>1. Could someone one quantatively define small cell and natural cell or at least give accepted sizes for both small cell and natural cell.
Small Cell: 4.9mm or smaller comb built from foundation embossed at 4.9mm or smaller.
Natural Cell: Whatever size bees who have been regressed (had at least one or two turnovers of comb) build. Typically the CORE of the BROODNEST is in the area of 4.9mm although sometimes as small as 4.4mm and sometimes as large as 5.0mm. It grows out from there so that the edges and especially the top are noticeably larger. All of this is, of course, not counting drone cells, which run in the 5.9mm to 7.0mm range.
>2. in the studies or data gathering of what exactly natural cell size is are they all done with feral bees or have some been done with artifical size bees either larger or regressed to smaller size by beeks and thier practices. I would think that the size of the bee to start out with would effect the natural comb they make for several generations.
Correct. It does. The first generation (and turnover of comb) runs closer to 5.1mm to 5.2mm at the core of the brood nest. The next goes down more and the next usually goes a bit more.
> It would also be interesting to see what size cells small cell bees are making generations and splits removed from thier original small cells and conversly larger cell bees are making after several splits all allowed to produce natural comb. My guess would be that small cell would move up towards natural and large cell would move down in size towards natural?
Natural cell varies in size. It's not at all necessary to force them down. They will move down on their own. I find the core is typically smaller than 4.9mm which is small cell, so no, I don't think you'll find them moving up per se, but the core and the edges aren't the same size, so that's hard to define.
>3. I would think the greatest arguement in terms of natural cell (or smaller cells than were currently using regularly) would be that not much in nature is done that isn't purposefull.
> If smaller cell - 4.8, 4.7,4.6 (or whatever is considered small cell) etc were of more benifit to the bees they would be producing them regularly.
Which they do.
> Conversly if larger cell size 5.3, 5.4, etc were benifical they would be producing those size cells in nature.
Which they do not.
> So if natural cell size is somewhere north or south of 5.0 I would think that is because there is some benifit to that size. Right?
That's my thinking.
>4. I haven't heard much talk about the relationship between the number of bees that can be produced in large cells, natural cells, and small cells (all being somewhat different amounts) and the mite load of a hive.
A frame of small cell brood is more bees than a frame of large cell bees. And with a two day shorter development period that's a lot more brood to be raised.
> Is it possible that the mite load we as beeks want and consider good and acceptable may be less than what is acceptable to the bees.
Possible. But on natural cell I can't find any to count in the spring and only a few in the fall, so I'm don't really think so. I think we have to let the mites get balanced with the bees and let the bees do what they need to to handle it.
> and the curve between size of bees and mite load (if there is a relationship at all Wink ) might mean that the naturally accepted mite load does not meet our expectations and were naturally trying to put mite levels at unnaturally low levels.
In theory, I would agree. In practice, that's not what I'm seeing.
> For instance- bigger bees gather mor pollen and make more honey quicker than a smaller bee ( I think I've gotten that from my reading)
Actually I haven't seen any up to date reliable study that would support that.
> but bigger bees also mean less bees.
> Smaller bees gather less honey than bigger bees but more bees are available to gather honey.
And according to Brother Adam, and Dee Lusby and a few others, they fly a lot further to gather honey.
>though I'm not sure maximization of honey production is in a bees best natural interest (ours for sure, thiers not so sure) )
But I don't think we are maximizing it by larger cells. I know of no one who is currently arguing that larger bees are gathering more honey.
>4. When did varroa mites become a problem. From my reading on the forums it seems like it's in the 20 years or so? Is this right/wrong have they alway been an issue.
They arrived in the USA in 1987 but it took a bit longer for them to spread throughout the country. I never had any losses from them until the mid to late 90's.
> What has historically affected hives throughout time that's been written and documented about??
Foulbrood is written about by Aristotle, if I remember right. Aristotle described it as "rust with a foul odor".
For info on small cell and natural cell:http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
Info on the same page concerning observed and historically observed capping and post capping times:http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm#preandpostcappingtimes
On that same page historical measurements of natural cell size:http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm#historiccellsize
More historical measurments:http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby/celldata.htm