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Discussion Starter #61
Many years ago Dee Lusby posted a map about cell sizes. Let us take worker brood cells only. The jest of the map was that the further north and higher the altitude the larger the brood cell. It has been many years since reviewing the map and my memory maybe faulty, but the Canadian border had cell sizes in the 5.1mm area and the Deep South was 4.7 to 4.9 mm.

All beekeeping is local. That is the problem with people from all over the continent commenting on cell size. It varies.
I don't pay much attention to Dee Lusby's maps (in the US context).
Massive and sustained migratory bee moves pretty much invalidate it.
In the US context, this is pretty much meaningless since locally adapted and stable bee sub-species never formed yet (IF ever will with all the bee moves).

Just now the local seller is selling tons packages from South to the locals here (the annual event in my town).
Talking of Canadian border bigger cell sizes vs. Deep South smaller cell is not much a factor because of this (in the US).
So the geographic location is not a strong factor.

The geographic locations did matter in the historic origins of the bees in the historic sense (pure black German/Russian bees are large; pure gray Caucasians are mid-size; etc).
Still do now, but somewhat washed out due to bee migrations and long distance sales as well.
 

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Her cell size map is certainly thought provoking, but I do not know where she got the data from for it.

What i can say with certainty, is the cell size she claims for my country New Zealand is incorrect, she claims cell sizes smaller than what occurs here.

I have seen a similar map denoting colors for various climates around the world. My suspicion is that Dee has copied this map, and theorised what she thinks cell size should be in these various climates, but without actually consulting the local beekeepers.
 

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Discussion Starter #63
.... My suspicion is that Dee has copied this map, and theorised what she thinks cell size should be in these various climates, but without actually consulting the local beekeepers.
I pretty much ignore Dee's "science" by now. :)

For sure she never consulted the Russian beekeepers.
She would have told them to keep SC bees and they were fools to keep their 5.4mm bees.
And they would tell her to go back to Arizona to her AHBs.
Probably not very politely.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #64
What i can say with certainty, is the cell size she claims for my country New Zealand is incorrect, she claims cell sizes smaller than what occurs here.
What really matters - the origins of the New Zealand bees. That the starting point.
Bring bees from Kenia - will get one sizing.
Bring bees from Siberia - will get different sizing.
 

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Discussion Starter #65
....... Dennis Murrell wrote on this years ago, and as I recall, reached similar conclusions. I think he might have charts or pictures like yours.........
I found a picture in my stash.
I forgot I had it.
Here is his original pic:
SmallCell-TBH.jpg
 

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I found a picture in my stash.
I forgot I had it.
Here is his original pic:
View attachment 47259
Gregv,

Thanks for posting the photo.

Small cell is real! But only as part of the bigger picture of the bees making the size bees they need when they need them.
I've had the experience of putting in 4.9 mm plastic frames and the bees build them perfectly. Then, at a different time of year, the same bees build crazy comb on the very same type of frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #68
Gregv,

Thanks for posting the photo.

Small cell is real! But only as part of the bigger picture of the bees making the size bees they need when they need them.
I've had the experience of putting in 4.9 mm plastic frames and the bees build them perfectly. Then, at a different time of year, the same bees bee build crazy comb on the very same type of frame.
You know - I read about this exact "issue" many times over - bees totally screwing the SC foundation for no clear reason - no one having a good answer.
The seasonality of the brood cell usage and sizing is one thing no one never has brought up (I have not seen it discusses/studied at least).
If true, is the size seasonality attribute of northern bees?
Southern bees?
Both?

Or maybe it has to do with vertical cavity bees?
Or horizontal cavity bees?
I suppose, differentiation of the vertical cavity bees vs. horizontal cavity bees is another subject I have never seen discussed/studied either.
Yet such thing exists.
Back to my readings - the Caucasian bees are considered good bees for keeping in long horizontal hives specifically (due to their natural nesting tendencies).
Again - this only makes sense at the locations where the Caucasians are reasonably pure (the regions adjacent to the Caucasus proper, including Turkey btw).
Once random mixing is taking place, what we have here - the outcomes are unpredictable.
 

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Another thing to consider is what happened when comb foundation was first invented. The next obvious discussion was what size should the cells be.

People were well aware that different sized cells happen in different parts of the hive, plus can vary seasonally. But making different sizes for different parts of the hive was not going to be practical and work against the very versatility that the new moveable comb hives were all about.

So a size range developed that all bees, were happy to use, in all parts of the hive. This size range was 5.2, to 5.5. Pretty much every manufacturer right to the present day, makes foundation that is within this range, and the bees are fine with it.

Move outside that range though, and you are pushing the bees beyond what they might be wanting to do. Hence the risk of 4.9 sized foundation being re worked by the bees, on occasion.
 

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This year, my brood have all bee hatched out on SC frames, half of which I have shaved down to the 31.5mm as suggested by someone.
I had no brood in the honey frames.
My natural mite drop and that after treatment have been minimal, so much so that I was worried about it but am too inexperienced to know what is going on and can only hope.
My major problem right now is that it looks like my hive has CPV or herbicide poisoning, which I am currently researching
 

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This year, my brood have all bee hatched out on SC frames, half of which I have shaved down to the 31.5mm as suggested by someone.
I had no brood in the honey frames.
My natural mite drop and that after treatment have been minimal, so much so that I was worried about it but am too inexperienced to know what is going on and can only hope.
My major problem right now is that it looks like my hive has CPV or herbicide poisoning, which I am currently researching
Mischief, here is a link for a video on CBPV http://www.honeyshow.co.uk/lecture-videos.php
Look at the video by Kirsten Stainton called “EFB AFB typing and Chronic Bee Paralysis”.
My hives had this (first time ever) last year, 3 out of 17. All the hives overwintered well (including the CBPV ones) except 2 hives, one a top bar, which died of starvation and small clusters. The rest of the videos are great also. Deb
 

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One benefit of having dead hives - they can be dissected at your own pace. :)
I did some of that recently to survey cell sizing and distribution.

Since I never thought about this before, I did not care to start marking the original builders of the combs.
Over time the combs got transferred around and I don't remember who the original builders were.
If to investigate this further properly, the original builders should be documented.

But - found different patterns in cell building.
It maybe the different patterns originated from different original builders.
I will start tracing this in the summer 2019, time/patience permitting.

One pattern stays true to what I have shown above - definitive cell size variation across the comb span vertically (~5.4mm LC is the upper-comb; ~5.2mm MC at mid-comb; ~5.0mm SC at lower comb; distinct gradient from LC to SC). And so if the seasonal size variation did occur - these would be the bees moving between the LC/MC/SC cohort proportions seasonally.
View attachment 47127

The other pattern - no significant cell variation across the comb vertically - the upper comb is ~5.2mm; the lower comb is ~5.1m; one can almost call the entire comb as uniformed.
One idea came to mind right away - these combs are coming from a different builder compared to the above (mid-size uniformed cell (MC) of 5.1-5.2 sizing vs. vertically varied cell of 5.4-5.0 sizing; this could be an expression of different bee units in my collection that I previously was unaware). The bees would not vary much seasonally per the cell size distribution (all MC).
View attachment 47129
View attachment 47131

And for the fun of it - a perfect 100% drone comb.
They really, really wanted it.
Bees also left nice cross-comb paths in the corners and along the vertical attachment surfaces.
View attachment 47133
Hi Greg, I hate to toss another variable into the mix But I will. Do you have records of if the queen was superseded or swarmed? It may be that a different mating occurred with the new queen and from that point on, the comb down, they "changed size " because they were a different genetics. So if you are doing testing you may want to note if the Queen changes about the same time, the cell size does. Another idea is spring bees may be bigger to carry off more stores when swarming, and fall bees smaller to use less stores in the winter.
Have fun
GG
 

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Discussion Starter #74
Gee, stupid website just ate my response for nothing. Trying again..

OK, GG, I do get what you are saying.
This seasonal cell variation/bee size variation is a brand new idea to me (confirmed by comb surveys so far, in few cases as I reported).
Of course, this idea may be brand new to most anyone too - unless I am missing some secretive research about it (outside of similar observations by another fellow we mentioned above).

YES - I need be keeping better record of this if I am to claim any credible findings (queen changes, etc, etc).
I get that and I should try harder to make the time spent worth it.
Well, I am no scientist for a living - family/kids priorities have been successfully killing off my urges to work on several "citizen science" projects (so far).
 

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Discussion Starter #75 (Edited)
.... It may be that a different mating occurred with the new queen and from that point on, the comb down, they "changed size " because they were a different genetics. ...... GG
Thinking more about it - the queen change is not likely an immediate and clear factor:
- they really build fast when they build anything and a complete comb can be done in less than a week
- so a complete comb would be typically produced end-to-end by the same generational slice of the bees
- the queen change is not immediately a factor
- the bee population turn over is the actual factor
- the bee population turn over is lagging the queen switch by 4-8 weeks depending the exact case (seasonal timing being very important too)
- and so this takes well configured experimentation and documentation if to conclude anything.

