Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 200
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    For years I've been using foundationless frames. Mainly due to cost. If I don't have to buy foundation, why would I?

    But I'm attempting to read up on small cell, in an effort to weigh it's worth in the treatment free arena, and I keep reading about natural cell interchangeably with small cell management.

    Can someone explain the difference? I'm aware that natural cell allows bees to build their own cell sizes, based on what they think is best. I'm aware that this can vary in size from 4.9 to 5.4 (or occasionally even higher). But what are the advantages of natural cell size over small cell size? Do they still accomplish the same goal? What are some of the advantages of using natural cell size over small cell?
    Last edited by Specialkayme; 01-21-2012 at 08:59 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,654

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >For years I've been using foundationless frames. Mainly due to cost. If I don't have to buy foundation, why would I?

    Indeed.

    >But I'm attempting to read up on small cell, in an effort to weigh it's worth in the treatment free arena, and I keep reading about natural cell interchangeably with small cell management.

    In the arena of management, I see it as the same thing.

    >Can someone explain the difference? I'm aware that natural cell allows bees to build their own cell sizes, based on what they think is best. I'm aware that this can vary in size from 4.9 to 5.4 (or occasionally even higher).

    I would say it can vary from 4.4mm to 5.1mm.

    >But what are the advantages of natural cell size over small cell size?

    I see 4 advantages. One you already covered. Natural cell is cheaper. Additional advantages:

    2) clean wax
    3) the bees decide the size so you aren't coercing them into anything
    4) the variation in cell size, makes a variation in bee size. I don't know that this serves a purpose, but my instincts say it probably does.

    > Do they still accomplish the same goal?

    They both accomplish the goal of mite control. Using small cell wax foundation from a commercial source doesn't meet the goal of clean wax. Using small cell foundation doesn't give the bees the freedom to make natural sized cells, but instead causes them to build all their cells the same size within the range of natural sized cells.

    The biggest advantage is it eliminates the whole argument of what natural cell size is by letting the bees decide. The only catch is regression...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    lee county, fl, usa
    Posts
    745

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Four Simple Steps--one of my favorite Michael pages.
    Thanks Michael!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    603

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    I'm not sure what or if there's advantages of natural cell over small cell or if it in fact helps with varroa. I just wanted to add that during the summer I removed a piece of comb and did 5 separate measurements across 10 cells and the average of the 5 measurements showed a 4.76 cell size. Even if the measurement was off by .010 it would still be a hair less than 4.8 which is still smaller than the 4.9 small cell foundation. So unless I got the one crazy hive that had some really small cells going to 4.9 would actually be going bigger.

    As a side note, I am going to purchase some drone foundation this year for varroa management.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
    Facebook

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,448

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    I'm not decided yet on wether small cell controls mites or not.

    However, if you buy into the small cell arguments, according to Dee Lusby, there is a difference between small cell and natural cell. Dee has written that only a cell size of 4.9 or lower in the brood nest will control mites. So if your bees are building natural cell of a bigger size than that, according to Dee, it will not work.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    They both accomplish the goal of mite control. Using small cell wax foundation from a commercial source doesn't meet the goal of clean wax. Using small cell foundation doesn't give the bees the freedom to make natural sized cells, but instead causes them to build all their cells the same size within the range of natural sized cells.
    So I have to ask. I went foundationless in 2005. 2006 was the last time I treated for mites. Since going foundationless, I still have mite problems. You could assume (probably accurately) that the reason I had mite problems in the beginning was because the bees havn't fully regressed yet. But I continued to swap combs out since 2005. Would they not have fully regressed over a 6 year period? If I'm still having mite problems on foundationless frames after six years, when would I not have mite problems?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    People on Beesource say that small cell does not help control varroa and they say there are studies to that effect. However, others suggest that other factors might have an influence. I don't have any bees yet, so all of this is conjecture on my part, but in most organisms, including humans, stress has a major impact on susceptibility to parasites, pathogens, and diseases. So if you have natural small cells with fully regressed bees, you might be reducing stress levels on the bees which could reduce the impact mites have on the hive as a whole. I would suppose that they might be more effective in controlling the mites themselves also. If the studies of the impact of small cells did not control for stress factors somehow, the results could be skewed.

    For example, if you put non-regressed bees on small cell foundation, you would probably be increasing the stress level, rather than reducing it. If my hypothesis is correct, that would increase the susceptibility of the bees to the mites, and you wouldn't see any mite control benefit. On the other hand, if you had fully regressed bees on natural foundationless comb of whatever size they want to build, in a hive where they are not being stressed by elimination of all drones, elimination of all propolis and all the additional stressors that the bees undergo, perhaps there would be a mite control benefit.

