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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,553

    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?

    Body size is a major part. The other part is there is a "natural size" built in to their genetic code. So they tend to get slightly smaller each turnover of comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    In my foundationless colonies, many frames are filled predominantly with drone comb. They only occasionally use these "drone" frames to grow a large crop of drones, most of the time they use them for honey storage with only small areas used to raise drones. I do use many PF120 frames, or the foundation part of PF120 frames mounted in wooden frames to ensure that I have many combs of primarily small cell combs. Though many foundationless combs are also very uniformly small cell sized.

    I recently began using a few frames with Rite Cell plastic foundation - I use the Rite Cell based combs for grafting. I find that it is a little easier to graft from the larger worker cells.

    ---------------
    I began my most recent continuous period of beekeeping in my current location a little more than twenty years ago. I began with a cutout from beneath a neighbors mobile home, then expanded by walk away splits. After growing to about six colonies, I reconnected to the beekeeping world through American Bee Journal and Bee Culture magazines, and discovered that AHB had arrived along with mites and SHB. After first reading about them, I started looking and did notice Varroa mites, and perhaps even some K-wing, (indicative of tracheal mites). I was using primarily Pierco one-piece frames back then (for about my first decade in this area). Later I started using small cell plastic foundation (which was available then), because it sounded like fun to produce smaller bees. I had/have never treated and have never noticed any significant losses (for any cause), so I wasn't going small cell to help with mite problems, or any other problem. I like using foundationless so I can harvest beeswax that is primarily contaminant-free. I like PF120's for quick small cell combs.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 01-23-2012 at 03:03 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    do you know from what part of the hive these frames came from?
    No. A number of nucs died from robbing, indicating they were weak to start with, and despite a 0.5" entrance hole, were unable to defend themselves. Other full size hives died from odd reasons. Some just dwindled away, getting smaller and smaller each visit, until finally all was left was wax moths. The pile of frames I have are from removing the frames from dying colonies. Because the battle with wax moths was in full force, I can't tell you what position they were in. Maybe 1 or 2, maybe 4 or 5.

    I can try to take a better average, over a wider range of combs, next time I'm available. If I'm finding some frames with 4.8mm or 4.9mm comb, it might indicate that they regressed in the center, or that some regressed. It's difficult to imagine a regressed bee would build a 6.0mm cell size though.

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    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.
    That's what I did.

    Except for expanding nucs early in the season. If a nuc is two or three frames, and cold temps still linger, putting a frame directly inbetween the small brood pattern they have may cause chilled brood. In that case I usually put it right next to a brood frame.

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    Then you could measure them periodically and make sure the frames with the smallest cells are in the middle of the hive box.
    Not if the bees die and I don't have any left to take measurements of.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    I wasn't going small cell to help with mite problems, or any other problem.
    ...
    I like PF120's for quick small cell combs.
    So if it isn't to help with any problems, why are you using small cell?

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Because I can, and smaller bees look "cool".
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Blacksburg, VA
    Posts
    454

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Joseph has a point there. I have had great luck with the PF120s. They are accepted readily by the bees, they are inexpensive (in quantities), and they are small cell. I don't think you even need to "want" small cell to justify their use.



    "Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    I wasn't going small cell to help with mite problems, or any other problem.
    ...
    I like PF120's for quick small cell combs."
    So if it isn't to help with any problems, why are you using small cell?
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    Because I can, and smaller bees look "cool".

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    648

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    All my bees are from removals and caught feral swarms. Here in Kansas City the feral bee Brood comb size varies from 4.7 - 5.0 mm.

    I've also found (taking Michael Bush's recomendation) that 1 1/4" brood frame spacing works better for foundationless with feral stock.

    So far my mite counts are very low on the colonies that shut down brood rearing when there is no flow. The few colonies that insist on constantly raising brood not so much.

    Don

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    Because I can, and smaller bees look "cool".
    Well, that's the best one I've heard yet. Totally beats all my reasons. How do you argue with that?