But I do not have properly setup experiments to confirm/deny anything.
Just snapshots and theorizing of those - all I have for now.

What is more likely to happen - I did move around uncompleted combs from the dead units to the live units (that could explain something).
But also notice - top-to-bottom sizing gradients I observed so far were gradual (NOT abrupt).
Abrupt switching the between the colonies (and different builder work-forces) could produce some obvious differences in the cells produced (within the same comb, say, built by different colonies at 50% each).
A good idea to experiment with and observe/document - have to have time/attention to do this correctly though.
 

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Well, I am no scientist for a living - family/kids priorities have been successfully killing off my urges to work on several "citizen science" projects (so far).
GregV:

For what it is worth, I do appreciate you taking the time to post these observations- scientist or not, it has been a thought-provoking item of note that gives us all a lot to consider. Thanks again for sharing the intel- have a great weekend.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #77
- they really build fast when they build anything and a complete comb can be done in less than a week
Well, darn, now I look at it and think ...

Aha - that MAY explain why some of the combs ARE rather uniformed - like those uniformed 5.1-5.2mm cases I put up.
Those combs could have been build all at once in a single setting - the same team of builders did them start to the end.

The non-uniform combs, on the other hand, are strange animals.
How did they get built, anyway?

I have examples of mish-mash combs with different size segments with NO clear gradients - just some chaotic mix (those are more likely examples of cross-colony comb transfers and different teams working them).
This is one example of such mess:
20190205_143305.jpg

But the combs with very clear, seemingly organized top-to-bottom, and gradual gradients are really interesting.
I will try to find more examples of any pattern.

Anyway, wrote this down on the spot so not to forget.
 

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GregV, :) just wanted you to have something to think about. I have heard of "winter bees" and seen documentation about how they have more protein stuffs etc , for winter. So with box swapping the Lang management process has, we cannot ascertain much from them. But with your long frames you have more data points. I'll Bet they make cell builders, nectar carriers, and other things we do not yet fully comprehend. We know the queen can choose between drone and worker, winter bee, maybe they are more gradients, related to time of the year we do not yet understand. be interesting to track the same queen all season to see if there is the same size shifts, and knowing they start on top in the spring and end up on the bottom in the fall, we can make some interesting observations.
 

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Discussion Starter #79 (Edited)
GregV, :) just wanted you to have something to think about....
Sure, now that we have this discussion going, I will consider maybe a single colony just for this particular observation for the summer.

It will need to be setup properly.
For example - there must not be horizontal comb breaks as they are not really normal in a tree hollow setting.
Especially the ceiling - that is very much static and set once and for all.
So they have a very good origin for any kinds of construction works then.

I wonder if the horizontal comb breaks (so typical for a multi-body hives of Lang/Dadants) are detrimental in some ways.
Especially IF combined with the routine practice of body switching vertically.
That would totally screw up normal and seasonal bee cohort segregation implemented by seasonal cell size dynamics.
Once there is no very clear and fixed origin - that will be hard to create a determinate cell sizing gradient top to bottom (since the tops and bottoms keep switching about).

Other thing, I will need to have them build blank frames and keep track of those frames (the builder team #, etc)

Other thing, I wonder then even if my own horizontal comb breaks are already bad.
Like on this pic:
20180710_145617.jpg
I wonder IF the horizontal comb break is sort of a "reset" of the cell sizing pattern.
As discussed somewhere here (LJ does some good talk on that) - too wide of a horizontal supports force the comb break - may not be a good thing.
I consider to make the horizontal frame bars more narrow so to not interrupt the combs.

PS: for folks down South these talks maybe less relevant due to more forgiving climates;
but up here room for an error is kind of small and requirements for the bees are high just to stay afloat.
 

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Well, darn, now I look at it and think ...

Aha - that MAY explain why some of the combs ARE rather uniformed - like those uniformed 5.1-5.2mm cases I put up.
Those combs could have been build all at once in a single setting - the same team of builders did them start to the end.

The non-uniform combs, on the other hand, are strange animals.
How did they get built, anyway?

I have examples of mish-mash combs with different size segments with NO clear gradients - just some chaotic mix (those are more likely examples of cross-colony comb transfers and different teams working them).
This is one example of such mess:
View attachment 47491

But the combs with very clear, seemingly organized top-to-bottom, and gradual gradients are really interesting.
I will try to find more examples of any pattern.

Anyway, wrote this down on the spot so not to forget.
Would any of this have anything to do with the frames sizes?
 
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