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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
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    552

    Default Going small cell

    I will be trying to convert to small cell in the spring. My established hives are all 5.4. I'm going to get a few more packages in the spring so I'm thinking I'll just put in SC foundation with these bees since it's basically a shake down. I was also wanting to put in a couple of drawn frames to get them started, but I'm not sure if that's such a good idea considering they're LC. Do I give them a couple and then rotate them out as the season progresses?
    The new packages will be installed in 8 frame deeps. Give me some thoughts SC folks...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,079

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Starting packages on small cell is a good idea, and yes, large cell drawn frames will be doing exactly the opposite of what you want. Just start on small cell foundation or Mann Lake PF-100 frames would be even better.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,113

    Default Re: Going small cell

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnatural...m#HowToRegress

    I would feed in small cell (4.9mm) or foundationless and take your time. The PF100s will speed things along as they will draw it 4.9mm to start with.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
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    552

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Michael,

    I've studied your website, and I have your books (so I have a hard copy if technology ever fails us), and I think we have the same idea on things (but not nearly as much experience with bees as you.) That's why I'm wanting to switch to small/natural cell. I suppose my main question is should I put in a couple of frames of the drawn comb I already have so they can get a head start along with the SC foundation, or just install the SC foundation alone? I have no interest in the plastic frames what-so-ever. I will be gradually working in foundationless frames with my established hives. How would you go about expanding with a few packages to small cell?
    Last edited by jadell; 01-03-2012 at 10:02 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: Going small cell

    If you'll order your new bees from one of the SC beekeepers like Don Kuchenmeister (Fatbeeman) in Georgia, they will already be SC and you won't have to regress them.

    Or, you can do like I do and do removals and catch feral swarms to get bees already regressed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,947

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Last spring i bought 5.4 nucs and every frame they expanded onto was Mann Lake 4.9 Some colonies were good little engineers and followed the new blue print pretty well but some made a mess of it repeatedly. I scraped it off if not full of worker brood and let them reconfigure. By the time the later generations raised in smaller cells were drawing supers, I got a pretty good product for the most part. I will scrape down any that are poorly drawn, that is a major benefit with plastic. I plan on following Mr Bush'e advice about feeding in foundationless between well drawn comb right away in the spring before they feel the need to build a lot of drone comb.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,113

    Default Re: Going small cell

    If I were starting a package I would never give them large cell comb, drawn or otherwise. The idea is to get it out. The sooner the better:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnatural...m#HowToRegress

    to quote:

    "If you want to get back to natural or small cell size, it is NEVER to your advantage to use the already too large foundation they are already using. That is simply going nowhere at all. With a package, if you do so, you will have missed the opportunity to get a full step of regression. Dee Lusby's method is to do shakedowns (shake all the bees off of all the combs) onto 4.9mm foundation and then another shakedown onto 4.9mm to finish the main regression and then cull out the large comb until they have all 4.9mm in the brood nest. Shakedowns are the fastest method but also a stressful method and when you buy a package you already HAVE a shakedown. I would take advantage of it. If you intend to get back to natural size then STOP using large cell foundation all together. The main challenge is getting all the large cell comb OUT of the hive, so don't make that harder by putting more IN."
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Thanks all.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    inverness, florida
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    13

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Any advice on proceeding to small cell foundation when you are beginning with a five frame nuc?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,991

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Well if you are using plastic comb it should be simple enough. But if you are using wax foundation, initially, the bees will draw it very poorly, in the process of drawing it they will enlarge the cells. So with a 5 frame nuc, me anyway, I would start by putting one frame of small cell foundation right in the middle of the brood. The hope is, that as the bees start drawing it, the queen will lay eggs in it immediately, before the bees have time to enlarge all the cells. Once that's done, feed in another frame of small cell. Continue this, and start removing the large cell frames. Once you've got some small cell bees hatching, they'll start doing a better job of drawing the small cells. But you'll likely have to cut the comb out of the first combs they draw and put new foundation in, once the bees are drawing the foundation better.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    inverness, florida
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Thanks for the advice, i guess i will just have to let the bees decide what is right for them!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Going small cell

    >Any advice on proceeding to small cell foundation when you are beginning with a five frame nuc?

    The two concepts here are to get the large cell out and to get some small cell drawn (regression). The PF100s (deeps) or PF120s (mediums) are drawn very well the first try, so that's a great way to get there quickly. Some feel strongly about plastic, but that is probably the quickest way. Use wax if you don't like the plastic or go foundationless, but it will take a bit longer to get there.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnatural...m#HowToRegress
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm

    The idea is to get the large cell out, so keep moving it to the outsides and feeding the small cell to the middle. When you have a good flow going and no brood in the large cell, harvest it. In the spring when you have empty combs in the hive, pull large cell frames out while they are empty. If you aren't having luck getting the queen to stop laying in the large cell, put it above an excluder with the queen below and let them emerge and then pull them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    inverness, florida
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    13

    Default Re: Going small cell

    Thank you very much for the feedback.
    Bill

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