive full of small bees produce the same amount of honey as a hive full of larger bees?

    According to any research I've heard of small cell will produce more. My experience is that I can't tell any difference, so I think that's the more likely answer.

    >2. If larger drone comb is usefull for controlling varroa wouldn't smaller comb size mean less varroa after a while?

    My experience is, once I got them down to small cell and natural comb (some of both) I have had no Varroa issues. No losses from Varroa. No explosion of Varroa population in the fall as i did every year on large cell even when treating.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessctheories.htm

    >3. Wouldn't a larger amount of small bees bee able to survive easier in the winter compared to fewer larger bees?

    Comparing pre varroa large bees to post varroa small bees, I don't think there is really a lot of difference other than the Varroa issue. But that is a reasonable theory. They certainly do better because of less Varroa. I don't think it matters otherwise, myself.

    >I imagine nucleus of small bees in the winter would be able to fit tighter and stay warmer. I also think that
    each large bee that dies in the winter makes a bigger gap in the nucleus than a small bee dying.

    I think natural spacing makes more of a difference here than bee size. Natural spacing is 1 1/4" while a typical hive is 1 3/8" and some people space them 1 1/2". Any gap is quickly filled however large or small it is.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm

    >I do know that larger honey comb size makes it easier to harvest the honey.

    Well, if you're on that track, just put drone foundation in the supers and use an excluder... or use the Honey Super Cell mediums that are 6.0mm (the queen doesn't like to lay in that size) with fake eggs in them (to further confuse the queen). But I don't have any problem harvesting small cell.

    >I'm not knocking large bees.
    I'm just wondering what are the differences if any? I wonder if there will be smaller queen excluders made?

    No need. the queens are no smaller. A queen cell is larger than the queen can grow to, while worker or drone cell is filled to capacity.

    >I can see a 4.9 mm queen going thru a regular queen excluder.

    She will not any more than any other queen. Any queen can get through one if she is determined enough. Smoke a hive really heavy and there is a change she will go through it.

    >most of the theorys about small cell bees cannot be proven by research labs.

    I would agree that some research has failed to and some research has shown it worked. "Cannot" is not a word I would pick to describe the current situation. "Has often failed to" might be close to correct.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Mr. Bush, I thank you for for dropping by and giving us your input.
    You do have a nice web site and that book of yours is on my to do list.

    I hope I'm not mistaken by what you just wrote. So do correct me if I'm wrong.

    It seems that you say that the queen stays the same size even with smaller than
    normal comb sizes. It's just the workers and drones that get smaller. If so that would
    be better than I could have imagined. This would allow one to see the queen even
    easier than before even if she's not marked as a result of the increased size differences.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Post voluntarily removed by poster
    Last edited by beemandan; 10-17-2011 at 08:53 AM.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    New Port Richey Fl USA
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    238

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by beeware10 View Post
    rather than improving the honeybee you would better benefit yourself better to learn good basic beekeeping. most of the theorys about small cell bees cannot be proven by research labs. I,m not saying the people that advocate it are wrong but when universities like cornell cannot see a difference its time to just do good beekeeping rather than reinventing the wheel. good luck
    I never implied in my post that "I am trying to improve" the bees. And I do not trust
    Universities and even more the Governments of all kind.

    Universities are corrupted by commercial interest, and Governments are trying to grow like a cancer and opress the people they "govern".

    All any University lab needs to do to find about small cells is to take piece of comb from the established wild colony and measure the cells to prove that size of the cells and bees was pushed up by beekeeping industry in the last 100 years. This is not a rocket science.

    I do learn "basic beekeeping" so far I found the less I interrupt them the better they do.

    Funny thing is many beeks question small cells "theory" but nobody can deny that survivor wild colonies live and sustain themselves without human intervention or treatment with poisons.