    My guess would be that you need to take a holistic view of the hive to reduce mite problems rather than just stick a different size of foundation in the frames. Any foundation is probably a stressor. This could explain the results from Dee Lusby and all the studies that say small cell foundation doesn't have any effect.
    Last edited by taydeko; 01-22-2012 at 07:58 AM. Reason: adding additional comment

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by taydeko View Post
    Any foundation is probably a stressor.
    I'm not too sure about that . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by taydeko View Post
    My guess would be that you need to take a holistic view of the hive to reduce mite problems rather than just stick a different size of foundation in the frames.
    That's my point though. I've used natural cell frames for years. I haven't treated for years, and I have attempted to incorporate mite resistant stock (MH, VSH, and even some 'survivor' stock, if you think that exists) in an attempt to make my overall gene pool more likely to be able to 'deal' with mites. Of course, you could take the stance that by incorporating VSH and non-VSH genes, I essentially canceled out any VSH genetics, since it's a recessive gene that needs to be present in both parents, but I won't go down that road just yet .

    None of the above have appeared to work, and I have still had heavy losses with mites. Obviously I'm not doing something right.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,448

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Don't worry Specialkayme you are not alone. Best I can tell, the majority of people who go treatment free fail. I'm basing that on the number of people who go TF for a few seasons, struggle, continuously have to buy in more bees, then eventually give up. There's a notable absense on Beesource of some of the names I used to see stoutly defending the "hard bond" method. Some gone, and some now saying you really do need to treat.

    What is the difference between them and the ones for whom it seems to work? Nobody knows, not even the successful ones. Hence the difference in opinion between the SC folks, as they've all had different experiences. M Bush says jusy go SC, that's it, and you will have minimal losses. Sol says you will have to have big losses. Dee says cells must be 4.9 or below, M Bush and others say it is not critical. Studies run using scientific method say SC does not even work.

    In my opinion, until the mechanisms of treatment free are more fully understood, you have to go with what works for YOU. If, despite doing everything right, after several years, you feel it's just not working, change.

    Problem I've seen on the site, is many people take a hard and fast position one way or the other. Even though they may have limited experience they are convinced they are correct and even if what they are doing is not working refuse to accept that. You are one of the few who is open minded enough to be able to take an honest look at your results and decide you will change a few things because you want better.

    As to my experience of natural cell vs small cell, the natural cell hive I ran faired no better against varroa than the standard foundation hives, I gave up on the idea. Also, virtually all feral hives in my country dissappeared when varroa arrived. How could this be the case if natural cell would save them? Not saying natural cell doesn't work, as it seems to work for some. But it does not work for all.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,654

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >So I have to ask. I went foundationless in 2005. 2006 was the last time I treated for mites. Since going foundationless, I still have mite problems. You could assume (probably accurately) that the reason I had mite problems in the beginning was because the bees havn't fully regressed yet. But I continued to swap combs out since 2005. Would they not have fully regressed over a 6 year period?

    You can answer that question with a metric ruler.

    > If I'm still having mite problems on foundationless frames after six years, when would I not have mite problems?

    In my experience, when the core of the brood nest is 4.9mm or below you should have no issues. If all of it was 5.0mm you'd probably also have no issues. Some bees will regress quickly, some won't. We have a lot of mutts in the US and the mixture of genes and the mixture of sizes of bees can make it slow. You can regress them more quickly with some PF100s (or PF120s if you run mediums). It's 4.95mm and drawn well the first try. I was still having mite problems at 5.1mm.

    >There's a notable absense on Beesource of some of the names I used to see stoutly defending the "hard bond" method. Some gone, and some now saying you really do need to treat.

    I know a lot of them just get tired of the constant bickering about an issue they have already resolved. Which ones are "now saying you really do need to treat"?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,448

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Which ones are "now saying you really do need to treat"?
    Well only because you asked, one who is now saying you have to treat, is one I remember as especially dogmatic about not treating, and promoted himself as an expert. He thought I was unbelieveably ignorant for treating and said so, and had a lot of his posts deleted for using bad language etc in his arguments with me, he was Beez2010. And yes, he no longer visits Beesource probably because after all he said so rudely it would be hard to admit he now thinks he was wrong.

    Because I treat he called me ignorant, said the best thing I could do would be find a different hobby, I was too stupid to read, etc. But now, waddayaknow, HE'S saying you have to treat! (giggle). Here is his latest, from his own website, now saying you do have to treat.
    http://www.thewarrestore.com/treatingforvarroa.htm

    BTW he still hasn't got all his facts right, but he's learning.

    Maybe some of the others left cos of arguing, and some left cos their bees just did not survive and they got sick of fighting a losing battle.

    However I've noticed that opinions on Beesource are not so dogmatically expressed now, there is perhaps a more open minded attitude from many, and that's a good thing.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post

    You can answer that question with a metric ruler.
    I just did a measurement of the left-over combs from my dead-outs. A random sampling of six combs produced an average of 5.7mm, with a high of 6.0mm and a low of 5.5 mm.

