Cell size survey.
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  1. #1
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    Default Cell size survey.

    Watching this video gave me an idea.
    A fellow in Tatarstan, Russia is trying foundation-less approach in his Dadants.
    (Feel free to ignore or quickly click through - nothing special outside of him realizing that foundation is not necessary and iron wires maybe bad; nothing to see here....)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUoA...re=em-comments

    Of interest is one of his answers to questions below:
    Промерил, все ячейки как под копирку в 5,4мм. Не в оправдание своих пчел скажу, но татарская популяция самая южная из средне-русских популяций и возможно более северные популяции строят ячеи большего диаметра.
    My good-enough translation of the essential parts:
    Measured, all the cell are as if copied at 5.4mm. <GV: remember, this is Tatarstan region> ...... Tatar bee population of is the most Southern population of the middle-Russian populations (GV: i.e. AMM bees) and possibly the more Northern populations build cells even larger..
    So - his Tatarstan AMM bees run 5.4mm IF set foundation-less.
    I doubt very much they will regress much below that per my readings.
    Per the survey of 100 bee tree colonies, the wild AMMs in Bashkorostan build 5.53mm cells (Petrov, 1983).
    (Bashkorostan and Tatarstant are adjacent to each other).
    BashkirBeeCellSize.jpg

    My who-knows-what mutts seem to be bouncing around 5.2mm cell.
    I just took few pics of some random frame in the garage for the heck of it (too bad, the perfect vision is no more, grrrr....)
    20190205_133056.jpg
    20190205_133428.jpg

    Anyone interested, will you post samples of cell sizing in your natural combs?
    Pics would be fun to see.
    Origin of the bees would be fun to hear.
    Last edited by GregV; 02-05-2019 at 02:00 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    The cells are inconsistent across the comb with the center of the comb smaller than the edges of the comb. I get measurements between 5.1 and 5.2 mm. My bees have a strong influence from AMM but are mostly derived from Italian genetics otherwise.

    I put in the time to study cell size a few years ago. Short version is that Africanized bees are happy on 4.9 but my bees are not.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Anyone interested, will you post samples of cell sizing in your natural combs?
    My mating nuc frames are half size deeps that we let the bees do freehand, ie just a popsicle stick starter. A tape across a comb from a quadrant that died off last fall shows anywhere from 5.1 to 5.3 depending on where along the comb you count 10 cells.

    This comb came out of a mating nuc that's been in use for 3 years, my best guess is the quadrant has been thru 8 or 10 generations of bees as it gets a fresh cell quite regularly when we harvest queens. I cant say for certain when it was drawn, probably 2 years ago. Our bees originated as packages from New Zealand some number of years back, and we've just propogated forward from those over time. This particular colony died off already last fall, we got seriously distracted thru the latter part of the season with a parent passing so a lot of bee work got missed in August and September. I originally thought they probably starved during fall dearth, but teardown shows a lot of mite frass with plenty of honey in the frames. I dont need anybody to explain what happened, I've already figure that part out.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    The cells are inconsistent across the comb with the center of the comb smaller than the edges of the comb.....
    It is true and especially on large frames where you get everything (honey band above/brood area below/drone brood there and here/etc).
    My large frame cells bounce in size all over the large comb span (17" by 12" in area).
    But pretty soon you get idea where the cell sizes converge too.

    PS: this was the source frame I took few measurements from - a messy natural comb just as they wanted it built;
    not a perfect cell in size or shape, as sold by popular "beekeeping" picture books.
    20190205_143305.jpg
    20190205_143321.jpg
    Last edited by GregV; 02-05-2019 at 02:55 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    My mating nuc frames are half size deeps that we let the bees do freehand, ie just a popsicle stick starter. A tape across a comb from a quadrant that died off last fall shows anywhere from 5.1 to 5.3 depending on where along the comb you count 10 cells.

    My eyes aren't so good either. It looks like there are 10 cells from 9.0cm to 14.0cm. That would be 5.0 mm, right?

    I look at the smallest range of ten cells as my yardstick for "cell size".

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by clong View Post
    My eyes aren't so good either. It looks like there are 10 cells from 9.0cm to 14.0cm. That would be 5.0 mm, right?

    I look at the smallest range of ten cells as my yardstick for "cell size".
    I went back to the original and blew it up a bit. The one at 14 is closer to 14.1 than 14.0, so it is closer to 5.1 than 5.0. A slightly larger measurement, from 5.8 to 14.1 is 83mm and there are 16 cells, which works out to 5.2mm per cell.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Last time I measured about 5.1 mm. My bee size was measured as part of the survey and there was lots of variability in this. Up to 25% difference between hives.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Randomly found interesting feral cell-size measurements from Alaska and putting these up as relevant:
    Comb cell size measurements.

    I had three combs that I measured the cell size of that were pretty dark, indicating the colony was there for at least a few years, if not longer, or was a recent tenant of an old bee cavity. I measured ton cells across, in three directions, from cell wall center to cell wall center, as per my mentor Dee Lusby of Arizona. After measuring the cells I added them up, and divided them all together to gat the average cell size of the worker brood cells. Here are the measurements I gathered.

