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Author Topic: New hive questions  (Read 5783 times)
Steve M.
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« on: April 28, 2008, 04:03:33 PM »

Hello,

I am slated to pick up my nuc this weekend, and I realize that I now have a million questions before I have even handles a bee.
My goal is to use no chemicals, etc., and I would like to try small cell....not too confident about going foundation less at the moment, but it sounds like I would like to head that direction eventually.

Unfortunately, I went and ordered a starter kit a few months ago, so I have a traditional 10 frame set-up with deeps for the hive bodies.  If I had the available resources, I would switch to 8 frame, but I have to stick with what I have.

My main question is:  How should I jump into small cell?  I have no idea what my nuc will have for cell size, so I am assuming it will be standard.  I have a whole bunch of unassembled frames and wired large cell foundation.  What are my options?  Should I try to get a hold of some wired small cell or 5.1 foundation in the next couple of days, or should I cut down my large cell into starter strips, or should I just go with large cell, and try to switch out the frames later?

Thank you for any insight you offer.

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Moonshae
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2008, 04:09:33 PM »

It's pretty easy to snip the wires and cut foundation down to starter strips. It also makes foundation go a lot farther! From what I understand, though, it'll take a while to cycle through enough combs to get the size down. I started with starter strips last year, and I'm adding in new frames each year.

The fastest way is to buy honey super cell, which is already drawn, small cell, plastic foundation.
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2008, 07:29:51 PM »

I'm no expert & got packages instead of nucs but I got small cell foundations & dumped my bees on that.  Heard from everyone that if you want to go small cell don't even start w/bigger.  Kinda a shock to my poor little bees but havn't heard from BPS yet! evil evil They have frames drawn out & capped brood so aren't that traumatized! grin  Jody
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2008, 08:17:22 PM »

I'd just use Honey Super Cell or small cell foundation (either wax 4.9mm or PF100s from Mann Lake).  They are all small cell.  They all work fine.  The HSC is a one shot regression where the others they may draw 4.9mm right off or they may not.
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Michael Bush
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Steve M.
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2008, 09:29:15 PM »

I guess for now I will try to find a local supplier that has some small cell.  If I can't find any, I will have to stick with the large cell for now.  I only have a few days before the bees show up.  I thought they were coming a week or two later.  Thank you for the advice.  The HSC is something to consider when the bee budget is a bit bigger.
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2008, 10:27:20 PM »

I'm no expert on small cell so I hope Michael will chime in here, but I think if you cut your regular cell foundation into starter strips, the bees may start at the strip with larger cells but as they build the comb down, they tend to build the size cells they want.  I have frames I started with starter strips where the cells at the edges of the frame are much larger than the cells they build in the center.  Starting them with strips allows them some freedom to build what they want - probably starting with the larger cell, they will take a while to get to 4.9, but I wouldn't let that stop me from experimenting rather than lamenting!  Wink Wink

Linda T in Atlanta
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2008, 10:34:41 PM »

>I guess for now I will try to find a local supplier that has some small cell.  If I can't find any, I will have to stick with the large cell for now.

Dadant, Betterbee, Brushy Mt and many others have small cell foundation.  Mann Lake's PF100s (deep) and PF120s (medium) are 4.95mm.  Honey Super Cell is 4.9mm fully drawn.

https://www.dadant.com/catalog/advanced_search_result.php?osCsid=b43e792c85c710c88dec013cfeb736f5&search_in_description=1&keywords=small+cell&osCsid=b43e792c85c710c88dec013cfeb736f5&x=0&y=0
http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/products.asp?cat=6
http://www.betterbee.com/products.asp?dept=288
http://www.honeysupercell.com/
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Michael Bush
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Steve M.
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2008, 11:27:22 AM »

I am ordering some Pf-100's from Mann lake, but they won't be here before I put the nuc into the hvie, that is why I am trying to find someone local that has the small cell...sorry not to be clear on that.

I will cut a few of my large cell into starter strips to put into the hive to begin with...perhaps I will find that is how I will continue.

I just don't want to mess things up...being my first hive, with no experience at all.  Not lamenting, just trying to come up with a viable contingency in the interim until the pf-100 arrive. 

