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  1. #61
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    No I'm not aware of any literature to support the latter, or the former.

    However it is quite a leap of faith to say 5.3 mm foundation is resposible for the introduction of varroa mites and all the other nasties we have now. In fact, the first honeybees reported to have varroa mites (russians), were not on comb foundation at all, they were on natural comb and had not been modified. Over the next century or so, varroa mites were spread from them to other bees by that modern thing, mass transportation. Same as all the other pests.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #62
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Come on, I've made no correlation between foundation and mites. We're talking about bees today not drawing, or building on their own, smaller cell comb. I have not tried natural comb because I expect the same will happen to me, what SpecialK is experiencing.
    Regards, Barry

  3. #63
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    I think the idea that bees adapted (evolved) to use larger cell sizes in the last 150 years to the exclusion of even being able to draw smaller cells in an organized way flies in the face of the idea that bees can "regress" in just a couple years. I suspect that beekeepers are deliberately or inadvertly selecting for size in the process of "regressing."

  4. #64
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Good point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Come on, I've made no correlation between foundation and mites. We're talking about bees today not drawing, or building on their own, smaller cell comb. I have not tried natural comb because I expect the same will happen to me, what SpecialK is experiencing.
    How do you know the same won't happen to you that M Bush is experiencing?

    Anyhow, bottom line is I don't know if bees have changed. There is no reliable evidence either way, that I know of. My personal feeling is they haven't, in the way you say, but I cannot prove that one way or the other.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #65
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    i mentioned the use of small cell to an old time beekeeper who is recently getting back into bees. his comment was "you don't want to do that, you'll end up with smaller bees". maybe our forefathers favored larger bees, perhaps thinking they would be more productive.

  6. #66
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >maybe our forefathers favored larger bees, perhaps thinking they would be more productive.

    No "maybe" about it. Baudoux, Pinchot, Gontarski and others wrote reams on the matter and how to get it with larger cell sizes. But it was often mentioned that we needed to breed for larger bees by many a writer. A couple of examples within easy reach for me:

    "Several times it has been suggested that we enlarge the race of honey - bees, by giving them larger cells; and some circumstances seem to indicate that something may be done in this direction, although I have little hope of any permanent enlargement in size, unless we combined with the idea of selecting the largest bees to propagate from, as given a few figures back. By making the cells smaller than ordinarily, we can get small bees with very little trouble; and I have seen a whole nucleus of bees so small is to be really laughable, just because the comb they were hatched from, was set at an angle so that one side was concave and the other convex. The small bees came from the concave side. Their light, active movements, as they sported in front of the hive, made them a pretty and amusing site for those fond of curiosities. Worker bees reared in drone cells are, if I'm correct, sometimes extra-large in size; but as to whether we can make them permanently larger by such a course, I'm inclined to doubt. The difficulty, at present seems to be the tendency to rearing a greater quantity of useless drones. By having the hive furnished entirely with worker comb, we can so nearly prevent the production of drones that is safe enough to call it a complete remedy."--A.I. Root, ABC of Bee Culture

    "Large Bees Better Gatherers
    "One of the most scientific experiments ever carried on in my opinion was conducted by Doctor Merrell at the Kansas experiment station. After some exact research work in finding that some bees actually gather more honey than others, upon examining them he found that they were larger. That is as we would expect. Which can haul the most goods in a day, a large semi-trailer truck or a pick-up? With this in view we have tried to choose for our breeders the ones whose workers are larger. We feel sure that if any progress is made in the future in producing bees that get more honey it must be by selecting the largest drones. Drones vary much more in size and shape and color than do either the workers or the queens so I believe we should proceed along this line."--Jay Smith, Better Queens

    If you look at a few of Dee Lusby's archives that Barry has posted here you'll find dozens more.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #67
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Yes, we already know about the push for bigger bees in the late 1800's.

    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...l-size-part-1/

    "About 1891, foundation with cells 920 to the sq. dm. was introduced into our country. Beekeepers all adopted this size of cell. The experts of that time believed that it was advantageous to produce as many bees as possible on the least possible surface of comb. Thus there was a premature narrowing of the cells, and at the end of a few years the bees were miserable specimens.


    It was then that, to combat so harmful a tendency, I published an article in Progres Apicole (June 1893) advocating the use of larger cells, as a result of experiments duly described. I had experimented up to the limit of 750 cells per sq. dm. These sizes of cells were obtained by stretching foundation. Mr. Auguste Mees subsequently made them by stretching the sheets as they came off the cylinders, in 1893 to 1895."
    Regards, Barry

  8. #68
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    interesting, and it makes sense. and then came varroa.....

  9. #69
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    I think that it's fascinating to read about the reasoning behind those who wanted larger honey bees. It's fun to pick at those reasons; for instance, Jay Smith says, and I paraphrase: 'that larger bees carry larger loads.' My picking at that reasoning; do those larger bees actually bring home more nectar? Do they make enough foraging trips to bring home a significantly larger volume of nectar in their lifetimes? Or does their larger size adversely affect their functional abilities in other deleterious ways?

    It also sounds like he was referring to the production of entire colonies of larger bees and not just individual larger bees.

    In retrospect we know that bigger, is not always better, and not always for the obvious reasons.
    -------------------

    I am fond of the curiosity of these smaller worker honey bees.

    --------------

    Late additional thought/question:
    When the colony is raising predominantly larger worker bees, does the energy and nutritional input to produce those larger worker bees balance out when compared to the potentially larger loads (increased overall production) those larger worker bees, supposedly produce?

