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I haven't but am curious as to what size is natural cell size?
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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Anything embossed isn't really natural, but it may or may not resemble natural size by being in the range of natural. They don't say what size it is. That's a red flag for me because I care what the size is.
 

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Dr. C.C. Miller, writing in the late 1890s, gave measurements of foundationless comb he found in his brood nests that would equal 5.2 mm average for worker cells. Roy Grout, writing in the 1930s, stated that the average size of worker cells in foundation was 5.3 mm.
 

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As Beemandan stated, what constitutes "natural cell size"? I don't see the size listed anywhere on the website.
 

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I wrote Premier and asked them about cell size. See their reply below.


The cell diameter when measured from the inside of the cell wall directly across the cell to the opposing cell wall is 4.93mm.
When measured using the 10 cell row measuring technique that would include walls the measurement is 5.105 mm.
 

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Then their cell size, based on the way is it commonly measured, is a tad over 5.1, as it is normally measured including cell wall thickness. 5.1 is towards the lower end of natural cell size for most bees, however they should say the actual size.
 

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Maybe. What is the cell "wall" diameter of wax cells vs. the plastic? If we're measuring total distance across 10 cells it might be different, based on the thickness of the cell wall.
I wonder if anyone has measured the distance "inside" the cell on "small cell" wax comb built from small cell plastic foundation?
 

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Yes well that's a point of confusion. Most comb foundation, the thickness of the cell wall is much thicker than the wax cell wall that the bees will build on top of it. So they are claiming an <inside measurement> of 4.93, but that is just the shape embossed on the foundation, and not what will be the inside measurement of the cell once it is built by the bees.

The accepted method of measuring cell size is across 10 cells, so to be clear, they should be using that method.

Pretty much all foundation sold falls within the natural range of sizes, so, by a keen marketer, any foundation could be marketed as "natural size". But because of the beliefs and controversies around "natural size", any comb foundation seller should state the actual size, using the normal measurement method, to remove misunderstandings.

I rather suspect that they think they will sell more comb foundation if they say it is "natural size", than if they do what all other comb foundation manufacturers do, which is to state the actual size. It's also likely a bunch of 4.9 cell believers will buy it, because in their minds, natural cell equals 4.9. But they will have been duped, because the cell size is just over 5.1.

The 4.93 they mention is obtained by a measurement method nobody uses and in my view is a marketing ploy aimed at small cell believers.
 

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At the end of the day, I have to ask....who cares?
And why do they care?
 

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Mann Lake PF series plastic frames are generally considered "small cell", and are advertised as "4.9 cell size". Do they measure across 10 cells, or are they also measuring the distance between cell walls to come up with 4.9mm? I have some PF-120s but have never measured the cells.
 

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The accepted method of measuring cell size is across 10 cells, so to be clear, they should be using that method.
Accepted by who ? Over the years I have at times 'measured' a sample of my natural brood comb with the butt-end of precision drill bits - with most, a 5mm drill bit cannot be inserted into a cell - thus they are sub-5mm. With the odd one or two cells, it can just be inserted ... as an interference fit.
Of course I'm just a natural cell 'believer'. :)
LJ
 

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Just measured cells on some frames with a dial caliper.
Measured across 10 cells. Divided by 10 to calculate average cell sizes below.

PF-120 plastic frames
1.88 in = average .48 mm cell size.

Drawn Foundation Comb
2.27 in = average .577 mm cell size.

Starter Strip Comb - Center of frame
2.02 in = average .513 mm cell size.


Looks like what they are producing falls somewhere between Small Cell & Wax Foundation, pretty close to my starter strip comb, which some might consider "natural".

The averages above include the cell walls. Looks like the PF frames I have from Mann Lake run much less than a .49 mm cell size. I measured the inside diameter of the embossed cell on the plastic frame and came up with .0160 in - or .41 mm.

Maybe someone better at math than me could double check my inches to mm conversion calculations above.
 

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Ran your first 1.88 measurement through an online measuremnt converter, looks like you are pretty close.

Ran your other numbers through, and again, if decimals are rounded up, they are all good.

In your post, you have put the decimal dot in the wrong place, ie, .48 mm cell size should be 4.8 mm cell size LOL.

 

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Accepted by who ? Over the years I have at times 'measured' a sample of my natural brood comb with the butt-end of precision drill bits - with most, a 5mm drill bit cannot be inserted into a cell - thus they are sub-5mm. With the odd one or two cells, it can just be inserted ... as an interference fit.
Of course I'm just a natural cell 'believer'. :)
LJ
BY online chat sites LOL. If you read Bush, Parker, or any of the other "gurus", that's how they do it.

Not saying there is anything wrong with your method LittleJohn, because the cell walls bees build are so thin that sticking your drill bit in, the cell wall thickness will hardly be an issue.

Where cell wall thickness will be an issue is with man made foundation, where the cell wall may be much thicker than what the bees will build. As demonstrated by Premier Bee Products own measurements of their foundation, where they got 2 very different cell sizes, depending if they included the cell wall thickness as stamped on their foundation.

The original small cell proponent, Dee Lusby, measures cell size by measuring across ten cells and dividing by ten. IE, the cell wall is included.

Using different measurement methods can fudge things, and this has been a problem historically, with old measurements being misinterpreted and people thinking comb size a century ago was different to today. All this can be solved by using just one, standard method.
 

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If you measure across 10 cells in the manner employed during biological surveys, then what will be measured is the diameter of 10 cells and either 10 or 11 cell-walls, depending on how much care is taken.
When this measurement is divided by 10, the result will be a fairly good average figure of the cell-spacing involved, but will not provide the average cell-size. This can only be determined by subtracting the thickness of the cell wall, which will be problematic to measure with any accuracy as this will vary according to the age of the comb.

If I were a manufacturer of plastic comb, then the first thing I'd do is select a suitable natural comb to use as a reference - which opens-up it's own can of worms, for how does one decide which comb to select ? Then - I'd pour fine Plaster of Paris into an area chosen as representative of that comb (more worms ..), before measuring a significant number of PoP plugs with an external micrometer. This procedure would provide me with a cell-size diameter which I could then - with all honesty - describe as being 'Natural', and which could therefore be used as a reference diameter for tooling purposes.

But - there would be little point in then measuring across 10 such plastic cells for some kind of confirmation, as the proto cell walls would need to be - in all probability - made much thicker than a natural wax wall due to manufacturing constraints. Thus there will always be a lack of correspondence between cell-size measured at the height of a proto wall, and at the height of a cell fully drawn-out with wax. I can see no way of avoiding this discrepancy - but as the cell wall will thicken with use anyway, and thus the cell-size diameter reduce accordingly - does this really matter ?
LJ
 

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I guess it would matter if you are trying to determine cell size or cavity size created by the cell walls. Measuring cell size (including walls) is the same as laying out a ceramic tile floor with joints. How many will fit in any given space is the answer.

Alex
 

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The thickness of the few mm of foundations embossed cell walls has very little to do with the functional size of the finished cell. As soon as the bees pull away from that base, they make cell walls their preferred thickness regardless of the base; It is the center to center space of the imprints that controls the working dimension. Another thing that has been mentioned is that every occupancy of the brood cell leaves remains of the cocoons that further reduce diameter: does not change distance spanning 50mm or however you measure it.

In my climate with my bees, the 4.9mm ML pf 1xx series foundation creates a mess of correction and adjustment ridges of wasted and drone cells amounting to near 20% of comb area.

I would like to see well controlled studies to support what advantages there are to different cell nominal diameters. Hunches, convictions, or a few seasons trial with only one type of bee, etc., dont constitute "well controlled" studies.
 
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