Re: Small Cell Studies
I thought quite a while about how to set up a small cell vs large cell study. There are complexities that are hard to manage. Here are some thoughts on a way to do the job with a very high level of confidence.
1. Set up a total of 240 colonies split into 6 different apiaries. 120 colonies would be on small cell and 120 on large cell. All of the colonies in an apiary should be one cell size to minimize effects caused by varroa moving via drifting bees from overwhelmed colonies to nearby colonies. (reasoning, 240 colonies is enough to be statistically significant)
2. Get queens from three different sources, 80 Italians from a commercial queen breeder, 80 Carniolans from a commercial queen breeder, 80 queens from known long term survivor stock that is on small cell. Divide the queens so that an entire yard is all the same type. (reasoning, this will allow genetic variables to be calculated)
3. Setting up the colonies will be a pain, you MUST have a source of small cell bees to get them to draw out small cell foundation. Establish packages in all 240 colonies using commercial package bees for the large cell and using small cell bees for the small cell colonies. (reasoning, this will get consistent brood comb built to measure the effects)
4. Run the colonies for a minimum of 3 years capturing weekly mite counts. This infers a modified bottom board that allows mite counts. Do not treat with any miticides at all. (reasoning, the varroa cycle is arguably 3 years so you have to keep records for 3 years. The only way to ensure valid results is to use no treatments.)
5. As colonies die out, replace them with walk away splits so that the genetics in a given yard remain pretty much the same. (reasoning, if there are genetic effects, you have to maintain consistent genetics to differentiate from cell size effects)
6. Maintain detailed colony records on all 240 colonies so that anova can be calculated on relevant variables. This includes recording buildup, swarming, queen replacement, honey production, etc. (reasoning, There are 3 variables to resolve, cell size, genetics, and mite virulence. With enough colonies in the test and with detailed records on all of them, some simple math will show which are operative in long term survival)
There would be quite a bit more detail involved, but this should be a start.
Side note, Dennis Murrell used to post here quite a bit as BWrangler.
Last edited by Fusion_power; 11-20-2011 at 07:35 PM.
NW Alabama, 46 years, 24 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest