"The worm of workers passes three days in the egg, five in the vermicular state, and then the bees close up its cell with a wax covering. The worm-now begins spinniiig its cocoon, in whichoperation thirty-fix hours are consumed. In three days, it changes to a nymph, and passes six days in this form. It is only on the twentieth day of its existence, counting from the moment the egg is laid, that it attains the fly sate."
FranÃ§ois Huber, 4 September 1791. From the 1806 edition of "New Observations on the Natural History of Bees" page 151http://bees.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=bees;cc=bees;sid=59f245051efcbff8255002f160444e72;rgn=full%20text;idno=5017286;view=image;seq=0009
Isn't this a shorter capping time and shorter emergence time? Twenty days instead of the currently accepted 21? Wasn't Huber on natural sized comb? Eight hours shorter is adequate to stabilize varroa populations.
It's not difficult to verify shorter capping and post capping times on natural sized cells. But it is helpful, if you let them make their own, to measure it on various sizes since they will build from 5.1mm to 4.6mm and the times run from about 20 days for 5.1mm to 19 days on 4.95mm to 18 days on 4.6mm.
And while on the subject of Huber. How about comb spacing.
"The leaf or book hive consists of twelve vertical frames or boxes, parallel to each other, and joined together the sides, should be twelve inches long, and the cross spars, nine or ten; the thickness of these spars an inch, and their breadth fifteen lines (one line = 1/12". 15 lines = 1 1/4" = 32mm). It is necessary that this last measure should be accurate"
FranÃ§ois Huber, 18. August 1789. From the 1806 edition of "New Observations on the Natural History of Bees" page 5.http://bees.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=bees;cc=bees;sid=59f245051efcbff8255002f160444e72;rgn=full%20text;idno=5017286;view=image;seq=0009
Isn't the "accepted" number for natural comb for a European bee 35mm (1 3/8")? But Huber's observation is the same as what is currently accepted for AHB or Scutella which is 32mm.
Obviously natural cell size has always been 32mm spacing on combs and twenty days or less from egg to emergence. Or at least since 1806.
As for commercial people doing small cell I know of several.
As just mentioned, everything about AHB sizes correspond to natural sized bees. Huber's measurments on comb spacing and development times that he did in the 18th and 19th century on European honey bees, are consistent with what we now attribute to AHB.