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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Different worker sizes?

    What accounts for the wide variation of worker size in one of my hives? These are not drones-- drones are very distinctive and much bigger than my largest workers. But some of the bees are quite small and some are noticeably larger. Is it nutrition? This hive is operating on foundationless frames, but there are still a few frames of standard foundation left in it from the nuc that started it. Are the bees emerging from the natural comb smaller?

    I have a hive of small cell bees from Wolf Creek, and these bees are much more uniform in size. They are also on natural comb, but I haven't measure it to see if it really is small cell.

    Anyway, I'm just curious.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    fairfield,ohio
    Posts
    673

    Default Re: Different worker sizes?

    Possibly the bees are young bees. Next time notice if they seem to have fuzz on their thorax

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Different worker sizes?

    Is it a new install? I installed my first two hives around tax day and I've been actually enjoying how different all of the workers look. I'm assuming that was because my package contained bees from all over- generally italian and cordovan. Now that my carniolan brood are making their presence known I get even more variation between the package bees and my new brood.

    I assume in the future my hives will become more consistant as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Ashburn, VA, USA
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Different worker sizes?

    Queens mate with multiple drones, I've read the average is 12 but some sources claim it could be up to 20. The drones come from different hives. This would account for differences in both size and coloration amongst the workers. That and the age of the bees like ken_rice said.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: Different worker sizes?

    I think it is because the bees, particularly on foundationless, make different size cells. In the brood box, the smallest cells are in the middle, getting a bit larger toward the outside. They also seem to make regular size cells for honey storage, so frequently we end up mixing them up when we recycle them. Then they make full size bees. I have everything from small cell to full size and have read that that is normal in a hive. I've also noticed that I might have a frame of small cell bees hatch, so the orientation flight is all small bees, the next hatch might be full size. I don't worry about it except when I start a nuc, I make sure to use all small cell frames.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,992

    Default Re: Different worker sizes?

    Yes I'm with 007, if you have a variety of cell sizes you can get different sized bees, although the difference if sometimes not hugely noticeable.

    If you have bees that are noticeably smaller, this can also be caused in hives with a lot of varroa. The bees have the nutrition sucked out of them during pupation and end up quite small. One foundress mite will not have this effect, but two or more foundress mites in a cell with one larva can do it.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,120

    Default Re: Different worker sizes?

    >What accounts for the wide variation of worker size in one of my hives?

    Cell size and age are what control the size of the workers. A newly emerged bees is smaller than a field bee.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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