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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i'd like to eventually get my hives on small cell, and maybe use three mediums instead of two deeps for the brood nest (using permacomb).

but, it wasn't long ago that i bought a truck load of pierco plastic "frame and foundation", many of which have yet to be used. i'm afraid if i start buying some new kind of comb then, by the time i have it, some new super GREAT comb will be invented that does EVERY THING for you.

at any rate, i don't want a pinch in my wallet any more than there already is, and i don't want to lose out too much on what i already have.


so, that having been said, i want to have a good plan of what to do and when. i'm thinking of going to one medium and one deep for the brood (my second deep is always packed full of last years honey when the speing flow starts).

also, i don't know a thing about small cell. can i mix and match in the brood nest? what happens when they turn it into drone comb? do you use one of those green drone frames?

in short, i want a good, long term plan, that will save my back, my wallet, and my bees from several pests and deseases.

thanks.
 

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>i'd like to eventually get my hives on small cell, and maybe use three mediums instead of two deeps for the brood nest (using permacomb).

Wax dipped PermaComb? PermaComb is only about 5.1mm (when you allow for wall thickness).

>but, it wasn't long ago that i bought a truck load of pierco plastic "frame and foundation", many of which have yet to be used.

I know what you mean. I have a pile of Rite Cell I've never used.

>i'm afraid if i start buying some new kind of comb then, by the time i have it, some new super GREAT comb will be invented that does EVERY THING for you.

Doubtful.
But I would always ease into any new experiment. Don't buy thousands of something until you've tried it and you know you like it.

>at any rate, i don't want a pinch in my wallet any more than there already is, and i don't want to lose out too much on what i already have.

There are a lot of beekeepers out there. Why not find one that wants to buy the brand new Pierco for retail (or a little below) to save the shipping? Or use the Pierco in the honey supers.

>i'm thinking of going to one medium and one deep for the brood (my second deep is always packed full of last years honey when the speing flow starts).

You can do that, but interchangable frames within the brood nest is awfully nice. I cut down all the deep boxes and frames.

>also, i don't know a thing about small cell. can i mix and match in the brood nest?

You can mix them all you want, but if you want Varroa control, you need the center of the brood nest to be 4.9mm or so.

>what happens when they turn it into drone comb?

They turn any comb into drone comb if they really want some. Small cell isn't any different, but they usually don't.

>do you use one of those green drone frames?

Never had one. But mostly I don't use foundation anymore. I just feed empty frames into the brood nest and let the bees build what they want.

>in short, i want a good, long term plan, that will save my back, my wallet, and my bees from several pests and deseases.

What I would do (what I DID do) is cut down all the deeps boxes and frames to mediums, buy only mediums (actually I've now cut them all down to eight frame mediums and only buy eight frame mediums) and feed empty frames into the broodnest to get small cell. The wax coated PermaComb (you will have to heat the PermaComb and wax dip it) can speed up the process, but if money is an issue I'd skip that. Sell the Peirco or put it in the supers. You could also cut the center out of the Peirco and leave just the edges and the frame as a starter strip all the way around and feed those into the brood nest. You can cut the Pierco on a table saw with a fine toothed plywood blade or with a hot knife or a sabre saw or a sawzall or whatever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks for responding to all of this.

i think i'm mis understanding you when you mention 8 frame. i'm currently working with normal deeps using nine frames. i'm assuming that your talking about an eight frame medium rather than a regular medium that you run with eight frames ( that the bees have drawn out).

thanks again. i'll proably come back with more quesions about small cell.

here's one. what exactly do i need to be aware of concerning "regression".
 

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I run ten to eleven frames in a ten frame box. I either use the frames as is or shave 1/16" off each side of the spacers and put eleven in. The tighter spacing seems to help with getting smaller cells, but is not necessary.

I already cut my deeps down to mediums, but I'm now cutting down all my ten frame boxes (16 1/4" wide) to eight frame boxes (13 3/4" wide) and putting between eight and nine frames in them. It's nothing to do with small cell, I just don't want to lift the ten frame boxes anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
here is something i don't undserdstand.

you mention putting in frames with no foundation or "getting the size down". this may seem like a dumb question, but is small cell simply the natural size cell the bees make on there own?

if permacomb is the wrong size, how do you get it down to the RIGHT size?

i've seen small cell foundation for sale in the catalogs, but i thought you were sort of "forcing" the bees to work with a different size.

there is a LOT i need to learn about this before i even think of trying it.

much help, instruction, or good links would be greatly apreciated.

thanks
 

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>you mention putting in frames with no foundation or "getting the size down". this may seem like a dumb question, but is small cell simply the natural size cell the bees make on there own?

Exactly. At least it's what natural sized bees would build. If you keep feeding empty frames in between two fully drawn brood combs you will eventually get back to natural sized bees and they will make natural sized cells. AND you'll keep them from swarming.


