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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in Sweden and the smallest cellsize I can find for plastic frames in my frame format is 5.0

Would it still give the benefits of small cell, or is it better to go with 4.9mm wax foundation.

A nother option might bee to buy plastic sheets of 4.9mm foundation, cut them to the right size and use with hoffman frames.

I live in a varroa free zone and want to regress my bees quick before they gets here. They are close.
All my hiver are foundationless for now.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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I would prefer 4.9mm but 5.0mm seems to work for Varroa. Part of the problem, of course, is that the bees build a variety of cell sizes and if you can get the core of the brood nest to 4.9mm and the edge of that at 5.0mm and the outer edges of the frames at something larger for honey it works fine. So 4.9mm seems like a good goal. With plastic, it is more difficult for the bees to change the sizes compared to wax. So they may end up fairly consistent size depending on the depth of the cell wall on the plastic... consistent 5.0mm seems to work for Varroa. Dee Lusby says it was not adequate for her for what she calls "secondary" problems. By her definition, these seem to include chalkbrood, foulbrood etc.

I have a lot of hives that are 4.95mm (Mann Lake PF120s) and are doing fine.
 

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Didn't you guys get the memo? Smaller cell sizes for varroa control has been completely repudiated. Not only does the technique not work, but the theory behind it has been falsified:

On the natural cell size of European honey bees: a "fatal error" or distortion of historical data?
Journal of Apicultural Science. July /2014; 53(3):327-336.

As a possible way to help control varroa mites, some beekeepers advocate the use of cells smaller than the regular size commonly used by beekeepers. This paper addresses two of their principal arguments, namely that honey bees built smaller cells under natural conditions in the past, and that a "fatal" error occurred at the turn of the 20th century when a new and allegedly misleading method of estimating cell density was introduced. Historical data show not only that cell sizes were not smaller in the past, but also that estimating cell densities was not an issue before the introduction of wax foundation.

As already mentioned, the aim of this paper is not to enter into the controversy about the effectiveness of small cells for controlling varroa mites. Nevertheless, its significance within the framework of the small cell approach is worth highlighting. The present study addresses the premise of this theory. It reveals a major misunderstanding which in part led scientists to undertake costly field and experimental studies, as well as encouraging the beekeeping industry to produce and market artificial comb and wax foundation of unusually and in fact "unnatural" small sizes. Added to the fact that most field and experimental studies bring little support to the small cell theory, that cell sizes were not smaller in the past, and that varroa tolerant bees also appeared on several instances on regular cell size combs, the findings of the present study leaves the small cell approach with little supportive evidence.

http://www.ibra.org.uk/articles/natural-cell-size-fatal-error
 

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most of the comb in my hives was drawn on rite cell foundation. the few frames i have so far that were placed foundationless have about 4.9 mm cells in the centers of the brood frames, with larger cells and drone cells around the edges.
 

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I feel persecuted and rejected for questioning the catechism with evidence.
:) i doubt that is true, but the west coast if famous for all kinds of support groups jwc and i'm sure we could find you one if needed.

seriously, i didn't say anything about varroa control nor do i subscribe to any theories and i'm not part of any cult.

just sharing information: when given foundationless frames my bees draw 4.9 mm cells for worker brood, which is how i assume they would draw it in the feral state.

since my bees are on mostly comb drawn to 5.4 and are tolerating varroa off treatments, i don't think my ancedotal experience supports that using smaller cell foundation is necessary, but it's interesting that they draw it smaller when given the opportunity to do so.
 

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Probably because you are in Alabama. Masarin in Sweden will find it harder to get the bees to build small cell comb, however he is shooting for a 5.0 mm cell size so ought to work out, plastic foundation will help.

His other question was will it give the benefits of small cell? Frankly, I doubt it, that is based on following the experiences of other beekeepers in his area of the world. And of course, leaving out the question of whether there actually are any benefits.
 

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interesting ot. to be honest i've not read the studies and really don't have a dog in the fight anyway.

why would bees in alabama draw comb differently than in sweden? have different subspecies been found to draw different size cells? has it been show to vary with region?
 

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Yes to both. Region and climate has an effect, and also bee breed. In my country for example, despite searching for it in wild comb, I have never found 4.9 cells built naturally, apart from the odd one where they joined 2 combs or similar. This despite being the council bee removal guy for more than 20 years, which goes back pre varroa & I've seen a lot of comb. I've also asked on out local forum to see if anyone else has found any, nobody has.

Natural cell size here for centre brood nest is 5.2 or 5.3 and this holds true across our 3 main bee breeds.
 

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hmm. looks like she acribes smaller cell sizes to the warmer climes. do we know where the numbers come from?

in fairness, i only took measurements from one frame, which i pulled from a dead out last winter, and that frame is back in service.

i'll check again when i get the chance, and try to post of photo for the forum.
 

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Square Peg,
Could you post a pix of a representative comb, with the short edge of a business card pinned to comb, or a ruler attached. Short edge of biz card is 5.1 cm so is a great over-under gauge.

I am collecting scalable comb images, as a research interest.
I have a millimeter rule ready to print at this site:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3H7Ru-k1dP3RXVCem9HRG5tdjA/edit?usp=sharing
youbetcha. as stated in my last post, all comb is in use at this time, but i'll likely have a sample or two this winter jwc, and i'll be happy to get some pix to you. have you collected many images so far? if yes, what are you finding?
 

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do we know where the numbers come from?
That is the million dollar question LOL

However from anecdotal chat with various beekeepers around the world it does seem those in cooler climates tend to have larger natural core brood nest cell size but that's just the few I've discussed it with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you for your replays!

I called my suplier and actually the cellsize was 5.1, so no go there.

There are foundation molds to buy, with 4.9mm cellsize. but quite an investment..

What about the rite cell foundation? what cellsize do they have? I could not find any info about cell size on Manlake website.

This winter I bought a few Manlake PF-### 4.9mm and cut them to fit my Swedish boxes, and the bees build them out just fine, but it was a lot of work to cut the frames and i'm looking for an easier alternative.

I think I't would bee easier to cut rite cell foundation and use with hoffman frames.
 

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Masarin how long have your bees been treatment free for?
 

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Peter, the fundamental error you are making is the naive assumption that the proponents are interested in science testing their theory.
I know. I uncovered the error in measurement a decade ago but no one cared then either.

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) — Historians studying archival photographs from four decades ago have come to the conclusion that the U.S. must have believed in science at some point.

According to the historian Davis Logsdon, who has been sifting through mounds of photographic evidence at the University of Minnesota, the nation apparently once held the view that investing in science and even math could yield accomplishments that would be a source of national pride.

While Logsdon has not developed a complete theory to explain the United States’ pro-science stance during that era, he attributes some of it to the liberal views of the President at that time, Richard M. Nixon.

newyorker.com
 
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