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Author Topic: Natural Cell Size Question  (Read 4757 times)
mgmoore7
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« on: August 08, 2007, 09:24:07 AM »

Who and what was the process that caused manufacturers to make foundation with a larger cell size than was observed in nature (what we now call natural cell size).  Was there some benefit to larger cells or was a it a manufacturing limit and it just caught on as a standard???


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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2007, 09:31:36 AM »

the same reason as why people make bigger and bigger trucks, planes etc etc. the bigger the transport, the bigger the load.
at least they hoped to achieve this, i am not familiar with scientific results about bee size/nectar load.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2007, 02:45:22 PM »

Research by Baudoux, Pinchot, Gontarski  and Grout back in the late 1800's and early 1900's was focused on bigger bees to get more honey and it was done by giving larger foundation.  Information on Baudoux's research is in the old ABC XYZ of Bee Culture books.  There is a lot of detail in the 1945 edition I have.

Here are a lot of the discussions during that time:
http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby/celldata.htm
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2007, 12:43:46 PM »

Michael, off topic, but I have the 1947 edition of the ABC and XYS of Bee Culture.  I love this book, it was handed down to me from my Father, who also was a beekeeper on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.  I love the way the book is written.  Every time I pick up this book and read it, the language is so basic and wonderful, it takes me right to the moment that this man was writing. 

My copy is referred to as the "270 Thousand".  Have a wonderful day and beautiful life.  Cindi
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2007, 08:31:27 PM »

SO, if I were starting out, would suggest that I start with plain sheets of foundation rather than stamped ones?

Let the bees make the size they want.


I am asking because I was simply going to start the same way most people do, but as I read more the modern data that you get in places like this forum are suggesting that times have changed and that there needs to be a revamping of the old methods to properly tackle the new world that is modern bee keeping.

If I do not "suggest" what size they are to make using blank sheets, what size cells do I get?

I just want to make sure I am attacking this from the right point of view or understanding.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2007, 08:45:17 PM »

>SO, if I were starting out, would suggest that I start with plain sheets of foundation rather than stamped ones?

No need for sheets at all.  I would just put a strip of wood in the groove on the frame or cut the top bar to a triangle:

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

>Let the bees make the size they want.

Exactly.

>I am asking because I was simply going to start the same way most people do, but as I read more the modern data that you get in places like this forum are suggesting that times have changed and that there needs to be a revamping of the old methods to properly tackle the new world that is modern bee keeping.

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

>If I do not "suggest" what size they are to make using blank sheets, what size cells do I get?

4.9mm would be good.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2007, 09:13:57 PM »

I am going to read your info in a second here, but while I am doing bills let me ask you this...

Is blank natural beeswax foundation even available?  Would it not help jump start the process by having some wax in there (more than a strip along the top)?

I have a whole bunch of wedge bars, are they useless if I go this route or can I use them?
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2007, 09:22:30 PM »

At this time of year, they aren't likely to draw anything out, regardless. Others have said here, though, that they've seen their bees draw strips out faster than full sheets, since they can work three edges at a time.
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2007, 10:02:41 PM »

Do a bunch of workers do a quicker job with great communication? The bees work as a group with great communication when there isn't any wall between them. Communication is a little slower when they are working two sides if foundation.
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2007, 10:33:07 PM »

Jerry, now that was an interesting statement.  Have a wonderful and great day in our great world.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2007, 07:20:32 AM »

>Is blank natural beeswax foundation even available?

No, but it's easy enough to make.  Just wet board in brine and dip them in beeswax.

>  Would it not help jump start the process by having some wax in there (more than a strip along the top)?

No, it would not help at all.  They will build comb more quickly without it.

>I have a whole bunch of wedge bars, are they useless if I go this route or can I use them?

You can use anything you have on hand for foundationless.  You can put a wooden strip in and nail it with the wedge.  You can put a wax strip or a strip of foundation in and nail it with the wedges.  If the wedge isn't broken out yet, you can just wax the strip of foundation in or glue the strip of wood in without breaking out the wedge at all.  Just pretend it's a grooved top and it will be.  Smiley

You can use a grooved top and either cut a bevel on it before you put it together (yes there will be a groove in it still but that won't hurt anything), add a bevel under it after it's together or put a wood or wax strip in.

You can used a solid top and cut a bevel on it before you put it together.

The bottom can be split, grooved or solid.  I prefer solid (stronger and the wax worms can't hide in the groove), but I have many of all types around here and I use all of them.

And, as has been pointed out, they are unlikely to draw comb again until late spring.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2007, 07:46:44 AM »

Do a bunch of workers do a quicker job with great communication? The bees work as a group with great communication when there isn't any wall between them. Communication is a little slower when they are working two sides if foundation.

Since they are all female, I would think the foundation would be more efficient since there would be less gossiping.  grin
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2007, 08:00:56 AM »

And, as has been pointed out, they are unlikely to draw comb again until late spring.

I know.  I am planning for 2008.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2007, 11:35:41 AM »

Rain day means no corn picking...so I have some research time.  Its nice to be getting rain. 

