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Author Topic: Small cell study reports done this past year in Florida and Georgia  (Read 3044 times)
TwT
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Ted


« on: July 07, 2009, 10:37:07 PM »

In Florida

This was published, I believe, in Experimental and Applied Acarology April 2009.
By the way, these folks used separate beeyards. Drifting 'mites', as believed by many small cell advocates to be the load leveling factor in the earlier UGA study was surely not an issue here. Also, a final UGA study has been accepted for publication with much the same results. I'll see if I can't get an abstract for that.

The efficacy of small cell foundation as a varroa mite
(Varroa destructor) control
a. M. Ellis G. W. Hayes J. D. Ellis
Received: 3 October 2008 / Accepted: 10 November 2008 / Published online: 6 December 2008
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008
Abstract Due to a continuing shift toward reducing/minimizing the use of chemicals in
honey bee colonies, we explored the possibility of using small cell foundation as a varroa
control. Based on the number of anecdotal reports supporting small cell as an efficacious
varroa control tool, we hypothesized that bee colonies housed on combs constructed on
small cell foundation would have lower varroa populations and higher adult bee populations
and more cm2 brood. To summarize our results, we found that the use of small cell
foundation did not significantly affect cm2 total brood, total mites per colony, mites per
brood cell, or mites per adult bee, but did affect adult bee population for two sampling
months. Varroa levels were similar in all colonies throughout the study. We found no
evidence that small cell foundation was beneficial with regard to varroa control under the
tested conditions in Florida.



In Georgia, this has been going for 2 years.

I understand that this study has been accepted and is presently being printed.
By the way William B. Owens is a small cell beekeeper.

Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies

Jennifer a. BERRY1, William B. OWENS2 and Keith S. DELAPLANE1
1Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602 USA

2Owens Apiaries
4510 Springwood Drive
Monroe, GA 30655 USA

Abstract
In three independently replicated field studies, we compared biometrics of Varroa mite and honey bee populations in bee colonies housed on one of two brood cell types: small-cell (4.9 " 0.08 mm cell width, walls inclusive) or conventional-cell (5.3 " 0.04). In one of the studies, ending colony bee population was significantly higher in small-cell colonies (14,994 " 2494 bees) than conventional-cell (5653 " 1082). However, small-cell colonies were significantly higher for mite population in brood (359.7 " 87.4 vs. 134.5 " 38.7), percentage of mite population in brood (49.4 " 7.1 vs. 26.8 " 6.7), and mites per 100 adult bees (5.1 " 0.9 vs. 3.3 " 0.5). With the three remaining ending Varroa population metrics, mean trends for small-cell were unfavorable. We conclude that small-cell comb technology does not impede Varroa population growth.

I have talked to Bill Owens and he has had his hive on small cell for years, he was suprised with what they found out ans here is a post from him.

...and I thought we were done talking about this study.

1) The study was done to find if small cell impeded mite populations.

2) The study found that mite populations were higher in small cell colonies. (sorry, I was there and the small cell hives had more mites than the regular cell hives)

3) I have run small cells in my colonies since 2001 or 2002 (I really can't remember which year)

4) I still have several boxes of small cell foundation and yes I plan on using it.

5) After my small cell foundation is used up I will most likely go back to regular cell foundation.

6) In the last 5 or 6 years I have lost on average 8-10% of my hives annually. About the same loss as expected prior to the varroa mites.

7) All of my personal colonies came from feral stock that I get from my bee removal business. (I honestly believe this has a lot to do with my success)

8 ) I run screen bottoms on all of my colonies.


Billy Bob
aka
Bill Owens
Master Craftsman beekeeper
http://www.gabeeremoval.com
 


after all this I still think its the bee's that make a hive live and not the cell size, but hey if small cell works for other I cant hold it against anyone for doing what they think is best.
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RayMarler
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2009, 01:34:19 AM »

Thanks so much for this posting TwT
I don't think I'll be trying to convert to small cell now after reading this post.
I was thinking I would try to, but since reading this and from some reports (maybe these?) I've read makes me think that small cell is not the answer. i'm leaning more towards the camp of people that say it's the bees that make the difference, not the cell size.
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2009, 02:34:54 AM »

My guess is a lot of things add up to make a difference.  But here's my small cell study:

Commercial stock on large cell with no treatments.  100% die from Varroa as evidence by tens of thousands of dead Varroa on the bottom board with the dead bees.  Repeated this three times.  Same results.

