Wild bees smaller than domesticated?
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  1. #1
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    May 2015
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    Default Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    I watched the DVD lecture by Ross Conrad, "Natural Beekeeping". He discuses bee size, and says that the starter comb was printed larger than the bees were in nature to get more honey. That if you train them back to their original size, they may have more resistance to the Varroa mite.

    Initially I could not find any source for a gradation of cell size starter wax sheets. With the size information sorted out, I could make a 3D file and get molds printed.

    Anyone who has trained down the size of their bees, I'd like to know about it.

    Here is a picture of the bees that live a few doors down from me in a tree. I noticed right away that these bees look smaller than the average honey bee I am used to seeing on flowers.

    Peace!
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  3. #2
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    Oshkosh, Wisconsin
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?


  4. #3
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Read here on Beesource (in the Resources section) the writings of Dee Lusby.

    You should also know this is a controversial, not universally accepted idea. Results of scientific tests on the assertions about so-called small cell bees have been mixed, at best.

    Also keep in mind there are no native "wild honeybees" in North America. They are all descendants of same bees brought here by European settlers, even the ones that have escape and now live feral, unmanaged lives.

    Many people here use plastic Rite-Cell foudation to "regress" their bees. It has smaller cells than Piercos. My own bees (all from swarms in an area with a robust feral population, as well as managed colonies) live on foundationless-combs, and they don't draw small cells. Nor did their predecessors who lived (ferally) in the walls of my barns for two decades. I have measured thousands of cells from the feral bees' combs using a micrometer. There is no evidence of regression - and a pretty wide variance as to cell size (even accounting for the clear purposes of the combs.)

    Just because you read it in a book or online, or watched it on youTube, that may not be true in beekeeping, alas.

    Enj.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Thanks. Bees seem like living wax digital printers, to me. If you start with a small strip, cut from a wax sheet, do they continue to follow that size?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    "Just because you read it in a book or online, or watched it on youTube, that may not be true in beekeeping, alas."

    Word! And I was wondering, why no one was chiming in about the possibility that CCD could be because of the arriving planet Nibiru! he he he

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Actually the orange belted bumblebee is an original native and does indeed produce honey.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    A honey bee's size is a result of it's genetics, the nourishment it received during it's larval stage, and the size cell it was raised in. Each geographical race has it's natural size range of worker cell, and that has not changed, it is the same range as that was measured in the 1800s.

    When you look at wild comb some is well drawn, some is not, just as Enjambres said. It often depends on the race of bee, and on that particular stock of bee, all bees are not equal in their ability to draw comb. It also depends on the nectar supply during the time the swarm was drawing comb. The best of bees will often draw misshapen comb if the nectar is not coming in.

    The bee's size is affected by cell size as Baudoux, Gontarski and Grout proved, but the size that produced the greatest increase is 5.74 mm in diameter. This is larger than the natural size range for worker cells constructed by the European Honey Bee. No foundation in the USA made for the brood chamber used that size, in fact, the 7/11 foundation for use in honey supers is 5.7 and was made to keep the queens from laying in the supers. Queens will lay in it, but always drones are produced.

    The length of the Italian and Carniolan honey bee was measured in the 1840s, and was given as 12 mm. The given length of todays bee, given by Sammataro's Beekeeping Handbook, is 12 to 13 mm in length. There are small wild bees, but it is not because they are regressed, it is just because they were not raised under the best of conditions.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Wild bees that have had a few turnovers of comb are 66% of the size of a typical "large cell" bee. This is according to Baudoux's measurements as well as many other peoples observations. They are tiny compared to domestic bees from large cell comb. It's the difference between a 132 pound man and a 200 pound man. Very significant difference. Very obvious difference. There are many historic references here on beesource, as well as many in all of the old bee books and bee magazines on the dicsussions on enlarging the bees. I reference a lot of them on my website and most of those can be looked up on either Cornell's Hive and the Honeybee collection or on Google books or any of the many other sources of old magazines and books.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Thanks for all the info. Going to move my caught swarm of Italian/Carniolan's into the hive soon. It has been 2 weeks since I caught the busy foragers.

    I won't break out the digital caliper to measure what they have drawn out so far. I started with 1" strips cut from typical beeswax sheets.

  11. #10
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    Jackson, MO
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Wild bees are smaller than domesticated ones because they have not been fed a sugar diet. Kinda like the little kids at Mc Donald's vs the ones at Subway.....