    LOL

  10. #10

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Post voluntarily removed by poster
    Last edited by beemandan; 10-17-2011 at 08:53 AM.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  11. #11

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Post voluntarily removed by poster
    Last edited by beemandan; 10-17-2011 at 08:52 AM.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  12. #12

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Post voluntarily removed by poster
    Last edited by beemandan; 10-17-2011 at 08:52 AM.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Jennifer Berry at UGA measured the cell size of brood comb taken from 150 bee removals. Less than 1% were 4.9mm or smaller (actually only 1).
    Hi Dan -

    Not sure I understand this statistic. Does the 1% represent number of colonies or number of cells in each colony? Either one would be suspect to me. I've never seen comb from a cutout be uniform in size. Always a range, and always some cells 4.9 or smaller.
    Regards, Barry

  14. #14

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Hi Dan -

    Not sure I understand this statistic. Does the 1% represent number of colonies or number of cells in each colony? Either one would be suspect to me. I've never seen comb from a cutout be uniform in size. Always a range, and always some cells 4.9 or smaller.
    Hi back to you Barry,
    When conducting this trial Jennifer was actually hoping to verify the efficacy of small cell. She looked for the smallest and the largest cells and was using comb from the broodnest. From samples taken from 150 different nests, only one sample had any cells measuring 4.9 or smaller. So, the 1% is actually less than 1% of the 150 nests contained anything 4.9 or below. It might make you happier to know that she found the same number at 5.4 or above (excluding drone cells).I can't explain why her results were different than yours.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Cole County, Missouri
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    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    From your second post it looks like you already made up your mind, and are challenging someone to change it. As a child I was one of those weird little girls who played with bugs. Bees were my favorite to catch. My family did convince me to release them but I would keep them for part of a day and study them. I also made my own science projects from wasps nest. That said. I remember honey bees being larger then what I see now some 40 years later. I too went to a bee class that stressed strongly against commercial bee treatments it even went as far as blaming CCD on commercial bee keepers. I paid for the class and found some valuable info, but I was also instructed methods that almost lost my first hive. But, I over came that. When our instructor was preaching the anti big gov, anti large corp and farming, anti treatment Anti anything but natural. I took it with a grain of salt knowing there is a movement of wannabe farmers who without first hand knowledge think they can feed the nation on a few acres doing it like they did hundreds of years ago. Not taking into account that we have millions of more people then we did back then. I love my fellow humans ( most of the time ) even the ones I do not agree with. I am amazed what we have done, and grown to such populations, and constantly improving the living conditions of our fellow humans and the animals we keep. Our forefathers if allowed to step into our world of plenty many would consider this heaven compared to what they had.

    When I first saw my bees, my first impression was OMG they are so very small. I am originally from Florida so the bees I saw did not suffer the size increase by being up north. I am up north now in Missouri and those bees were painfully small. I have no clue who the breeder of my bees were, but being that they came from the people who put on the class. It was most likely a no treatment breeder, and now learning about natural comb most likely smaller due to natural comb.

    My bees may have come to me natural. But if I were dependant of them producing food for my family. We would starve to death.

    when farmers make changes and the changes stick and become the norm. It is mostly due to a great success. People who farm for a living are not of the sort to jump on band wagons. They sit back and wait quietly until something is proven to work.

    If I were to base my judgement on natural comb form the bees I purchased. I would never use it. But I will be due to the fact of the cost of the foundation material . Now, if I have negative results. I will be paying for foundation again. One bee keeper mentioned he wishes he never went without foundation. I asked why and did not get a clear answer. I will not do my entire apiary that way, and may stick with foundation for brood chambers.

    As for all the new bee keepers going to classes like I did and meeting up with these very aggressive anti commercial beek people. I think the new comers need to settle down and realize that there is a movement (in my opinion kept rolling by people with too much time on their hands) That this movement is highly against all commercial farming. There is a lot of disinformation out there. And they attack through striking at public emotion. They may appear to have facts. But these facts can never be openly proven it always circles back to emotion and conspiracy theories and if you are in the so called know group. Now again I am not attacking home grown farmers who raise for their own. I happen to be one of those myself. I am on 50 acres and plan to be self sufficient. Because I believe a bit different then many on here. I believe if there is a conspiracy theory . The perp is not large corps that feed the world and give jobs to the world. The perp is those who are trying to destroy our ability to feed the world. By banning farming practices that are attacked purely on the emotional level. By showing videos of slaughter houses causing public out cries to close them down. I see them working and I feel our food will raise so high that our eating habits will match that of starving nations. Some of you know the orgs attacking commercial farmers. PETA ,HSUS and so on. But then as they blame PETA and the like they turn around and do the same thing by attacking commercial entities themselves. The commercial farmers across the board are attacked by PETA and other animal rights activist groups along with being attacked by the all natural and small farmer groups. If commercial farmers are put out of business life substaining foods will be too expensive to buy. And hunting will be banned and god forbid they ban home grown farmers which could happen. big corp feeds off of consumers they need consumers to survive. Anti corp well their agenda they do not even know. They just want to end big corp with no way of supplying jobs and food if they win.

