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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    2,282

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    Langstroth, Dadant, Doolittle, A. I. Root, and Dr. C. C. Miller all measured worker size cells in frames of comb drawn without foundation. The measurements they found put worker size cells in the range of 5.1mm up to 5.3mm. Read the old issues of Gleanings in Bee Culture and American Bee Journal, the articles will show that the idea that "natural cells" are 5.0mm and smaller is incorrect.

    In the 1930s, when Grout did his studies on enlarging bees, he stated that the average size of cells made from foundation used in the brood nest was 5.3mm. I have never seen in print why 5.4 was introduced, but it probably was a compromise for a foundation to be used in the surplus honey supers and in the brood nest. Beekeepers are always trying new things and 5.4mm would be easier to extract from than 5.1 or 5.2 cells.

    How many have tried the 7/11 foundation sold by Kelley? That was the largest size Grout tried when enlarging worker bees. It was produced and sold on the idea that queens would not lay workers or drone brood in that size cell, therefore excluders did not need to be used, and honey would be easy to extract. In the past I have seen in some posts that 7/11 was produced in the attempt to raise larger workers, this was incorrect as reading Grout's paper on enlarging bees will show.
    40 years - 25 colonies, 32 Nucs - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    2,508

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    Richard, please consider this quote from the referenced paper.

    Apart from the queen cells, which have their own distinct shape and protrude from the comb, three kinds of hexagonal cells appear in a hive: worker, drone and honey cells. Worker cells, in which worker brood is reared, are usually the commonest, the smallest and are located in the centre of the comb
    The author clearly considered three cell sizes yet very little of the prior work he referenced differentiates between worker cells and honey storage cells. This suggests at least a few of the authors made measurements of honey storage cells which are a bit larger than would be used in the middle of the brood nest.

    To me, 4.9 cells are a divergence from the normal size that bees prefer. My bees tell me this by drawing free comb in the broodnest in the range 5.1 to 5.2 mm. This is with bees that have been on small cell for 5 or more years.

    I take exception to your statement that "This paper has been disclosed before in BeeSource and none of you read it apparently or you would not be calling 4.8 natural." I read that article and many others in the last 2 years. Please expand your reading or be less inclusive in using absolutes.
    NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Hall, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    141

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    What an argumentative and unproductive thread.

    I've read possibly 50 bee books, and literally hundreds of websites. Maybe 1000 articles on Beesource. I've never seen anyone anywhere make the claim that 4.8 was "natural". (Quote used on purpose). Even the most hippie-fied website I know still says that 4.9 might be possible after several generations of regression, and that 5.1 is considered normal.

    I also checked 5 English usage websites just now, and could find *no* source or authority advising that any use of the term organic to describe anything other than chemistry needed quotes. While grammar flames are generally considered to be petty and childish (because, you know, they are), this one goes that extra mile by being flat wrong. (I leave the rest as research for the motivated reader, but will support my assertion with https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/organic which gives plenty of sample sentences, none with quotes).

    [And, yes, I get the irony of using the Oxford English Dictionary to settle a grammar flame question, something I've never done before in my life. I feel dirty but coerced. I'll state that I was mad seeing others in this group attacked with a petty grammar flame by someone posting in this group an article which seemed to be trolling from the get-go... setting up the 4.8 mm straw man just to knock it down with condescension. I never start flame wars, but will sometimes respond to one if it is egregious].

