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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I think you're reading into things. I would put the actual percent of beekeepers using SC under 10%. Call suppliers and ask them what percent of foundation they sell is SC.
    Regards, Barry

  2. #22
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Barry, You may very well be right. I realize that forums such as this tend to draw attention to only certain things. complaints about suppliers for example. 99 customers can be perfectly happy and never post a word. but the one unhappy one can cause a 15 page thread.

  3. #23

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    Seems to me that there was a trend toward larger cells that resulted in problems with Varrao mites.
    Actually the problem with varroa mites is a result of the (likely inadvertant) introduction of an exotic parasite.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    "I realize that forums such as this tend to draw attention to only certain things. complaints about suppliers for example."

    Or brand new beekeepers trying to tell experienced ones how to do things. Yep, it's all covered in forums like this.
    Regards, Barry

  5. #25
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I've come to the conclusion that the cell size issue has come to be such a point of contention because of our scientifically minded culture. It's the same with some religious, political, and social issues. Scientific study is very very often simplified by making assumptions and removing variables so that the study can be based on just one or a couple variables and not all of them. It's those simplifying assumptions that really lead the science based in the natural world to useful conclusions and productive innovations.

    I am intimately familiar with these constructs as a civil engineer. I just finished a five page spreadsheet for the design of an aeration basin for a waste water treatment plant, and I'd dare to say 3-4 pages of that was based on assumptions made because actually testing for those parameters would be prohibitively expensive. In this type of engineering and especially with foundation engineering, factors of safety can be applied which smooths out the problems that may exist in the design due to simplifying assumptions.

    As far as I know, there are no factors of safety in beekeeping (except maybe in the amount of honey one leaves for winter). I submit that in scientifically based beekeeping studies, the simplifying assumptions are what causes much of the strife between the treating and not-treating crowds. Yes, the studies show that small cell doesn't help, but again it comes to the simplifying assumptions. None of the studies tested under real world conditions, over the space of years like actual beekeepers keep bees. I hope Michael Bush will explain it because he can do it better than me.

    One of the simplifying assumptions is that the number 4.9 means anything. It doesn't. It's just a number. It's an average. Averages are mathematical constructs, just like wind chill. They don't actually exist. They are a fabrication of mankind to make another simplifying assumption. 4.9 is useful for understanding the issue, to achieve a sense of perspective, but beyond that, it's useless. We all know for a fact naturally, bees build a range of cell sizes. So the idea of having a magic 4.9 number has very limited application. We choose not to make foundation rollers with a range of cell sizes, another simplifying assumption. I'm sure it's possible, but it would be a pain.

    It's like when Oldtimer was doing his experiment and he found out that his foundation was 5.0mm and not 4.9mm. He was concerned because he seemed to feel that he wasn't reaching his goal of real small cell beekeeping. It was my position that it wasn't that big of a deal.

    But here are the realities. Cell size isn't the only variable. Having exactly 4.9mm cells isn't the only answer. Dee said it was a combination of cell size, genetics, and management. Kirk Webster says that a collapse and recovery is necessary. http://www.kirkwebster.com/index.php...ree-beekeeping A big part of it is raising your own queens. I have always said that you had to lose a bunch of bees and expand up from the survivors. I only wish I had more time to be intense about it. One of the overriding problems in my view is that most people don't seem willing to lose a hive if they can at all help it. They always want to help. They always want a simple solution.

    But as has been proven, there are no simple answers. Treatment-free beekeeping is simple in concept (don't treat, expand from survivors) but truly understanding and implementing it is complex and difficult. Thus far, there are relatively few willing to do it. It's like I tell my tutoring students: "They don't pay you good money to do easy stuff."
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #26

