Re: Small Cell Studies
Roland, Mellifera is no more and no less adapted to small cell than Ligustica. All of them have been affected by 100 years of beekeepers using large cell and selection for larger bees. The result is that most bees have the wrong size yard stick to use when measuring cells as they build comb. Did you know honeybees use their forelegs as calipers to size cells? One caveat is that if you are using Mellifera obtained from feral colonies, you might indeed get better comb building on small cell since they tend to have a much greater range of size than selected stock from queen breeders.
One of my early observations was that a colony that is adapted to small cell really does have smaller bees. I have a control colony from small cell stock that is currently on large cell combs. They still produce small bees and you don't have to do more than just look at them to know they are small. The difference is most visible just after a new bee has emerged.
This is why I suspect that small cell comb selects for smaller bees that have shorter development time and therefore biases the colony toward less efficient reproduction by varroa mites.
NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest