small cell research at HAS [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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07-09-2007, 05:58 PM
For anyone attending HAS who is interested, Jennifer Berry from the UGA beelab is hoping to present data from the UGA small cell research project.

Michael Bush
07-15-2007, 08:11 PM
Jennifer Berry from the University of Georgia reported at HAS on a study she has done on small cell. It seemed well constructed and executed with checks to make sure the combs were drawn correctly, starting mite loads equalized etc. 40 large cell (5.3mm) and 40 small cell (4.9mm) hives. I'm not sure of the reason for 5.3mm instead of 5.4mm.

I'm sure the results will be misquoted by opponents, but here is the synopsis.

There was no statistically significant difference in mite counts in her study, between the large cell and small cell. There WAS a statistically significant difference in the number of bees with the small cell hives having more bees.

There will be those who will say that there were more mites on the smaller cell bees. This is technically true, but from a scientific research perspective it is NOT true because the difference was not statistically significant. So from a study point of view there was no difference.

It sounds as if the study will continue, and I have hopes that the long term will prove out. Survival is the real bottom line and if she keeps the 40 hives of each going with no treatments that should be the real answer to the question.

She also intends to do some other studies on other aspects of small cell such as capping and emergence times.

I look forward to it. She certainly seems to be taking it very seriously and it's the first time I've seen that in a small cell study on EHB.

07-16-2007, 05:34 AM
Not that its of any consequence, the two trials started with 10 small and 10 regular cell each. A total of 40 hives. As you might imagine, there have been some losses so the current total is somewhat less.

Jim Fischer
07-16-2007, 06:49 AM
Haven't read the paper yet, so can anyone say if there was
ANY difference detected that was statistically significant
aside from the population counts?

The obvious next step is to swap queens between high
and low population hives to see if the obvious is true,
that some queens are better layers than others.

As it stands now, she's got nothin'.

07-16-2007, 07:45 AM
She measured mite levels from mite drops, alcohol wash, and examined capped cells, she also measured bee populations. I don't remember any thing else she measured? I guess I should have taken notes. The bee populations had the only statistically different outcomes. As Michael said, it look executed very well.

She did qualify that you need regressed bees to successfully draw out 4.9mm foundation, which they did, then removed the combs and used those in their colonies made up from packages.

07-16-2007, 07:49 AM
I wouldn't say that queen differences would be the obvious reason for population differences. All queens where from the same supplier. More cells, likely less food needed to feed each larvae, leaving more available for more bees seems more obvious to me. The existing cells size research that is out there shows more food is fed to larvae raised in larger cells. However, there are much easier ways to get more bees out of a hive.

07-16-2007, 05:03 PM
There was no statistically significant difference in mite counts in her study, between the large cell and small cell. There WAS a statistically significant difference in the number of bees with the small cell hives having more bees.

in reading posts following the above i got the feeling folks where questioning why the numbers of bees where higher in the sc hives.
i automatically figured it's because sc combs have more cells hence more if smaller bees

07-16-2007, 06:36 PM
Haven't read the paper yet
They ran the data just days before HAS, so Jennifer could present it at the meeting. There isn't any paper....yet

As it stands now, she's got nothin'.
And as any researcher knows, having nothin' is really just as good as having somethin'

07-17-2007, 06:26 AM
[QUOTE=Michael Bush;249789]

I'm sure the results will be misquoted by opponents, . . .

Now Michael, why would they do that? The results seem to indicate that there was no significant difference in mite count between large cell and small cell. I think that the "opponents" of small cell will properly quote this many times.

She also intends to do some other studies on other aspects of small cell such as capping and emergence times.

If I understand this debate correctly, small cell proponents postulated that small cell hives had less mites because of shorter capping and emergence times with small cell. If the study showed that there were NOT less mites with small cell, then the difference in capping and emergence time (if it does exist) would not seem to cause a decrease in mite levels.

I wish that I could have been here for the meeting. Thanks for summarizing the results. I look forward to seeing more research in this area.

07-17-2007, 07:47 AM
If the study showed that there were NOT less mites with small cell, then the difference in capping and emergence time (if it does exist) would not seem to cause a decrease in mite levels.

Well it is just one single study. If it showed small cell worked wonderfully, it would still be just one study. Good researchers are incredibly meticulous and go over things thoroughly before coming to conclusions, thus the need for more study (Such as capping times) to look at it at a different angle.

