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Author Topic: cell size  (Read 985 times)
11nick
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« on: August 31, 2011, 08:48:27 PM »

A follow-up question to what is happening in another thread (foundation-less and honey supers (big mess)).  I didn't want to hi-jack the thread any further than I already have.
The subject of the thread turned to cell sizes.  From the books that I've read, and pulling in what I have read on here, I think I understand, but I'm just wanting to verify....
I know drone cells are larger than "other" cells.  Someone posted today that food cells are also larger...possibly for conservation of materials.  All those "other" smaller cells would be for brood, then. 
I see in catalogs that I can get foundation with different sized cells imprinted in the wax (or plastic). 
Question: When I order everything for my first hives this winter, I need to get two different sized cells:  smaller cells for hive bodies, and larger cells for supers?
#2: What happens in the hive body early in the spring (before supers are added) and they need drones?  They have to either raise drone brood in smaller cells, or build cells that are not perfectly constructed on the smaller imprinted wax, right?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2011, 09:45:46 PM »

>I know drone cells are larger than "other" cells.  Someone posted today that food cells are also larger...possibly for conservation of materials.  All those "other" smaller cells would be for brood, then.

If bees build their own cell sizes, in other words not mislead by foundation, yes.

>I see in catalogs that I can get foundation with different sized cells imprinted in the wax (or plastic).

That's because over time they enlarged the standard worker cell in foundation (which in the mid 1800s in Italy was 4.6mm and in the rest of Europe and the US was between 4.9mm and 5.1mm) until it was 5.4mm.  Some people are going back to the smaller.

>Question: When I order everything for my first hives this winter, I need to get two different sized cells:  smaller cells for hive bodies, and larger cells for supers?

No.  Typically people run brood comb everywhere unless they are doing drone trapping or they are trying to raise queens for queen rearing.  There are a few proponents of using drone comb in the supers (with an excluder) because they are easier to extract but that is not the norm.

Most of the cell size issues are whether or not you want large cell (the status quo in the beekeeping industry) or small cell (a regression back to the size of foundation at the turn of the 20th century).

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm

#2: What happens in the hive body early in the spring (before supers are added) and they need drones?  They have to either raise drone brood in smaller cells, or build cells that are not perfectly constructed on the smaller imprinted wax, right?
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Francus
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2011, 09:55:36 AM »

I am a new beek so take this for what you will. I decided to go foundationless and let the bees do their own thing. I have found it to be much easier and if they need a certain size, they make it. I don't have to worry about second guessing them.

And with the exception of one frame, everthing they have built has been straight and nice. The one frame that wasn't was a total disaster, however, and I cut it out and they built it back straight.

I do use foundation on one frame as a starter to get the rest straight (per super) but that's it.

In regards to cell size, my guess is they make what's right for them. I will try and pull out a frame or so next year so they can rebuild and regress back to natural size cells.

Just my 0.02.
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T Beek
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2011, 10:25:02 AM »

And there it is; let bees do there own thing by selecting when, where and what to build or place inside 'their' home.  Gotta love it cool.  All we can ever do as beekeepers is 'try to guide' them to our particular and very 'individual' purpose.

thomas
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AR Beekeeper
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2011, 01:22:53 PM »

It was in 1893 that Ursmar Baudoux started pushing the idea of increasing cell size to raise larger bees.  In 1876 A. I. Root measured natural sized cells and found they were 4.83 to the inch.  I believe that works out to 5.25 mm.  In 1890 Dr. C. C. Miller measured natural comb and found the cell size to be the same so shouldn't we say that the black Pierco plastic foundation is natural cell size?
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2011, 02:56:44 PM »

It was in 1893 that Ursmar Baudoux started pushing the idea of increasing cell size to raise larger bees.  In 1876 A. I. Root measured natural sized cells and found they were 4.83 to the inch.  I believe that works out to 5.25 mm.  In 1890 Dr. C. C. Miller measured natural comb and found the cell size to be the same so shouldn't we say that the black Pierco plastic foundation is natural cell size?

Obviously, not all natural comb has the same size cells.  If the measured values by Root and Miller are averages of the different cells in natural comb, then you could say that Pierco represents an average natural cell size.  But it still lacks the variation that is characteristic of natural comb.  That variation is important since the bees may choose different size cells for different functions and at different times of the year.  For example, winter brood is usually raised in the smallest cells.  If such cells do not exist in Pierco foundation, then just how representative is it?  Similarly, if the Pierco lacks drone cells, the bees may make burr comb in order to allow for drones.  This would not happen with true natural comb.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2011, 12:27:43 AM »

I think the problem is not only that cell size varies by genetics but by location and intended use in the hive and the time of year it's drawn.  In a flow the size tends to go up.  In the spring or when building a new brood nest they tend to go down.  Most of the measurements I've seen are trying to average all of them together.  What matters, in my experience, as far as Varroa is the CORE of the brood nest, not the edges of it or an average of brood and honey storage cells.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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