    Good grief. This is why I no longer read the "Bee Forum" on this site. Trolls.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    denver colorado
    Posts
    347

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarDad View Post
    I've read possibly 50 bee books, and literally hundreds of websites. Maybe 1000 articles on Beesource. I've never seen anyone anywhere make the claim that 4.8 was "natural".
    Maby start with this on beesorce http://beesource.com/point-of-view/d...version-chart/
    and this for books, The 41st edition of ABC XYZ of Bee Culture on Page 160
    "The size of naturally constructed cells has been a subject of beekeeper and scientific curiosity since Swammerdam measured them in the 1600s. Numerous subsequent reports from around the world indicate that the diameter of naturally constructed cells ranges from 4.8 to 5.4mm. Cell diameter varies between geographic areas, but the overall range has not changed from the 1600s to the present time."*snip*"reported cell size for Africanized honey bees averages 4.5-5.1mm
    in the honey bee: its natural history, anatomy and physiology (1890) Cowan puts natural range as 4.72–5.36 mm

    Even the most hippie-fied website I know still says that 4.9 might be possible after several generations of regression, and that 5.1 is considered normal.
    Don't know how you missed Michael Bush's web site, he says 4.6-5.1 is "natural" http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

    in 2011 David Heaf found cells as small as 4.7mm... natural, but not normal for his area http://www.dheaf.plus.com/warrebeeke...asurements.htm

    Back to the task at hand, the chart by lusby is claiming with her change in how the math is done, claims that "natural" runs much smaller then thought, down to even 4.58

    The link DR.RC posted, seeks to disapprove Lusby's math in favor of the normal math
    Ie in normal math Swammerdam's measurements from the 1600s comes to 5.1mm, with Lusby's math its 4.7mm.

    its easy to see if you look in to the subject that 4.8 is not a straw man argument and this is not a troll
    please don't point fingers when you your self have not looked in to the subject despite bragging about all the reading you have done....
    This doesn't work when people go on their gut and emotions... you starting an argument over the meaning of "organic" with a PHD Chemist, stop and let that sink in

    DRRC is trying to Shine the light of the scientific method in the TF world to help people separate what is good practices, and what is the TF equivalent of FGMO fogging.

    That starts form the ground up, in this case of small cell, that's starting with the discussion of lusbys argument that "small" is the natural norm and do to a math error most people are using the wrong sized foundation.
    Last edited by msl; 03-20-2017 at 09:51 PM.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
    Posts
    267

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    I've used 4.9 cell size for the last 16 yrs. and have managed bees on everything from 4.75 to 5.4. Long story made short "most" EHB stocks that I have will naturally draw in the range of 5.05 to 5.25. The very reason I have stopped using 4.9 foundation. 4.7 to 5.1 is great for AHB's, it is the natural range (Lusby's stock is right there). One thing I'm sure of is that most EHB's rarely produce cells over 5.3mm's for brood rearing. 5.4 is a great honey storage size, today 5.4 foundation is most likely a compromise size. Just like 1 3/8 is a compromise comb spacing. From my years of observations 5.1 to 5.2 is the best range for most EHB's. Which behold is right where the Root's figured it to be. My personal recommendation would be for people to use either dadant's 5.1 wax foundation or pierco's 5.25mm plastic. Your life your bees do what you want.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Hall, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    141

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    This is helpful. Thanks. At least there is some context. I've been planning to read ABC at some point, but have been focused on the memoirs lately. (CC Miller is next on the pile).

    So, is the whole conversation about the fact that one person in one book (or two, I can't tell) was bad at math? Because I've never bumped into a 4.8mm cult at any bee meeting or in any forum. I love the idea of debunking myths, but this isn't one I've ever heard anyone espouse. (Unlike say "fake moon landing" or "global warming isn't true" for example, both of which my crazy relatives believe).

    People with agendas should not do math, I think we can all agree. If you are hellbent on forcing the numbers to your will, you'll end up misleading yourself in the process.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Appleton, WI
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    Bees allowed to build their own comb will build a range of cell sizes. If one of those cell sizes allows them to coexist with Varroa, then bees using more of those cell sizes should have greater reproductive success. Likewise, those more sensitive to the presence of mites as relates to grooming or removal of infested brood will do better. It will probably be multiple characteristics that give us tolerant bees. The feral bees don't have beekeepers getting in the way.
    I tend to roll my eyes when I hear the term "organic". Forty plus years ago I had two semesters of the chemistry of Carbon. Organic gardening was using compost and mulch, and avoiding chemicals. Now organic vegetables are grown in chemical nutrient solutions.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Germany, BW
    Posts
    851

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    Yes and "organic" beekeepers use acids and oils to treat.
    And you can call your honey "organic" if it comes from sprayed fields.

