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Author Topic: Regressing to Small Cell  (Read 1555 times)
TheMasonicHive
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« on: June 27, 2010, 07:43:30 PM »

I'm curious, how do I regress bees to small cell foundation?  Instructions I've seen have been vague at best.

What would happen if I simply put frames with small cell into my already existing hives?

Lastly, I hear a lot about "natural cell size" but forgive me for saying so but it seems like foundationless or natural comb are way bigger than what I've got in my hives right now...at least from the cut out pictures I've seen.  What gives?
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Christopher Peace
Oakland County, MI

"It teaches us that, as we come into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves." - Freemasonry on the Beehive
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2010, 08:13:03 PM »

with natural cell, the bees build what they want and need.  small cell is just what it sounds like.  smaller cells.  the main idea behind small cell was that it would limit mite development.  the studies have not backed that theory.  do your homework before you spend the money.  if you still find that you want to try it, do some searches here and on Michael Bush's  site for more info.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
TheMasonicHive
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2010, 09:34:18 PM »

Kathy, thanks for responding.  I know the reasoning behind the small cell. 

I was under the impression that bees when able to build natural comb, their worker cells are by default smaller cells than what is conventionally used in foundation today.

I know that some people think its snake oil, and maybe it is, but some people will swear by it, others will call it a crock. 

I'm honestly more interested in what I can do with natural cell size.
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Christopher Peace
Oakland County, MI

"It teaches us that, as we come into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves." - Freemasonry on the Beehive
FRAMEshift
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2010, 09:42:28 PM »

  the main idea behind small cell was that it would limit mite development.  the studies have not backed that theory.  ...., do some searches here and on Michael Bush's  site for more info.


Apparently MB forgot to update his site based on the studies that did not back small cell theory.   grin

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

Pre and Post Capping Times and Varroa

8 hours shorter capping time halves the number of Varroa infesting a brood cell.
8 hours shorter post capping time halves the number of offspring of a Varroa in the brood cell.

_________________________________________

Accepted days for capping and Post Capping.(based on observing bees on 5.4 mm comb)
    Capped 9 days after egg layed
    Emerges 21 days after egg layed

_________________________________________


_________________________________________

My Observations on Capping and Emergence on 4.95mm Comb.

I've observed on commercial Carniolan bees and commercial Italian bees a 24 hour shorter pre capping and 24 hour shorter post capping time on 4.95 mm cells in an observation hive.

My observations on 4.95 mm cell size
    Capped 8 days after layed
    Emerged 19 days after layed

_________________________________________
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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2010, 09:49:46 PM »

i referenced his site because he does do small cell.  you can do your own research on the studies and cost.  i think people should do what they want to do, but they should do it armed with all info.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
FRAMEshift
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2010, 09:51:33 PM »

I'm curious, how do I regress bees to small cell foundation?  Instructions I've seen have been vague at best.

What would happen if I simply put frames with small cell into my already existing hives?

Lastly, I hear a lot about "natural cell size" but forgive me for saying so but it seems like foundationless or natural comb are way bigger than what I've got in my hives right now...at least from the cut out pictures I've seen.  What gives?
What do you have now?  Small cell is 4.9mm.  If bees have been raised on 5.4 mm, it will take several generations for them to "naturally" bring the foundationless cell size down to the vicinity of 5mm.  As I understand it, one problem is that large bees do not like to draw comb on smaller foundation.  One solution may be to use the Honey Super Cell plastic frames with "drawn" plastic cells coated in wax.   If the queen will lay in these, you get around the problem of the bees trying to draw small cells.  
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 12:06:00 AM by FRAMEshift » Logged

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TheMasonicHive
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2010, 09:52:16 PM »

It certainly can't HURT to do a small cell approach, but only can potentially help.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesscientificstudies.htm
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Christopher Peace
Oakland County, MI

"It teaches us that, as we come into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves." - Freemasonry on the Beehive
TheMasonicHive
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2010, 09:53:54 PM »

I'm aware that the word "regress" would indicate a process that would take time.

Just because its hard doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile.