Thank you again.
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marliah
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 07:51:45 AM »

juts curious, why would one need small cell foundation to have an organic hive?

I also ordered a start up kit before ever finding this site and am now kicking myself wishing I had bought an 8 frame instead of a 10 frame  lol. Wish I had found this site before I ordered anything!

I just got told my bees won't be ready til next week due to some delay in having them ready, but I'm kinda glad cause it gives me an extra week to paint my hive and get it set up! I am curious about the small cell foundation though. Can anyone tell me why thats so important for an organic beehive?

And Steve, I know one local beehive person Bees N' Me in Bowdoinham  - Rick Cooper - (207) 666-5643

Might want to try giving him a call and see if he has what you need, I would imagine you will be passing by that area on your way down south Smiley
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Tara
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 08:20:45 AM »

juts curious, why would one need small cell foundation to have an organic hive?

Because the bees you buy are large cell (man's attempt at bigger = better) and will crash from varroa within 2 years if you don't treat them for varroa.  The concept of small cell is that the bees take less time to hatch and it interrupts the varroa cycle.

It is not just as easy as giving large cell bees small cell foundation either.  It takes time and brood cycles for a large cell bees to regress to a small cell bees and they are susceptible to varroa during this regression and have to be monitored/treated during this time.    This is an added complication, especially for newbees, that is why I recommend HSC for beginners looking to go to small cell.  HSC is fully drawn plastic small cell frames.  You can put large cell bees directly on HSC and they will raise small cell bees immediately, so-called "instant regression".
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2008, 08:38:48 AM »

juts curious, why would one need small cell foundation to have an organic hive?

I am curious about the small cell foundation though. Can anyone tell me why thats so important for an organic beehive?

To answer your first question, you don't.

Some organic beekeepers tend to take a more natural approach to beekeeping.
Although the jury is still out, some believe, as do I, that the smaller bee has a better defense against mites for a couple of reasons.
A smaller bee can be capped off sooner and hatch out sooner than a larger bee making the breeding cycle less compatible with that of the mite.
Also fewer mites fit into a smaller cell.

The distinction between small cell and natural cell should be understood.
Confining the bees to any fixed cell size per frame is unnatural.
As Tillie mentions a few posts earlier, her bees make larger cells on the edges of her frames.
Smaller worker brood cells in the middle surrounded by larger drone cells later used for honey and pollen storage.

Hope this helps and good luck with which ever approach you take.
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Steve M.
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2008, 09:38:27 AM »

Well, let it be said that i never seem to do things the easy way, but I do get them done!  I have looked into the HSC, and I think it would be a great option...just not presently.

Marliah, thank you for the info Re: Rick Cooper, the guy I know down the road gets his bees from him.  It didn't occur to me to try him.  It turns out, that I was able to find some small cell foundation through Lincoln Sennett of Swans Honey in Albion, where I am taking a short beekeeping course.  I am going to drive down there tonight after work and pick it up.  It is not something he normally stocks, but he says that he is expanding his selections.  I have to say, that it wouldn't hurt my feelings if my bees were delayed a week, but I called to confirm yesterday, and they will be ready on Saturday.  I too, wish I had gone with an 8 frame hive....oh well, there is alway next year!

As far as small cell , and organic, I have read, and heard testimony that the more natural cell size (avg. 4.9mm) really helps with controlling Varroa without the need of harsh chemical treatments.  I don't know if there is any hard research to substantiate this, but as Michael Bush states on his website under philosophy,

Quote
A lot of decisions on equipment or methods, depend on your personal philosophy of life and your personal philosophy of beekeeping. Some people have more faith in Nature or the Creator to work things out. Some are more interested in keeping their bees healthy with chemicals and treatments. You'll have to decide where you stand on these kinds of things.

This resonates with me on many levels.  I have decided that I will put my faith in a "no chemical approach" to my hives (even though I am a complete newbie), and I think regressing my bees to a smaller cell size is a worthy experiment.  There are certainly enough large cell examples around to compare it to.

I would eventually like to go foundationless, and try out a Top Bar Hive, but I am going to at least start out by trying to regress to a small cell size.  We will be homeschooling our children, and are part of a large homeschooling group in this area, and I see this all as a great source of instruction material and examples for the kids.

