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Discussion Starter #1
Folks, I am expecting to receive two 5-frame nucs of Carniolans in April and want to begin regressing their cell size immediately. Unfortunately, I only learned about small cell theory after I placed my orders for the nucs and the foundation, which, if course, is large-cell.

I'm planning on placing frames with starter strips of foundation between the five nuc frames and allowing the bees to build their own comb. Do I need to order some small-cell foundation for the starter strips, or will the large-cell suffice? I'm wondering if there would be a significant difference in cell size on frames with small-cell starter strips vs. large-cell starter strips? I realize I'm likely to get, at best, 5.1mm cells in the brood core with this first regression in any case.

The other option I'm considering would be whittling down the frame thickness down to 1.25" and supplying totally empty frames with a beveled top bar, but I'm not sure how to make such a top bar out of the wedge top bar frames I already have! Any suggestions?

Many thanks for your suggestions.
 

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>Folks, I am expecting to receive two 5-frame nucs of Carniolans in April and want to begin regressing their cell size immediately.

Sounds like a plan.

>Unfortunately, I only learned about small cell theory after I placed my orders for the nucs and the foundation, which, if course, is large-cell.

I know what you mean.

>I'm planning on placing frames with starter strips of foundation between the five nuc frames and allowing the bees to build their own comb.

Sounds like a plan.

> Do I need to order some small-cell foundation for the starter strips, or will the large-cell suffice?

Between two drawn brood combs you don't need either. No foundation at all will work fine as long as there is a drawn comb on each side of it. That's what I'd use.

>I'm wondering if there would be a significant difference in cell size on frames with small-cell starter strips vs. large-cell starter strips?

I have not tried it. According to Bwrangler the top row of natural comb is always bigger and it gets smaller as you go. I haven't taken the time to try to verify this, but the top row of cells always looks larger. It's possible they are just taller and not wider, but they are obviously taller. If this is true, then maybe a very short starter strip of large cell wouldn't matter one way or the other. But, again, between two drawn combs, I'd save the trouble and leave it out altogether.

> I realize I'm likely to get, at best, 5.1mm cells in the brood core with this first regression in any case.

Probably.

>The other option I'm considering would be whittling down the frame thickness down to 1.25"

That will help some. If you have a table saw and you don't put nails in the sides of the end bar you can assemble it first and then run it through the saw to cut it down (all of one side with it set at 1 5/16" and then the other side set at 1 1/4") and you'll have the frame to hold on to. You can also use a plane and plane 1/16" off each side. If you do that, I'd make a template and mark it so you don't get carried away.


>supplying totally empty frames with a beveled top bar

That would be my preference. Never mess with foundation or starter strips at all.

> but I'm not sure how to make such a top bar out of the wedge top bar frames I already have! Any suggestions?

Leave the wedge attached. Run it through the table saw with the blade on 45 degrees and the width where it comes out leaving 1/32" or so on each side of the groove. If the wedge comes off, don't worry about it. If it stays, leave it. Here's one that was cut on a wedge top bar:

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/FoundationlessDrawn.JPG

Look close and you can see the groove.

Next time buy them from Walter T. Kelley. Someone on here talked them into cutting the bevel on the top bar for them. I bought a thousand with no groove top or bottom and cut my own bevel. Or at least get a grooved instead of a wedge.

Whatever you do, once they have built straight comb on it, you can just leave the imprint of the last comb's cells on the frame and it's good enough for a guide most of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I lurked and read the past year's worth of material on this forum before posting and I have to say that you're always most helpful, Michael. I appreciate not only your response to my question today but all of your thoughtful responses to all the other questions you've answered.

I should have mentioned that in my zeal, I immediately built 120 frames the day they were delivered, so to trim them down to 1.25" and bevel the top bar, I'd have to take them all apart, and that's not happenin'. So, I think I'll dive in with the hand plane and also stick with the starter strips. At least I only managed to wire two supers' worth of frames before I learned about small cell practices!

