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I was lucky enough to capture a monster swarm with a bait hive. While hiving them, I noticed they seemed much smaller than my other bees. I'm assuming it is because they are feral and have been making the natural 4.9 size cells instead of our man made 5.4 size.
Question is...what to do since all my foundation is 5.4? I may not have a chance to change out foundation to small for a bit depending on availability of small cell in my area. (This is a brand new colony on empty undrawn frames)
 

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Let them draw foundationless combs, measure the cells, and post your findings. My bee tree swarms have all drawn something around 5.2-5.4mm combs. Some a little smaller some bigger...
 

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Last year, I did a cut-out from an area where no one sees bees let alone modern hive boxes of any flavor, where these came from was a mystery.
They had enough comb to fill a 10F Lang. and so I just left them on their natural comb. For their second body, I ordered small cell wax foundation (4.9)- they avoided it. A year later, they finally used it, yet you can't tell the difference between them and the hives on Rite-Cell.
This year, I hived a swarm that I presume came from one of the topbar hives on the other side of the fence. Those bees took to the Rite-Cell like it was what they were looking for their entire lives.

More and more, I'm coming round to; put them on what is convenient for me- the keeper.
 

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More and more, I'm coming round to; put them on what is convenient for me- the keeper.

Yup! I caught 2 swarms from the same bee tree this yr that's had bees continusiously for at least 5 yrs. , whenever I catch a swarm I always give them a frame of brood out of one of my other hives to anchor them, The first swarm got a frame of brood that was in ritecell, Guess what size comb they drew in the foundationless next to it? The second swarm, was given a frame of brood that happen to be in a PF120 aka 4.9 mm small cell. Guess what size they drew out in the foundationless next to it? Now for full disclosure I did not actually measure either one, but just by looking at them, you can't tell a difference in size from the sized comb given to them, whereas if you look at a frame from each hive, you can see a difference in size.
 

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More and more, I'm coming round to; put them on what is convenient for me- the keeper.
Acorn plastic foundation which I am pretty much converting to for new installs is a decent compromise. I haven't measured but I believe it's 5.1 mm. I like the cell density, if you get the extra wax coating the bees draw it out like the wind. Much much improved over Rite Cell (in my experience). But I do still have new Rite Cell to install. I just coat it with wax and by the time I use wax I could have sold and spend the time coating it I am 'money ahead' on the Acorn stuff before even considering the time spent.

Super happy I switched.
 

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Deuce, use the foundation you have. The bees will not care.

JW, I measured the Acorn and I agree with you that it is just about 5.1. I also agree with your other statements regarding their foundation. My bees drew it out faster than any other foundation I have ever used.
 

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All wood frames and a mix of plastic foundation brands as well as foundationless. I prefer plastic foundation for deeps (brood only) and foundationless for mediums (mostly honey supers but some brood).
 

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The queens that take to 4.9 mm foundation best are those from Texas that have some African traits.
 

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Everyone who thinks bees draw 4.7mm comb 'if you let them' should.
Yes, or 4.9 as well. I hived a swarm this year where the bees were noticeably larger than anything I had in my bee yard. I thought they looked big and a friend of mine came over to work with me doing inspections one Saturday and he noticed it. He had never seen the inside of a beehive before and I didn't say anything to him. I'd like to know where they came from so I could see if I could measure the cell size of those combs.
 

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Do you guys use the acorn plastic frames or wood frames w plastic foundation.
I'm using wooden frames and the double waxed Acorn foundation. I bought my first 100 sheets this year and won't be going back to Ritecell. Like jwc said, they jump on the frames in a hurry. I think the cell size is 5.2 though I could be wrong.
 

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What's the best way to get the acorn plastic foundation? I read some posts and it seems the shipping is way high?
The distributor page is " coming soon" on the website.
 

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Challenger, I found a semi local distributor. Close enough to drive and pick it up.
 

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Don't bees convert drone size comb to worker size comb when they need it? I think if they need a smaller size comb they'll adjust the comb they have - no?

I'm pretty sure I've seen comb previously used for drone brood remodeled into smaller cells.
 
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