--Steve
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marliah
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2008, 01:12:33 PM »

ok I read up on it after posting here and I'm sold on either small cell or even *gasp* foundationless for mine! I totally agree with letting God be the one who works things out rather than trying to use man made items in hopes of "getting more" out of the bee than is natural and having to drug them up. I don't use drugs on myself or my kids, so why would I on a pet?

Good thing I have this extra week to get it worked out. I'm SO glad I found this board!

And yeah this 10 frame setup is really eating away at me! sure wish I had checked in here before I bought and gone with the 8 :/ I am trying to get in touch with Rick to see if he has any 8 frame supers for sale, then maybe I can cut down my 10 frame? just thinking out loud here....but I know I can't lift 90lbs myself lol. So something will have to change, either the husband gets beekeeping gear or I need to get to 8 frame hives Wink

We homeschool our kids (3 boys) and I also think this will be a great thing for them to learn, in addition to organic gardening and hopefully soon raising chickens (trying to get a town ordinance changed to allow that at the moment Wink)

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Tara
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2008, 01:24:51 PM »

If your worried about weight and set on going a more natural route,  you might consider a warre hive. 
http://www.mygarden.me.uk/ModifiedAbbeWarreHive.htm
Regardless, there is some interesting reading frame vs. frameless beekeeping.

I would, however, come up with a plan for dealing with varroa while your bees regress to a more natural size/state.
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annette
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2008, 01:46:35 PM »

ok I read up on it after posting here and I'm sold on either small cell or even *gasp* foundationless for mine! I totally agree with letting God be the one who works things out rather than trying to use man made items in hopes of "getting more" out of the bee than is natural and having to drug them up. I don't use drugs on myself or my kids, so why would I on a pet?

Good thing I have this extra week to get it worked out. I'm SO glad I found this board!

And yeah this 10 frame setup is really eating away at me! sure wish I had checked in here before I bought and gone with the 8 :/ I am trying to get in touch with Rick to see if he has any 8 frame supers for sale, then maybe I can cut down my 10 frame? just thinking out loud here....but I know I can't lift 90lbs myself lol. So something will have to change, either the husband gets beekeeping gear or I need to get to 8 frame hives Wink

We homeschool our kids (3 boys) and I also think this will be a great thing for them to learn, in addition to organic gardening and hopefully soon raising chickens (trying to get a town ordinance changed to allow that at the moment Wink)



Marliah

Do not fret over the fact you have 10 frames. That doesn't matter that much as far as going small cell. The 8 frame versus 10 frames is more a matter of weight when filled with honey.

I started my beekeeping April 2006 with the traditional 10 frame beehive. I had 2 full size deep supers for the brood and 2 mediums for the honey. The bees did great. But because I also wanted to go natural and not use chemicals in the hive, I started to powder sugar treat the bees to rid them of varroa mites. Since I was moving around a lot of supers and saw how heavy the full deep was, and how I could not interchange the supers, I finally moved the whole hive down to all mediums. This has truly helped with the weight problem. Sure 8 frames would make the whole thing lighter, but you can do that later on.

As far as going all foundationless. I also started with the plastic foundation and this is how my bees got started. When I finally read here on this forum about the small cell and made the decision to regress the bees, I simply started to introduce frames with only starter strips on them into the brood nest, and now the bees are drawing their own wax combs in any size they like. To regress my bees, I am constantly in the process of introducing starter strips into the brood nest. They are beginning to make small cells here and there. I just love letting them do whatever they want to do. It feels right.

To control the varroa mites, I do powdered sugar treatments every 10 days and remove a frame of drone brood every couple of weeks. So far this has worked for me. I can not get rid of the mites, only control the population.

Read more about it on Michael Bush's website. I do not think you can just dump the bees onto foundationless frames and expect them to draw out straight combs. You take chances doing this. You could end up with a mess. They may or may not draw out straight combs.

If I was ordering a package today, I would use Mann Lake PF120 frames. They are cheaper and smaller cell. At least you give the bees a good start to becoming smaller cell bees. (even the PF frames are not as small as you want them).

I am also a new beekeeper and still learning. I hope I gave you good info. Others here will post more for you. I hope this doesn't confuse you.

