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  1. #81
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    and then came varroa.....

    as a novice to beekeeping and a non-expert in the history of it all, this statement was more of an observation that varroa has surfaced as a major issue in the what, last 20 years or so?

  2. #82
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Tracheal 1984
    Varroa 1986 or thereabouts

    So, more like 26 years just for historical knowledge purposes. But what 6 years more or less?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  3. #83
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    ... but I don't see how it could have affected my comb size or regression issues . . . -Specialkayme
    Each time you restart a hive, you start the "regression" process all over, I think. Don't quote me on it, please. I'm hardly an expert on "regression." In fact, you'll notice that I often put the term in quotation marks. I'm not convinced that Apis mellifera were historically uniformly smaller than now. I suspect that what you and some others have observed may be indicative of the ancestral state: bees range in size, even from hive to hive, and comb and worker sizes will show evidence of those differences.

    If the material exists, an easy way to determine this would be to measure bees from "pre-large cell" and bees currently. Pinned, dried specimens certainly exist in collections around the world. The question would be if enough from the mid-1800s and earlier remain to give a clear indication of the range of sizes.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd try to start from the two remaining hives (assuming they make it through the winter), and try to get a good idea of what sorts of mite populations you have in your hives. Whatever method you use for "counting mites," stick with it, be consistent in it, and keep records so you can determine what the mite populations are doing.

  4. #84
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Varroa was first reported infesting honeybees before cell size was modified by artificial comb foundation. -Oldtimer
    Honeybees, yes. Apis mellifera? Maybe, in the far eastern reaches of Russia, if bees reached there before cell sizes were modified. Maybe in places of the far eastern reaches of the natural range of A. mellifera, in subspecies only recently discovered and not used in managed bee production.

    More importantly, I think, is how to prevent such future things. Tracheal mites came in to North America long after honeybees were brought in, Varroa followed soon after. Small hive beetles came more recently. Now we're likely to see a wave of Tropilaelaps mites. Might be time to change our practices to reduce chances of bringing in even more problems for beekeeping.

  5. #85
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    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.
    Can you demonstrate that this is a commonly held view or that it is "repeated over and over"?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #86
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    I'll back up Oldtimer's comments on that one. I've heard and read repeatedly, both directly and by insinuation, that cell size modified to be larger made a favorable environment for Varroa.

    As some evidence, the "pseduodrone" hypothesis is based on this size difference, a number of claims about small cell are based on Varroa being unable to reproduce successfully in smaller cells because of cramped space in the cells or shorter developmental time of the bees in smaller cells versus bees in larger cells, and the preference of Varroa for drone comb (larger cells) demonstrate the beliefs that larger cell sizes play to the favor of Varroa. Drone trapping takes advantage of this observation. Counting mites in drone cells is based on this observation. The combination of movements of Apis mellifera to areas where Varroa were living on other species of Apis and the apparent modification to uniformly larger cell sizes for worker brood is widely expressed as the explanation for how Varroa made the jump to western honeybees.

  7. #87
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    AFAIK, this has always been the theory put forth by the Lusby's. Has this been stated in publications?
    Regards, Barry

  8. #88
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    If you mean specifically the "pseudodrone" hypothesis, Barry, I don't know if it's been stated in publications directly. The other components I mentioned have been tested a number of times and a number of ways in publications.

    All that is somewhat moot, I think, because we're talking "commonly-held view" here and not "peer-reviewed theory."

  9. #89
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    This:
    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    and then came varroa.....
    Does not equal this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Well, there's a myth that cell size of hives was modified to larger, and this caused varroa mite to take hold.
    Nor does this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    I've heard and read repeatedly, both directly and by insinuation, that cell size modified to be larger made a favorable environment for Varroa.
    Equal this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    the explanation for how Varroa made the jump to western honeybees.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
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  10. #90
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    That wasn't my meaning, Solomon. I think you're splitting hairs here by selecting only a fragment of what I wrote. If you go back and re-read my post, you'll see I wrote, "The combination ... is widely expressed as the explanation for how Varroa made the jump to western honeybees."

    "Commonly-held truth" states that the modification of cell size was an important component in the species jump made by Varroa. It's a vital piece of justification for small cell. And it certainly seems to be a "commonly-held truth" for one of the components necessary for the host shift to occur.

