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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Had a bit of interest so thought I'd post an update. Our seasons are opposite to the US, it's spring here. I took 7 sc hives into last winter. Between then and now 2 were overun with mites, the others went into early spring looking pretty good, better than average even. However since that time the treated hives have been treated and the sc not, and the sc hives all have mite loads and are starting to lag compared to the others although still been able to take 3 nucs off 2 of them, and 6 nucs off one of them, 12 nucs all up, which also has controlled swarming in them.

    The goal is 30 sc nucs by seasons end.

    The jury is still out far as I'm concerned, with mite loads building in all of them this may be the make or break season. However the plan is 30 sc nucs this season, which may provide enough bees ongoing, to re-stock deadouts, and thereby provide an ongoing method to keep bees treatment free.

    It would be very innefficient though and certainly not a good way to make money. However I'll carry on the experiment and see what happens. If I get a total loss of everything at some point, I'll be out for good.

    From reading Beesource, it does seem an increasing number of people are having success in the US with treatment free, even some commercials, and nearly all commercials are reducing the amounts of treatments they use.

    Of course the Treatment Free forum types are claiming this is all thanks to them breeding survivor bees. The reality, in my opinion, would be the breeding program being carried out by the likes of the USDA bee lab in Baton Rouge, which is steadily releasing good numbers of varroa tolerant bees into the general bee population, via the likes of Glenn Apiaries and others. I believe once treatment free theorists luck out & get some of these bees, probably without realising it, they then let anything that will die, die, which means the line is maintained. Course, they think it's because of feral survivor genetics but personally I don't buy that.

    That's where I'm up to, and my thinking on things so far. Others will beg to differ.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Williston, Vermont, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us here. With all due respect though, seven hives is not a large enough sample size to draw any concrete conclusions from. Also, unless there is more information about how you conducted your experiment, I'd say there are too many uncontrolled variables to accurately identify the small cell as being the sole contributor to the poor(er) performance of those afflicted colonies.

    Does anyone know if there have been any reputable studies conducted examining the effectiveness of small cell foundation?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by vermontryan View Post
    Does anyone know if there have been any reputable studies conducted examining the effectiveness of small cell foundation?
    Yes....there are but I'm guessing that you won't be happy with the results of those either.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    I hope you are successful and earn a profit with your bees for a long time to come. Treatment Free seems to mean different things to different people. For some the so called "soft" chemicals like thymol and the organic acids (oxalic and formic) don't count as treatments. I heard recently that one of the organic acids has been approved for use in "Certified Naturally Grown" operations. The use of small cell foundation is controversial with some believing there is an effect on Varroa and some not. I'm no longer certain what the term "treatment free" is supposed to mean.

    I believe that all beekeeping is local and that what works for you in your operation is not necessarily going to work for me in mine.

    Still, thank you for participating in/on BeeSource - I enjoy reading your posts.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,152

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by vermontryan View Post
    Thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us here. With all due respect though, seven hives is not a large enough sample size to draw any concrete conclusions from. Also, unless there is more information about how you conducted your experiment, I'd say there are too many uncontrolled variables to accurately identify the small cell as being the sole contributor to the poor(er) performance of those afflicted colonies.
    Fair comment and I'm not claiming any science. Having said that, it would be as good as 95% of the science on the treatment free forum LOL!

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Yes....there are but I'm guessing that you won't be happy with the results of those either.
    Yes those studies did draw some unhappy punters!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,627

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by vermontryan View Post
    Does anyone know if there have been any reputable studies conducted examining the effectiveness of small cell foundation?
    Perhaps someone will post something proving me wrong on this but to my knowledge no one ,through any controlled study that I have read, has ever been able to prove that small cell actually works in a controlled test. Certainly there are anecdotal reports of success with small cell just as there are with various types of treatment free beekeeping. I am reading Oldtimer's account with interest and an open mind.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    280

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Oldtimer, I take it you have taken no mite control measures at all? And how old were the colonies that have now been over-run by mites?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Williston, Vermont, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Yes....there are but I'm guessing that you won't be happy with the results of those either.
    It isn't a matter of me being happy or not, rather, it's about having knowledge and using it to make informed decisions. If reputable studies demonstrate that small cell foundation is an effective part of pest management, maybe I'll invest. If it doesn't, than I won't. So if you'd direct me to those studies, I'd genuinely appreciative it!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,152

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    The sc hives have not been chemically treated with products such as apistan but I will admit pulling some drone brood although it's only been on the odd occasion. Like all my hives they have drone combs to raise drones because I want plenty drones for queen mating. The hives that were overun by mites were best memory serves something around a year old.