Of course, all the foundation I purchased is wired, so I might just order some small cell foundation to cut into strips.

Again, thanks and hopefully I'll have some mid-summer follow-up posts to update my progrees, or is that regress?
 

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"Of course, all the foundation I purchased is wired, so I might just order some small cell foundation to cut into strips."

Depending on size of the foundation you bought, you can always use it in the honey supers. I have heard that cutting wired foundation, while it can be done, is a pain. Also, one other thing to think about is the timing of inserting empty frames into your nucs. First, you are getting these in april, when the weather can be very unsettled. You may wish to leave them in the nucs until early may, when the weather has turned warmer. If you move them into a standred hivebody and expand the broodnest, they may not be able to cover all the brood, and this will set them back. I like to leave my nucs in the nuc box until they have filled it completely full, and then transfer them. They tend to rapidly expand the broodnest, and are able to keep all the brood warm on chilly nights.
 

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>I should have mentioned that in my zeal, I immediately built 120 frames the day they were delivered, so to trim them down to 1.25" and bevel the top bar, I'd have to take them all apart

To bevel the top bar, you would. To add a beveled piece to the top bar, just cut the corner from a one by with a table saw (3/4" by 3/4" by 15/16") and nail it to the top bar. Or cut strips and put a wooden strip in the groove.

But you not only don't NEED to take them apart to cut them to 1.25", I'd put them together FIRST to cut them down. Then you have the whole frame to hold on to when cutting them down.

> and that's not happenin'.

I have lots of frames and I would not dissasemble them either. I'd just use them with wood starter strips, wood bevels added on, or wax starter strips.

> So, I think I'll dive in with the hand plane

Just make sure you didn't nail them from the sides. If you did, I'd just leave them as is.

>and also stick with the starter strips.

That works.

>At least I only managed to wire two supers' worth of frames before I learned about small cell practices!

Just wire or wire and foundation?

>Of course, all the foundation I purchased is wired, so I might just order some small cell foundation to cut into strips.

That works. They are also selling wired small cell now. Call Dadant. They are also selling it wired in mediums, I believe.

>Again, thanks and hopefully I'll have some mid-summer follow-up posts to update my progrees, or is that regress?

Yes. Progressing to regressing.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
peggjam, thanks for the suggestion to make sure the bees can cover all brood before expanding the brrod nest size. You're right, April can have some wild swings in weather and I'll exercise some patience in moving the bees into a 10-frame hive body.

Michael asked:

>Just wire or wire and foundation?

Just wire, no foundation.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Regarding just leaving the wire, I've been under the impression that if the frames are not supplied with enough foundation to cover the wires, the bees won't draw comb past/over the wires. I've been under the impression that the wires, to the bees, would be seen as an impediment past which they cannot build comb. Is this incorrect?
 

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I tried it last year and the bees drew it just fine
(satrter strips in wired frames)
it really seems like a good idea to me
the combs are very fragile when they're new and the wire makes them much easier to handle

Dave

[ February 02, 2006, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: drobbins ]
 

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I had a few that failed to incorperate the wire into the comb, but it was a very small number, and I just made them redraw it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow, Dave, thank you for sharing that! I'm very pleased to hear this and very surprised too!
 

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i only have a few pounds of wax myself but bought from wally world there candle making kit and melt the wax and pour it over a 1x4 and cut this down for starter strips the bees seem to like these thicker strips very well.
 

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J Bird and all
Cell size is being discussed on other sites at this time also,and I am revisiting cell size following observations from my feral and resistant bee project.

> I'm wondering if there would be a significant difference in cell size on frames with small-cell starter strips vs. large-cell starter strips? I realize I'm likely to get, at best, 5.1mm cells in the brood core with this first regression in any case.

> The other option I'm considering would be whittling down the frame thickness down to 1.25" and supplying totally empty frames

There was a New Zealand study many years ago with 11 frames vs 10 in the brood box relative to brood nest temperature.The results were positive and I have our National Beekeepers technical librarian digging out the article at this time.