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I submit that in scientifically based beekeeping studies, the simplifying assumptions are what causes much of the strife between the treating and not-treating crowds.
    I think you are oversimplifying it
    Much of the strife, as you refer to it, is a result of personal experience, in my opinion.
    Many folks, in my opinion, advise beginning beekeepers to go untreated without adding the following caveat:
    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Kirk Webster says that a collapse and recovery is necessary.
    Dennis (Bwrangler?) said much the same.
    This is my biggest concern. I get calls each season from new beekeepers whose hives have collapsed. I ask how they treated for mites. Sometimes I get a long silence. Sometimes I hear something to the effect 'I don't have mites, I'm using small cell'. And the next season, when I pass by their houses, I usually see empty hives or no hives at all.
    I believe there is a place for untreated hives. I've supported Dann Purvis and his queen breeding philosophy. I believe that, as Tom Seeley has suggested, untreated mites may become less virulent. But...from my experience, getting to a place that one can successfully keep bees without any treatments can be a painful trip.
    And I only hope to warn those inexperienced beekeepers to be prepared for that pain, if they choose this path.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  7. #27
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    You make some good points. For a number of years now, I have suggested two primary things to new beekeepers trying out Treatment-Free.

    First, don't get bees in the same year you decide to become a beekeeper. Stew in it over a winter and see if you're still interested. It gives you time to plan and accumulate equipment.

    Secondly, don't start with one hive. Start with no less than five.

    This advice, if taken, does three things, it makes a larger investment and longer time to think about it, weeding out those who aren't serious and it gives a greater chance of at least one hive surviving the first winter.

    Furthermore, from what I'm hearing from Michael Palmer and others there is a very high failure rate among packages and purchased queens. Newbees should invest in nucs alone. This seems quite a bit worse then when I started when I purchased 20 packages and after five years and no splitting, there were still five of them. From what I'm hearing, that can't be done now.

    I started a thread a while back for newbees and quickly got chastised for being a downer because everyone was sharing their cautions. But it's the truth. You can't just 'not treat' and expect everything to come out okay. It is far more complex than that. Some failures are due to simple chance, but many are due to not being properly prepared, informed, and educated. I'd submit that success in beekeeping is never due to chance.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Hi Sol, for a guy who is done talking about cell size, your'e not doing a bad job!
    I have some comments
    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Scientific study is very very often simplified by making assumptions and removing variables so that the study can be based on just one or a couple variables and not all of them. It's those simplifying assumptions that really lead the science based in the natural world to useful conclusions and productive innovations.
    Very good comment and I see this type of oversimplification over and over. Most things bees have a myriad of cause and effect factors. Although I'm experimentingwith sc myself, I do get frustrated with some of the oversimplistic reasoning used in sc teachings. One such is often stated, that around a century ago people started converting to a large cell size. This coincided, 70 or whatever years later, with the arrival of varroa mites and widespread other diseases. The conclusion drawn is that the use of large cell is responsable. To me, it would make far more sense, to bring another variable into account, being that during the same time period we moved from bees that were largely stationary, to the widespread transportation all over the globe of products, including bees and bee products, and cut flowers, which I believe may be the vector how varroa got to my country.


    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    One of the simplifying assumptions is that the number 4.9 means anything. It doesn't. It's just a number. It's an average. Averages are mathematical constructs, just like wind chill. They don't actually exist. They are a fabrication of mankind to make another simplifying assumption. 4.9 is useful for understanding the issue, to achieve a sense of perspective, but beyond that, it's useless. We all know for a fact naturally, bees build a range of cell sizes. So the idea of having a magic 4.9 number has very limited application.
    You may be right, and I hope you are. But the likes of Dee Lusby specifically state it must be 4.9 (or lower). In a lot of the literature this number is pretty much set in stone.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I dont have any dog in the fight on cell size so it is interesting to sit back and watch the discussions and see what kind of evidence is collected and if there is obvious effort to avoid assumptions or arriving at preconceived conclusions.

    I dont think that eliminating a big bunch of potential variables from your input is a scientific method of problem solving. It might get you quick answers and it could very conceivably beget the desired answer but that is not scientific method. I think it is the introduction as fact, matters which are accepted merely on faith or incomplete observations that make decisions drawn out. Failing to identify all contributing factors or jumping to conclusions about the significance of results makes for delays in solid answers.

    People have come to faulty conclusions and state them very solemnly and defend vehemently some that are simply incorrect, though they still be a matter of common discussion. I could state that from long personal observation of their concurrence and unfailing predictability, it is definitely a fact that the waving of the tree branches causes the wind to blow.

