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  1. #1
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    Default Drone cell size.

    Talon Redding and I were talking about the subject "Drone cell size" and I thought I would run this thru beesource.

    When beekeepers started using foundation and then cranked up the cell size for workers did they do the same to the drone cells?

    If so, would this have a effect besides getting a bigger bee? (Probably does)(nothing works that easy)

    We know varroa mites don't perform as well in smaller cells (thats why they choose drones over worker)

    So.....anyone know what the "supposed" cell size naturally be?

    Could this help keep mite loads in drone production colonies down?

    Could this be a partial reason why drones are shooting blanks? (got the size but and got it where it counts)

    Flowering minds want to know.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Normal cell size for worker cells is 5.25mm. The cell size is an average of what worker cells measured when the comb was removed from box hives that were being changed out for modern frame hives. These measurements were made before 1893, the year that Ursmar Baudoux put forth his idea of larger bees being more efficient. Worker cells were measured by Langstroth, Dadant, Root, Doolittle, Dr. Gallup, Dr. C. C. Miller and many others. They said normal worker cell size was in a range of 5.1 to 5.2. When A.I. Root made his first foundation mill he made the cell size 5.0mm and the bees used it, but the queens were reluctant to lay in it if they could find slightly larger cells. When his son H. H. Root built a mill later, and used the 5.2mm size, the queens used those size cells with no hesitation. To my mind honey bee queens are the authority on cell size, and they prefer the range of 5.1 on the low side to 5.4mm on the high side. I think the larger 5.4 cell size is because the manufactures wanted an all purpose size, one the bees would use for brood and a cell size large enough to make honey extraction easy.

    Drone cell size was not increased to my knowledge, the researcher was on the worker. Drone cells are around 6.4mm to 6.8mm in size.

    Varroa does not reproduce as fast in worker brood, but it is not because of the cell size.

    Infestation by varroa mites damages drones in many ways, exposure to chemicals will damage them also. To produce drones for mating we need to control varroa and do it in a manner that is least damaging to queens and drones. We should also increase the numbers of drone producing colonies around our mating yards and not rely on "wild colony drones" to mate with our virgins.
    37 years - 25 colonies - IPM disciple - naturally skeptic

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    You won't find drone cell foundation amongst the foundation base of worker foundation. Maybe I don't understand what you are asking about.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    This article http://www.beeculture.com/storycms/i...y&recordID=573 doesn't allude to drone cells being made larger in conjunction with worker cell, but it does allude to reproductive advantages for larger drones. I found it interesting that the article was written in 08'....post varroa mite introduction (1987). It's hard to believe that larger drones,favored by varroa, have a reproductive advantage in the grand scheme of things, but they did perform a spermatozoa count in the study.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Varroa does not reproduce as fast in worker brood, but it is not because of the cell size.


    Here is some info from Randy Oliver.

    REPRODUCTION IN WORKER BROOD

    The average number of offspring produced per foundress (reproductive female) mite in worker brood is only a little over 1 viable female per reproductive cycle (about 17 days). Of these viable females, about 1/3 fall to the floor shortly after emergence (about 50% of them are dead, and the rest generally die within a day). Add to that other mite mortality factors, and the best that mites can do is to increase at a rate of about 2.4% per day on worker brood (doubling about once month). Point to note: if you have hygienic (VSH) bees that remove infested worker brood, this rate can be greatly reduced. Worker brood alone in a relatively hygienic colony is unlikely to generate dangerous mite levels. Serious mite increase requires the presence of drone brood to “prime the pump” to get any substantial mite production going in the worker brood (Martin & Medina 2004).

    THE AMOUNT OF DRONE BROOD

    Mites have much greater reproductive success in drone brood—producing nearly 3 viable daughters per cycle. However, as you may have noticed if you’ve sampled drone brood with a cappings fork, there are often multiple mites in a single cell. Luckily for the bees, multiple infestation hurts the mites–when three foundress mites enter a drone cell at one time, their reproductive success is reduced by a third. So the varroa buildup in drone brood eventually slackens due to overcrowding of individual cells. Point to note: it is a core strategy of varroa management to minimize the number of drone cells in a colony, or better yet, to remove them on a regular basis during the spring, along with the mites within. This is especially true since for some reason hygienic colonies only remove infested worker brood, not infested drone brood.

    This concept makes us rethink the effectiveness of attempting to kill the last few mites with a winter treatment. It’s counterintuitive, but our efforts toward going into spring with the lowest possible mite load may be misdirected—our energy may be better spent in managing drone brood. It would make sense that for every mite killed before spring there would be at least 12 fewer mites come fall, due to their exponential growth (Figure 5). However, this assumption does not take into account the restraining effect of multiple infestation in drone cells, as mentioned previously. By reducing the initial mite infestation, there is less mite-to-mite competition for pupal hosts, and the surviving mites are able to reproduce even faster and catch up! (Bieńkowska & Konopacka 2001). And this doesn’t even account for spring reinfestation from other colonies (Figure 6). So what I’m thinking, is that although the winter oxalic dribble is a good stopgap measure, in the long term we really need to look at ways to inhibit varroa reproductive success during the broodrearing period.






    The longer emergence time plays a big role in varroa being viable to reproduce. So does the cell size. Smaller cells hatch faster even if just by a small margin.

    If we could sightly reduce the sizeof the EHB drones to near the size of AHB's drones it coul be possible to assist in varroa build up and heathier drones.