    53.25mm
    51.47mm
    53.00mm
    51.67mm
    53.88mm
    51.00mm
    50.81mm
    52.80mm
    53.13mm

    First three averaged out at 52.57mm, second three was 52.18mm, and the last three was 52.24mm. All three averages averaged out at 52.33mm.
    From: http://alaskahoneybee.com/dev/alaska...l-bees-alaska/
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Apidean kennokoko.jpg

    The only natural comb I could find was from Apidea mating hive.

    5,3-5,4 mm

  11. #10
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    Default

    GregV:

    Finally got around to this- I managed to get one frame of worker comb drawn out in one of the dead-outs and it appears to average just under 5.0 mm. These were from a 'regressed' colony. The corresponding drone comb appears to be near 5.5 mm.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    Finally got around to this- I managed to get one frame of worker comb drawn out in one of the dead-outs and it appears to average just under 5.0 mm. These were from a 'regressed' colony. The corresponding drone comb appears to be near 5.5 mm.
    Hey, Russ,
    I do not think you measured the cells correctly (per the pics).
    Please look at my photos and see what I have done.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Hey, Russ,
    I do not think you measured the cells correctly (per the pics).
    Please look at my photos and see what I have done.
    GregV:

    Just wanted to let you know I'm not ignoring you- just haven't had the opportunity to revisit the comb and evaluate a 10-cell average.

    Previously, I simply conducted an informal measurement of cells at random across the face of the comb and took a photo of a representative cell, measuring from the 1 cm mark.

    Thank you for your feedback- have a great day.

    Russ

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    Just wanted to let you know I'm not ignoring you- just haven't had the opportunity to revisit the comb and evaluate a 10-cell average.

    Previously, I simply conducted an informal measurement of cells at random across the face of the comb and took a photo of a representative cell, measuring from the 1 cm mark.

    Thank you for your feedback- have a great day.

    Russ
    No problem.

    Mike Bush has a good page/pics on how to measure the cells.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
    That is the approach I use.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Now that it has pretty well been established that cell size is largely determined by latitude and variety of Apis Mellifera has no additional survival value, Why do we care? It is an interesting conversation for cold winter nights. But like Swifts stories about tribal wars over cutting off the big or small end of your soft boiled egg, it just does not matter.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    Why do we care?
    Well, certainly no one is pressuring no one to participate.
    You don't have to care, participate, or read this.
    If you run foundation - makes no sense to participate either.

    In fact, I will be the one to just say that I don't care very much of the cell size as some indication of the "degree of resistance".
    I have been ranting for long time now how the "Russian" bees have NEVER been small cell bees - they are inherently large bees as predominantly originating from Northern AMM variants (and yet demonstrating the significant mite resistance).

    So why the survey?
    Just basically to try to document the obvious - one needs not be small cell compliant down to the D. Lusby "standards" - 4.9mm OR die.
    FP with his 5.2mm bees is just one very good example of this.
    No need to be stuffing the bees with lots of AMM blood in them into sub-sized AHB cells.
    Last edited by GregV; 02-19-2019 at 11:44 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Mike Bush has a good page/pics on how to measure the cells.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
    That is the approach I use.
    GregV:

    You are right- the measurements I listed previously are incorrect.

    Measuring across 10 cells, I get the following:

    Worker: +/- 53 mm

    Drone: +/- 62 mm

    These come from a 'regressed' dead-out that was otherwise installed on small-cell foundation.

    Worker.jpg Drone.jpg

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Worker: +/- 53 mm
    Thanks Russ.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Interesting about those Russian bees ...

    In the past I have taken some interest in the cell size my little ladies draw - using the shank of a 5mm drill bit to guesstimate the cell size, rather than relying upon my dodgy eyesight and a ruler.

    I found that there was a modest amount of variation across the comb, with either the drill shank being a tad too large to insert, or a tad too small - which made for a sloppy fit. Not exactly a precision method - but from that I concluded that they were drawing in the range 4.9-5.1 mm with the occasional 5.2.

    For myself, cell size is not something I'd ever want to become obsessional about, and I'm not convinced it's all that important at a local level - but there must be some significance to those Russian bees being so much larger ...

    Good post Greg.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Interesting about those Russian bees ...

    ......... but there must be some significance to those Russian bees being so much larger ...

    Good post Greg.
    LJ
    Sure.
    Yes, over time I was becoming annoyed by the "4.9mm or die" religion.
    So the 4.9mm wing of the TF folk kept ignoring the inconvenient truth of the naturally large Russian bees - this was getting old.
    Partially, why this non-scientific survey.

    I simply view the Russian AMM large size phenomenon as a natural and rather obvious adaptation to the cold region.
    It is very similar to the Russian (Siberian) tigers being the largest of all tigers - adaptation to the cold climate survival (minimizing of the surface to the volume ratio for heat retention and the benefit of bigger thermal mass - all it is to it).
    At the same time the large size did not prevent the Russian feral populations of AMM to survive varroa since 1970s.
    By now I have documented enough evidence and hang it up periodically in the "primitive beekeeping" topic.
    Last edited by GregV; 02-25-2019 at 10:02 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Cell size survey.

    Mostly 4.9 or smaller at lat 33.4 in N. Tx. This example is one of the smallest I've measured from an overwintered hive.
    DSCN0782.jpg

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