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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    5,113

    Default Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I recently retrieved my first foundationless frame and measured the cell size.

    Here are the results.
    http://parkerfarms.blogspot.com/2011...cell-size.html

    I found worker brood cells from 4.9-5.2mm.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
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    2,490

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    The range was very interesting, however did you do an analysis to determine the average size?
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    How many would I have to measure?

    I guess for me, the average doesn't really mean all that much. I now know for a fact that there is a range between 4.9 and 5.2. An average is in reality a number which may or may not even exist within the sample.

    I have 4.9mm foundation and 4.95mm plastic frames. Both those are shown conclusively to be within my range of values. That's all I need to know. If the bees need anything else, they have foundationless frames.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,138

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Good experiment Sol. I'm actually going to do something like that once I've had bees on small cell for 2 years, let them build natural comb and see what they do.

    However, your experiment lacks one thing. To truly let your bees "regress" back to the cell size they would prefer, you would need to do the exact opposite of what people do when regressing down. You would need to remove all sc foundation, let the bees breed in the larger cells they have built, and then see what sized cells the next generation build. As when bees regress down, they need several cell size stages to do it, it is likely the same, if letting them regress up.

    The the next phase, once the bees have established a permanent cell size that may be larger than your sc foundation, would be to see how that affects varroa resistance, ie, are they as resistant as the others.

    I'm planning on doing all these experiments myself, so I'll be following yours with interest, if you take it all the way.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #5
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Actually another interesting thing would be to see if there is any effect on the size of the honey harvest, once bees have the cell size THEY decided to build.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    However, your experiment lacks one thing ... You would need to ... if you take it all the way.
    This stuff has been done to death, and I don't plan to continue beating a dead horse. The results are going to be the same as they have always been. The bees build a range of cell sizes that are typically smaller than the standard foundations available to us. There is no need for further testing. There is no need to find some 'average'. It is irrelevant. It's a range, and it's smaller. That really is all there is to it.

    I trust Dee Lusby, I trust Michael Bush, I trust my own results. I'd like to get on with my beekeeping experience without getting mired in nit-picking issues that really don't matter. The more foundationless frames I pull, the more I expect them to cover a range of cell sizes that is slightly smaller than the standard foundation available. That's all I've ever seen, that's all I've ever heard of. This is not new technology, not to me, and not to others. It is what it is and looking at it for more decades than it has already been looked at will not change the results. Furthermore, cell size is only part of the puzzle, and I postulate that it is part of the puzzle that has already been solved. Not all agree, but I can't change that. It's literally arguing over tenths of millimeters. It's not worth it.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Surprised at the tone of your reply, and you completely misunderstand the intent, and genuine interest of what I said.

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I apologize if my tone was offensive, it was not intended to be so.

    I really have seen all this before. It really has all been done before. Eight years ago, it was Michael Bush and Dennis What's-his-name and Dee Lusby and Barry Birkey.

    My experiment was to see if using foundationless frames was a viable option. It appears to be. I have purchased some Kelley foundationless mediums which I plan to test next year.

    Sorry if I misunderstood the interest in your post, I have a younger brother whose mouth often produces the words "you should..."
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #9
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Never mind. I've re read my post & can see how it could be interpreted the way you took it. I let my enthusiasm run away with me. Just that internet thing I guess.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I started out foundationless and that's all I've ever used. I have 10 frames of drawn comb in an empty deep that I was going to use in swarm traps in the spring. Whenever I get out to the apiary I'll measure a few samples of them for giggles. I only have an english units caliper so i'll have to do a conversion but it should still be accurate into the 10ths of a mm. We are going to get 4 inches of snow today so my trip won't be for another few days or so but I'll check it then if my memory doesn't fail me. Don't know if it matters that I have carnis (that have been making russian daughters for a while now) but they've always been foundationless from day 1. I doubt the results will be miraculous but now I'm interested to see the my own results

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,650

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    To truly let your bees "regress" back to the cell size they would prefer, you would need to do the exact opposite of what people do when regressing down. You would need to remove all sc foundation, let the bees breed in the larger cells they have built, and then see what sized cells the next generation build.
    Wouldn't you need to do this over several generations to see where they end up stabilizing? After each generation, take away the comb and require them to build new. Are we saying the same thing?
    Regards, Barry

  12. #12
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Yes that's what I meant.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #13
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    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I'll be interested in following your work.
    Regards, Barry

  14. #14
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Thanks. I'll basically be doing the same as I did with that other natural cell hive, but starting from sc bees. But this year is just about increasing my numbers of sc bees, I won't do the nc thing till next year.

    Once it's under way I'll post pics and stuff.

    From a comb foundation only person, I'm now doing some nc in most hives, just to get more drones out there. Anyhow back to Sol, don't want to hijack his thread.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    5,113

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Sorry guys, my days with experimenting with cell size are over. I don't wanna be pulling perfectly good comb anymore. It's taken me eight years to get a goodly number of hives full of well drawn comb and now I wanna start breeding and producing nucs and honey.

    If I had posted these pics back in 2002, I would have been very popular. Alas, I was uncool before uncool was cool. I'm hoping for a mass exodus from packages to nucs. Then I can handle some business.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    North Bend, WA
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Sol, yes it's been done to death. Still, it's amazing how many people still don't quite believe it. I make a habit of taking measurements on cut-outs and the like. 5.1 is about the upper end around here, with the lower end being 4.7. Interestingly enough, I did some measurements in Hawaii this year on some top-bar hives and they ranged between 5.1 and 5.4. I thought this was pretty interesting, but didn't really know the history of the hives. So, it could be an issue of regression. It makes sense that size might be climate dependent though.

    Food for thought.

    Edit: Ok I just found a reference to Lusby's chart. Why have I never seen that before? Makes perfect sense.
    (http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...e/climate-map/)

  17. #17
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    You've just answered your own question and explained why some people don't believe it.

    In my own case, when I started reading beesource I saw posts from gurus, saying that the natural size for a cell is 4.9 mm. From my own experience in my own country, I knew this not to be true. So of course I was cautious about everything else the guru said too. If that happened to me, it must also have happened to others. That's why there are non believers.

    The first person on beesource to tell me that small cell and natural cell are not the same thing, was Barry. I already knew that, but had got the idea that everybody on beesource thought otherwise.

    It's probably about providing full information.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,178

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I realize people in the know are bored with this information. But I am not in the know.
    Has anyone noticed a benefit to natural cell size? I do realize that it seems most people are going back to a 4.9mm cell but that could be influenced by being the most convenient while still being beneficial. Is natural comb worth it basically?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,650

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    "Most people are going back to a 4.9mm cell"

    Please qualify this statement. Are you saying most treatment free people?
    Regards, Barry

  20. #20
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    3,178

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    No, it is just the majority of comments I read here. Seems to me that there was a trend toward larger cells that resulted in problems with Varrao mites. I have seen a lot of comments that people have large cell foundation setting on shelves and they no longer want to use it in favor of 4.9mm.

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