    In the future I will try this.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Larger drones? Larger than what? Larger than small cell drones?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    According to the study, drone eggs laid in drone cells were removed and placed in worker comb, producing smaller drones. Also, there is the part about Africanized drones being smaller than European bees.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Not just being snobbish, but I don't read things like that.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Not just being snobbish, but I don't read things like that.
    Not being snobbish, but I did. It wasn't life changing though.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    This may lend a clue to why people who are aggressively splitting seem to suffer fewer colonly losses - besides brood breaks hives that are trying to expand don't produce as much drone brood. That is what I have observed anyway.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Being somewhat snobbish, why would one move drone eggs when virgin queens will lay unfertilized eggs in worker cells for you. Producing worker size drones. "Everybody knows that."
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Information is power. I know that some of it might not be "scientifically proven"

    (as if we could trust all the scientist) Because none of them ever released a disease or AHB's or what not...

    Now guys like GM doolittle dreamt, thought, worked, failed, then over came and science has yet to create a better method. GM Doolittle was a scientist in my opinion.

    Give me someone who is doing it over someone who sits in lab and calls a species by way of a dead language.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    This may lend a clue to why people who are aggressively splitting seem to suffer fewer colonly losses - besides brood breaks hives that are trying to expand don't produce as much drone brood. That is what I have observed anyway.
    I think there is alot to that.

    Notice how AHB's also swarm tons of times a year. That combined with high grooming you have resistence maybe immunity even.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Just read all that link Talon thanks. Very useful info. I think I will possibly let the bees build there own drone comb instead of using pierco green plastic frames. I think the bees got it figured out better than we do.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kamon Reynolds View Post
    We know varroa mites don't perform as well in smaller cells (thats why they choose drones over worker)
    Varroa don't perform as well in smaller cells? Then why do we have DWV in worker bees?

    My understanding of why varroa mites seem to prefer drone cells to reproduce in is that drones take longer to develop which benefits the varroa. So maybe it just seems like varroa prefer drones.

    Also, in varroa's original host drone cells is where varroa exclusively reproduced, I believe, and when they moved to European honeybees what kept them to the drones was lost.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kamon Reynolds View Post
    Notice how AHB's also swarm tons of times a year.
    How often do AHB swarm annually?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Here's Dee's take on it:

    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...-mite-control/

    2. Beekeepers should be actively culling their drone combs in their hives.
    It has been previously demonstrated that Varroa mites prefer drone brood to worker brood for reproduction in the feral population of honey bees. Generally, about 40% pf drone cells are infested, while for workers, the average is close to 10%. (For Tracheal mites the feral average is also about 10% for workers for infestation levels). It has been demonstrated that the larvae food is the stimulant in the bigger cells for attracting Varroa infestation. For many years it was taught to cull drone combs as much as possible, but since the advent of Varroa, this practice has been reversed to the detriment of our hives. Beekeepers should go back to the old way of thinking, as there will always be plenty of drones reared in corners of the frames or in cells that become enlarged by accident. It should always be remembered that the drones do no work physically in the hive, but they do act as the best attractant to pull disease and parasites to themselves so workers can survive throughout the active season. Then, when the honey is in and new queens mated, their jobs done, they are cast out to cleanse the hive of its disease and parasite problems. On a natural system, the few phoretic mites that remain are quickly filtered out through the brood nest by the workers chewing out and/or removing mites from infected larvae cells. This happens during each transition period between summer and winter bees, short or long-lived bees, happening twice each year here in the Arizona desert Southwest. By us culling drone brood frames which are excessive (more than 10%) we therefore limit our infestation and reduce it down using the 40% vs 10% infestation level difference to our own hive management advantage.
    Further, by changing out oversized artificial combs in our brood nests (some on the market are as much as 40% oversized) we reduce the attraction for Varroa to enter pseudo-drone cells (worker cells artificially enlarged with more larvae food for mites) and reproduce at higher than natural 10% infestation levels also.
    Regards, Barry

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Thanks for the info Barry.

    I think that is why using well timed drone comb removal with hygenic stock and splits can be a effective
    treatment free/ IPM control.


    Here is what the USDA had to say about it Mark.

    Typically an EHB hive will swarm once every 12 months. However, the AHB may swarm as often as every six weeks and can produce a couple of separate swarms each time. This is important for you to know, because if the AHB swarms more often, the likelihood of your encountering an AHB swarm increases significantly.

    (Talk about alot of brood breaks)

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    Yeah.
    Thanks.

    If you want to manage your varroa, why don't you employ Roland's technique and leave your drone comb where your bees put it? On a regular schedule go through all of your hives scraping the capped drone cells and knocking the varroa laden drone pupae out onto the ground.

    A friend of mine carrys a big knife w/ him while working his bees, especially during the early part of the year, cutting drone cappings and knocking pupae out onto the hive covers.Some times he leaves the combs out leaning against the hives to feed the skunks.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Drone cell size.

    >When beekeepers started using foundation and then cranked up the cell size for workers did they do the same to the drone cells?

    Beekeepers did not generally use drone foundation. Up until Varroa mites, the only people using drone foundation for anything were:

    o queen breeders who wanted to maximize drones
    o people who used it above the excluder for easier extraction

    The wax drone foundation I measured was 6.6mm. Huber's measurements of natural comb were 5.08 mm for workers and 7.06mm for drones.

    Almost universally measurements of natural comb in historical bee books were five to the inch or 20 in four inches, which is 5.08mm which agrees with Huber. A few of these are listed at the bottom of this page: http://bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm and more here: http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...-of-cell-size/

    Judging by Baudoux charts he starts at 4.7mm at the low end so I assume he thought that was natural size. In some of his writings he complains of the foundation in Italy being 4.4mm.

    My experience is that drones were fairly uniform when I had no drone foundation and 5.4mm worker foundation. With natural comb the drones varied a lot in size, from quite small to huge. I think the biggest reproductive advantage is probably in variation…
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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