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....)
Of interest is one of his answers to questions below:
My good-enough translation of the essential parts: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.
So - his Tatarstan AMM bees run 5.4mm IF set foundation-less.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..
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).
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....)
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.