I won't be doing this with my current colonies, but moving forward I think it would be best to observe as many natural "let the bees do what they want" practices as possible.
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Christopher Peace
Oakland County, MI

"It teaches us that, as we come into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves." - Freemasonry on the Beehive
kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2010, 09:59:29 PM »

it won't hurt, i'm sure.  if you can take the extra cost, go for it. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2010, 10:07:09 PM »

i referenced his site because he does do small cell.  you can do your own research on the studies and cost.  i think people should do what they want to do, but they should do it armed with all info.
Ok, I get it.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 12:06:51 AM by FRAMEshift » Logged

"You never can tell with bees."  --  Winnie-the-Pooh
VolunteerK9
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2010, 11:10:56 PM »

How I see it, in rather generic terms, a dog can live with a few fleas and/or ticks but when the numbers get out of hand, the dog begins to suffer. I did a cut out of a huge hive in a tree that blew down from a storm and was surprised at the amount of hive beetles that was present. But this was a huge hive.  I think if a keep takes their bees down to small cell or foundationless/natural cell size, it allows for more bees in a hive. More bees might translate into a higher mite drop count than a 5.9 hive but it may be on a more acceptable level due to the larger population of a small cell hive. I think I just confused myself in trying to explain it-hope it helps somewhat. Anywho, I placed all my packages on SC and now my bees are smaller than their relatives were that first came.  It's kinda neat to see the size difference of SC bees and the 5.9 ones working in the same hive.
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fermentedhiker
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2010, 11:25:10 PM »

If you want to regress your bees(I'll leave the question of whether it's useful or not alone as that's been worked over pretty hard in other threads) you have to keep removing comb to get them to draw fresh smaller comb until they reach their optimal size.  By that I mean a package of bees from LC would not automatically draw cell size at what would end up being their natural state in the wild.  They will draw slightly smaller and the brood raised in those cells would draw it slightly smaller still.  So while going foundationless saves you money, the act of regressing(if you are trying to get it done in a couple seasons) is very costly to the bees in terms of effort.  As I'm sure you read on MB's site the shake out method was often used to accelerate the process but led to high losses.  Many SC advocates don't recommend regressing in this fashion anymore.  Shake outs lead to a lot of losses and rotating comb out takes too long.  I've used HSC with success in a couple of my hives.  I chose to regress primarily not for mite control specifically, but rather to get the bees as close to their natural size as possible before letting them draw their own comb.  I have some packages that I installed on all foundationless simply because I didn't have anymore HSC and didn't want to buy a whole case for just one hive.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out.  What I will do in those hives is to under super(they are all mediums) and that way I will harvest the first comb they draw and replace them with fresh foundationless frames underneath until it seems like they have stabilized.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2010, 04:45:14 AM »

Yes, regression is a process.  One that may take one generation or may take three turnovers of comb.  It depends on the bees and they are notoriously unreliable.  Smiley

Yes, I've read the research and I've done my own.  I'm just glad to not be dealing with Varroa issues now for several years and intend to continue that.  As for the research, it's sort of like Jonathan and the honey comb.  It's too late to tell me it won't work...
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Michael Bush
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TheMasonicHive
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2010, 06:55:38 AM »

The way I figure it is that I've only got two hives.

The expense of doing what I want to do will be minimal compared to when I really let my hobby get out of control.

MB, I'd really like to know what the coorelation is between using foundationless or small cell foundation.  Which have you found to be most successful?
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Christopher Peace
Oakland County, MI

"It teaches us that, as we come into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves." - Freemasonry on the Beehive
BjornBee
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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2010, 06:59:38 AM »

This was just posted in another forum, but I guess some of it may apply hear as well....  grin

One of the BEST ways to regress bees, is use a Warre hive. (I do not promote the Warre hive or protocol. But they do have their uses in looking at different comb, etc.)  Because of the constant under supering of the brood nest, you are continually stepping them down to a natural cell size due the bees almost always drawing brood comb. Funny thing is, my bees, although started with strips of smallcell foundation as guides, almost NEVER draw 4.9 or as some suggest, 4.5 or below.

You get 4.9 regressed bees by FORCING them on 4.9 foundation.

As a side point, I have regressed bees on full sheets of smallcell, then fed in foundationless into the center of the brood nest. They never, once allowed to build their own comb and NOT forced on smallcell foundation, stay at 4.9 or below.

