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Author Topic: Beginner confusion  (Read 1636 times)
lamalu
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« on: March 04, 2008, 12:43:50 PM »

Hi. I just started bee school and I'm already confused. First off, I'm the kind of person who walks around the garden with a jar full of soapy water hand-picking horm worms off the tomatoes. So if I can get away without chemicals I will.
I read Mike Bush's website and it really made sende to me. Went back to bee school and asked what they thought of small cell foundation. Bee school instructor very quickly responded that small cell was not scientifically proven as a mite preventative. Less than 30 minutes later I was told that using a plastic drone brood foundation as part of IPM was a very good idea since the mites are more likely to infest the drone brood because there is more room yada yada - does anyone besides me find this illogical? If mites like more space then logically small cell should be effective against mites. No?
I was then told that small cell is not recommended for beginners. Well, why not?
Besides, they're going to have to do better than 'tradition' as a reason to use 3 different size of super...
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wtiger
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2008, 01:09:08 PM »

someone correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know it's not directly due to the space that mites really multiply in drone brood, but the extra time the mites have to develop due to the longer development cycle of the drone brood.  I'm not sure I buy the whole small cell thing.  At least not in it's totality.  most of the people who I've read about who have great success with it also seem to get their bees from untreated survivor stock and not the conventional large scale suppliers that treat their hives yearly and thus don't let the bees who are unfit to deal with a certain level of mites to die out.  That's just been my untrained observation.
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indypartridge
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2008, 01:14:24 PM »

Hi. I just started bee school and I'm already confused. First off, I'm the kind of person who walks around the garden with a jar full of soapy water hand-picking horm worms off the tomatoes. So if I can get away without chemicals I will.
Good! You're off to a great start!

Quote
I was then told that small cell is not recommended for beginners. Well, why not?
"Because we've always done it this way...."

Quote
I read Mike Bush's website and it really made sense to me.
It makes sense to many of us as well. A number of us who began beekeeping the 'traditional' way are seeing the benefits in the methods Mr. Bush uses.

While I don't want to discount the experience and opinion of your bee class instructor, I believe it's important to remember that there are a multitude of opinions, and often there's more than one "right" answer. And the "right" answer for one beekeeper may be the "wrong" answer for another. We're a diverse group here; from beeks with thousands of hives to backyarder's with one or two.

Welcome to the forum. There are many helpful beeks here, ready to offer advice (you have to decide if it's good or not!) I especially like the 'search' function, since many times a question I have has already been discussed at length, and I don't have to wait for an answer.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2008, 01:30:40 PM »

I'd guess that it isn't recommended for beginners for a couple of reasons.  You can decide if they are valid or not...

1. Most beekeepers don't use it.  It is easier for a beginner to learn and get information on the prevailing methods. (and easier to teach)  It is also easier to find equipment for large cell, not that you need to go far for small cell.

2. Converting from large cell to small cell isn't really cut and dry.  There is a lot written about regression and shake-downs and the like.

3. The "studies" haven't proved that it works.  There are plenty of people using it successfully, so most of us here do believe it works (I don't use it) but these aren't controlled studies, and there could be other factors as well (I'm not saying that there are)

4. If you stick small cell foundation in a large-cell hive, they will turn it into spaghetti comb.

You do need to have a higher level of knowledge to try to buck the "trend" and do something "experimental".

I don't use small cell mostly because all my combs are large cell and I am not going to invest the money right now.  Maybe in the future.

PS. Horn-worms are fun to shoot at people  Lips Sealed grin
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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2008, 01:34:21 PM »

your instructor is correct.  there have been no good studies that back up small cell for mite control.  i understand that some are being done now. people who use it, swear by it if they don't lose hives. it is likely that good stock is a big factor for these folks.  hygienic bees.  good queens.  stock that has developed resistance or behavior that makes the mites less a problem.  location.

 i don't think doing small cell is any harder than doing anything else.  it would not hurt to do it.  unless you are allowing bees to draw their own comb and regress over a period of time, it might be a little more expensive to start with the small cell foundation.  i think others here have done it recently and can give you an idea of cost.

my thing is: do it if you want to.  be aware that it may have little or no impact on your mite counts especially at first.  be prepared to take other steps to control mites.  enjoy  smiley
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annette
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2008, 02:20:49 PM »

I started out april 2006 with regular plastic foundation. My bees did great, except I have so much trouble with the mites. I am treating them only with powdered sugar and removing drone brood. This has helped keep the population down, but in the long run I knew I need to do something more permanent. And I do not want to use any chemicals in my hives.