07-17-2007, 08:09 AM
He said it was done in Europe, seemed valid, and came up with the same results. That is, more mites in small cell than regular cell. He didn't say whether the difference was statistically significant. Jennifer Berry asked for the citation so she could include it in the footnotes of her study when hers is published, so you should be able to get ahold of it soon.
In another interesting part of her talk, she has gone along for several years with 2 friends who are in the bee removal business & measured the size of feral brood comb. If memory serves, the range was from 4.9mm to 5.6mm with the average being 5.3mm. I think she says this should not be surprising since most of those bees probably came from unregressed hives.
Back to the small cell study. It makes sense that there would be more bees on small cell because there are more brood cells.
It was a very interesting talk and the discussion was lively afterwards.

07-17-2007, 09:01 AM
Here's the referenced "study" danno
They've been hacking on it over on Bee-l

My personal OP. is that the conclusions drawn in the way they are completely undermine the whole study, which isn't much to begin with. But perhaps I'm being a little harsh.

Not to be confused with Jennifer Berry's study which is exceptionally professional.

07-17-2007, 09:12 AM
The good news is, at least researchers are taking a look at small cell. That, in itself, should finally give us some direction. Thanks again for the URL to the study. -Danno

Michael Bush
07-17-2007, 08:57 PM
For those who are members of the organic group, here's a couple of studies that show why you will often get the same counts if the hives are all in the same apiary: CxCKSFbpEmI15fCiFkAEBh21gVUA-YDSsREZ4u4rGA/VarroaTestApiaries.pdf

07-17-2007, 11:40 PM
It's my understanding that a "not statistically different" number of mites living in a "statistically significant" higher number of bees, means less mites per bee!

07-18-2007, 05:30 AM
MB, I tried the link in your last message and it didn't work for me. Anyone else try it?

07-18-2007, 08:33 AM
It's my understanding that a "not statistically different" number of mites living in a "statistically significant" higher number of bees, means less mites per bee!

Mite counts where also done by alcohol wash and capped brood. So no, it dosen't mean less mites per bee.

07-18-2007, 09:59 AM
The link doesn't work for me either. I've always found large variations in the mite counts for hives in the same yard, which contradicts the study.

Dave W
07-18-2007, 10:13 AM
Link doesn't work . . .

Did you READ the words "For those who are members"?

07-18-2007, 06:24 PM
Link doesn't work . . .

Did you READ the words "For those who are members"?

Nope, my browser comes back with 'the webpage cannot be found'
I can usually READ just fine. I don't think its a literacy problem.

07-20-2007, 04:57 PM
I am a beekeeper of little brain so somebody help me:

SAME number of mites & MORE bees = LESS mites per bee. This is good, yes?


Shorter cap time = less damage to pupae from mites. This is also good, yes?

Why is everyone saying no difference?

Also, how long was the study? I'm told mites don't really cause problems until the second year...

Michael Bush
07-21-2007, 08:48 AM
>MB, I tried the link in your last message and it didn't work for me. Anyone else try it?

Join the organic group. Sign in. Use the link.

07-21-2007, 09:50 AM
if I remember Dr. Berry presentation correctly, her study was just one year. She did find more mite on the small cell bees, but it was not enough more to be statistically significant. There were both more mite AND more bees in the small cell hives. So I'm not certain you could say there were fewer mites per bee, but perhaps you are correct here.
Dr. Berry did not study whether the bees on small cell emerged earlier than on large cell.
I was very pleased to see researchers looking at small cell. Dr. Huang said he has read a European study on the difference in mite counts on small cell vrs. large cell which lasted 4 years and found essentially the same results as Dr. Berry's 1 year study.
Hope that informaiton is useful to you. -Danno

07-21-2007, 06:34 PM
Hey dantheman!

Long time no see. Hope y'all are doing well over there! Tell em all howdy for me if you get a chance and remember. Hopefully we'll run into each other at the fall meeting.

I for one know the hard work and dedication that goes into the the UGA Bee Lab. And am very appreciative of the diligence of the staff!!

I would hope that most can take this information as it's given and be able to eventually go with the end result someday as others release their findings as well. All to often these studies yield conflicting results with like studies that then lead to further studies to hopefully determine why the difference! When does it ever end! :)

Thing is, I don't doubt the honesty of the report given by Jennifer and even further in the process by which the study was designed. There is obviously more to come as the study progresses and hopefully there are others working at a base line comparison. So that we can get well informed information that will lead us forward.