Sincerely
Annette
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marliah
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2008, 01:53:27 PM »

well I am wondering if maybe I can just order the small cell foundation from dadant and install that in place of the large cell...

I think I just realized something lol. I ordered 5 frame nucs for bees....that means they aren't going to come in a usps style box are they? they are going to come on frames? I have no idea, I am asking cause I don't know.

But if that is the case it means I start with 5 frames already started right? so would the best bet just be to throw in a couple small cell frames and a couple foundationless ones in between already started frames and just slowly phase out the 5 they came on (obviously over time, maybe not even til next year)?

Is there any benefit to using small cell foundations now if they are already started on 5 frames of large cell? will they just get used to it and I can slowly change over?

Sorry to pester with all these questions. LOL I am feeling so unprepared now!
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Tara
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2008, 01:56:27 PM »

Marliah,

You are in the August area correct?  Have you looked into Humble Abodes in Windsor?  They specialize in all hive woodenware, and I hear they are great to deal with...probably closer to you than Bowdoinham. Their info is:  HUMBLE ABODES INCORPORATED,207-549-5501, Coopers Mills Rd, Windsor, ME 04363

I will most likely switch to 8 frame next year, but will stick with this one 10 frame setup for now.  I have heard from quite a few people who have cut their 10 frames down to 8 frames....doesn't look like it would be that difficult....just take a bit of time.

It is always good to hear of other families that homeschool!  Our daughter (5) is excited about learning everything, and has helped me put the hives together.  Our son (16 months) just loves to be a part of the whole process.  We also garden organically, and we are moving into more animal husbandry this year...we raised chicken and turkeys last year, and we are looking into goats and a cow this year.  Thankfully we live in the land of practically no ordinances up here, although for some reason the code enforcement officer keeps reminding me not to cut too close to the lake...even though I haven't cut anything near the water in the 8 years we have owned the property....go figure?

If you decide to go organic, keep me posted.
--Steve
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2008, 02:05:04 PM »

well I am wondering if maybe I can just order the small cell foundation from dadant and install that in place of the large cell...
You can, but that doesn't make small cell bees overnight.  Large cell bees need to be regressed.  hey will be starting in the area of 5.3  and after one regression will be in the area of 5.1  and if things go well, by the 2nd regression you'll be down around 4.9.  During this regression, which could take upwards of a year or more depending on how it goes,  your bees are susceptible to varroa crash.

Quote
I think I just realized something lol. I ordered 5 frame nucs for bees....that means they aren't going to come in a usps style box are they? they are going to come on frames? I have no idea, I am asking cause I don't know.
Yes, they will be coming on 5 fully drawn large cell frames, which includes brood, pollen, and honey along with your bees.
Quote
But if that is the case it means I start with 5 frames already started right? so would the best bet just be to throw in a couple small cell frames and a couple foundationless ones in between already started frames and just slowly phase out the 5 they came on (obviously over time, maybe not even til next year)?

Is there any benefit to using small cell foundations now if they are already started on 5 frames of large cell? will they just get used to it and I can slowly change over?
Yes,  you can slowly regress them by feeding small cell or foundationless frames to them and slowly moving the large cell frames to the outside of the hive and eventually out.
They most likely will not draw 4.9 foundation very well the first time,  so foundationless frames might be better for the first round of regression.   If your goal is small cell,  then use small cell foundation for the second round. If natural cell size is your goal, continue with foundationless for the subsequent regressions.

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marliah
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2008, 02:25:48 PM »

Robo - natural cell is my goal, I would like to go all foundationless over time, do I still need to worry about varroa crash if I slowly switch them over? if so whats a natural way to help with that?

Steve - yes I am going organic, at least as far as I know. I do everything I can organically Wink
 
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Tara
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« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2008, 02:30:12 PM »

Robo - natural cell is my goal, I would like to go all foundationless over time, do I still need to worry about varroa crash if I slowly switch them over? 

Yes, the slower you do it the longer you have to worry about it.  Using Honey Super Cell fully drawn small cell frames is the only "instant" regression that greatly minimizes the threat of varroa.  I put 3 hives on HSC last year and have not treated since.
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