I have followed Michael Bush's advice and I have been switching out my plastic frames with empty frames with 1/2" of starter strips. These I place in the brood nest here and there between frames filled with capped brood. The bees draw out wax combs and fill up the frames very nice and straight. They make whatever size they want. Eventually, when you keep introducing these empty frames, the bees get the idea to make smaller cells. They do this on their own. This is how I have to regress my bees to make them all small cell. I have noticed that the wax comb is starting to become much smaller cells now. This whole process is new for me, so I do not know the outcome, but I have a good feeling about letting the bees make their own wax, which they love to do anyway.

When you are starting out,you can help to regress them to small cell right from the beginning which makes it much easier. There are many beekeepers here on this forum who are going with small cell and they do not have any mite problems. Do a search on this forum and keep reading about the many people going with small cell.

It is not the traditional way to do beekeeping, but it is the way many organic beekeepers do it and hopefully the way to go to get rid of the mite problems.

Annette

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KONASDAD
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2008, 03:30:43 PM »

I have also found an insitutional dislike about info from the "net" by beeks. Studies are being done on sm.cell as mentioned. I dont myself, primarily b/c i started w/  a purchased hive that had traditional foundation size. You are correct, MB's site is very intuitive w/ the info and it makes sense. Feels right. I adopted some of his paracices, some of Brian Brays woodenware, Robo's candy board set-up and on and on. All adapted to my needs and pocketbook and time etc. Go to school enjoy it, take what you need and move on.
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watercarving
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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2008, 04:21:33 PM »

I had the same experience as you did. Getting all the regular information and comparing it to what I was finding from others. I finally decided to go with top bar hives. Besides all the other reasons it fits what I want to do. I'm not worried that others around here have never heard of them and I don't mind that they do traditional.

That's one great thing about this board. I've learned a lot from all types of beeks and I know it will make me successful at pursuing what I want to pursue.

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Kev
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2008, 07:12:46 PM »

I had a similar experience to you when I started with everything from small cell to polystyrene hives. Most beekeepers where I am just haven't experimented with newer methods for a couple of reasons. They already have a lot of equipment and don't want to go spending money on some new unproven idea. Others are just conservative.

I started right out on small cell. It took the bees longer to draw out the comb, but they and they raised brood on it. However, I may have paid for it with two weak hives going into winter, or that may have been the fact that they were both Russians and rather temperamental... one hive requeened before I caught on.

I learned a lot the hard way my first year. I can't thank the beekeepers on the forums enough. Especially Understudy, who helped me figure out how to handle laying workers. (I'm sure others would have done the same, but he was first with the advice that day.) Michael Bush for advice on frames and foundation, Robo for advice on heaters, Finsky for help with polystyrene and cold weather, and Cindi for sharing her good nature with us all.

I think each person bring a little to the forums and that's what great about this community.

Good luck with your beekeeping. I hope you get a lot out of it. Be prepared for some setbacks, swollen eyelids, and frustrations. Just remember that right now there's a lot changing in beekeeping, and even the experts are feeling challenged to find the answers. Kona'sDad's got it right, take what fits and move on.