OK, I've had some time to read over what you (Michael) have mentioned and what Dee has discussed on Beesource.

If I want to work with small or "natural" sized cell and I am just starting I have two options then.

The first is the most simple.  Put frames in with wax strips or coated frames with beveled pieces fit onto the bottom side of the top bar.

The second is to provide small cell foundation.

Now, you mention this as a great thing to consider at the start for beginners but I have also seen a whole bunch of stuff suggesting this is a fairly advanced thing (who am I to argue with anyone at this point) and on the stuff I read on Beesource of Dee's it seems like I need to gradually regress my bees.

Now, is that in regards to established colonies or does it apply to both established and new colonies for a beginner?  Starting new ones with a starter strip/bar or small cell foundation starters is just fine?  The regression is not so much an issue?

My problem right now is that I am brand spanking squeaky clean new to all of this and probably have read far too much about a wide variety of stuff.  I really like the "beginner" advice you give on your website and I am taking it to heart and I have a bunch of club meetings and extension programs in both Ohio and Kentucky that I plan on attending over the next couple of months.  I am hoping I am asking the right questions and NOT focusing on the tree when I should be looking at the forest.

So, right now, I am simply trying to take in as much as I can till I get my first bees.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2007, 11:45:20 AM »

You missed a third option.

Honey Super Cell -> www.honeysupercell.com a fully drawn 4.9 plastic frame.  Some consider it an instant regression.


I know others will chime in, as I have gotten beaten up before for my opinion on this, but I would not recommend a newbee start right out with trying to regress with small cell foundation, foundationless frames or starter strips.  There are just too many variables involved with beekeeping in general let alone adding additional complexities on top of it.  I'm sure you will get plenty of responses to the contrary, but to each his own.  Best of luck
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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2007, 11:53:25 AM »

First of all.... Will you be getting packages of bees, Nuks, or go out and capture swarms or do cut outs?

You get your boxes and frames and fix them up for foundationless beekeeping. Then you pour in your package of bees or that swarm you captured. One thing to think about here is that it is completely natural for bees to swarm and move into a place where there isn't anything to start building comb on. So what could be hard about that?

If you do a cut out then you are going to want to tie and brood into a frame and keep it so there will be that already made comb and then you can do the rest foundationless.

I have never done anything with nuks so I will let someone else chime in on that.
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« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2007, 08:29:13 PM »

The issue of regression is that large bees will draw smaller cells, but not as small as smaller bees will.  So the bees from naturally drawn comb of large bees will draw smaller comb until they get back down to natural size.

The issue is ONLY drawing comb.  The bees happily use small cell comb regardless.  So if you use something like Honey Super Cell you get instant regression as you start with fully drawn small cell comb.

If you let them draw their own, it's not possible to predict the exact outcome as it depends on what size the bees are actually on now and what their inclination is.

I've had a regular commercial package of bees, not advertised as small cell, draw small cell right off the bat.  I've also had them not.  My guess is that the ones that don't want to draw small cell were probably raised on 5.4mm cells.  The ones that would draw it were probably raised on either Pierco (5.2mm or so) or Mann Lake PF 100s (4.95mm).  Neither is recognized or advertised as small cell but both are significantly smaller than the 5.4mm.

If the bees were actually on 5.4mm, in my experience, they will usually draw something in the range of 5.1mm to 5.2mm.  The next generation is likely to draw 4.9mm.  But if not, the next one usually will.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2007, 08:42:45 PM »


If the bees were actually on 5.4mm, in my experience, they will usually draw something in the range of 5.1mm to 5.2mm.  The next generation is likely to draw 4.9mm.  But if not, the next one usually will.


If that's the case, it shouldn't take very long to regress, but I've read more than a few times that it takes several seasons.

Also, wouldn't checkerboarding each spring facilitate regression?
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2007, 05:22:54 AM »

find someone with nucs that are already on small cell. no regression required. problem solved. put in 4.9 foundation or let them build natural. then after they get going you can worry about other problems like when to feed, how to feed, what to feed, supering, whether or not to use an excluder, buying extracting equipment, how to harvest, when to harvest, extracting, superseding, doing mite drops, trapping hive beetles, inspecting for brood disease, robbing, eventually swarming, requeening hot hives, requeening poor queens, and the list goes on and on and on..... oh, but how much i love it all. Wink
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2007, 07:21:22 PM »

>f that's the case, it shouldn't take very long to regress, but I've read more than a few times that it takes several seasons.

How long does it take to draw all the brood comb.  Draw all the brood comb again.  And then draw all the brood comb again?  Usually several seasons.

>Also, wouldn't checkerboarding each spring facilitate regression?

If you mean checkerboarding as Walt Wright, who coined the phrase, means it, no.  That would be alternating capped honey and drawn comb above the brood nest in late winter.  It doesn't involve drawing comb at all, and even if you gave them foundations, they would be drawing honey storage comb there.

If you mean feeding empty combs into the brood nest, yes.  These will be brood comb and they will have to draw it.
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Michael Bush
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