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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Essex, Ontario, Canada
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    44

    Default Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Would I be able to use the pf series frames on nuc colonies that I will be getting in the spring? I am fairly sure these are unregressed bees (from a large commercial place locally, they couldn't tell me what the cell size was) and I'm wondering if it will work. When bees are regressed it is my understanding that people usually use an in-between 5.1 (or so) foundation and then go to the 4.9 size. Or they simply go foundation-less. I know the advantages of small cell is debatable, but I'm just wondering if I can go directly to small cell.

    As an aside, would it be OK to use a larger cell foundation in honey supers? I would like to use wood frames (for rigidity) with plastic foundation (durability) and there isn't really any small cell plastic foundation (no frame) available.

    Thanks for your input,

    - Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,925

    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Do you know what kind of frames they're on now? I can't imagine they don't know what frames they're using, unless it's just wooden frames with foundation. I recently got a hive with a mix of pf100's and ritecell I believe mixed in (wooden frame, plastic insert). I find both my hives use the ritecell ok, but they don't really draw out the edges or bottom very well. Like every other frame tapers down on the edge to where the bordering 3/4" or so is just bare. All the frames of foundation I put in get drawn beautifully. I put in some new frames of small cell foundation (Mann Lake) last week and will see how well they are being used this weekend. I put in a frame of foundation a few days before these went in and it was almost drawn out already in 3 days. Some people report beautiful results with plastic, I find it fairly disapointing myself. They were starting to draw some of the empty pf100's, but like I said, a natural wax frame got drawn out in 3 days, the few empty pf100's were in about a month and this hive is overflowing with bees. There were a few being drawn out, but they were packing in nectar like no tomorrow in them.

    I don't see any reason not to try it, but maybe alternate frames to start with and see how they do.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
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    100

    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    I started a package this year on PF-120's, and the bees seem to love them. I don't, personally, because there are lots of crevices for SHB, etc, to hide in. But they sure were drawn out before the bees started working on the foundationless frames I had sprinkled through the hive.

    If you want to regress, and eventually go to foundationless, make sure you don't add foundationless frames if there are any large-size bees in the hive. The bees make the new cells based on their own size. So, you'd need to eventually remove the original nuc frames, let a generation of bees come out of the PF-100's, then introduce foundationless.

    You could put standard Ritecell or similar in your honey supers, but if the queen lays eggs in it you'll get some large bees. If the rest of your hive is completely drawn out, this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

    Good luck!
    wanderyr

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Yes you can, just keep the frames they give you in the bottom box when you add new boxes on top. You can slowly work those frames to the outside walls for honey storage or remove them completely.
    The bees will probably draw the PF frames just fine. We dump swarms on them all the time, & they draw them perfectly.
    Dan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    574

    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Quote Originally Posted by wanderyr View Post
    If you want to regress, and eventually go to foundationless, make sure you don't add foundationless frames if there are any large-size bees in the hive. The bees make the new cells based on their own size. So, you'd need to eventually remove the original nuc frames, let a generation of bees come out of the PF-100's, then introduce foundationless.
    wanderyr
    Is this a true statement? My understanding is that the bees will regress themselves back to a natural size, though it may take a couple of generations.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  6. #6
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    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    My understanding is that bees will naturally regress without small-cell foundation, but to do it you need to keep removing comb so that they will continue to make smaller cells. It takes quite a while. People start new packages out on PF-100/120's because it guides the bees into making cells that it would usually take many iterations of replaced/rebuilt comb to achieve.

    Michael Bush, both here and on his website, has quite a bit of info on regression.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    That seems to be one of the advantages of having packaged bees available. The OP is also from Ontario, Canada where the only packaged bees available are from New Zealand or Australia. Almost all local bees are sold as deep nuc's. This makes it a bit more challenging for regressing bees or going with alternative hive designs (TBH or medium boxes).
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Quote Originally Posted by KQ6AR View Post
    Yes you can, just keep the frames they give you in the bottom box when you add new boxes on top. You can slowly work those frames to the outside walls for honey storage or remove them completely.
    The bees will probably draw the PF frames just fine. We dump swarms on them all the time, & they draw them perfectly.


    I like the PF frames.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    4,064

    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    I did just what you are suggesting. The nuc frames just need rotated to the outside and pulled when free of brood. Putting an undrawn frame in between two frames of capped brood (ambient temperature permitting!) and it will be drawn perfectly almost every time. I have some hives who have never seen 5.4mm frames again. The 4.9mm extract just fine and why complicate your life by mixing the two? If you put the full frames in a deep box upside down on top of the hive bodies, the bees will rob out the honey and move it down. Plastic is cheap and works fine in my little operation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    100

    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Quote Originally Posted by zhiv9 View Post
    The OP is also from Ontario, Canada where the only packaged bees available are from New Zealand or Australia...
    Interesting; I didn't know that.

    I've been regressing a package this year. They like the PF-120s just fine, and it was just as easy as large-cell frames. However, I've been trying to replace the PF-120s with foundationless, and it takes quite a bit longer than I expected it to. You have to wait until you can sandwich the foundationless in between two PF-120's, preferably fully capped. Otherwise my bees make great pieces of artwork inside the foundationless frames

    Take care,
    wanderyr

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    If you put the full frames in a deep box upside down on top of the hive bodies, the bees will rob out the honey and move it down.
    Neat trick! Is this because the cell are down-sloping, or is it some other reason?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Essex, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    Thanks everyone for the great information. As zhiv9 (Adam) stated, I can only get deep nucs in this area. I'm right near the U.S. border, but bringing any bees into Canada is restricted. This kind of limits what I can do, and the equipment I can use. I was hoping to go with all medium frames, but obviously can't. I plan on using pf frames and eventually move those frames to the outside and eventually removing them as suggested.
    I am going to try to trap some swarms this spring though, and if I catch one I am going to use all medium equipment.
    Thanks for the replies.
    - Adam

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    All you have to do is start with one deep on the bottom, then add mediums on top. The next spring remove the bottom deep & use it to build up other nucs.
    Dan

  14. #14
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    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    {edit: Never mind, KQ6AR beat me to it! Here's what I posted, anyway }

    You know, you could start a hive from a deep nuc into a single deep hive body, and start adding mediums on top instead of a second deep hive body. These mediums could have PF-120's, and the bees should draw them correctly (with small cells).

    By the end of the next winter, when the bottom deep is empty (when some beeks would swap hive bodies), you could just remove the deep and add more mediums to the top. (If you had drawn mediums available, so as to not reduce the brood nest size...)

    Thanks,
    wanderyr
    Last edited by wanderyr; 09-24-2012 at 05:43 PM. Reason: KQ6AR

  15. #15
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    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Starting bees on Small Cell Pf-100

    I plan to go all mediums as well. I was planning on putting deep nukes into two medium hive bodies, with medium frames filling the gaps. Since I want to go with natural comb, I would introduce new frames into the centre and gradually move the deep frames that came with the nuc to the sides and remove them. A bit of a pain, but you have to work with what is available.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

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