Re: To use or not to use small cell foundation?
I use small cell mostly because I got started using it in 2005 and I found a few advantages from using it. I was under the impression at that time that small cell would be one more trick that could help with controlling varroa. Since then, I have found that my bees are just as happy on 5.3mm large cell and that the small cell does not seem to matter with regards to controlling mites. I found one very important reason to continue using small cell in spring management of my colonies. It is a small effect that bees on small cell build up faster in early spring. I use 1.25 inch wide frames with 11 frames in the broodnest. With this size frame, it is crucial that combs hang straight and true. When I started using the 1.25 frames in 1977, I found a small but significant effect that they speed up spring buildup. Adding the effect of small cell foundation to the effect of narrow gauge frames gives me up to 2 weeks faster spring buildup. Since changing over to both small cell and narrow frames, I regularly find my bees at swarming strength by the 25th of March where in the past the earliest swarm I ever saw was on the 5th of April. I am therefore able to split my bees around the 25th of March and still have them pull through to make a crop of honey from the main flow that starts about the 20th of April.
To me, small cell is not a mite decision, it is a spring management decision.
NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest