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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm going to start my first hive this spring, and I've been reading up. I've tried to find stuff about beekeeping in my area (Tucson) and have run into a lot of stuff about Dee Lusby and other beekeepers using Small Cell Foundation for healthier bees.

So...I looked for small cell foundation to buy, but all the websites that offer it warn that it is only for the experienced beekeeper to use, not for beginners.

Why is this? Why is small cell foundation only for experienced beekeepers?
 

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Have you done a search here and read some of the threads?

People will fill you in but my advice would be to start with Mannlake pf-120 4.9mm frames.

I'm in the process of trimming down my frames to 1 1/4" width to fit a 9th brood frame in my 8 frame medium boxes.

At this point I believe I would prefer to have all pf-120's and I wish I had trimmed them down from the beginnng. The narrow frame spacing is susposed to help to keep cell size smaller.

With pf-120's, if the bees have trouble drawing out the comb you can scrape off the misformed comb and give it back to the bees.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I did do a search but was not able to find any threads or replies concerning WHY small cell foundations are not supposed to be for beginners. I don't get why it would be any harder than standard foundation.

BeeCurious, do you HAVE to trim down frames in order to use the smaller cells? What would happen if I used small cell frames with standard frames?
 

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I don't think many use narrow frames. It isn't required, but if you are going to start from zero, you could have the setup that you may wish you had three years from now.

The problem is getting bees regressed so they will draw out the foundation correctly. Some do fine from the beginning. Have you been to Michael Bush's web site? The answers to most of your questions can be found there.
 

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Like Bee said....regression=getting the bees to change from a larger cell down to small cell. There are several techniques most all of which can be labor intensive.
 

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i studied the whole small cell - natural cell thing last winter. wanted to see for myself. so this year i bought 2 packages. started one on fp-120, started one foundationless. i hived these 2 packages may 8th. the pf-120 hive has only 4 frames drawn and the queen has bees superceded. we'll see how she does, but will probly have to be combined to make it through winter. the foundatinless (natural cell hive) has 3 mediums all drawn and will get a super today for the fall flow. that's just my experience, other people have done well starting on small cell.
 

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Can't say if the caution is for your area or what but I have not read anything about small cell being for advanced only. I'm in a mentoring course with the Tennessee Valley Beekeepers Assoc and we set up hives for 35 people in the course with 8 frame medium boxes. We used small cell foundation from Brushy Mountion and small cell bees from a vendor in Nashville. I set up a second hive here at home which is 30 miles from the mentored hive. I know some of the other people did the same so I would guess that we have between 40 and 45 hives setup within the mentoring group. We have had 2 hives that had to be requeened and one hive moved to a pecan tree but no other issues that I know of. We set these hives up on April 24 with 3 pound packages and a laying queen. We started out with 1 box and added boxes as needed. I just put on my 4th box at the mentoring location and getting ready to put on my 5th box here at home. I have tried to be real good about feeding my bees with a 1:1 sugar water but I am now stopping that feeding. I will be keeping a real close eye on them now that I have stopped feeding to see how they will do. I'm not counting on any honey this year but did want the top box to have honey, not sugar water, if the make any. My main interest is to see that my bees make it through the winter this year. I will be checking and will start feeding again if I see their winter supply getting low. I have no real experience to say that the small cell bees are better or worst than the larger cell bees but can say that my limited experience with the small cell bees has been pretty much trouble free.

Ken
 

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snip

the pf-120 hive has only 4 frames drawn and the queen has bees superceded.

the foundatinless (natural cell hive) has 3 mediums all drawn and will get a super today for the fall flow. that's just my experience
olky,

I don't have strong feelings about small cell beekeeping... I "just do it".

I'm curious, the four frames of pf-120, are they drawn out correctly? Or are they a mess.

I believe you experienced something besides the bees resistance to pf-120s.

A lot of packaged bees absconded this year, and it seems that it's not rare to have package queens superceded.

There are others who haven't had good results with pf-120s but I believe the majority like them.
 

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In the bee school I help organize we don't talk about small cell (unless asked) because while there are tons of anecdotal reports about how well it works, there (has yet) to be any scientific evidence that it does. That and myself and the other instructors don't have any experience with it and thoughts/advice we might pass on would be hearsay.

The same thing goes with people who want top bar hives - "go for it" but we can't support you as we have no experience with them.

So small cell turns into a learning project for the newbee. My goal is to have them succeed at keeping bees alive over winter. To accomplish this we focus on the traditional basics - if people wish to go off in another direction on their own that's fine. Hopefully they are leaving the class with some understanding that will serve as a base for them to expand their knowledge upon.
 

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Does anyone make a small cell foundation with a plastic core? I'd still like to use wooden frames, but would also like to use the small cell foundations AND stay away from having to wire if possible. I just can't seem to find anything like that.

~Matt
 

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Does anyone make a small cell foundation with a plastic core?

That is what is meant by pf-120 [medium I believe] and pf-100 [the deep] foundation from Mann Lake, that was 'discovered" to be close to 4.9 mm.**

"People will fill you in but my advice would be to start with Mannlake pf-120 4.9mm frames."- BeeCurious.

**Ooops! sorry. For right now I guess the pf-120 and pf-100 is an all plastic frame.
 

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beecurious i just stated my experience this year. i'm not against any of it. also these were both russian packages ( not regressed, i'm sure ). i assumed one queen did not like the small cell and they superceded her. we will see if the new queen does any better. enough people like the pf-120 that it has not detered me from trying again, i just stated what my first attempt was like. obviously based on my first attempt i am fond of foundationless. the frames were drawn nicely. i almost expect a package to supercede any more. i do agree, it seems like the majority like them. thats why i am not detered from trying it again.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the additional info, guys. Looks like opinions are very mixed, so I will have to really think it over before ordering my stuff.

Andrew, so glad that I don't have to worry about overwintering my bees here in Tucson - takes some of the risk out of beginning beekeeping!
 

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Yes, the PF-100's and 120's are 100% plastic frames.

I want to start out with wooden because...well they are just neat, and they offer more potential options than than the plastic.

The only small cell foundation I've found is all wax. Can't even find some with wires.

That means I'd have to wire them all.

I have looked at trying to use small cell as a starter strip that has been recommended...but going completely foundation less for some reason is scary to me as a complete newbie :)

It does appeal to my tight wad side though.

~Matt
 

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Does anyone make a small cell foundation with a plastic core? I'd still like to use wooden frames, but would also like to use the small cell foundations AND stay away from having to wire if possible. I just can't seem to find anything like that.

~Matt
Someone on here cuts down the pf120's and then mounts the plasctic into wooden frames. The cost and work would deter me from doing that.

I don't know of any plastic cored sc foundation.

Wiring:

Wiring isn't so bad... but I've pretty much decided to give up embedded the wires with a DC power source. I'm going to buy a short "old school" spur embedding tool to use. The others have grooves for non-crimped wire. I prefer having the cross wires crimped, and I believe a spur embedder will suit me just fine. I'll buy one next year, but as of yesterday, I'm using one of those pie crust gadgets.

I recently posted how I wire my frames. In fact, I have no idea how most people do their's.

Wood frames are nice... but so is opening a case of PF-120's. :)
 

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Someone on here cuts down the pf120's and then mounts the plasctic into wooden frames. The cost and work would deter me from doing that.
Yes I'm too much of a tightwad to do that :)

I don't know of any plastic cored sc foundation.
Does anyone make a simple no cell wax coated plastic core? Seems like that might be the next best thing to no cell at all. Then again maybe not, I'm pretty much clueless at this point.


Wood frames are nice... but so is opening a case of PF-120's. :)
I have a friend that has a couple hives with PF-100's and PF-120's. I'll admit that the low labor level is extremely appealing to me, but it going the old wood way just seems right to me. What can I say I prefer wood over plastic.

Maybe once I get going and do it for a while and "Experience" putting frames together etc I'll change my mind.

~Matt
 

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the old wood way just seems right to me.
I think you would prefer wax too. I use unwired deep 4.9mm foundation that I cut in half. This leaves about a 1" gap at the bottom that the bees can build-out as they like...

On your shopping list, pencil in:

wire, eyelets, eyelet tool, crimping tool, spur embedding tool (non-grooved)

There's a few thousand people here to help you add things to your wish list. :)
 

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Very nice. Missed that for some reason.

Does one use small cell in the honey supers or does it matter? Just figuring it wouldn't matter since you're probably not going to have a whole bunch of laying going in the honey supers.

~Matt
 

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On your shopping list, pencil in:

wire, eyelets, eyelet tool, crimping tool, spur embedding tool (non-grooved)
I would encourage just the opposite. Forget the spur embedder and heat those wires into the wax. It's really very easy with the right setup.
 
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