Kiek, you are entirely correct and that was very well put...but I don't think it's a digression of any kind...if we are going to discuss studies, we have to understand them.
Kiek, you are entirely correct and that was very well put...but I don't think it's a digression of any kind...if we are going to discuss studies, we have to understand them.
Link to an earlier study which did show positive correlation between cell size and and varroa infestation.
If small cell combs produce smaller bees, wouldn't they be proportionally similar sized as large cell comb, developing bees to comb? So varroa would still be able to occupy the cell w/ the bee. Or am I missing something?
"Beekeeping. It's a journey, not a destination." Mark Berninghausen
ok, I do have some notes I made, but can't find them at the moment...so lets cover some of the issues with the study.
1. Although the author(s) cite some research as background, it is worth noting that there is no mention of anyone claiming actually using SC with any kind of result in the field. Obviously the authors are aware of "SC beekeepers", and of the claims of success...yet, it is never mentioned. This is unfortunate, as what has been written, discussed, and debated among beekeepers is very relevant to the research at hand.
2. ...For instance, only one possible mechanism of effectiveness (less room for mites in the small cell) is considered...one of which I know no SC beekeeper I know thinks is the only mechanism (or even part of the mechanism) at play. ...more on this as we proceed.
3. It's rather obvious that no beekeepers (or researchers) consider wax comb (built by bees with or without foundation) and molded plastic comb as equivalent. ...if we did, no one would have an issue with replacing their best wax comb with HSC. This was the most surprising part of the study....with no mention of any issues wrt the experimental model due to the use of plastic comb...again, more on this as we continue.
4. The bees used in the study were taken from colonies that "scored highly on a varroa mite drop test conducted 6 weeks earlier [before the packages used in the study were shaken from them]. So to highlight the issue here, they chose the most mite infested colonies they could, then allowed the mites (and associated problems) to fester for 6 weeks before shaking packages and beginning the study. This seems more like a way to test a "treatment" (shaking the bees onto broodless comb of varying sizes) for varroa infestation rather than a test to see if "small cell comb controls" mites....this is like testing cancer controls on patients that have the worst cases...and letting each case get worse for 6 weeks before treating. Certainly no one that claims any success with SC comb claims to have success doing what was done here....it is a test of something, but it is a straw man argument to imply that they are testing the same thing beekeepers are doing...even in part.
5. WRT the claim made in the introduction:
...is mite treatment the only thing between a dead colony and a live one over a 4 year period? Could the researchers (or have the researchers) reliably keep a colony alive with no manipulations, no feed, no management other than the application of mite treatments...for 4 years?"As a rule, if a colony of European honeybees does not
receive mite control treatments, the mite population
will grow from just a few mites to several
thousand mites in 3 to 4 years, ultimately killing
the colony "
6. This one is more of a question....in materials and methods, they state:
....I thought that brushing syrup on a screen like this damages the feet and tongues of the bees inside the cage, and that this was considered poor practice.....anyone know more?"feeding them with a 50/50 (v/v) sucrose solution
brushed onto the wire screen of one side of each
package cage. "
7...."There were no drone cells in any of the
frames of comb used in this study. "
Ok, so a few things are being reported here:"When we took our monthly measurements of the
colonies, we cut out any drone comb that the colonies
had built, usually along the bottoms of the frames. At
most, this involved removing 25 drone cells per
colony per inspection; none of the drone comb
contained drone brood. In this way, we prevented
drone rearing in our colonies and this meant that all
the mite reproduction in our study colonies occurred
in cells of worker brood. "
A. That in a colony with NO DRONE COMB AND NO DRONE BROOD that, at most, 25 drone cells were produced a month.
B. That in these cells, no drones are ever reared...in a colony with no drone brood.
C. That removing all the drone comb once a month (comb that never shows any sign of being used to rear drones) that drone rearing is prevented?
...all of this seems hard to believe...or the colonies were under some kind of stress that prevented them from producing drones....such a stress should be looked into as a possible issue with the study, not to be seen as a normal situation.
8.....to me, this reads that they measured 10 cells in the center of each comb (where we know the cells tend to be smaller)....and called it the "mean width". "Mean" can describe a few (related) concepts, but it is beyond any reasonable assumption to clam that measuring 10 cells gives you a "mean" for the entire 2 sides of a comb."We measured the
mean width of the cells in each hive by measuring the
width of ten cells in a straight line (inclusive of wall
widths) in the center of one side of each frame of
9.Of course, most of us with actual experience with HSC would have predicted this...and could have even suggested ways to mitigate this effect of molded plastic fully drawn comb...cell size may have been a factor here (I don't have experience with fully drawn, molded LC comb and acceptance), but certainly the brand new plastic is a variable that is outside what is being claimed to be tested...but firmly in the way of obtaining data to support the claims of the studyThe colonies in the hives with the
plastic, small-cell combs grew noticeably less
rapidly than those in the hives with the
beeswax, standard-cell combs.