    So obviously they didn't regress over a six year period. My question is why not? I know you probably can't answer that yourself, but it just leads me to wonder if foundationless really makes a difference. If after six years, with most combs no older than three years old, the bees won't regress naturally to less than 5.5mm, why would I be forcing them to draw out 4.9mm? Or 4.95 mm?

    I thought the goal, and benefit, of doing foundationless frames was that the bees can draw out cell sizes that nature intended them to have, or what they think is most beneficial.

    Doing so didn't solve any problems for me. It actually created cell sizes LARGER than I would have had if I threw foundation in there.

    Needless to say, I'm a little confused.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    As to my experience of natural cell vs small cell, the natural cell hive I ran faired no better against varroa than the standard foundation hives, I gave up on the idea. Also, virtually all feral hives in my country dissappeared when varroa arrived. How could this be the case if natural cell would save them? Not saying natural cell doesn't work, as it seems to work for some. But it does not work for all.
    Which just makes me think even harder . . .

    I would really like to see the results of your SC experiment. It should be interesting to see it from the perspective of an individual that isn't looking for answers, either way. If the individual is trying to justify SC, it often miraculously works. Also, if the individual is trying to discredit SC, the experiment often miraculously fails. And the few unbiased, scientific results I've seen are either inconclusive, or somehow discredited by the SC users. So, when are your results available?, lol

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    603

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    All this is odd. I installed all my bees from packages at the beginning of April, 2011. It would make more sense if my cells would have been 5.0 or bigger. I know the people I bought the packages from got them from California and I picked them up outside Salt Lake City. I did the measurement in english units but it was easy enough to convert to metric. It just seems a bit unlikely that the packages came from 'regressed' bees. Such is life.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
    Facebook

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,448

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    If the individual is trying to justify SC, it often miraculously works. Also, if the individual is trying to discredit SC, the experiment often miraculously fails.
    Ha Ha so much truth to that LOL, and not just in the beekeeping field!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,654

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >I just did a measurement of the left-over combs from my dead-outs. A random sampling of six combs produced an average of 5.7mm, with a high of 6.0mm and a low of 5.5 mm.

    Very strange as even 5.4mm bees usually will draw 5.1mm to 5.2mm at the most. I would consider 6.0mm to be drone comb.

    >So obviously they didn't regress over a six year period. My question is why not? I know you probably can't answer that yourself, but it just leads me to wonder if foundationless really makes a difference. If after six years, with most combs no older than three years old, the bees won't regress naturally to less than 5.5mm, why would I be forcing them to draw out 4.9mm? Or 4.95 mm?

    But you're using bees that were forced to use 5.4mm. What happens if you used bees that were forced to draw 4.9mm and let them do what they want?

    >I thought the goal, and benefit, of doing foundationless frames was that the bees can draw out cell sizes that nature intended them to have, or what they think is most beneficial.

    Agreed. The only difficulty is regression.

    >Doing so didn't solve any problems for me. It actually created cell sizes LARGER than I would have had if I threw foundation in there.

    Perhaps.

    >Needless to say, I'm a little confused.

    I am pretty amazed at the cells sizes you're getting. I don't know of anyone doing natural cell with sizes anywhere near that large.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    But you're using bees that were forced to use 5.4mm.
    But shouldn't all 4.9mm bees (or, almost all) be formerly 5.4mm bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    What happens if you used bees that were forced to draw 4.9mm and let them do what they want?
    I couldn't tell you. My 5.4 mm bees made cell sizes larger than 5.4mm. I can only speculate what would happen if I took 4.9mm bees.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I am pretty amazed at the cells sizes you're getting. I don't know of anyone doing natural cell with sizes anywhere near that large.
    As was pointed out in a different thread, it's possible I measured incorrectly. I don't think I did, but I would be happy to provide pictures so you can confirm that what I'm saying is actually what's happening.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,654

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >But shouldn't all 4.9mm bees (or, almost all) be formerly 5.4mm bees?

    The point is that a bee measures things by their own body. It's not what the were but what they are that counts. If they are oversized, so are their measurements. If they are undersized, so are their measurements. If they are natural sized, so are their measurements.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    I don't understand. If a bee makes a cell size based on it's own body, why would a bee ever regress? If you were born out of a 5.4mm cell, why wouldn't you build a 5.4 mm cell, if that's what your body measurements are?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sullivan, MO
    Posts
    827

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    May I step in here for a second. Special Kaye do you know from what part of the hive these frames came from? Keep in mind even regressed bees will draw cells larger than 4.9 for the drones and even bigger than that sometimes for honey storage. So if the frames you were measuring were from positions 1,2 or 9,10 then they could have been drawn specifically for honey storage, and there for larger. The other thing I will point out is the best way to get smaller cells drawn is to put the empty frames in the middle of the brood nest in the spring time. That is one frame at a time or so depending on how strong the hive is. Then you could measure them periodically and make sure the frames with the smallest cells are in the middle of the hive box. Hope this makes sense and helps.

    Rod

Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads