I loved the article in Bee Culture. It confirms what I have seen and stated for more than five years.
The following was a response I posted just two days ago on another forum in regards to being asked about my own experiences with smallcell, and the results of my own testing. It was part of a larger discussion, but you can get the main points.....
(the question asked: Why were you testing smallcell, and what were your results? And what about foundationless when it comes to cell size?)
I was simply testing to see if the MANY claims being made were true or not.
You ask about results? Well, the result was that I made many people mad, and I suppose some hate me. I spoke out against the claims, at least 5 years ago. Not being one to write fancy articles, I simply made my finding known on another forum. And so I was easily tossed aside as one having an agenda or not "really' knowing what I was doing. I said at that time, that eventually some well respected research would back me up but it would take a couple years. Now, four independent studies, in three countries, all confirm what I was saying years earlier. That other factors were probably at play, and that smallcell alone was not the factor in low mite counts.
Some run around posting inspection results based on "observations" of "seeing" no mites. Some have suggested three years in changing over (regressing) bees to smallcell, while really going through selective processes involving survivor bees, while claiming the results were from smallcell. I took part in a study two years ago where mite counts were taken on my hives with regular foundation. The highest count was two. And that was in the middle of September. I'm not making wild claims or suggesting I have perfect bees. Just that the same results some suggest are solely attributed to one item such as smallcell, can be duplicated in many hives for any number of reasons.
As a former inspector, I can pull out MANY mite counts that came up clean on any type foundation you want. I can also show you complete failure of many supposedly fantastic mite proof methods including smallcell, FGMO, etc. And it also allowed me to see many other peoples purchased bees and nucs, including supposed smallcell from a few rather large proponents of smallcell, to which names will not be mentioned.
Many factors go into successful beekeeping. And ANYONE who thinks they will buy a queen, nuc, or keep bees in a particular type hive, regardless of foundation, and thinks that will solve all their problems.....is living in a dream world.
As for the foundationless, I see a large range of cells. I have top bar hives, Warre hives, and many other type hives. The one thing the bees do not do, even with years of regressing previously, is maintain anything close to 4.9 They will build based on flow, timing, and other factors. One of the things I did find out was that if you allow bees to build natural comb after forcing them to regress, they will not stay at this smaller cell size. That is why I have stated many times, that "forcing" bees on smallcell is as unnatural as forcing them on standard cells.
I hope this helps.