I'm waiting for someone to suggest it will take eons of keeping bees on smallcell foundation to "break" the programming we forced onto the bees for the past hundred or so years.  rolleyes

Don't EVER confuse smallcell with natural cell. They are two different things.  shocked

NOBODY after more than 10 years of smallcell promotion, sells or guarantees mite resitsant bees or queens. In a market such as ours, doesn't this seem strange. a couple of people market smallcell nucs and queens, but the claims are not made. They just sell bees on a certain cell size comb, and no further claims are made. And after talking to a large number of people who bought queens and nucs from those promoting smallcell bees, it becomes very clear that they are not magical in the bees handling of mites, or any other disease claims made throughout the years.
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« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2010, 07:55:51 AM »

I am still a rookie, so I make no attempts to provide advice at this stage.  Reading this thread, though, makes me wonder. 

If you do a hive removal/cutout of a hive that has been around for several years without human intervention, does it matter what size cell they have drawn?  Cell size may play some part in more hygenic bees, I suppose.  Maybe since the bees are smaller the mite is more noticeable to them???  If they have survived thus far, "allowing" them to continue building their own natural comb and interfering as little as possible seems logical to me... Or maybe I am just looking for the "easy" way of keeping the bees.   embarassed If the strong survive, let 'em huh???
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2010, 08:25:26 AM »

having regressed colonies using several methods, i think the best way is to use the Mann Lake PF100 series frames.

HSC takes too long to be accepted, and you really need to make it the only option for the bees...so, either you do a complete shakedown, or use a complicated method using queen excluders and trying to keep the bees from just raising a new queen outside the HSC.

Shaking down on to foundationless frames seems to bring them down to about 5.1mm....which I don't think is enough.  Repeated shakedowns would probably solve this problem, but it takes a very long time.

SC foundation apparently doesn't get drawn out very well at first (I have not tried this approach myself, and rely on the observations of others).  I'm also concerned about the contamination of the foundation and don't see this as enough of an improvement even if it did work well.

The Mann Lake frames (pf100 series NOT THE 500 SERIES)  are 4.95mm cell size (0.002" larger than 4.9).  The frames are cheap (much cheaper than HSC), they require no assembly, even if you get them coated with beeswax (which you should do unless you have your own known source of uncontaminated wax to coat them with yourself), there is so little wax present that the contamination isn't nearly as much as you can get from wax foundation.  Our experience this year is that the bees take to them quite readily and draw them out perfectly.  These could be fed into the middle of the broodnest a little at a time and get the regression happening at a reasonable pace...shaking a package onto this stuff is ideal, IMHO.

deknow
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kathyp
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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2010, 09:39:33 AM »

mite resistance has to do with genetics, not cell size.  if you crack open a wall full of bees, you'll find cells of all sizes AND mites.  the difference between those bees in the wall and the bees in the package you bought, is that the wall bees have learned to handle the mites....or they would be dead.

are the bees in the wall usually smaller?  yes.  because of that, someone made the mental leap that the smaller bees (and smaller cell size) must mean size had something to do with mite resistance.  then...someone with  marketing skills sold this idea to the beekeeping public. 

there are a number of excellent beekeepers, MB among them, who swear by small cell.  they also raise their own queens, don't treat hives so that only survivor hives are kept, etc.  they control the genetics in their yard.  many of us are into keeping survivor type hives.  I'd venture to say that most of us do not use small cell. 

you can use whatever foundation you want, or none.  if you don't have the genetics, you will lose the bees.  i think people should try whatever they want.  i just hate seeing people spend money and get their hopes up on something like this. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Michael Bush
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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2010, 12:25:06 PM »

>MB, I'd really like to know what the coorelation is between using foundationless or small cell foundation.  Which have you found to be most successful?

Both have worked fine for me.  I think it's more of a philosophical difference than a practical one, other than foundationless having no contaminated wax.

My best luck at instant regression had to be the wax coated permacomb, but I'd put the Mann Lake PF100 and PF120s right after that.  They draw them perfectly right off the bat.  Natural comb may take several generations.  As to cell size I've seen pictures of 4.4mm from bees in PA and have often seen 4.6mm from regressed bees in my hives and sometimes seen as small as 4.7mm from natural comb from standard package bees.  Perhaps they were from Pierco or something similar, I can't say, but when I took mine from 5.4mm they only built 5.1mm to 5.2mm on the first try.
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Michael Bush
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My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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