Commercial stock on large cell with Apistan treatments.  Kept them alive for three years then lost 100% from Varroa.

Commercial stock on natural and small cell comb with no treatments on most hives for 8 years and no treatments on all hives for 6 years.  No losses from Varroa as evidence by having to search to find even one dead Varroa on the bottom board of any dead outs.

Feral stock on natural and small cell combs with not treatments for 6 years.  No losses from Varroa as evidence by having to search to find even one dead Varroa on the bottom board of any dead outs and less winter losses in general and better timed build ups for the flows.

I'm sure it's also the microbes in the hives you don't treat along with good genetics along with natural sized comb.

"It's not about mite counts, it's about survival"--Dann Purvis, in a conversation with myself, Jennifer Berry and several other people.

Anytime you try to isolate one simple measurement you miss the whole of what is happening.  Anytime you try to force standardization you change the outcomes.  For instance, eliminate all the drone brood and you eliminate the place that Varroa usually live and do their damage and force those into worker cells.  Treat with Apistan (or anything else) to equalize mite numbers and you have bees now that have been affected by the treatment and mites that were resistant to the treatment.  In doing so you have genetically selected mites with certain traits.

You can assume that cell size is irrelevant to everything, if you like. This seems like a doubtful assumption since we know for a fact it has everything to do with the size of bees. If scaling up the entire body of a bee to 150% of what it was naturally is not a significant change, then I don't know what you would consider significant. We've known this is a fact since Huber's observations and in addition we have reams of research by Baudoux, Pinchot, Gontarski and others as well as recent research by McMullan and Brown (The influence of small-cell brood combs on the morphometry of honeybees (Apis mellifera)--John B. McMullan and Mark J.F. Brown).

You can assume whatever you like about what size IS natural. But in the end the only way to get natural cell size, and let the bees end the debate, is to stop giving the bees foundation and let them build what they want. Since that is what bees do if you let them and since that is actually less work for you than using foundation and less expense and since that's the only way to get uncontaminated combs (see the Google video of Maryann Frasier on contamination by acaracides in new foundation) it seems like a win-win-win to me. Even allowing the assumption that cell size is irrelevant, no one is saying that natural cell size is bad for the bees and no one I know of thinks that clean wax is bad for the bees and most are very convinced at this point that clean wax is essential for truly healthy bees.

Why wouldn't you let them build what they want? It seems there is a lot of fear that the bees will only build drones. I have heard this from many beekeepers. Obviously this is not true. If it were there would never have been any feral bees. If you want to know how much drone comb they will build and how many drones they will raise and how much influence you can have on it, read Clarence Collison's research on the subject (Levin, C.G. and C.H. Collison. 1991. The production and distribution of drone comb and brood in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies as affected by freedom in comb construction. BeeScience 1: 203-211.). The point is that in the end the amount of drones is controlled by the bees and leaving them that control in the first place will simplify life for them and you. The thing to do when the bees draw a frame full of drone comb, is set it to the outside edge of the box and give them another empty frame. Otherwise, if you take it out, their need for drones unfulfilled, they will draw another frame of drone and contribute to the myth that if you let them, they will draw nothing but drone comb.

It is a lot less work.  So how much work is foundationless? If you buy standard wedge frames and turn the wedge 90 degrees and glue and nail it back on you have a foundationless frame. That is pretty simple. You were going to break it out and nail it in anyway weren't you? What about all the plastic foundation in grooved frames you have? Pop out the plastic and glue popsicle sticks or a half of a paint stick in the groove. Wasn't that as easy as putting in a sheet of foundation and easier than wiring it?  What about frames with wax foundation already drawn? Just cut the comb out of the middle and leave a row of cells all the way around and one or two rows at the top. What about that old moth eaten frame that has nothing in it now but webs? Just scrape off the webs etc. and put it between two drawn brood combs and let them draw it out. The only slightly tricky thing would be plastic frames with built in foundation. Then you'd need to cut the center of the foundation out. That could be done with a number of tools, but I suppose a really hot knife would cut it out pretty quickly. A jig and a router would probably do ok as well and it would be simple to leave the corners and edges in for strength and for a guide. So how does this compare with putting in wire, crimping, foundation, embedding etc.? Or using plastic? You save as much as $1 a sheet if you wanted to get small cell or close to that if you wanted to get plastic.