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    All my bees are from removals and caught feral swarms. Here in Kansas City the feral bee Brood comb size varies from 4.7 - 5.0 mm.
    I measured a foundationless frame built this last spring and found between 4.9 and 5.2mm. I had a hive survive on 5.2mm comb for at least 3 years, and that was after they were given to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    So far my mite counts are very low on the colonies that shut down brood rearing when there is no flow. The few colonies that insist on constantly raising brood not so much.
    In October, I had a hive (the one that I originally bought from fat/beeman in 2007) that had a massive visible infestation. When I say visible, I mean there were mites in many open cells, clearly visible on bees, and basically ubiquitous throughout the hive. You couldn't miss it. Since I'm a 'Hard Bond Method' beekeeper, I let them go, fully expecting them to die, and I barely bothered to feed them as I was feeding all the others. I just checked them last night. They are alive and well and seem to be building up. I am wondering how many further aspects of resilience against mites there are that we are unable to consider because they are not known.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    I would be happy to provide pictures so you can confirm that what I'm saying is actually what's happening.
    As promised, here are some pics. I don't have a metric ruler other than my wife's sewing ruler. I did my best, and attempted to use calipers to show you what I measured. But, as a result, I didn't always start it off at "Zero", but rather a random number, so you'll have to count forward.

    Frame one (measure ten cells from the tips of the calipers

    http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/v...123_183523.jpg

    http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/v...123_183604.jpg

    I think I wrote this one down as 5.8 yesterday, but it might actually be 5.9mm. Either way, substantially larger than 5.4 base foundation, or 4.9 small cell.
    Last edited by Barry; 01-24-2012 at 05:07 PM. Reason: images to large

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Frame two:

    http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/v...123_183723.jpg

    http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/v...123_183750.jpg

    This one ends up being 5.7 mm.

    http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/v...123_183831.jpg

    Here is a picture of me holding the tape up to the cells. Unfortunately the tape bowed, making it difficult to read the final result.
    Last edited by Barry; 01-24-2012 at 05:06 PM. Reason: images to large

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Last edited by Barry; 01-24-2012 at 05:05 PM. Reason: images too large

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,752

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >Because I can, and smaller bees look "cool".

    hey joe, is that really why you do it?

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,065

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Hmm.. well that's very interesting Specialkayme. When I let my bees do natural cell they went larger also, I mentioned it here on beesource and got the distinct impression noone believed me!

    I think it's a bit over simplistic to say that all bees in all situations regress eventually to 4.9, in many cases I think the only way is to force them to do it, with foundation.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #34
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,988

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    in many cases I think the only way is to force them to do it, with foundation.
    And they don't even do it with foundation. I have yet to get as good a comb of 4.9 as I do with regular size, the 4.9 foundation always has some wavy swirly oddball cells in it. The bees refusal to draw the 4.9 perfectly even after they have been on it for years continues to make me more and more believe the whole small cell theory is dubious. I feel sorry for all the beginners who might be being led down a path of possible untruths just to make a big name, seminar sales and book sales for the promoters of it.

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    That reminds me, I should start writing a book......
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    >Because I can, and smaller bees look "cool".

    hey joe, is that really why you do it?
    Yep, it actually is.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,065

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I have yet to get as good a comb of 4.9 as I do with regular size, the 4.9 foundation always has some wavy swirly oddball cells in it. The bees refusal to draw the 4.9 perfectly .......
    Perhaps this was a factor in larger cell foundation becoming standard in the first place, they went with something the bees will readily accept.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    If my bees chose to draw out foundationless frames with larger cells than they would have if I just put foundation in, I'm wondering if it would be better to start putting foundation in.

    I guess the ultimate question is: does a smaller cell actually benefit anything? A question clearly left for another day . . .

    But for next season, I guess I'll have to sleep on the idea of foundationless vs. foundation.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,157

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Some of my colonies draw it very well, some resist but I am the borg and resistence is futile. I scrape it down and make them redo it. That is not a very charitable estimation of some fine peoples objectives sir in using small cell foundation or foundationless. You may need more fiber in your diet. When I get bound up I tend to get that way myself.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    That is not a very charitable estimation of some fine peoples objectives sir in using small cell foundation or foundationless. You may need more fiber in your diet. When I get bound up I tend to get that way myself.
    Um . . . what?

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