    Repeatability in other locations, accounting for all controlling influences, impartial observation, complete documentation of every move; 100% record keeping. When that is the process I think a workable answer comes fairly quickly unless there are forces at play on the problem that are beyond our understanding.

  10. #30
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    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sullivan, MO
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    875

    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I think the bottom line is that having smaller cells in the center of the brood nest where most of the bees are raised helps. If for no other reason than that the bees hatch out a little faster and 1 or more cycles of varroa breeding doesn't happen. I don't use foundation of any kind because I'm cheap. I don't see the need to invest about $1 more per frame when the bees are capable of doing it themselves. If this was the only benefit to being foundationless (natural cell) I'd do it.

    Rod

  11. #31
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    Dec 2010
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    Coatesville, Pa, USA
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    I don't use foundation of any kind because I'm cheap. I don't see the need to invest about $1 more per frame when the bees are capable of doing it themselves. If this was the only benefit to being foundationless (natural cell) I'd do it.
    Rod
    I couldn't agree more. When I started out I read all of the factors that have been discussed here also and (my wife wanting me to use "coupons" as she was / is into using) wanting to get more bang for my buck I also went for the more "natural" foundationless. Especially when MB said that in his experience the bees draw it faster than foundation. I do find it fascinating how the sizes of the bees vary so much in a single hive. Last night there were some bees (about 30 or so) that got stuck outside of the hive when it got dark / cold and they didn't make it back in. Well I went and got them and sought to warm them up and get them back in. It was very cool to see how they were all different sizes. From the same hive there were some that were very small almost to the point that I would have thought that they weren't HB's if I would have seen them on a flower or something. (not that bad, I'm exaggerating a bit) I'm not sure how things will end up, but It is a fun ride for sure!!! My wife is even getting into it a little which is a great blessing. The kids have been into it for a while. My wife laughs when we play / rough house and I'm a SHB and my daughter is a bee and son is a beekeeper.

  12. #32
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    What happens when you use both? I use foundation because it was convenient and worked well on my second hive. After my first extraction using a gravity drain and heater fan I got it too hot and lost several frames to a collapse. Putting these frames between drawn frames worked perfectly. I don't see where foundation forces the bees to make cells large or small unless they want to. From what I see foundation is just more of a suggestion to the bees. They decide what to do with it.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    It's more than a suggestion. Bees start with the base they're given with foundation. From there, it can go several directions, but it always starts with the base.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #34
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    Apr 2009
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    New Port Richey Fl USA
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Reading all those threads about "natural" , "foundationless", or "small cell," beekeeping methods with open mind and positive unorthodox attitude one must conclude that:

    Bees will build "natural" workers comb anything between perhaps starting at 4,6mm most likely 4.9mm and 5.2 mm if allowed. Talking about workers cells not drone cells here.

    Anybody agrees?

    The beekeeping industry in USA pushed for larger cells resulting in larger "better" bees in the last 100+ years.

    Any arguments about this?

    So there is no question that bees were pushed to build and use cells of 5.4mm or more is it?

    Considering how old the bees are here on the planet earth 100 years is a really minuscule period of time, yet they were pushed to use cells about 10% + larger than the ones they built for countless MILLIONS of years.

    What impact did it have on the rather miserable worldwide bee situation is a subject to discussion, obviously there is more to general bee demise than the cell size imposed on them comes in the whole equasion.

    However the fact that many successful and widely respected beekeepers (example Michael Bush and others) claim small cells solved most of their beekeeping problems, can not be ignored.

    I am an open minded person so I like to challenge orthodox ways of doing things not only in beekeeping but other venues too.

    Another widely accepted fact is that the bees form the nest cluster in a "sphere" shape and fashion, meaning round to oval.

    Many other and older beekeeping traditions acknowledges that fact (Warre, Japanese hive etc.) using square box perhaps not ideal but likely better than rectangular.

    Why do we use a rectangular box for a beehive in US? Barring all different opinions as to cubic nest size etc ?

    Narrowing the original Langs hive to 8 frame deeps, or 5 frames nucs makes it even worse and ridiculous.

    There are companies pushing "Garden hive setup" comprising stacking up several 5 frame deep supers for a full blown setup. Hard to imagine besides beekeeping merits how they prevent this narrow and tall thing to fall over in a slightest breeze without support. LOL

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I'd be willing to build a few 12 frame mediums for more square shaped hives, thoughts?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #36
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    Coatesville, Pa, USA
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    I've done 2 cut-outs now and it's 50/50. One was in a bannister that was about 4" thick and about 3' square and they've been there for a long time (so my father said. . . 10+ years) and looking at the comb it had been there for a good long while. Now it could be debated that it may not be the original hive, but there was no signs of pests other than mites. The second cut-out was in a eve of a roof and that was much more square. However this hive was a new one. There was one there in years past because I could see the old comb that had been eaten through by wax moths and the like. I didn't even fill 2 deep frames w/ the comb from this new hive. They're now in a 5 frame nuc but frame # 5 isn't fully drawn out yet. So they may prefer to cluster in a circle shape, however in my VERY LIMITED experience they make due with whatever they have.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by pascopol View Post
    Bees will build "natural" workers comb anything between perhaps starting at 4,6mm most likely 4.9mm and 5.2 mm if allowed. Talking about workers cells not drone cells here.

    Anybody agrees?
    Depends where you are on the planet and what bees you have. Over here, it's about 5.3.


    Quote Originally Posted by pascopol View Post
    The beekeeping industry in USA pushed for larger cells resulting in larger "better" bees in the last 100+ years.

    Any arguments about this?
    Yes. As previously stated it wasn't pushed. Beekeepers wanted larger cells because they believed, probably correctly at the time, that it would get them more honey. No conspiracy theory, sorry.

    Quote Originally Posted by pascopol View Post
    many successful and widely respected beekeepers (example Michael Bush and others) ..........

    Narrowing the original Langs hive to 8 frame deeps, or 5 frames nucs makes it even worse and ridiculous.
    Michael Bush uses 8 frame supers.

    Quote Originally Posted by pascopol View Post
    Why do we use a rectangular box for a beehive in US? Barring all different opinions as to cubic nest size etc ?
    Several reasons, i'll give you 3. Farming is not about being totally natural, it's about productivity. How natural is it to keep cows in a barn? It's not natural, but it's productive. Commercial beekeeping is also about productivity both in terms of what the bees can do, and the beekeeper can do. The dimensions of a lang are a compromise between what the bees like and what suits the beekeeper. Hobby beekeepers make their living from something other than their bees so need not be concerned with productivity, they can use a more natural design if they wish, no issues from me with that. But of course, what's natural? Anything a bee will live in really.
    Secondly, bees left to their own devices do not build a perfect sphere. It will normally be longer in the direction the combs run, than wide. Like a lang.
    Thirdly the length of a lang frame is a good length, that suits the bees, in a strong 2 brood box colony with queen laying fully, the type of colony we want, to produce a good harvest. 12 frames wide would probably work even better. But hey, how many of those would you want to lift around every day. It's a compromise. As a matter of interest I believe Brother Adam designed such a super, from memory, it was a mammoth 20 inches square. But he had teams of monks to help with the labor.

    I know not all that will suit some of the other views expressed, I guess my mind has been polluted from actually having kept bees for more than a few months.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I'd be willing to build a few 12 frame mediums for more square shaped hives, thoughts?
    I have had ten hives with that size for honey super since I visited Brother Adam in 1978. The brood chambers fit 11 1/4" deep frames. That size honey super weighs about 50 lbs full. Brother Adam tried many sizes of hives and concluded that that square size was the best. The six hives on this little trailer produced about 1100 lbs. as shown.


  19. #39
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Did Brother Adam explain his reasoning?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Natural Cell Size Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Did Brother Adam explain his reasoning?
    Yes. Read Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey. He like one brood chamber rather than a double. He liked deeper frames to give the queen lots of room to lay. He chose the medium depth super for it's final weight, I guess. He thought the 12 frame width was right for wintering in his difficult climate.

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