More later...but this should start some things rolling....
Last edited by deknow; 11-24-2011 at 08:35 PM. Reason: number 9, number 9
Sol, I suggest you read the studies that are footnoted on the issue of "mite crowding" (I think I found them all for free when I looked them up). I understood better when I read them.
Is this what you were referring to?
"Low mite reproductive success in cells containing pseudo-clone was mainly as a result of increased mite mortality. This was caused by male protonymphs and some mothers becoming trapped in the upper part of the cell due to the pseudo-clone being 8% larger than their host and not due to their short developmental time. "
...I should say that I don't think "mite crowding" is terribly important, but reading those studies, at least you know what they are talking about.
Could you reference that Sol?
Martin S.J., Kryger P. (2002) Reproduction of Varroa destructor in South African honey bees: does cell space influence Varroa male survivorship? Apidologie 33, 51–61.
I've got a ton to do today and over the next few days, but I will do my best to contribute the best I can here...I think this is an important discussion, mostly because it is important that everyone read a study critically before accepting its conclusions.
In this case, I must admit to personally feeling badly about the study...Tom has a well deserved reputation for good work, this falls far short. The glaring errors (like using SC plastic vs LC Wax, abuse of the term 'mean', and the issues with the drones) should have been examined in the review process...it certainly took a long time for this study to come out, there was plenty of time to at least acknowledge the problems (when I talked to Tom about the study before it came out, he seemed surprised that I had issues with using HSC vs wax comb). This is a failure of the review process more than anything...the research community needs to clean up its act, these problems are obvious. The whole point of the review process is to make sure this doesn't happen.
One other comment I have on this is that you might note that the manuscript editor for the study was Marla Spivak. When I met her a few years ago, she stated outright that even regressed bees could not make small cell comb without foundation. I was running sound for her talk the next day, and I offered to bring in some small cell foundationless comb (from Massachusetts, that the bee inspector knows are not Africanized)...she said, "no thank you". When this is the attitude, Truth is not served.
There are a lot of other problems with the study...length of time, etc....some of this can be argued back and forth, but plastic comb is not wax. Bees on new HSC are slow to utilize the comb. You can't prevent all drone production by inspecting once a month. Sick bees do not make for a good study.
Let's back up a minute in the discussion and evaluation of these studies.
First, these are attempts to answer the question, "Does cell size affect mite populations?" Not, "Why does cell size affect mites?" or, "How does cell size affect mites?" but just, "Does cell size affect mites?" The others are excellent follow-up questions, assuming it does show an effect, but they are beyond the scope of these experiments.
Then, this question arose from the claims at the time (maybe those claims are no longer made, but running an experiment and getting it published like this takes quite a while) that simply switching to small cell would cure mite infestations. HSC was proposed frequently as a simple way to effectively cut down on mites. Starting with large numbers of mites is the only way to test that hypothesis and obtain publishable results (an essential part of peer-reviewed academia in our current system). Remember, too, that these published results were peer reviewed.
I hope some current trials that address some of the concerns raised here will result in publishable outcomes. I suspect the results will be criticized here as well if they are published.
After having looked over the studies, I think that it's safe to say that mite numbers/density aren't significantly affected by small cell foundation.
Others using small cell have said that their bees on small cell are mite resistant.
I take that to mean that they have developed a yet to be characterized form of immunity to the pathogens carried by mites.
That requires a very different kind of experimental design.
If you were to ask me today if it is do-able, I would say it is.
You have to ask the right question first.
While issues such as drones, and plastic comb, would best have been dealt with and standardised between sample and control, these issues were not really part of the debate at the time. I suspect they used plastic comb, to ensure standard sc size.
Case in point, when I started converting bees to sc, I had initial problems getting the bees to draw sc comb properly, and it was suggested to me by many, that I use plastic comb. At no point was there any mention there may be some difference in effect, between plastic comb and wax comb. I ran a thread on the whole process at the time, and the discussion can be viewed on beesource. There was similarly no more than passing discussion on drones, it did not seem to rate as important.
So the researcher hears the claims being made, and decides to examine them. After the study/s, new claims come out, by those who just cannot believe the study got it right and look for some new variable. Perhaps further studies will include or standardise these variables also. However a study including every percieved variable, plus the time frame, and number of hives that's being demanded, is going to be insanely expensive, I'll be surprised if it happens.
>To be fair, it was a study of the claims of the sc community, that sc bees on small cell can survive varroa.
No, it was not. If it was that then you would measure the number of colonies that survive instead of measuring bees and counting mites. That is the study I would like to see, one that measures survival and productivity.
>While issues such as drones, and plastic comb, would best have been dealt with and standardised between sample and control, these issues were not really part of the debate at the time. I suspect they used plastic comb, to ensure standard sc size.
I'm sure that was their intention, yes.