  12. #11

    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Thou all keep on citing yourself. You only see what you want to see. Get back into real life.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Yes,bees not kept on ordinary beekeeping foundation are smaller. This is why the government started using the F.A.B.I.S. test to say they found killer bees. If bees make their own comb they are smaller. The FABIS test measured the comb first then a couple of years later started measuring bees. As to wild versus feral honeybees, it is only known and documented that in 1857 Apis Mellifera Lingustica was brought here from Italy because they did not like Apis Mellifera Mellifera (the black bee). The black bees have not been proven to not be a native of the temperate north globally. There are too many reports of bees being traded and kept even in the 1600's. American native forest peoples have all kinds of bear robbing bee tree legends. Many early famous frontiersmen told of living from honey found in the forests then. Only one prairie dwelling native American person called honeybees "White man's flies". Honeybees were only kept in logs called bee gums in those days and logs wouldn't have made in the Mayflower ship. They would not have seen honeybees in the prairies unless beekeepers brought them. I am pretty tired of hearing honeybees called ferals. How do you know ? Are you 400 years old? NO

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Most of my removal bees are much smaller than the packaged couterparts. Maybe the bees are developing to become more resistant?

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Moccisan; It is documented that the Spanish brought honey bees into Florida prior to the 1600s and that the English brought honey bees into their colonies. Ship manifests from those time periods still exist and show the bees as cargo.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    Moccisan; It is documented that the Spanish brought honey bees into Florida prior to the 1600s and that the English brought honey bees into their colonies. Ship manifests from those time periods still exist and show the bees as cargo.
    Me thinks you're wasting your time.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  17. #16
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    May 2013
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Dadant has small cell wax. I have been reading Bushes book. As I am 65 this year, lifting full deeps is getting much harder on the back. I am just a hobby beekeeper but am interested in trying Bushes ideas.
    So while at the bee store this last week I got small cell wax and super frames. So that I can begin cutting my deeps down into supers using small cell starter strips for my brood chambers.
    I know that the boxes will be easier to lift. And am interested in how the small cell starter strips and clean wax will help in the survival of the bees. I will cut up the small cell wax and use it as starter strips in the frames. That way the new wax will be clean of chemicals.
    I will build the super frames and cut down deeps while waiting for the flow to end. After harvest I will start adding the new frames and boxes above and below the deeps.
    Last edited by Tom06-; 05-24-2015 at 02:15 PM. Reason: edit

  18. #17

    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    Most of my removal bees are much smaller than the packaged couterparts. Maybe the bees are developing to become more resistant?
    Maybe bees can starve from hunger and get smaller. As they do in early spring and in the summer dearth.

    Starving bees is a good beekeeping goal. Would make me thinking about bee nutrition if I only had smallish bees.
    Last edited by BernhardHeuvel; 05-25-2015 at 03:13 AM.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Read here on Beesource (in the Resources section) the writings of Dee Lusby.

    You should also know this is a controversial, not universally accepted idea. Results of scientific tests on the assertions about so-called small cell bees have been mixed, at best.

    Also keep in mind there are no native "wild honeybees" in North America. They are all descendants of same bees brought here by European settlers, even the ones that have escape and now live feral, unmanaged lives.

    Many people here use plastic Rite-Cell foudation to "regress" their bees. It has smaller cells than Piercos. My own bees (all from swarms in an area with a robust feral population, as well as managed colonies) live on foundationless-combs, and they don't draw small cells. Nor did their predecessors who lived (ferally) in the walls of my barns for two decades. I have measured thousands of cells from the feral bees' combs using a micrometer. There is no evidence of regression - and a pretty wide variance as to cell size (even accounting for the clear purposes of the combs.)

    Just because you read it in a book or online, or watched it on youTube, that may not be true in beekeeping, alas.

    Enj.
    That is just not the case now a days, I have seen feral Asian honey bees, Im sure every species is feral here by now, its been so long I would imagine there are so many different variations of the original honey bee. Now its "commonly accepted" honey bees were not native to North America, but there is also lots of evidence to support the opposite, like the africanized honey bee traveling north. I believe they weren't used for honey, but native Americans knew what honey was and have for long before European settlers, so maybe the answer isn't quite as black and white as most would think.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    From a J W Palmer post

    A. Einstein is attributed with the saying, "Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.”
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Wild bees smaller than domesticated?

    I posted numeral times now - wild AMM bees of Bashkortostan build cells around 5.4mm.
    This has been documented many times.

    And so - this wild bee standardization idea as if being small is .... uninformed at best.
    ALL subspecies and sub-population within those subspecies are different (if left alone and let them do their things).
    As has been shown too - even seasonal bee sizes are different.

    So I don't know about these humans..
    Desire to standardize anything and everything is oversimplification of things that are hard to understand.

    Heck, I myself am a "small cell" bee, am I feral then?
    No, I just originate from a population of historically smallish people; all it is to it.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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