mixing different foundation cell sizes
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  1. #1

    Default mixing different foundation cell sizes

    Hello, im a first time beekeeper here with 2 new nucs and a removal I did a week ago.

    My question is: am I able to use regular cell sized foundation in my medium honey supers if I am using small cell foundation in my brood box and no queen excluder?

    My reason for asking is: My 3 new hives are using small cell wax foundation to help combat verroa mites. After lots of research I would like to try maintaining one of my colonies with a single brood chamber. I have seen some commercial honey producers who add the first honey super with no queen excluder, allowing the queen to lay into the super which guaranties plenty of laying room for a strong hive. Then latter going back and adding a queen excluder over the single brood box with the queen in the bottom box. After all the brood hatches out in the supper it will be filled with honey and can be harvested. They are basically expanding the brood nest when the hive is growing, and shrinking it back when its not needed. I would like to try this strategy with only one hive because it seems more complicated and this is my first year. I plan to use medium honey supers but I have not seen small cell foundation for medium boxes, and before I though of this problem I ordered some regular foundation for my supers. I do realize I would not be benefiting from the small cells as much because I would have larger bees in the larger cell foundation, so more mite treatments may be needed this way. But will the different size foundations cause any kind of problems or confusion for the queen or bees?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Aylett, Virginia

    Default Re: mixing different foundation cell sizes

    I would not worry about the different cell sizes in your hives. Ultimately, using small cell will not make enough of a difference combating mites to be noticable. I recommend all new beekeepers start with the proven methods of beekeeping, learn to keep the bees alive from one year to the next, and only then open the door to experimentation.

    I use foundationless frames so the bees draw outr the cell sizes THEY think is best. After all, they have been doing it for millions of years.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand

    Default Re: mixing different foundation cell sizes

    Brood nests in wild hives have all different sizes, it's not critical, you'll be fine.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Jasper, Georgia, USA

    Default Re: mixing different foundation cell sizes

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor.o1 View Post
    I plan to use medium honey supers but I have not seen small cell foundation for medium boxes,
    Dadent F353103SC add a "5" at the end for 5.1 MM cell. Which is harder to find than small cell. How do you plan to extract?

    Good luck! Sounds like your following a path similar to mine. Warning, it is hard to be a fence straddler here.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Powhatan, Virginia, USA

    Default Re: mixing different foundation cell sizes

    What JW said +1
    There are a bunch of choices, some work over time, some don't have supporting data (make a statistical difference).
    They keep getting recycled because they are "feel good" things that folks gravitate to and Google makes no distinction when you search.
    Start by learning to keep bees alive then branch out. It is easy to have more variables than you are able to sort out.

  7. #6


    Thanks for the replies, I’m glad it shouldn’t be a problem to use the foundation that I have already ordered.

    Thanks for the item number William Bagwell! I don’t know how I missed that when I was shopping. I plan to use a radial honey extractor to extract the honey.

    As far as having too many variables to start out with I agree with that. I will hopefully have full double brood chambers on all three of my hives by the end of the year which will give me more resources for splits in the spring. Then I would like to try out the single brood chamber. I did not intend to use small cell foundation, but my bee supplier uses it so I figured ide do the same for now. Thanks again for the replies.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    San Mateo, CA

    Default Re: mixing different foundation cell sizes

    >My 3 new hives are using small cell wax foundation to help combat verroa mites.

    Good luck with that.
    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Crown Point, NY, USA

    Default Re: mixing different foundation cell sizes

    I tested Lusby's 4.9 cell size for 16 yrs treatment free. My conclusions:

    1. After 16 yrs bees did NOT draw 4.9 consistently with regression method (wax foundation). Only plastic foundation would give consistent results by forcing them for lack of a better term. If you live in AHB area 4.9 is probably a good choice for you. Bees almost always reverted to 5.0-5.2 average cell sized even after years of "regression". Using small cell doesn't hurt anything and bees do fine on it and I have it mixed in my apiaries till it gets rotated out through comb renewal.

    2. No varroa control was found. I did increase uncapping at purple eye stage. Possibly yet still not convinced; earlier bee emergence. It was more hassle then any benefit it provided. A slight edge in spring development.

    I'm not telling you what to do. But use the foundation it won't hurt anything. Don't get caught up in cell size. They will probably not draw it properly. Just use it however they make the comb. Long as its not brace and burr combed to death. Just keep bees healthy. Monitor varroa, there is no comb out there that stop varroa. Proof is in your mite population. You are better off with brood breaks. Bees that bite mites. Bees that express VSH trait. Even rarer bees that express VSH on drone brood. Bees that emerge earlier. Bees that swarm (brood break), controlled via beekeeper manipulation. Hygienic bees. Bees that encapsulate. And other traits. We actually have a blue print for varroa resistance by looking at apis cerana. If we could breed for even half the traits they express varroa would be history by now.


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