So, for less work and less money you can end up with clean wax, natural cell size and a natural brood nest as far as distribution of cell sizes and drones. What's the down side? Worst case, if you don't wire the deeps you might end up with more collapsed comb if you have a migratory operation, because of bumpy roads combined with hot days and deep frames, but you could wire them and that would probably not be so much of a problem. You would also need to keep the boxes more level, which in a fixed operation isn't so hard; you just level the stands up, which you should have done anyway. But in a migratory operation it would take more work to level them than to just set the pallets down and not worry about them being level.  Of course once they are drawn it won't matter if they are level.

So let's look at worst case scenario. Let's assume that cell size isn't an issue one way or the other. It's unreasonable to assume that bees will be any LESS healthy on natural sized comb, so at worst they will be on a cell size no better.  At worst the cost is less than rotating out your contaminated combs for contaminated wax foundation. There is hardly a down side to that. The WORK is less than wiring wax foundation. The cost is less than wiring wax foundation. The wax will be uncontaminated (at least unless or until YOU contaminate it) and we KNOW that wax contamination is contributing to lack of longevity and fertility in queens and drones. So we know the bees will be healthier and the queens will do better.
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TwT
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Ted


« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2009, 07:37:00 AM »

Thanks so much for this posting TwT
I don't think I'll be trying to convert to small cell now after reading this post.
I was thinking I would try to, but since reading this and from some reports (maybe these?) I've read makes me think that small cell is not the answer. i'm leaning more towards the camp of people that say it's the bees that make the difference, not the cell size.

Ray by all means try it and see if it help its self, these studies don't say it doesn't help, it just say they don't impede mite population, smaller bee's might be able to groom themselves more, its best to find out for yourself than listen to anyone weather to try it or not, listening to me say I don't treat and don't use small cell is my side and MB saying small cell saves all his bee's, thats just two side, its best that you see for yourself then you will know, it ant hard just to add foundation and see how it goes.
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TwT
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2009, 07:46:12 AM »



Commercial stock on natural and small cell comb with no treatments on most hives for 8 years and no treatments on all hives for 6 years.  No losses from Varroa as evidence by having to search to find even one dead Varroa on the bottom board of any dead outs.

Feral stock on natural and small cell combs with not treatments for 6 years.  No losses from Varroa as evidence by having to search to find even one dead Varroa on the bottom board of any dead outs and less winter losses in general and better timed build ups for the flows.


the bee's in both test was from a commercial supplier, cell size didn't change anything dealing with mites, now with Bill Owens ferals on small cell he has very few mite's, on my ferals with regular cell I have very few mites,
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2009, 08:03:59 AM »

Small cell, fall shell, large cell, half shell. I let my bees build natural size cell, what THEY desire to build, in the broodnest. I use waxed plasticell in my honey supers.

With that said, old feral colonies, true survivors, consistently have the smallest bees you will ever see.

I believe the bees know best.


...JP
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2009, 10:17:33 AM »

thanks for the posting TwT.  no surprise, but good to see that real studies are finally being done.  i'm with JP.  let them build their own.  saves money and gives them what they need rather than what we think they need.

we may never have a total answer to the mite thing, but a combination of approaches is already helping most of us treat less and raise more resistant bees.  i suspect that eventually the bees will solve the problem without our help........
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2009, 12:01:41 PM »

I'm going for natural size, let the bees decide. As my combs need recycling, I'm going to just let them do their own thing as it's less work for me and I'm all for less work. I'm doing a few summer splits now, going to see how they do compared to the parent hives the splits come from.
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