    Suppose that the energy and resources to produce one hundred larger worker bees would be the same amount of energy and resources that could produce five hundred smaller worker bees. So many questions would need to be answered definitively, like; Are there differences in behaviors between large or small worker bees? Do small and large bees share the same task/age behavior? Do they both live and perform their duties, especially nursing and foraging, to the same degree and in the same ways? So many questions come to mind when I think of these early strivings to have bigger worker bees. Many more than I mentioned here. I have yet to see answers to many of them.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 01-24-2012 at 07:53 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  10. #70
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    That's one thing I've never been clear on, stuff I've read says they found that large bees carry more honey. That would seem obvious. But the issue I've had with it is if the bees are large, presumably there would be less of them raised on a given comb area, and less of them in a hive.

    It's also interesting how as in all things, including beekeeping, cycles repeat, nothing is really new. At one time they put bees on cells smaller than normal, because the "experts of the day", thought smaller bees were better. Then other beekeepers decided these bees were "miserable specimens". So comb foundation got bigger.

    Now a small number of beekeepers are back to thinking small cells are better. And their science for believing it would be about as good as the science used by those beekeepers more than a century ago.

    Over the last hundred years there might have been selective pressure towards bees genetically programmed to "want" to build cells bigger than they used to. But it's by no means a certainty, in my opinion. Otherwise, M Bushes bees would not be building cells at 4.7 mm's.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #71
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    interesting, and it makes sense. and then came varroa.....
    Not quite. Varroa was first reported infesting honeybees before cell size was modified by artificial comb foundation. That came later.

    An "inconvenient truth", I guess.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #72
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    An "inconvenient truth", I guess.
    How so?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  13. #73
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Well, there's a myth that cell size of hives was modified to larger, and this caused varroa mite to take hold. This is repeated over and over, till it becomes "truth" and people believe it.

    Since this belief is propagated by some proponents of small cells, the truth will be inconvenient for them. That's how. And I'm sure deep down, you know that.

    Want to say that's not true? Refer previous post QUOTE - "and then came varroa". Can you see? A commonly held belief.

    We'd all like to beat varroa. But if we are to arrive at the right conclusion, we should start with the right facts.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-24-2012 at 09:19 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #74
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    Sep 2005
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    Greensboro, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    your descriptions sounds to me like you introduced bees many times and from many places as you went through this process.
    I can't say I started day one with 50 hives, and selected from there. You are correct in that regard. Much has been a trial and error issue. More error than trial at times. But hindsight is always 20/20.

    I started with one three frame nuc purchased in August my first year. Somehow it made it through the winter. I added a package year two. Then another nuc year three. I split from those again and again. Purchased a few more nucs year four. Purchased five full hives year five. That was the last colony purchased. This is my ninth year. Some queens got purchased each year, to replace colonies with queens that were not performing.

    I don't know if that affects the end result or not. Probably would affect my mite issues (although, I personally don't see how it could have made it worse) but I don't see how it could have affected my comb size or regression issues . . .

  15. #75
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Well actually those results, without treating, are actually pretty good, and would be called by some a great success. I've certainly seen worse results described as a success.

    It may reveal a weakness in not treating, that success may go with you for some time, but there's always the possibility of sooner or later, a wipeout.

    Although you did not get completely wiped out. So your survivors may be worth breeding from, but who really knows?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  16. #76
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Although you did not get completely wiped out. So your survivors may be worth breeding from, but who really knows?
    I'm torn with what to do moving forward. I ordered a nuc from Russell's, and I have the two surviving hives in an outyard.

    Do I wait and see what the "survivors" do? Wait to see if they inevitably crash, leaving me with one nuc (hopefully still alive at that point)? Do I cut my losses, realize they arn't drawing smaller comb sizes, and replace with foundation frames? Or go full board and try replacing with small cell, if I'm truly concerned that cell size matters? Do I start treating, since so many other hives bit the bullet?

    I know some would suggest that I keep plugging along with the survivors, claiming they already sorted out their issues. But these are the same people that claim the bees will naturally build small cells, or that smaller cells are necessary to be treatment free, neither of which apply to the hives I have currently.

  17. #77
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Do I wait and see what the "survivors" do?
    Yes I think you should. But if you are torn over it, why have all your eggs in one basket. Also do a few small cell hives. Treat? well not with anything that leaves a permanent residue, that will be contrary to your long term goals.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #78
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >Want to say that's not true? Refer previous post QUOTE - "and then came varroa". Can you see? A commonly held belief.

    One person saying something does not make it a "commonly held belief".
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #79
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Oh come on.

    You telling me only one person ever said that?

    Let's at least be honest.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  20. #80
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Also do a few small cell hives.
    A few concerns regarding that. First, I'm only starting next spring with three hives (at best, assuming my other two make it through the winter). I plan on splitting as much as I can, but even still I'm not sure that I have enough hives to do a "few" of anything. I would hate to try a small cell hive, have it fail for another reason, then be discouraged about small cell, when it had nothing to do with the size of the cell. Second, I'm OBVIOUSLY going to have some very serious regression issues if I try to move to small cell. Keeping that in mind, I'm not sure if my resources and time would be better spent on increasing hive numbers, rather than trying to get them to build comb at a smaller cell size. Third, funds are light. Wife has been out of work and we are getting by, but I certainly don't have additional funds to go buy a few boxes of PF-100's, or HSC. Foundation I could probably swing, either LC or SC, but it would be more difficult if I have to have three or four frames of SC foundation in order to get one drawn out properly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Treat? well not with anything that leaves a permanent residue, that will be contrary to your long term goals.
    Agreed. Now just trying to figure out what type of treatment. I've been off the treatment wagon for quite a few years, so I'm not really into the pros and cons of each type. Plus, I really need to sit down and think about whether or not I want to open the "treatment" can of worms. I haven't done it in so many years, I feel it might be like falling off the wagon. But then again, not-treating clearly didn't work for me.

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