I know what I see from my own hives. Most are regressed and I keep 3 different strains. Separated of course. I can see what the lab is reporting. No difference between small and large sell that is of any significance. I have thankfully lost no bees to any pests or any other reason that wasn't a result of my own doing.

I find these results fascinating and look forward to more. But I have to ask an honest question. Given that the capping times are reduced by smaller cell size. And hence resulting in a shorter brood time. And I have heard from one reliable source that I trust. That the hatch time was 20 days. I haven't checked that personally. As I have other means to my madness. Not research. But the question being. That if the bees are able to biologically alter their emergence time, then would not the mites have the same capability as well?

Are there other plus' to having small cell other than the brooding cycle? Such as more bees in the hive. More bees, more mites? More bees more production or bigger bees more production? Doesn't that bring up an old argument? Where is the significance in those findings? Maybe some light will be shed there in the next report?

I guess in the mean time i will just keep on keeping on. Lend my encouragement to those with the means and support if I can.

Hey, but you can see so much further from the top of the fence!! :)

kc in wv
07-21-2007, 07:58 PM
Just my thoughts on research. Lots of university research centers depend on corporate grants for funding. This in itself puts pressure on the researchers to find treatments ways to increase the proffits of the corporations.

Don't get me wrong, we need research, but it is the beekeepers who are willing to do his own research, that will find successful non chemical treatments of the problems that we have. We will be shot at by the establishment such as MB was at HAS. At the HAS confrence, I was impressed with the statements, (not only by MB), made on behalf of small cell. Last year I made the decission to not use Checkmite unless it was necessary . After attending the confrence I plan convert one of the hives from my best strain of bees to small cell. When I am satisfied with the results, more will follow.

07-21-2007, 09:33 PM
I wouldnt assume bee labs actually get big bucks, because they dont. A couple do but those are very few. The only thing that keeps most bee labs going is peoples genuine interest in bees, not making money on chemical companies. Ive read about 100 or so research articles in the last 2 months and not a single one of those has anything to do with researching a pesticide. Most of them have something to do with trying to get away from using pesticides and some are about native bees. Theres certainly no money for the chem comps in native bees. One of the great things about HAS was meeting many researchers that care about bees and beekeepers. It was nice to meet you as well kc in wv.

07-21-2007, 09:41 PM
And with this small cell study being funded by the GBA, it's nice to know that there isn't that kind of pressure being put on our researchers to skew any results. Just to do what they know is right.

Wouldn't it be nice to have the Associations across the nation coming together to fund the research that's needed for it's own industry and beloved hobby! Instead of being paid for by an unscrupulous corporate America that sets ready to shove the latest garbage down our throats at what ever cost.

Okay, I'm outta here! Yaw take this some other direction!! :)

kc in wv
07-22-2007, 05:54 AM
It was nice to meet you as well kc in wv.

I enjoyed getting to talk with you. Our conversation got me interested SARE.

I think the connection broke a lot of barriers for lots of people getting to know each other. Gabe Blatt the president of the next HAS convention has expressed an interest in having something for and to promote

07-22-2007, 06:05 AM
Lots of university research centers depend on corporate grants for funding.

Not a penny of corporate money at the UGA beelab. The state pays Dr Delaplane's and Jennifer's salaries, lab maintenance and gas for the trucks. Everything and everyone else are paid out of grants. No grants, no research. Grants are typically from the USDA and beekeeper's organizations (thank you GA Beekeeper's Assn). Everything is run on a extravagance. If your state doesn't have a funded beelab you might ask yourself, why not? For those states that do, they deserve our thanks for investing their state tax dollars to support an important industry and benefiting beekeepers in states that are unwilling to make that same investment.

I'm not sure, but I think that the small cell study was actually not funded by any grant. Some equipment, bees and labor were supplied by Bill Owens and others but much was the product of penny pinching at the lab. The small cell study was largely a product of Jennifer's desire to keep bees without any chemicals.

Anyone who has followed the work from the UGA beelab will notice that every research project conducted during Dr Delaplane's tenure has focused on reducing chemicals in our hives. IPM is his mantra. Anyone who believes that the UGA lab has enjoyed the largess of big chemical company money, needs to look again.

