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Author Topic: Smaller Cell  (Read 2034 times)
dlmarti
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« on: March 31, 2008, 12:02:46 PM »

From what I understand the small cell theory goes like this:  Humans have modified the natural size of bees, with the unfortunate side effect that this new bee larvae cycle more closely matches the larvae cycle of the Varroa Mite.

Reducing the size of the cell (hence the bee size also), makes the cell size less desirable for the mite, and the life cycle of the bee larvae less of a "fit" for the varroa larvae.

Is this true, as it is understood?

If so, is there any reason that would couldn't modify the cell size below 4.9mm?  Say 4.6mm?

Has anyone tried this?

I know there is some controversy surrounding this issue, but it does seem logical that if you modify the bee larvae cycle and make it incompatible with the Varroa larvae cycle, you should be able to better control the mite.
 
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Kirk-o
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2008, 07:35:09 PM »

Its not so much to modify the size of the cells as it is to aproximate what they do naturally.Bees are pretty smart there bigest problem is Mans solutions
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2008, 08:07:11 PM »

On natural cells, no man made foundation, they will make cells even smaller than 4.6.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2008, 08:09:06 PM »

>Reducing the size of the cell (hence the bee size also), makes the cell size less desirable for the mite, and the life cycle of the bee larvae less of a "fit" for the varroa larvae.

>Is this true, as it is understood?

Basically.

>If so, is there any reason that would couldn't modify the cell size below 4.9mm?  Say 4.6mm?

For what purpose?  Naturally they run down as low as 4.6mm in the core of the brood nest, but that is more of an exception than a rule.  If you let them build what they want it will be a variety of sizes with most of the worker brood in cells between about 5.1mm and 4.9mm.  But a whole hive of 4.6mm would not be natural.  A whole hive of 4.9mm is a compromise that is still not natural, but sufficient to handle the Varroa and, if you want all the same size cells, seems to be about the right size.

>Has anyone tried this?

You'd have to find a 4.6mm mill.  I haven't seen any.  4.8mm is as small as I've seen for sale anywhere and that's for African bees.

>I know there is some controversy surrounding this issue, but it does seem logical that if you modify the bee larvae cycle and make it incompatible with the Varroa larvae cycle, you should be able to better control the mite.

But, in the experience of those who have done it, 4.9mm is quite sufficient to keep the Varroa from being a problem.  Getting them down to 4.6mm would be more work, and if all the cells were that size, you'd have unnaturally small bees, instead of unnaturally large bees.  Smiley
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dlmarti
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2008, 08:23:05 PM »

>If so, is there any reason that would couldn't modify the cell size below 4.9mm?  Say 4.6mm?

For what purpose?  Naturally they run down as low as 4.6mm in the core of the brood nest, but that is more of an exception than a rule.  If you let them build what they want it will be a variety of sizes with most of the worker brood in cells between about 5.1mm and 4.9mm.  But a whole hive of 4.6mm would not be natural.  A whole hive of 4.9mm is a compromise that is still not natural, but sufficient to handle the Varroa and, if you want all the same size cells, seems to be about the right size.

My thought process, was to depart further from the varroa life cycle, and make things harder on them.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2008, 10:01:31 PM »

I do nothing but small cell.  My bees are inspected every spring and the inspector finds no Varroa.  I searched the bottoms of my dead outs for dead Varroa this spring and found none. How much control do you need?

http://www.bushfarms.com/beescerts.htm
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Michael Bush
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2008, 12:44:00 AM »

The larger the cell the more room for varroa to reproduce.  Generally speaking, the larger the cell the longer in incubation period.  The longer the incubation period the more varroa per cell is produced.  With most standard size foundation the cell size is more in line with what would be drone comb in feral hives.  That means that here in the USA the varroa can reproduce as well in worker cells as it can in drone comb with its native Asian Honey Bee and drone comb is a population explosion. 

You solve the varroa problem by going back to feral comb size (small cell or foundationless) and hygenic behavior.  You might still have them but they will no longer over power a hive and no other treatments are necessary.  You can then go back to pre-varroa beekeeping practices.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2008, 06:27:15 AM »

I think you're making the assumption that on 4.9mm you will still have Varroa problems.  I think after you've regressed them to that, and monitored the Varroa mites, you will find that is not so.
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Michael Bush
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