Here are some shots of 3 starter types prepared today to go in a shake down trapped feral hive from a 150 litre drum tomorrow.

http://tinyurl.com/dfxlm

The nearest frame in the photo has 5.5 x 20 mm foundation,the middle frame has been brush waxed around the entire inside of the frame and wires wax coated,the back frame has 20mm plain float wax starter strip (prepared the same as float glass).There will be a mix of 10 frames in the brood box for follow up photos of progress.We are going into the early stages of Autumn in New Zealand and drones are being evicted.The small cell hives in progress have dropped down to 5.0-5.3 at least in the core area. Advanced pupa and near emerging bees have been observed being dragged out over the last couple of days from the smaller cell size,see pupa being chewed out in the large cell size resistant bees,more on that later, see in above photos.

[ February 03, 2006, 02:09 AM: Message edited by: Bob Russell ]
 

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it seems to me that using small cell foundation for starter strips would be like buying custom made slacks and then chopping them off for shorts:)
 

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>it seems to me that using small cell foundation for starter strips would be like buying custom made slacks and then chopping them off for shorts:)

Still small cell seems like it's a better idea than large cell. But I did both small cell and blank ones from dipping wet boards to make sheets of wax. I like the blank ones better.
It probably doesn't make any difference.

Since this comes up from time to time, perhaps those of you who are using large cell starter strips could report back what your results were.
 

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I probably missed something along the way. But what is the purpose of shaving off 1/16" off each side of the frame? I'm referring to frames with added wedge insert as that's what I used last year. Seems like that makes it possible to go to 11 frames, but what does that get us? Or does it just allow more space between frames? Sorry if this was already discussed.

Dale
 

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Discussion Starter #17
>what is the purpose of shaving off 1/16" off each >side of the frame? Seems like that makes it >possible to go to 11 frames, but what does that get >us?

You're exactly right, Dale. 11 frames allows for more brood in the brood nest and may more closely resemble a natural brood nest in terms of comb spacing. For those of us who care about such things, the bees included, it may be a good thing.
 

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>what is the purpose of shaving off 1/16" off each side of the frame?

Natural comb from natural sized bees is spaced 1 1/4" in the brood nest. Mostly. I say mostly because sometimes its as small as 30mm and sometimes as large as 35 in the brood nest. Outside the brood nest it varies even more.

From my observation the bees seem to build more natural sized cells when you allow them natural spacing than when you have wider spacing.

It's not necessary, but if you want to stack the deck to get the bees to draw smaller cells, 1 1/4" spacing seems to work better.

An extra frame of brood doesn't hurt either. I'm now on 8 frame equipment with nine frames in a (medium depth) brood box. Some people run nine frames in ten frame equipment, so I get the same number of frames of brood in a smaller box.


I only put six or seven drawn combs in the supers spaced 1 1/2" or more.
 

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>what is the purpose of shaving off 1/16" off each side of the frame?

Natural comb from natural sized bees is spaced 1 1/4" in the brood nest. Mostly. I say mostly because sometimes its as small as 30mm and sometimes as large as 35 in the brood nest. Outside the brood nest it varies even more.

From my observation the bees seem to build more natural sized cells when you allow them natural spacing than when you have wider spacing.

It's not necessary, but if you want to stack the deck to get the bees to draw smaller cells, 1 1/4" spacing seems to work better.

An extra frame of brood doesn't hurt either. I'm now on 8 frame equipment with nine frames in a (medium depth) brood box. Some people run nine frames in ten frame equipment, so I get the same number of frames of brood in a smaller box.


I only put six or seven drawn combs in the supers spaced 1 1/2" or more.
 

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Dale it's for brood nest only. The more surface area, the more space for the queen to lay. In the honey supers, it's the opposite. I'm actually now using eight frames in a ten frame box. (After the combs are drawn out.) It make for big fat combhs sticking out the sides and real easy to uncap.

This may change as I'm trying to regroup and gear up for wax production instead of honey. Would I get more wax with more frames? We'll see.

Hawk
 
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