Good to hear from you Biz...I don't see you posting much these days so I assume that they have you burning up the highways again.

kc in wv
07-22-2007, 08:05 AM
It is good to know that this research is going on without the big corporation influence.

I have been an organic gardener since back in the 70's and it has always bothered me that I had to use chemicals for beekeeping. Back when it was our main problem, I would take the risk and only treat for AFB every 2 or 3 years.

Until recent years, I as a beekeeper relied upon what information was supplied by my state apiary department, local beekeepers, and the suppliers.
All that was told by these sources was use chemicals. With the beekeeping community going to the internet the alternative methods are gaining strength because of the increased exposure.

Thank you

Billy Bob
07-22-2007, 01:04 PM
Well...I was going to reply about the big corporate money that doesn't exist, but beemandan wakes up at 4 every morning. lol

I will have to agree that the bee research you see out there is trying to get beekeepers away from chemicals. The biggest problem that I see is no one is listing! When you have several studies telling you things like screen bottoms work and there is a such then as mite resistant bees beekeepers should invest into the results of research.

Use screen bottoms board, buy hygienic queens, and do a mite test prior to treating...for that matter just stop treating. What do you think is killing all the bees anyway?


07-22-2007, 02:02 PM
beemandan wakes up at 4 every morning. lol

Someone's got to get up and turn on the coffee pot!

Billy Bob
07-22-2007, 08:55 PM
Yeah, but it doesn't do me any good if I can't share some of the coffee with you!

07-23-2007, 09:15 AM
Yeah, ok Bill. But tell us what you really think......... :rolleyes::cool:

11-19-2007, 07:54 PM
I have seen the video of Jennifer Berry's presentation only once and that was several days ago so I may have a couple of facts incorrect but I thought she said the mite populations for the bees on small cell was

1) higher than the mite population of the bees on large cell
2) not statistically significantly higher
3) but in their (the researchers') opinions the mite population was significantly higher

So far doesn't it look like the small cell isn't making a difference (or is making a negative difference) for bees in the study that normally don't need to be treated in Bill's beeyard?

I know the study results haven't been written up yet but if the small cell is shown not to have any positive affect why do Bill's bees not need to be treated?

She did say something about a study where the pheromones seemed to make a helpful difference but the small cell didn't.


11-19-2007, 08:59 PM
I believe you've stumbled upon the proverbial $64,000 question:)
where did you see the video?


Jim Young
11-19-2007, 09:14 PM

11-20-2007, 05:28 AM
I believe you've stumbled upon the proverbial $64,000 question:)
where did you see the video?



I have my own idea as to why Bill doesn't have to treat.

In the video Jennifer Berry talks about Bill collecting queens from feral colonies that display good survivability. That sounds like a survival of the fittest breeding program to me. So my guess for the answer to the $64,000 question is genetics.

And since according to some 'big gun' researchers it's relatively easy to breed for varroa tolerance I think my guess is on the right track.


11-20-2007, 09:06 AM
I have been trapping ferals for decades here in suburbia. For the most part they behave the same as purchased strains. Go gangbusters for the first and second year, then collapse.
Addendum: I have been introducing "domesticated" bees into this same area for over three decades. So what is the definiton of feral?

In a more rural setting nearby, I have two colonies of dark trapped ferals that have been going five years or more. They resemble carniolans that was introducing into that area in the early 1980's.

My trapped ferals are dropping as fast as my SC bees, and some are both.:o

11-21-2007, 08:00 AM
The queens Bill collects are from feral colonies that appear to have survived at least a couple of seasons so I suppose he passes up some queens.

Did you read the paper at the URL I provided? I thought it was pretty good.

11-24-2007, 08:08 AM
Well I find it hard to believe that they find the same amount or MORE mites on small cell.
I'm not a commercial keeper but here's my story.
I've only been keeping for 3 years now.
Previously to this year I had only the standard 2 boxes on "standard" cells.
I had about 1/2 of my hives with mites at the end of last season.
I don't treat with any chemicals.
I've incorporated methods discussed on the forum here and I went to small cell this year.
I started checking and rechecking 3 weeks ago and my mite count is 0.
That's correct I have no mites this year.
I find it hard to believe that if the cells on small cell are capped earlier, etc. you have more mites because they are not developed by the time the bee comes out.
I have 2 Russian hives and the remainder are Italians and 2 swarms from this year.
Just the way it's working out for me.
The only problem I have is that being "chemical free" I never have enough honey to sell it seems.