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Author Topic: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?  (Read 1191 times)

Offline Pond Creek Farm

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Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« on: February 07, 2009, 11:00:40 PM »
I understand the thinking behind small cell in the brood boxes, but does it matter in honey supers that will be removed at the end of the season?  I was toying with the idea of allowing the bees to draw all of the honey supers on starter strips (I crush and strain, and the added wax is a bonus to us), but if using foundation or plastic frames is faster for the bees, perhaps this is a better method to increase honey production.  Is foundation faster than natural cell?
Brian

Offline justgojumpit

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2009, 11:04:57 PM »
natural comb is drawn out faster than foundation, and since the bees are not raising brood in the honey supers, the size of these cells will have no effect on varroa levels in the hive.

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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2009, 11:50:29 PM »
In a side by side test in 3 hives I've observed that bees will draw out 2+ frames of foundationless frames to every frame with foundation. Seems counterintuitive but with foundationless the bees festoon all the way across the frame and work in unison, with foundatiion the bees work blind to the bees on the other side and in patches here, there, and elsewhere.

Once a colony has the brood chamber established (2 deeps or 4 mediums) the difference in harvested honey between hives using foundationless supers and super with foundation ranges from negligable to more with foundationless.  Even though it might take more honey to make the necessary wax in a foundationless hive the wax is made and filled just as fast or faster with foundationless the bees seem to be working more efficiently.  Efficiency always out produces barriers and foundation is a barrier.
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Offline JP

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2009, 12:06:20 AM »
I use wax coated plasticell in my medium honey supers. Works great for me. In a good flow, I don't think it really matters. I haven't done specific tests like Brian has however, but I like my system. I use starter strips in the brood nest.


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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2009, 11:32:28 PM »
If you don't use an excluder, and I don't, and they are all the same size boxes, then which are the supers?
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Offline NWIN Beekeeper

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2009, 06:24:14 AM »
PARTS of this POST EDITED BY BEEMASTER - Jeff I'll write you and let you know why if you don't see the need for editing.

NWIN says:

[...with foundationless the bees festoon all the way across the frame and work in unison...]

This is my observation too. Its as though the team work is cut in half by any prestructured foundation.
But you may desire plastic foundation in the honey area for strength, structure, and ease of processing.
Natural combs can be difficult to have drawn straight, and nearly never are they drawn with uniform cell sizes, and can blow out will extracting. The benefits of natural cell is mostly appreciated in the brood area.  That's a deeper subject that should be (already is) covered in another thread. Uniform cell patterns also aid in structural intregrity.

You can create barriers using capped frames of honey that inhibit (but not necessarily prevent) the queen from laying in upper boxes. He also adopts the doctorine that all frames are fair game for use throughout the hive. Well, some people prefer to reserve certain combs for honey only production as they feel it produces cleaner or lesser darkened honey. I also like dedicated frames because it allows for removal of honey by variety (as flowers bloom). Frames scattered throughout the hive most honestly has to label its honey has generically wild flower. Its all a matter of preference and intent. 
« Last Edit: February 21, 2009, 06:48:17 AM by beemaster »
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Offline Understudy

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2009, 11:42:39 AM »
Okay here are my observations from dealing with feral hives.

Bees will put honey in almost any size cell.  I have seen it in huge cells that were used for drones. I have seen them back fill brood sections when they are ready to swarm. The difference is this. The smaller the cell the quicker they are to cap it. The drone cells are almost never capped because there is to much water content. I use permacomb in many of my hives. They use it for brood and honey. Since the cells start out at around 5.0mm and get layered down from there. They can end up quite small. The bees will if they need to put honey in them.

The question is how soon do want capped honey? Bigger cells take longer. Smaller cells take less time but there are more cells to deal with. I prefer the smaller cells.

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Offline poka-bee

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2009, 03:06:45 PM »
I am doing crush & strain so the foundationless is for me.  I noticed last year that they had their brood nest area, then during the blackberry flow & later in the season they made bigger cells to put the honey in, some bigger than drone!  I'm "goin in" today to see just whats what from winter as it's supposed to be in the low 50's, may be the only chance I get for the next 3 months, our weather is so variable.   J
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Does Cell Size Matter in Honey Supers?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2009, 09:17:43 PM »
I am doing crush & strain so the foundationless is for me.  I noticed last year that they had their brood nest area, then during the blackberry flow & later in the season they made bigger cells to put the honey in, some bigger than drone!  I'm "goin in" today to see just whats what from winter as it's supposed to be in the low 50's, may be the only chance I get for the next 3 months, our weather is so variable.   J

There are essentially 3 standard comb sizes within a bee hive.  Brood comb, Drone comb, and Storage comb.  Burr comb will have varied sizes of cells including some smaller than brood cells.
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