Kev


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johnnybigfish
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2008, 08:20:30 PM »

  Hi Lamalu!
 I just wanted to let you know...
I started bees 1 year ago and i consider myself new.
For me, I dont know anything about small cell, drone cells, different millimeter size cells, except what i read here. Its not a topic that gets my interest...yet.
 All I know pretty much is....
 I just bought frames....Just bought foundations. I just bought what the catalogs had...I didnt know the difference. I just knew that the foundation had circles(or hexagons?)(Remember that discussion yall?)
 Anyways, I now have bees that seem happy to me! They dont seem to mind what size the cells are.
 Sooo,...maybe you should not think too hard about the technical stuff yet...Enjoy the bees the first year and let them make the decisions about their well being.
 I went to the local bee club.... And talk about Differences of Opinions!! They ALL want you to be their NEW FRIEND so as to show you the RIGHT WAY to do things!....Man, was my head spinning!...I didnt go back for 3 months!..I came here, learned more stuff, read more books,and then,......next meeting, there would be a speaker asking questions and getting no answers from the club members.....But,.....I would be saying in my head "Hey, I know the answer to that one!" But i wouldnt speak out because i didnt want these"Seasoned Veterans" to think of me as a "Mr Know it All".
 Dont worry too much...I bet most of US here started with all the same worries and questions you have right now!
Well,...now that i think of it...Michael Bush probably didnt have the same worries...I think he was BORN with Honey running through his veins!...His writings are pretty easy to understand too.
ok,..thats all...
your friend,
john
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2008, 12:56:43 AM »

The first rule in beekeeping is: Use what works for you where you live.  What works for me here in Washington might not work in Florida due to the difference in geography and weather patterns.  I've come full circle in beekeeping. 

My greatgrandfather and my mentor both started keeping bees in the mid-late 1800's (My greatgrandfather brought black german bees to Washington from Pennsylvania when he moved west) and I've gone back to doing things the way they did them.  Long before mites or CCD or SHB.  I'm finding that the bees will develop a kind of mutual working relationship with its mite population that will remain fairly constant but not lethal unless something else is introduced.  Setting up my hives so they more mimic a hollow stump seems to help as does top entrances, foundationless frames, and no bottoms (slatted racks instead) because the wax is chemical free and rebuilt the following year when doing crush and strain. 
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2008, 07:38:41 AM »

>If mites like more space then logically small cell should be effective against mites. No?

Exactly.

>I was then told that small cell is not recommended for beginners. Well, why not?

No good reason.  It's much easier to start off with small cell than to convert later.  It's no problem at all to simply use small cell foundation, or no foundation and some kind of comb guide.

>Besides, they're going to have to do better than 'tradition' as a reason to use 3 different size of super...

Exactly.

>1. Most beekeepers don't use it.  It is easier for a beginner to learn and get information on the prevailing methods. (and easier to teach)  It is also easier to find equipment for large cell, not that you need to go far for small cell.

But if you wish to go to small cell in the long run, all you have to do is traditional beekeeping and use small cell foundation.  Piece of cake!  Later you can worry about regression etc.

>2. Converting from large cell to small cell isn't really cut and dry.  There is a lot written about regression and shake-downs and the like.

But using small cell foundation is a no brainer.  You can worry about regression later.

>3. The "studies" haven't proved that it works.  There are plenty of people using it successfully, so most of us here do believe it works (I don't use it) but these aren't controlled studies, and there could be other factors as well (I'm not saying that there are)

Studies haven't proved that smoke calms bees.  Studies haven't proved many things.

>4. If you stick small cell foundation in a large-cell hive, they will turn it into spaghetti comb.

I've never seen any.

>You do need to have a higher level of knowledge to try to buck the "trend" and do something "experimental".

I've been bucking it since I got my first bees from a cutout because I couldn't afford a package and built a top bar hive back in the 70's.  I learned a lot.
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Kev
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2008, 07:38:11 PM »

My greatgrandfather and my mentor both started keeping bees in the mid-late 1800's (My greatgrandfather brought black german bees to Washington from Pennsylvania when he moved west) and I've gone back to doing things the way they did them. 

that is one cool story

thanks for sharing

kev
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sonnybee
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2008, 08:46:55 PM »

Hi, Correct me if I'm wrong. Bees left to their own devices will build small cell. Why then did the feral colonies
practically disappear? Surely they built small cell.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2008, 09:28:02 PM »

>Why then did the feral colonies practically disappear?

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm#feralbees
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Michael Bush
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