  16. #16
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    Dec 1999
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    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Dan -

    Was there any way that she determined the age of each hive comb? Darker vs. lighter? I would assume she had a wide sample with 150. Less than 1% of cells does seem extremely on the low side. Talking with other's who have measured "feral" comb find more in the 10 - 20 percent range.

    To complicate the matter even more, I know that one can measure a cell (or a row of 10) in one direction and get one size only to measure it again using one of the other two angles and get something different. Most cells aren't a perfect hexagon. I don't suggest she was not honest. Just don't understand the different findings. I guess we all agree on bees naturally building a range of cell sizes.
    Regards, Barry

  17. #17

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Barry,
    The brood comb from those removals was supplied to Jennifer by Cindy Bee, if my memory serves me. There was no effort to choose old vs new nests. They came from Cindy's removals. Some were new nests, some old and some in between.
    As an addendum, I started ten foundationless hives a few years ago and didn't find any cells smaller than 5mm...and I looked. I've also added foundationless frames into existing broodnests and haven't found more than a couple with brood cells in the 4.9 or smaller range.
    Again, from memory, didn't Dee say that as one gets further from the equator organisms get bigger? Or is my old brain failing altogether? If I'm right, wouldn't natural cells up your way be even larger?
    Best to ya.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    sorry double post
    Last edited by beeG; 10-17-2011 at 10:05 AM. Reason: sorry got distracted double pasted

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    Beemandan,

    I was going to google up the study you referenced, then when I went back to your post for the name, your post was removed. Could you either re-post, or pm me the details?

    In any case, thanks for providing some real world balance to this discussion. So often we see, as in this thread, newbies with little experience talking about their over simplified views on how bees and beekeeping should work, according to what they learned in their book, group, or whatever. Then after a few years they are disolutioned from their bees not doing what they "should", and end up leaving the hobby frustrated.

    A bit like you, I've almost never found any wild comb getting near as small as 4.9, although I'm further from the equator also. So not sure about the supposed long term wild survivor hives that are "better" than commercial bees and have small cells.

    As per beeG, the small cell theory has not to date been able to be proved under proper controlled tests. However there are people who have success with it themselves, although defining success can be difficult, as one thing I notice about some of these people is they are often making lots of splits, just to stay where they are.

    As it's just not possible to get, from the net, the real story, because of the many conflicting "undesputable facts", I have launched my own investigation into small cells and natural cells by experimenting on my own bees. However it will likely be years before I can really reach a reasonable conclusion. To say your bees survived one year without treatment proves nothing.

    It does prove one thing though, sometimes even an old dog can be prepared to learn new tricks! Even those "hardcore old beeks" that get such a bad rap.

    I'd also say to newbies with less than a years experience, who think they know everything. Don't close your minds just yet, be open to wisdom from people with a lot of experience, but only if they have productive bees. Don't buy into books, groups, ot whatever, who focus on painting anybody with a different opinion to theirs, as the enemy. We learn by being open minded, not by blindly following the first persuasive argument we hear.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 10-17-2011 at 02:06 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    New Port Richey Fl USA
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    238

    Default Re: Small vs Larger Bees

    I do not want to insult or offend anybody, just use your brain and "think outside the boX"/

    Yes I am a nebeee. But I have an open mind.

    By the amount of deleted posts here I see there was some insulting posts by hardcore oldtimer orthodox hardcore beeks who insist that orthodox (last Century way of keeping bees is still a way to go).

    So again, show and prove me (as a newbee) that invasive methods of keeping bees including extensive manipulations, chemical and biological threatments, are a winning way to keep and SUSTAIN bees, inspite of indisputable worldwide losses and decline of honey bee.

    Again wild survivor colonies are a living proof to the contrary, but you guys do not want to acknowlege it.

    The Government is trying to maintain a grip on their "subjects" you and me.

    And the Universities are corrupted by commercial, really pharmaceutical lobby.

    Can you imagine they'd promote "treatment free beekeeping'" ????

    Treatment free idea would stop founding and support of many powerful forces wanting to keep current status quo.

    If in doubt just check the money trail.

    LOL

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