>Case in point, when I started converting bees to sc, I had initial problems getting the bees to draw sc comb properly, and it was suggested to me by many, that I use plastic comb. At no point was there any mention there may be some difference in effect, between plastic comb and wax comb.
The long tern success of small cell is not a problem with plastic. But HSC has been written about many times by many uses and all have said it sets them back two weeks. This needs to be taken into account in a study. Randy Oliver's study on small cell documented this as well.
>There was similarly no more than passing discussion on drones, it did not seem to rate as important.
The drone comb issue was written about at least a decade ago by Dee Lusby, who leaves an inch gap at the bottom of the foundation to allow drones and recommends a target of 10% drone comb and has talked about the importance of drone for mite control for at least that long. Her writings are on the POV section of Beesource.
>So the researcher hears the claims being made, and decides to examine them. After the study/s, new claims come out, by those who just cannot believe the study got it right and look for some new variable.
Maybe you could specify what you think those "new claims" are. Dee wrote about the psudodrone issue more than a decade ago. Any issues of drift which have been brought up were brought up years ago and written about and posted on my web site back in 2005.
> Perhaps further studies will include or standardise these variables also. However a study including every percieved variable, plus the time frame, and number of hives that's being demanded, is going to be insanely expensive, I'll be surprised if it happens.
It is impossible to take into account all the variables that influence the outcomes of a hive. There is not just what is in the hive but the 8,000 acres of ecology around the hive. The secret, in my opinion is to stop trying to take all those into account and make the study large and long term enough and stop trying to measure the minuet and instead measure survivability and productivity, which are the real issues. Sometimes you need to back up and see the forest instead of studying the cells of the leaves under the microscope. Sometimes you start at the forest and work your way down to the cells of the leaves under the microscope because the trail leads you there.
I understand the obsession of trying to test mechanisms, that is the hopeful end of the scientific method is to prove the mechanism, but first you just need to see if it works. Seeley was trying to prove or disprove a mechanism (reduced space interfering with Varroa reproduction). I think he should see if the colonies on small cell survive and thrive in the long run rather than measuring bees and counting mites. All cultures through all of time that we have any records have used willow bark (salicylate aka a variation on aspirin) as an analgesic. We still do not understand exactly how it works, and had no CLUE how it worked until the 1970s. Not understanding the mechanism does not discount getting benefit from something. I know of no study on the mechanism of smoke in calming bees, yet humans have been using it for at least 7,000 years and probably much longer, for that purpose. We have no clue how gravity works. But we know it does and we use it to our advantage. Finding a mechanism is not the first step.
As to the "new claims", there's been at least one come up which was not taken into account in the studies, and is new to me also. It's your own Michael, being that in hives with comb at 4.9 the mites go to the drone comb to the point of killing the drone larvae, and themselves, while sparing the worker brood. As you thought of this some years ago it's not new to you, but it's new to many. I've read Dee on "pseudodrones", but didn't pick that up from it. Although to be fair, I've probably not read every last thing she's ever written. The researchers probably haven't either, they may read a lot of literature, but they are doing their own work and reaching their own hypothesis.
Last edited by Barry; 11-26-2011 at 08:33 AM.
"Get past your ego and actually go see an apiary and beekeeper that is claiming success using SC. They go and observe firsthand hives that have "CCD" to try and gather data."
How would you know that SC was the responsible factor for survival? It could be less aggressive mites, mite resistant genetics, ...... To study the sc theory do you not again end up testing small cell itself for the reason behind success? The variables need to be sorted out, and sense made of them, dont you think? They have jumped to several conclusions about the responsible factor of CCD yet no conclusive reason can be made with certainty.
I think it would be great if small cell comb is great tool for mite control or for somehow giving honeybees an ace up their sleeve to combat or co-exist with varroa. I hope for the sake of beekeepers, better long term trials, observations etc. are done to put this thing to rest one way or the other. Like other people out there, I seek evidence through science, trails, or what have you.
What is kind of odd is that those who have success with small cell dont invite science to their apiaries and offer to conduct the trials. Why not take 20 colonies of small cell bees that are claimed to survive varroa, raise queens from these split the mothers 50/50 into two groups, plus their daughters, and conduct a trial with 50 on small cell and 50 on normal foundation? Four years later, lets see the results. Im not trying to say this has not been offered, and Im not trying to stir the pot, but if sc is a magic bullet, why haven't any stepped up and said, Ill prove it? I cant imagine someone or group would not take up the offer and even fund it.
I don't live in the US where all the sc apiaries are. In my country there are to my knowledge, two sc apiaries. One is mine, two hives, and the other belongs to someone else. I was talking to him yesterday and his sc apiary has gone from 50 hives a year ago, to 5 now.
If you are so keen for me to see a successful apiary get me a ticket to wherever you think one is. But I won't be putting up the money, I'm attempting to get my info by talking on beesource.
If you have some kind of a problem with that, your site, kick me off.