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Author Topic: Small Cell Beekeeping Questions from a Newbee  (Read 3211 times)
winenutguy
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« on: September 23, 2008, 08:03:03 PM »

I'm brand new to beekeeping, in fact I don't even have bee's yet.  Since I decided to start raising bee's I've been doing alot of reading.  I've decided to not use chemicals or antibiotics with my bee's.  I've also been reading about small cell size and how it seems to contribute to fewer mites in the hive.  Can a newbie start from the beginning using small cell foundation?  If so, what are some good first steps to take?  What type of bee should you use?  Which type of queen?  By the way I live in N.W. Washington so we get quite a bit of wet weather.  Not sure this matters but I though I would mention it.  Thank you all in advance for any advice.  Winenutguy.
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poka-bee
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2008, 08:59:22 PM »

I got my bees this spring & installed on small cell foundation.  The packages are like a swarm & are just glad to be out of that little box!  I put a queen excluder (includer) under the bottom box just in case she had any ideas of leaving!  Took it off after a couple of weeks & they have been going gangbusters since..well except for when I starved em... embarassed  Took awhile but now they have 4 boxes each of beautiful small cell.  (I have 8frm meds)There are posts on here about the subject if you search.  Michael Bush has lots of info on his website too.  Jody
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sc-bee
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2008, 09:10:45 PM »

Check Michael Bushes website:

http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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annette
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2008, 10:01:32 PM »

I started with regular plastic foundation the first year and have been in the process of regressing them ever since. Now I am using all foundationless frames and letting the bees make whatever size they want. They have, on their own, been making smaller cells and my bees have become much smaller. It is actually very funny to see because I used to have these large bees flying in and out, and now they are like little babies. I just happened to notice it one day after someone told me my bees looked smaller on the flowers. (I had not been paying much attention to that aspect this summer)

Also, the mite counts have been almost non existent this summer and now also when I just did a mite count.

I am not ready to say for sure if it is all connected. I have to see. But I do feel good about letting the bees do whatever they want.

You should, IMO, start off letting the bees make their own wax combs. I just dumped a new package this summer onto all starter strips and the bees did a fine job of drawing out nice straight comb. There are some tricks to getting them to make the combs straight, which I can share if you want to know.

Also as Jody said, she started with the ready made smaller cell foundation and you have instant regression.

Do not hesitate because you will spend lots of time trying to undo the mistakes you made, just like I have.

Not sure if it matters about what type of Queen. Maybe someone else knows about this. I just use Italian Queens.
Sincerely
Annette

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winenutguy
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2008, 06:08:48 PM »

Thank you all!  I am looking very hard at the information on Mr. Bush's sight.  I am definitely looking at going in that direction.  My goal, at least in the short term is not to have a lot of honey.  I just want bees buzzing on our 5 acres and doing it naturally.  I would also just like to see more happy bee's buzzing around in the world.  I have also been reading Ross Conrad's book and I was very intrigued by his comments and ideas. Thank you again for your comments.  W.
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Moonshae
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2008, 07:14:04 PM »

If you buy a nuc or package of small cell bees, you'll be that much farther ahead, too. Check out Don's site for small cell nucs. He ships them, too, which is a good deal! http://www.geocities.com/fatbeeman/. He starts taking orders in Jan or Feb, and sells out quickly.
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johnnybigfish
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2008, 07:20:23 PM »

Hi Winenutguy!
 I started bees like you, without any interest in the honey part whatsoever. But, after my first job of fixing burr comb, I ate some honey right from that!!!
Now I like honey!!!..Now its more important to me if the bees are making it! I rrealize now that THATS what bees do!!...Pollinate plants and make honey!!
 Its like "Manna from Heaven"!..Its like one day there is none, and then later you look and there IS some! I eat it every day, right out of the bottle! ( I have to go get some more real soon though as I only have 3 bottles left).

As a matter of fact, I'm gonna open another bottle RIGHT NOW while I sit right here, and have a swig!................................Yummmmmmmmm........DELICIOUS!!!!!!
 I REALLY did do this, you know!
 I'm gonna have another swig now...........Yummmmmm......"Heavenly!!!!

It used to hurt my teeth some but I went to the dentist and he put another gold tooth in!..Now I have 7 teeth the color of golden honey!!!!
 Ok,...Well there ya go....I'm gonna eat some more...maybe take a pic!!

your friend,
john
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johnnybigfish
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« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2008, 07:31:16 PM »

  See?
I'm eating my honey!
your friend,
john

http://picasaweb.google.com/Johnnybigfish/HoneyEater#
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annette
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« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2008, 10:19:14 PM »

John

You totally crack me up you are so funny!!!!!
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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2008, 10:20:27 PM »

I have one hive with small cell foundation.I dumped a small swarm I captured into this box and they have progressed quite well. They are currently putting stores away after consuming most of what they gathered over the summer.
 I can't wait to see how they overwinter.
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Pond Creek Farm
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2008, 10:30:57 PM »

I started like you but with a donated hive (not on small or natural cell) and a few packages.  I have deep equipment ( a decision I regret) because that was what the kits sold.  I am moving to mediums for everything and using pf 120 from Mann Lake as foundation for brood and foundationless for supers.  I am still building the brood chambers and have really nothing to show for the honey supers, but have just this year started.  I am hopeful that next year my efforts will pay off.  I really notice the small cell bees and their smaller size.  It remains to be seen how they overwinter. I love the look, however, of the natural cell comb that they have made. 
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Brian
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« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2008, 10:35:55 PM »

Awww, you know how it is Annette...Some one just gets caught up in the moment and just cant help themselves!. At least i got it in my mouth instead of on my chin and chest! I had the camera in the other hand taking the pic! grin

your friend,
john
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2008, 10:36:52 AM »

Winenutguy,

If you're down in Skagit County look me up, I'll be glad to show you what foundationless 5 frame mediums are all about.  I also go with slatted racks and bottemless hives.  You're close enough for me to lend a helping hand now and then.
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bmacior
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2008, 06:55:11 PM »

Brian, I could use a helping hand from you.  How about moving to Utah?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2008, 08:01:37 PM »

If you have specific questions, just ask.  There are several ways you can do this.  I'm partial to foundationless as it is obviously the most natural solution to so many issues.  The comb isn't started from contaminated wax and no one can argue it's not the right cell size, except the regression issue, as the bees decided the size.  This seems to be the simplest and easiest to get the bees to cooperate with.

Other choices, for those who can't handle the idea of no foundation, are to use small cell foundation, either wax or PF120s (medium) or PF100s (deep) from Mann Lake.  I've had pretty good luck with the PF120s.  Better luck than other plastic foundation and I don't have to put frames together.

Another choice is to use Honey Super Cell, which is fully drawn already.  This is harder to get acceptance on, but once they start using it it works great.  If you put a package on nothing but HSC they will eventually use it and they will be instantly regressed as the cells are already drawn and already 4.9mm.

Of course starting with small cell bees is nice.  Not necessary.  But helpful at speeding the whole process.

If you have specific questions, just ask.
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Michael Bush
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winenutguy
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« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2008, 10:07:08 PM »

Dear Mr. Bush; 
Thank you for your reply.  I have really enjoyed your website.  I have learned an enormous amount there and I can't thank you enough for going to all of the trouble to place your accumulated knowledge on the web for everyone to enjoy and learn from.  After reading several books and diving into many websites I have come back to some of the things that you, Ross Conrad and others have advocated.  I have decided not to use chemicals or antibiotics.  I am going to use only mediums.  I will only use small cell. I am going to have two hives to start in the spring. I will feed only if necessary. I will not spray the dandelions in my yard anymore, even though I hate the darn things and I really allergic to them.  I'm still thinking about foundation vs. foundation-less and a few other decisions but this is where I will start from.  Thank you again for your website.  It was a real eye-opener and has a wonderful range of subjects and points of view.  Just outstanding.  My best wishes, Winenutguy ie, Marcus McCoy
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mudlakee
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« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2008, 07:29:10 PM »

A-men
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winenutguy
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« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2008, 11:32:39 PM »

This may give everyone a laugh, but I had a thought.  Could you do foundation-less in the brood boxes and small cell frames in the supers to facilitate extracting? Also, if one did go foundation-less what would be the best route to go given I'm a newbie?  The more I read ( and I've read alot) the more I'm convinced that following the principle of "do no harm" seems to be what the bees need right now.  I'm a bit confused by all the things I'm reading concerning queen rearing and making hybrid queens.  Won't the bee's figure out what they need in order to prosper eventually?  It would seem to me that we just point them to the flowers, do some basic ownership tasks without bugging them to much and away we go.  My goal is not to exploit the bees but give them a nice place to live while I watch them buzz around my 5 acres.  Not really very complicated.  Am I on the right track or am I missing something?  By the way thank you all for your comments and help.  I wish it was April and I had some bees!  Winenutguy.
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poka-bee
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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2008, 11:56:29 PM »

If you aren't going to do a lot of honey you don't have to worry about extracting.  With foundationless you just cut it away from the frames, easy as pie! Crush & strain, then you can put pretty chunks of comb in your jars without worrying about icky chemicals in the wax. I have heard that you can extract from foundationless once the comb matures, it's pretty soft to start out with.  I don't have the $$ or space to store an extractor so will be doing C&S for many years to come!  Jody
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annette
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« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2008, 06:52:34 PM »

This may give everyone a laugh, but I had a thought.  Could you do foundation-less in the brood boxes and small cell frames in the supers to facilitate extracting? Also, if one did go foundation-less what would be the best route to go given I'm a newbie?  The more I read ( and I've read alot) the more I'm convinced that following the principle of "do no harm" seems to be what the bees need right now.  I'm a bit confused by all the things I'm reading concerning queen rearing and making hybrid queens.  Won't the bee's figure out what they need in order to prosper eventually?  It would seem to me that we just point them to the flowers, do some basic ownership tasks without bugging them to much and away we go.  My goal is not to exploit the bees but give them a nice place to live while I watch them buzz around my 5 acres.  Not really very complicated.  Am I on the right track or am I missing something?  By the way thank you all for your comments and help.  I wish it was April and I had some bees!  Winenutguy.

You do not have to worry about any of this queen rearing stuff. You can look into it later if you want or not. I am not doing any thing but letting the bees decide if they want to make a queen. I am not interested either in queen rearing, at least not now. The only time you will get involved in queen stuff is one day when you look inside the hive and understand that they are queenless(This happened to me twice) or that the queen is not performing correctly.  The first time all I had to do was go and purchase a queen and plop her in the hive (in a cage of course) and they accepted her. The second time was more complicated because they became laying workers and would not accept the queen (they killed her). Don't worry so much right now about it all.

Take it one step at a time.

Regarding your question about the foundationless frames. You could go with foundationless in the brood nest and use whatever you want in the honey supers. I prefer to go with all foundationless now because then the bees will make whatever they need and also if you ever have to reverse your hives, well then you still have foundationless frames in the brood nest.

Hope this helps and if it doesn't, well then keep asking.

Annette
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