    Clayton
    I've used 4.9 cell size for the last 16 yrs.
    If you did that for such a long time could one estimate it was no disadvantage even if you changed that arrangement later on?

    Its crazy, when talking to beekeepers here around me nobody ever has measured his comb cells, nor do they ask the cell size of their purchased foundations, nor do they ask where the wax comes from.
    But everyone knows that small cells wont work.
    Listen to good advice, then.... make your own decision. fusion_power
    www.vivabiene.de

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Keosauqua, IA, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    Its crazy, when talking to beekeepers here around me nobody ever has measured his comb cells, nor do they ask the cell size of their purchased foundations, nor do they ask where the wax comes from.
    But everyone knows that small cells wont work.
    I completely know what you mean. I wish more people around me were more involved beekeepers. But, they aren't. They treat to treat, and don't ever understand why there hives swarm. Their preventitive measures are "adding another super". I guess ignorance is bliss and when you have money to throw at me packages every year it's great.

    My bees are allowed to build whatever they want. I get ranges from 4.9- a little over 5.1 in the center of my broodnest. I run local carni mutts.
    "In all honesty, I don't think any of us know what were doing. Just what we've done."

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    51,892

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    How about we all stop arguing and just let the bees decide.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/47mmComb.JPG
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/47mmCombMeasurement.jpg

    This one is about 4.4mm:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/44mmcomb.jpg

    Since they don't build them all the same size and the size starts smallest at the center of the brood nest and grows out from there, I have no doubt we will never have a single number to represent what is natural cell size. But the above 4.7mm pictures were from a package of bees from California dumped in a top bar hive. Next turnover most bees that are 4.7mm have 4.6mm at the core of the brood nest. What is the average size? I don't know. That is a much more complex undertaking to measure than across ten cells at the core of the brood nest. What they are NOT is 5.4mm...

    If we stop using foundation they will get back to natural size and we will get clean combs.

    There are plenty of historic references and by far the majority say "five cells to an inch" which is 5.08mm. You have to search for references to any larger size.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Parthenon, Ar,USA
    Posts
    118

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    Agee with MB

    FWIW. When I bought my bees two years ago they were advertised as 4.9mm bees. I use foundationless, but out of curiosity I measured some of the first comb they drew and it ranged between 5.0 to 5.1.
    That was the last measurement I made because I'm just not that curious.
    Neill
    Herbhome Farm

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Keosauqua, IA, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    I think what Micheal said goes back to what he often references, "everything works if you let it".

    I'm pretty sure my bees know what's natural, and they'll do just that.
    "In all honesty, I don't think any of us know what were doing. Just what we've done."

  13. #33
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    2,164

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    So reading this thread caused me to think about a few things. One is the different uses that quotation marks may have. Like the two questions:
    1. What is "owed" to a louse? And
    2. What is owed "To A Louse"?
    The answers, of course, are: (1) appreciation for giving Robert Burns the idea for a poem about pretensions and knowing that others don't see us the way we see ourselves. That seemed somewhat apt for this thread; and (2) appreciation for showing us something about pretensions and seeing ourselves as others see us.

    Another, is that both conventional farming and organic farming are largely "organic" (carbon based), and these days both are fairly "conventional".

    And another is that this thread does belong in the treatment free forum, and that it has been helpful to me. Technically, that's another two things.
    Last edited by Riverderwent; 03-21-2017 at 09:38 PM.
    David.

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    west central Arkansas
    Posts
    960

    Default Re: What is actually the natural cell size for worker comb

    How about we all stop arguing and just let the bees decide.
    Season 4. TF.

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