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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    14

    Default New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    Hi Forum,

    I am soon to be a new beekeeper and as I think is often the case, I have a number of newbee questions. I have been researching for some time. I started by reading the Beekeeping for Dummies book but was dismayed by the heavy reliance on chemicals and the cursory discussion of alternative hives. I then turned to The Complete Idiot's Guide which I found much more useful. I have also been digesting Michael Bush's excellent Practical Beekeeper (so far Volumes I and II but also on the website.) I have also been listening (repeatedly) to the excellent podcasts hosted by Craig on the Southern Maryland Beekeeper website.

    I have now purchased two 8 frame medium hives from Mann Lake with PF120 plastic frames. I have also put in an order for two packages from Bee Weaver Bees. I chose Bee Weaver because they maintain that they have been chemical free since 2001 and because they are more local and thus hopefully more tolerant of Texas heat. (I'm in Austin, Tx). There has been some discussion about the "hotness" of their bees here on the forum but it looks like most of this is a few years old. This gives me a little bit of concern about their use in an urban environment but Bee Weaver states on their website that:

    BeeWeaver tolerated more stinging to produce bees that did not perish when hives were left untreated for varroa and tracheal mites. Between 1996 and 2002 our bees were more defensive on average with the chance of extremes in both directions (super gentle to intolerable). Since 2001 we have been able to refocus on all the traits that we want our bees to have including good attitudes. Each year there has been significant improvement. Not only in our opinion but in that of our customers. If our queen produces a defensive hive and circumstances (beekeeping techniques, hive location, pest problem) are not encouraging it then we replace the queen.
    So, I have decided to give them a try.

    My question is; I am not sure if Bee Weaver uses small cell size as part of their treatment free practice. I emailed them but never received a response. I had planned to go directly to the PF120 frames but am now wondering if anyone knows what cell size Bee Weaver uses and whether I should consider a different plan in terms of regressing them (not knowing what cell size they currently use), i.e. perhaps going foundationless (which definitely has the appeal of getting the plastic out of the hive.)

    Does anyone know whether Bee Weaver uses small cell size as part of their Chemical Free Practice?

    I am sure I will have more questions, especially regarding beekeeping in Texas and dealing with heat.

    Thanks in advance for any input,

    Paula

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,082

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    Hi,
    You have really done you're homework.
    If you are buying package bees, & putting them on the pf 120 frames, it won't matter what cell size beeweaver uses. The bees will draw the frames out right for you.
    Dan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    As far as I know, they don't use small cell, but like you, I have no concrete evidence.

    I'd say you are on the right track. In my experience, PF frames are drawn just fine, even in hives less wiling to draw wax foundation. I have been meaning to try BWeavers for a while but have not gotten to it yet.

    Keep us updated, I wish you success.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    Thanks guys,

    With all the decisions to be made it really helps to have a little assurance that one is not totally off track.

    Cheers,

    Paula

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,621

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    How do the small cell believers explain the self claimed success of the Weavers?

    Crazy Roland

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,300

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Please explain: what do you mean by, "self claimed success of the Weavers?"
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    >My question is; I am not sure if Bee Weaver uses small cell size as part of their treatment free practice.

    I do not know, but I have heard rumors that they do. My guess is, *IF* they do (and I'm not saying they do) they would have concerns about accusations about AHB. I hear such accusations towards all small cell beekeepers on the forums all the time. If you have small cell bees you get accused of having Africanized bees. Since Weaver already has had to deal with such accusations (being in TX and having hot bees), I would guess they would want to avoid the subject all together.

    >I emailed them but never received a response.

    Silence can be very revealing sometimes.

    >I had planned to go directly to the PF120 frames but am now wondering if anyone knows what cell size Bee Weaver uses and whether I should consider a different plan in terms of regressing them (not knowing what cell size they currently use), i.e. perhaps going foundationless (which definitely has the appeal of getting the plastic out of the hive.)

    If you don't mind the plastic, I think it's hard to beat the PF120s. I use a lot of them. It's a "sure thing". But foundationless certainly has it's appeal.

    If I was in TX I would probably try Weaver's bees again. But I don't want to bring any more hot bees this far North, nor do I want to deal with them again if they are as hot as the last time I had any.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    good job paula, and i agree, you have really done your homework.

    hopefully you have another beekeeper near you willing to help you with some of the hands on stuff.

    i learned a lot by watching and helping an experienced beekeeper when i started.

    best of luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Ennis, TX USA
    Posts
    5,124

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    Welcome to the forum Paula. I have B-Weaver and love them. Not sure if they use small cell either though. But they have been great bees.
    Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his room. The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,725

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    I'm surprised nobody knows about that. It says nothing about them using small cell on their site, if they used it I thought they would say. I will drop someone who used to work for them an email about this and report back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    they would have concerns about accusations about AHB. I hear such accusations towards all small cell beekeepers on the forums all the time. If you have small cell bees you get accused of having Africanized bees.
    Surprised to hear that. Weavers have been accused of having africanised bees, but not because they are small cell, nobody even seems to know if they are small cell.