  11. #91
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    This year I put non-regressed packages in 10 frame deeps with two sheets of 4.9 foundation to help tell them which way the frames go and eight foundationless frames per deep. In each case They drew the 4.9 real nice with no difficulty and the foundationless frames had no issues. The cell size varied in all hives based on the frame position and which box, but each non-regressed hive was able to draw down to around 4.7 in the center frames of the brood cluster in the lower part of the frame. While they drew drone and honey cells much larger. Regular non-regressed packages from Wilbanks, NC (both their Italian queens and Carniolan Kona queens) gave me no issue on 4.9 foundation, and no issue going foundationless. Guess I'm just lucky and shouldn't gloat that I lucked out, just continued to be surprised when people state they have trouble with either 4.9 foundation or foundationless.

  12. #92
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Did you replace frames during the year, KnNashua? Or did they make such small cells on the first attempt?

  13. #93
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    "Commonly-held truth" states that the modification of cell size was an important component in the species jump made by Varroa. It's a vital piece of justification for small cell. And it certainly seems to be a "commonly-held truth" for one of the components necessary for the host shift to occur.
    I'm sorry, but I don't see that as a commonly held truth. A 'host shift' and 'fertile grounds for the advancement of introduced varroa' are two different things. Show me where the host shift has even been discussed in terms of cell size? Where is the species jump? When did it happen? Where did it happen?

    The Pseudodrone theory is largely an explanation of varroa behavior and how small cell can rebalance infestation rates between drone and worker brood. I have never heard the theory that it's the size of apis mellifera bees that caused a species jump. How could this be a commonly held truth if it's not common enough for me to have heard about it?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #94
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Semantics.

    End of the day Sol it's a commonly held belief. Everybody else is correct, get used to it.

    Splitting hairs, quoting out of context etc. won't change that. And nearly everybody reading this thread will have heard this belief put forth.

    Out of the many arguments, this one would have to be one of the most ludicrous, I can't really be bothered playing.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  15. #95
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Kieck - As these are first year hives I wasn't taking anything they drew out away from them as starting in mid-June in NH. Lucky to get two deeps drawn. Does that mean 1st attempt though....well it does for the 4.9 foundation being drawn out. The natural cell down to 4.7 could be from the first generation daughters that were born in 4.9 foundation or the natural cell the package bees created, not created by the package bees themselves, or then again it could have been the package bees first try (maybe mimicking the 4.9 foundation?) I didn't mess with them frequently or keep good enough records to show if the 4.7 natural cell was created before the first brood was reared or not as I only measured in fall.

  16. #96
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    I'm sorry, but I don't see that as a commonly held truth. -Solomon Parker
    Fair enough. Could you explain the mechanism that most proponents of small cell provide for why small cell works, please?

    A 'host shift' and 'fertile grounds for the advancement of introduced varroa' are two different things. -Solomon Parker
    Yes, they are. But I think getting into how and why these are two different things will muddy the waters of the discussion started in this thread. And it's not a discussion of whether or not beekeepers "commonly hold" a hypothesis that cell size changes influence ability of Varroa to reproduce in those cells. We're talking whether or not beekeepers generally recognize something.

    Where is the species jump? -Solomon Parker
    The jump from one species to another is the host shift. That is, Varroa historically was a parasite of Apis cerana, the eastern honeybee. It did not occur anywhere in the world -- so far as has ever been recorded -- as a parasite of A. mellifera, the western honeybee. At some point in history, humans introduced the western honeybee within the range of the eastern honeybee, and Varroa made the jump from one species to another. That is, it shifted hosts.

    When did it happen? -Solomon Parker
    I don't know precisely. I don't know if anyone does. Sometime in the latter half of the 20th century, as far as I know. Please see above.

    Where did it happen? -Solomon Parker
    Again, I don't know precisely. And I don't know if anyone knows this one precisely, either. Southeastern Asia is the simple, general answer. Once more, please see my response earlier in this post.

    How could this be a commonly held truth if it's not common enough for me to have heard about it? -Solomon Parker
    Not sure. I thought it was widely known and recognized that Varroa were historically parasites of eastern honeybees, too, and that they had only made the jump from one host to another within the last century. I also thought that any number of people talked about the preference of Varroa for larger cell sizes, even and including up to drone cells (hence, "drone trapping" as a method of monitoring mite populations or even helping control mite populations). Maybe Varroa would have made the jump to A. mellifera even if cell sizes in comb had not been manipulated by humans (assuming they were).

    Logically, if that were the case, small cell would never even have come up as a suggestion for mite control under those circumstances.