>if permacomb is the wrong size, how do you get it down to the RIGHT size?

I heat the PermaComb to 200 F and dip it in liquid beeswax and shake off the excess.

>i've seen small cell foundation for sale in the catalogs, but i thought you were sort of "forcing" the bees to work with a different size.

The first generation may be a bit forced. The second or third raised on smaller cells will happily build it on their own without the foundation.

>there is a LOT i need to learn about this before i even think of trying it.

Why? Just don't buy standard large foundation. Use either small cell foundation or no foundation. The rest is just extraneous details of understanding what this accomplishes and how it's liable to progress.

>much help, instruction, or good links would be greatly apreciated.

Search on "small cell", there are dozens of lengthy discussions.
 

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hi,

I have to agree with Michael, you should just start off using small cell and keep going from there.
After reading about SC from Michael and others I experimented with SC foundation and with starter strips. I found there was no great advantage to using SC foundation. I now just use Balsa wood strips from Ace Hardware dipped in wax.

Kieran
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
hello again,

if i don't shave the frames down (keeping ten frames a hive) will i have as much success at getting small cell as i would if i shaved the frames?

can i do this without any starter strips?

when is the best time to start the process and how many empty frames can i put in at once (i'm assuming that i can't put to empty frames back to back of eachother)?

thanks for all your help thus far. :D
 

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>if i don't shave the frames down (keeping ten frames a hive) will i have as much success at getting small cell as i would if i shaved the frames?

Maybe. It will work. You might get them smaller quicker if you shave them down, but I wouldn't obsess over it. If you don't want to, then don't.

>can i do this without any starter strips?

Meaning what? Use full sheets of foundation? Sure. Use a comb guide of some kind? Sure. Put plain empty frames between drawn frames of brood? Sure. Put a box full of empty frames in a hive? No. Not unless you don't mind it ending up looking like this:

http://www.beesource.com/pov/simon/comb.jpg

>when is the best time to start the process

When you start seeing white wax in the hive. This will depend on the climate, the temperature and the flow. It will be mid spring probably. Here it would be about April and maybe even the first of May.

>and how many empty frames can i put in at once

I usually do two or three. You need a strong cluster to handle it, so make sure there are plenty of bees. If you pull a frame out and the space is quickly (in a couple of minutes) filled with festooning bees, then you can probably do three.

>(i'm assuming that i can't put to empty frames back to back of eachother)?

Correct.

In the end, I'd do what you feel comfortable with. If you're comfortable with full sheets of foundation, buy the small cell foundation and use it. If you feel comfortable with feeding in the empty frames, do that. If you're not so sure about it, try one frame and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks again.


here's a couple more questions. the first one i know you've answered somewhere before, but i can't readily find it.

1) if this is as easy as it sounds, then why do some bee catalogs discourage amatures from trying it?

2) if small cell is really this effective against mites, then why didn't more ferral colonies survive (since it's the size they like to build anyway)?
 

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>1) if this is as easy as it sounds, then why do some bee catalogs discourage amatures from trying it?

I really don't know. I'd guess it may be the whole concept of more than one regression that they think is too confusing. It's just as easy as using any other wax foundation, but if you actually want to not need to treat anymore, you'll have to get through that two step regression.

>2) if small cell is really this effective against mites, then why didn't more ferral colonies survive (since it's the size they like to build anyway)?

First, a lot of them did survive.

Second, the ferals got hit with tracheal mites, followed by Varroa mites and viruses. Many of the ferals are just recent escapees. The first comb the recent escapees build is only about 5.1mm or so. Not enough to handle the mites. So first a lot of ferals died from the tracheal mites. Then the recent escapees died from the Varroa. I would guess that then the actual natural sized ones robbed out all of those crashing domestic and recent escapee hives and brought back far more varroa that would have reproduced in their hive with small cells. In spite of that some of them still survived.

>how can i tell if they built small cell? i can't very well eyeball it. i guess i'd have to actually measure it, right?

Measuring is always the best way to tell anything if it's easily measurable. If you measure a lot you'll get so you do have an idea by eyeballing but nothing can replace the objectiveness of an actual measurment.

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/47mmCombMeasurement.jpg

Just measure across ten cells and move the decimal point over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
here is yet another question.

murphy mentioned earlier on this topic, that he simply uses balsa strips rather than a full frame.

are there problems with this (bees conecting the deeps together, or the frames being flimsy with no other support than a balsa strip)?
 

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>are there problems with this (bees conecting the deeps together, or the frames being flimsy with no other support than a balsa strip)?

I'm sure it would work fine, as do popscicle sticks or a strip of wood ripped to the proper thickness to fit in the groove and glued in. The bees will attach the comb across the top bar, and not just on the strip, but I'd make sure the strip is attched well with glue and/or nails.
 
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