    I've seen no such blanket accusations of all small cell beekeepers all the time, or even, any of the time.

    For myself, I have small cell bees and have never been accused of having africans. I doubt many others have either.
    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
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    have ahb made it there down under?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,725

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    No. And you are the first one to ask. .
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Dripping Springs, TX USA
    Posts
    297

    Default Re: New Beekeeper to be. Question regarding Bee Weaver bees and cell size

    Yo let me in on this discussion. Bee Weaver has great bees! I work with some of them for a friend(and others here) who has two hives of them. They produce large numbers of bees and tons of honey. They can be a little warm at times. But mostly this is after spending some lengthy time inside the hive boxes doing a detailed inspection. They are protective in that regard, but not vicious. And only a few bees have that interest in getting you, not the whole hive.

    Small cells, not sure what they run. but any package will adapt to what ever cell size you have for them.

    AHB -> Yes they came through some years ago. But the dilution of their genetics is great! Think in terms of their life span compared to say ours. They(AHB) have left the feral bees(which I deal in almost totally) with some needed defenses against predators. They are more resistant to SHB, mites, and wax worms!!! I just don't have any mite problems with them!!! I have removed some very hot bee hives that had many predators in and on the edges of their hives and combs. Then when I got these same bees home(to another apiary) into a clean hive, 3 or 4 days later they were very gentle bees. In fact, she is one fine queen!!! It appears that they "turn the heat up" when the internal hive's survival demands it. Otherwise they are great little feral bees!!! :-)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,621

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    To avoid any argument that I was claiming the Weavers operate treatment free without small cell, I termed it such that they(Weavers) are the one claiming to be so.

    So to rephrase :

    How do those that claim small cell is essential to mite control explain how the Weavers(as they claim) can control mites without small cell?



    Crazy Roland

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    How do those that claim small cell is essential to mite control explain how the Weavers(as they claim) can control mites without small cell?
    Do we know that for sure?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    >I've seen no such blanket accusations of all small cell beekeepers all the time, or even, any of the time.

    And I've seen them for a decade. Maybe not so much in the last year, but very often before that.

    >How do those that claim small cell is essential to mite control explain how the Weavers(as they claim) can control mites without small cell?

    I don't try to explain anyone's success especially in light of the fact that I do not know the details of anyone's operation and certainly nothing about theirs. I do not know what cell size they use and if I did I still wouldn't try to explain anything. Not treating is certainly a step in the right direction.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,280

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    Paula, I've used B Weavers for years, with great success. they are no hotter nor milder than other strains I've used. A lot depends on local circumstances (weather, predators, vandals, etc), and management practices. Regarding small cell, the argument, and studies, continues to debate whether small cell helps or not. For me, personally, it doesn't matter. I don't use small cell...I use regular wax foundation and foundationless, depending upon my mood at the time. As mentioned by others, the bees will draw out what they want, foundationless. Or they'll draw out what you give them for foundation. Of course you'll discover they'll modify foundation/comb to fit their perceived needs at any given time. But you should be fine with their bees. My bet is they don'lt use small cell, fwiw.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    And I've seen them for a decade. Maybe not so much in the last year, but very often before that. -Michael Bush
    I'll back Michael Bush up on this one. Smaller-than-average bees were "suspect" in the last ten years or so. Maybe more widespread conversion to small cell has changed that attitude, and that idea seems to be less common farther north than in the southern U. S., but accusations of small-cell bees being Africanized were common, and likely still are common in parts of the country.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,725

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    OK well it must have been before my time.

    Although african bees may be smaller, I thought it would have been self evident that if someone puts european bees on small cell, that does not make them african. Perhaps the confusion is the accusations levelled at a certain small cell beekeeper who is believed to have africanised bees. But it would not apply to all small cell beekeepers.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-31-2012 at 03:43 PM. Reason: wording unclear
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Volga, SD
    Posts
    2,790

    Default Re: Natural Cell vs. Small Cell

    The concerns came from methods to rapidly check for AHB as they spread in the U.S. Inspectors obviously couldn't do genetic tests in the field, and morphometrics of wing veination could be used in a lab, but size was used because so few EHB were on small cell and so many AHB were. Getting further levels of testing was not always so easy a few years ago. An smaller bees found were immediately suspect.

    This isn't saying it was right or wrong, but it explains some of the reason why the belief took hold and spread. Greater use of small cell may be changing procedures to check for AHB now.

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