  17. #97
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Fair enough. Could you explain the mechanism that most proponents of small cell provide for why small cell works, please?
    I subscribe to the pseudo drone theory. I don't speak for 'most'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    At some point in history, humans introduced the western honeybee within the range of the eastern honeybee, and Varroa made the jump from one species to another
    Now that is what I call a commonly held truth. Or at least AM and AC or varroa were put in contact with one another at some point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Maybe Varroa would have made the jump to A. mellifera even if cell sizes in comb had not been manipulated by humans ...
    Or in fact they did.

    However, the idea that the change in cell size was what caused the jump (and that being a commonly held truth) is what I'm taking issue with. I have seen no evidence for these two assertions, particularly the latter.
    Last edited by Solomon Parker; 01-25-2012 at 02:06 PM. Reason: Fixed quote
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  18. #98
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Whatever.

    Anyhow to give a timeline on events, the very earliest part is not known exactly. However, in Russia, under the last Tsar, hives of western honeybees were sent to the Primorsky region for the first time, where they came into contact with ceranae, some time around 1916. The hives were of assorted types including skeps and other designs common in Russia at the time, and used natural comb. The Primorsky region had a natural population of Cerana, with varroa.

    It's not known just when the species jump occurred, but it was some time between then, and 1953. Because in 1953, Varroa mite infestations were discovered back in Russia, having been vectored there by hives sent back from the Primorsky region. In the 1960s the mite spread to Hong Kong, Philippines, China, India and Japan, most being countries largely using natural comb. A decade later it invaded Eastern Europe and South America: all the time hitching a lift on the back of hapless bees as they were moved around the world by man. Today Australia is the only continent free of varroa.

    Artificial comb foundation came into widespread use in the US something around 80 years before these events, and the US was one of the last countries to get varroa. However, it should be obvious that what facilitated the species jump, and subsequent spread of varroa around the planet, was the advent of modern mass transport. Not comb foundation.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-25-2012 at 03:03 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #99
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Either way, KnNashua, your experience sounds different to me than the typical "regression" instances I've heard. Most of the stories of "regression" involve a gradual decrease in size from commercially-available sizes back to small cell, with replacement of combs necessary to get down to the final small cell size. Intriguing that your bees drew such small cells right off the bat.

    Now that is what I call a commonly held truth. -Solomon Parker
    Different definitions, I guess. To me, "commonly-held truth" is synonomous with "conventional wisdom." Doesn't mean it's right or wrong, but it's a general belief. In this case, it may be a general belief, but it also happens to be a documented set of circumstances. It's more than a simple "commonly-held truth," in my opinion.

    Or in fact they did. -Solomon Parker
    Perhaps. I'll confess that I do not know what the mean and range of cell sizes for brood in western honeybee colonies were before man-made foundation was widely used. But Varroa make the jump to western honeybees only after man-made foundation was widely used, so we cannot know what might have happened without manipulation of cell sizes by humans. Unless, of course, what you're suggesting is that humans selected the mean size of cells for foundation, and the average size of cells now is no different than it was 200 years ago. If what you suggest is, in fact, the case, "regression" is completely wrong as an idea; bees aren't returning to an ancestral, less-evolved state (as defined by "regression") if cell sizes were not smaller before human manipulation than they are now.

    I have seen no evidence for these two assertions, particularly the latter. -Solomon Parker
    It's corollary to the "pseudodrone" hypothesis. It fits right in with the tenents of small cell hypotheses. The sizes of Apis cerana are smaller than the sizes for A. mellifera, and the sizes of A. cerana drones and drone cells (the hosts, very specifically, for Varroa mites historically; mites are limited to drones in nests of A. cerana) are similar to the sizes of A. mellifera workers and worker cells in hives with man-made combs in them. Having compared the sizes from specimens myself, I see the size relationships as evidence.

  20. #100
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    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Today Australia is the only continent free of varroa. -Oldtimer
    I've read statements that directly contradict this. I've read that Australia has Varroa just like the other continents with honeybees.

    However, it should be obvious that the cause of the species jump, and subsequent spread of varroa around the planet, was the advent of modern mass transport. Not comb foundation. -Oldtimer
    Movement of bees by humans was vital both to the jump and to the spread of Varroa. Cell size, if sizes were in fact increased by humans, very well may have lead to the overwhelming success of the mites in western honeybee colonies, especially in North America.

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