Does one make ones' bees conform to small cell? Or does the regression to small cell occur naturally through making the bees draw comb w/out foundation? If you make bees do something they don't normally or naturally do on their own, isn't that as much of a treatment as anything artificially applied?
Just asking for my own edification. Not arguing one way or t'other.
Does one make ones' bees conform to large cell or any cell size for that matter? Aren't bees free to build what they want even with foundation? Aren't bees free to leave a hive (swarm) if conditions are not suitable for them?
You're very perceptive Barry.
I did de-emphasize small cell without eliminating it all together. I believe it works, and others I know believe it works, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it works, but the studies say it doesn't. There are also those who are treatment-free without it. I guess that's why I include it as a recommendation rather than a requirement. It is included on my "Natural Size Considerations" page, so it's not like I left it out completely.
I totally believe in it. I really started being successful in beekeeping when I was able to get completely regressed small cell nucs. I haven't looked back.
Hair splitting is what I do, but that wouldn't be swarming. And I don't know that bees like or dislike.
The scientific honey bee research community has taken the time, expense and energy to test the sc proponents primary claim, varroa control, and the results weren't favorable. Those same sc advocates now demand some impossibly grandiose experiment to prove them right.
As I said on another such thread, if you can finance or conduct a study of your pet theory….then that is what you should do.
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson
A tension I have is everyone is claiming feral hives die out, can't survive. Isn't that where the idea of small cell comes from? Another tension I have between natural cell and foundation. Do the bees regress into a smaller size because they have to work harder and are more stressed? Why did humans get bigger (before the growth hormone deal) easier life, no?
Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping
But it must be about management too. When varroa arrived in my country, the wax was contaminant free as until then it was illegal to use any medication whatsoever, in a beehive. But the hives dropped like 9 pins when varroa arrived. So more is needed than treatment free wax. I read a case study about a guy in the US who bought into the SC idea, before varroa arrived in his area, he converted all his hives over to sc, to be prepared. But when varroa arrived, he lost virtually all his hives. More so than his neighbors, because they treated.
A management aspect of being treatment free that has been mentioned, is constant reproduction. And indeed, when I read TF literature there seems to be much refence to making splits and replacing deadouts. So being TF might be about cell size, might be about uncontaminated wax, and might be about management.
It can't just be about small cell alone. And that's what the studies have concluded also. I see no contradictions.
I think over the next few years the small cellers will become more aware that it's not just about small cell alone, and take a harder look at what else is involved. I'm trying to be a part of that, as are others, and we can only win, by gaining greater understanding.
Unfortunately I think it is about changing the environment back to what the bees had before varroa and that isn't going to happen by any beekeeper / beekeepers. Over time genetics will overcome the threat of varroa but the resulting traits may not be so desirable as they once were.
Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping
Very good point Ace. That's why, in my humble opinion, it's important we actively manage the breeding process rather than let it be pure natural selection. They had pure natural selection in Russia, look what they got.
Since knowledge is the easiest thing I can give that doesn't cost money, let me give you some. A HIVE can't die. Hives have never lived. A COLONY of Bees, whether living in a hive or not, can die, being live animals.
Acebird and Oldtimer,
There is no such thing as uncontaminated beeswax. Even if the bees make their own way and produce trheir own comb. Studies show that bees will bring chemicals into the hive w/ them. Dr. Maryann Frazier bought package bees and put them in foundationless framed hives. After the bees drew comb, the wax was analyzed and found contaminated. One source was the environment forage upon by the bees. The other source could have been where the package bees came from.