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My hive is one that I picked up from a retired beekeeper. Apparently a swarm set up shop in one of his abandoned hives. It consisted of a deep and a super. The hive had not been attended in the last 2 yrs. Upon opening the hive I found that the deep contained only 7 frames and the bees had built comb in the free space. I have noticed that my workers are noticeably different sizes, with the larger workers being about 25% larger than the smaller workers (No, they are not robber bees unless they are bringing in pollen to my hive and leaving with honey). Do you think that the bees raised from the "natural" comb have regressed in size, or it normal to have different size worker within the hive due to the different drones that the queen may have mated with? Thanks.
 

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Novice also, but from what i've read here, it's normal.

It's also what i've seen in my hives as well. Mine are all from local swarms on foundationless frames, thus all natural cell. Lots of various sizes of cells and bees.

Varies quite abit from hive to hive especially.

Check posts regarding small cell regression and one might get the impression that small cells = small bees, and small bees = small cells. So maybe it's more of a mechanical thing than a genitical thing. Or perhaps some form of combined effort? I, for one, do not know.

Leads to another question though- Are there bees that cannot be regressed without a changing of the queen? Anyone know?
 

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> noticeably different sizes, with the larger
> workers being about 25% larger than the smaller
> workers

A lack of nutrition can cause this often.
Toss a pollen patty or 3 in, and maybe
slap a feeder atop the hive. It is more than
safe to be "building up a hive" in NC by now.

Its good that you notice such things. If you
look at all your hives, you may find that those
lacking sufficient pollen are putting out smaller
bees than "normal", which is a very clear sign
that they are doing the best they can with what
is available, but not as well as you might like.
 

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Young bees are always smaller than older bees. Bees from smaller cells are smaller then bees from larger cells. In any hive there is a variety of sizes. In a natural comb hive there is a wider variety of sizes because of the wider variety of cell sizes.
 

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What? How do bees get bigger as they get older? Or am I misreading you, Michael Bush?

Are bees from different sized cells really noticibly different in size?

Maybe I need top spend more time comparing the sizes of bees in a colony. Then again, does it matter? The different sizes or the observation of them.
 

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>What? How do bees get bigger as they get older? Or am I misreading you, Michael Bush?

Yes they get bigger from the time they emerge until several days or a week later. Watch a bee emerge. Look at the size. It's noticably smaller than the other bees around it.

>Are bees from different sized cells really noticibly different in size?

I see much more difference in size and much smaller bees. My son, who is 30 and who has no interest in bees whatsoever, saw bees in an observation hive at the State fair and was asking me why they were so large. There is enough difference between small cell bees and large cell bees that it's noticable to a non beekeeper. The State inspector made a similar comment about their size.
 

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I thought that you were talking about bees in the same hive.

Couldn't the seeing of bees as bigger or smaller, by eye, in an observation hive be something other than the bees really being different size? Like seeing a television or movie actor in person rather than on TV and seeing a difference in size?

I don't doubt that small cell and large cell combs produce differing sizes of bees. I just wondered if one can really see a difference when the bees aren't next to each other.

Did you ask your son, "Compared to what?", when he mentioned that the observation hive bees looked "so large"? Just wondering.
 

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I could have sworn I saw bees of different sizes in the same hive, and I thought it was normal. I never questioned it till now - I assumed the largest ones were the oldest ones. but the size difference was significant. (not including drones in observation)
 

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You will see worker bees of different sizes in the same colony for several reasons.
Cell sizes vary within a colony.
The nutritional value of feed varies between times of year and from nurse bee to nurse bee. What a larva is feed will effect it’s adult body size.
Bees drift between hives.
 

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>Did you ask your son, "Compared to what?", when he mentioned that the observation hive bees looked "so large"? Just wondering.

There is an observation hive in our living room. There was one there. He was comparing the size of bees he sees everyday in the living room observation hive to the ones in the observation hive at the fair.
 

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You can assume, that all of my hives are, unless they were recently aquired. Yes, my observation hive is small cell, or natural cell. Currently, in that observation hive, there are two frames of wax dipped PermaComb (4.95mm), One of natural drawn comb on a foundationless frame and one empty foundationless frame.
 

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FOrd GUy

yes I echo Dave's thanks.

I think what you are asking about is if there could be different sized bees in the same hive as a result of the Q mating with different drones?

I think it is possible.

I do have different sizes of bees among my hives though. And I don't think it is because of nutrition. But in the instance of the hive in question it sounds like it might be a combination of things. SInce there is some natural comb in that hive, those may be smaller cell bees.

But the first thing I thought of was that the Q may have mated with some local feral drones that are just small wild bees. And she also may have mated with some larger guys from out of town - you know the type ... :)
 

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well, I started looking for research on this when I noticed different colored bees in the same hives. Some more dark/gray, caucasus looking, and some more golden three banded italiaon looking. I have also wondered about the different size question, but attributed that to the age/roles of the bees.
 
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