    Best of my knowledge there are no scientific studies proving small cells work. There are a number proving they do not work. Somebody else can chip in with references I don't have them. But small cell folks have picked holes in these studies. Valid critisizms or not? Who knows?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,232

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Seeley and Berry respectively are the small cell studies being referenced. Seeley's work in particular was very unscientific. Berry concluded that there was no evidence small cell contributed to long term colony survival.

    My personal take is that I like some of the benefits of small cell in the brood nest. I attribute long term survival of my bees to other factors, primarily genetics.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  11. #11

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    If you are genuinely open minded and interested in serious studies here are three.
    This can of worms has been opened previously on Beesource. A quick search will provide you with page after page of ‘discussion’.

    This link lists the abstracts for two studies. One conducted at UGA. I might note that William Owens, one of the principle investigators was an established small cell beekeeper.
    The second study was conducted by Jerry Hayes and Amanda Ellis, PhD in Fl.
    http://beebehavior.com/small_cell_comb_varroa_mites.php

    This link is to a study conducted by Tom Seeley, PhD of Cornell.
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/...274022/?MUD=MP
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    2,781

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Oldtimer,

    Thank you for documenting and sharing the results of your study. Very rarely do we see someone here on beesource willing to put money on the table to experiment as you are in this effort. As you know, there will be a lot of armchair beekeepers that will attempt to discredit your efforts. Please know there are others here who see value in what you are doing and really appreciate it. Thanks!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Williston, Vermont, USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post

    This link lists the abstracts for two studies. One conducted at UGA. I might note that William Owens, one of the principle investigators was an established small cell beekeeper.
    The second study was conducted by Jerry Hayes and Amanda Ellis, PhD in Fl.
    http://beebehavior.com/small_cell_comb_varroa_mites.php

    This link is to a study conducted by Tom Seeley, PhD of Cornell.
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/...274022/?MUD=MP
    Thanks Fusion power and beemandan, this is exactly the information I needed!

  14. #14
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    Jul 2012
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    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
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    280

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    I take it though that small cell is potentially valuable not just as unfriendly to mites, but in perhaps boosting honey production via the hive holding more, but smaller, bees?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Ha Ha! That's why they went to bigger foundation 100 years ago, the experiments they did at the time showed big ones made more honey. Maybe somebody would like to revisit that experiment, under more controlled conditions.

    At that time things were simpler though. There were no mites in the US (hadn't been introduced from Russia yet), and main thing of interest was honey production, that's it.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,660

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Berry concluded that there was no evidence small cell contributed to long term colony survival.
    This, coming from a short term study!
    Regards, Barry

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,544

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    7 sc hives into last winter.
    What is "sc"?
    Treat or not treat discussion may go forever, but one needs to understand the basic biological principle - treating disease with medicine, which did not eliminates pathogen completely is the way to artificially select stronger pathogen, which eventually becomes tolerant to the treatment. This is applicable to ANY "treatments" if biological nature involved! This is the way how antibiotic-resistant strains were created. Tolerate to herbicides weeds were also created.

    Thinking that "treatment-free" will solve all our problems is not very smart: there are bunch of factors involved in having healthy happy bees. Treat or not treat is only one factor out of many. Good genetics is good, but again, it is not enough. My personal believe is that complex approach is needed. It should include better,less stressful living conditions for the bees. Less stress - less diseases etc. Small local apiaries; diversity of nectar/pollen sources; minimal bees transportation; more honey, less sugar; more natural beekeeping practices - all would help bees to be healthier.
    Last edited by cerezha; 10-04-2012 at 05:20 PM.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  18. #18

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    This, coming from a short term study!
    I wasn't planning to even respond to Fusion_power's comment but since you chose to Barry.....just to set the record straight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Berry concluded that there was no evidencesmall cell contributed to long term colony survival.
    The only conclusion I saw was 'We conclude that small-cell comb technology does not impede Varroa population growth.'

    They made no comment on survival.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  19. #19

    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    happy bees
    Now we're pushing the edge of the envelope. How do we achieve 'happy' bees? Mine have been definitely unhappy of late....
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Small Cell update from New Zealand

    Cerezha, sc = small cell.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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