Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb
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  1. #1
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    Default Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Hi all- I just got some unexpected nucs on standard sized (5.4 mm) foundation. I typically raise my own nucs, and I've been foundationless for a few years, so my drawn comb that I'd add to these new nucs when I move them into 10-frame equipment would be less than 5.4 mm. I'm guessing the foundationless cell size is ~4.9-5.1 mm (I'm taking frames from a 1st year deadout). Will the bees in the new nucs on 5.4 mm foundation be able to utilize the smaller cell size drawn comb right away? I know there can be issues with regression when adding 5.4 mm bees to small cell, undrawn foundation, but was curious if small(ish) size drawn comb would be any different.

    I'm assuming I can find this answer by waiting a week after my nuc install and seeing if the queen's laying in the natural comb, but would appreciate any info beforehand.

    Thanks
    PP

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Quote Originally Posted by paulprop14 View Post
    ....I'm assuming I can find this answer by waiting a week after my nuc install and seeing if the queen's laying in the natural comb, but would appreciate any info beforehand.

    Thanks
    PP
    Exactly.
    The real question in this setup is - can the queen lay into those small cells.
    If lucky, she can.
    If not so lucky, she is just too fat coming off the commercial setup.

    BTW, no need to guess that cell sizing - measure them; by a good chance, they are rather 5.1-5.2 (larger than you think)
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Thanks Greg.

    But hold on-- the queen's too fat coming off the commercial setup?

    I don't get it: if a queen is originally purchased with a nuc on standard foundation, and over a few months to a year you regress your bees down to natural size, your queen isn't regressing in size-- just your workers and drones. So queen size shouldn't really matter, correct? I was thinking it's more about acceptance by the queen, meaning the cells are just smaller than what she's used to, and therefore she'd prefer the larger cells to lay.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Generally speaking - all bees (workers, drones, queens) are larger on the commercial setup.

    The queen is long-lived and will not somehow magically become smaller to adjust to your smaller cells.
    A pretty good chance, she will avoid them IF the cells are just too tight for her.
    She will start laying everywhere she finds larger cells.

    The bees, on the other hand, change over many times over the duration of the season and thus go through a regression process. Each successive generation will be a bit smaller (if the cells are smaller).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
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    Default

    Larger queens have been witnessed using a corkscrew movement to get her abdomen into smaller cells during regression. I have some old honey supercell frames that I used to regress with, they did fine with it. They find a way in my experience.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Generally speaking - all bees (workers, drones, queens) are larger on the commercial setup.

    The queen is long-lived and will not somehow magically become smaller to adjust to your smaller cells.
    A pretty good chance, she will avoid them IF the cells are just too tight for her.
    She will start laying everywhere she finds larger cells.

    The bees, on the other hand, change over many times over the duration of the season and thus go through a regression process. Each successive generation will be a bit smaller (if the cells are smaller).
    I certainly didn't anticipate a magically shrinking queen. Let me clarify: years ago, my first colonies were on standard foundation. I regressed them, and the colonies did fine for multiple years, often without requeening them. Therefore, the original queen remained 'commercial sized', but continued to lay out 2 deeps of small cell, natural comb.

    My question here, in this instance, is whether a nuc queen on standard foundation would reject smaller/natural sized drawn combs (instant regression). From what I've read, the issue with instant regression is that the workers won't draw out small cell foundation, not that the queen won't lay in small cells. Just looking for clarification.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Good info nasalsponge- thanks. I'll hope for the best, and if she doesn't lay in them, I'll replace them with some foundationless deeps and start the regression process so they'll be compatible with my existing colonies.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    OK, I searched this exact forum and found many discussions on this exact topic. So it sounds is if it should work.

    But especially, since the foundation-less frames are from "1st year dead-out", they are likely intermediate cell of about 5.1-5.2mm size anyway, not much smaller than that. 5.1-5.2 is what I got with all my 1st year foundation-less cases. Will try next round regression this year and see.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Generally speaking - all bees (workers, drones, queens) are larger on the commercial setup.
    .
    Got any links for that? I haven't seen any small queen cup work done and general consensus seems to be the cell size dosn't change the queen size
    Sam comfort, Michael bush, Dee lusby all seem use commercially manufactured queen cups, not a special made "small queen cell" one

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    I experimented with using small cell hives as cell raisers, the queens turned out exactly the same. I think there is an optimum size for a queen and long as the queen larvae are fed generously they reach that size, wether the bees raising them are small cell or not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    as far as cell size, queen cells vary much in size and all of them are overly large compared to the resulting queen. In other words the cell is not constraining the size of the resulting queen. Workers and drones, however, are different sizes based on the cell size. Drones and workers raised in smaller cells are constrained from getting as large by the cell size.
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    your queens in these nucs will lay just fine in the already drawn frames that are smaller in size than 5.4.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    your queens in these nucs will lay just fine in the already drawn frames that are smaller in size than 5.4.
    Thanks Ruth. This makes sense: you're a top bar beekeeper, so your hives are all foundationless/sub-5.4 mm, and if you re-queen, you're in the same boat as what I'm speaking about. Much appreciated.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    >Will the bees in the new nucs on 5.4 mm foundation be able to utilize the smaller cell size drawn comb right away?

    Yes.

    > I know there can be issues with regression when adding 5.4 mm bees to small cell, undrawn foundation, but was curious if small(ish) size drawn comb would be any different.

    They will use them like any drawn comb. There are no issues. You should have instant regression.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    In this podcast Marshall Dudley speaks about his experience on placing commercial bees directly onto small cell.
    He talks of at least one instance when the queen would not lay into small cells and kept looking for larger peripheral cells.
    I have no reason to doubt him.

    https://tfb.podbean.com/e/treatment-...seph-bessetti/

    (don't remember now exact time of that passage, just well listen to the entire thing - a worthwhile talk).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    If we list all the things we've seen once as if they are normal vs what we see almost every time we will have a very warped view of reality.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  16. #15

    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    I tested it once and the queen did fine. Provided with empty frames afterwards the bees built + - 5.1mm. First step of regression.

    I have spare comb 4.9mm saved to provide my commercial buckfast bees packages ( 5.4mm) in june. Small cell or natural comb is what I think a part of the bees being more healthy and one of the factors to develop mite resistance.

    Some of my co-workers set 5.4mm colonies on 4.9 plastic drawn comb frames. The bees like wax more than plastic but they use it immediately.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    OK, if I stand corrected then be it.
    It's cool and fine.
    Not sure how and where I picked up the idea that small cell bees will have smaller queen.

    Here is one author that does state it (without much supporting evidence though):
    After 6 weeks only bees born in small cells remain. Then mostly the bees themselves change the queen that will already be born smaller. It’s that simple.
    http://www.resistantbees.com/wieklein_e.html
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Adding nucs on standard foundation to natural comb

    I had 2 queens in 3 years which crossed the excluder. One was a breeding machine, the other was superseded.
    I donīt think sc bees breed smaller queens though. Queen cells are queen cells, big or not, well fed or not.
    I put all my deadout queens in alcohol to make bait, they differ to the extreme.

    They say big fat queens are good queens but I donīt believe this. Some small ones are good also.

    And I donīt believe sc bring forth small bees. sc bring more healthy bees, sc bring fat and small bees depends on season and flow. sc means warmer brood nests and earlier hatching but only in combine with narrow frame spacing.
    Natural comb has the cell measurement of your climate zone mostly.
    If you regress bees onto sc plastic comb it might be that the cell size differs or gets bigger on natural comb if they are given this. Some races build smaller cells naturally.

    But they will not build 5.4 cell size overall naturally.

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