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Author Topic: small cell questions  (Read 3785 times)
T.J.
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« on: January 30, 2012, 08:52:45 PM »

i have a few questions i hope y'all can help me with about small cell.i hope this is the right section for this,if not i apologize and feel free to move it to the right section.

a little background : i plan to start with 4-6 packages this Spring and i have been putting my boxes together and now i have been trying to figure out what combination of frames/foundation i need to order.

i plan to get my packages from 2 people. 1 person already raises them on small cell and he recommends 8 frame mediums on Kelly small cell.
the other guy i am getting packages from raises them on Pierco.i have read that bees raised on the pierco will accept small cell pretty good....true?

questions :
is Mann lake small cell wax foundation any good?
what are the pros/cons of using wood frames-w-wax vs.wax coated plastic like mann lake's pf120?

and this may be a dumb question:
do the bees draw out drone cells on small cell foundation?  or do you have to use a different size for them to draw out drone cells?

any advice will be appreciated.
thanks,
T.J.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2012, 09:33:22 PM »

Quote
i have read that bees raised on the pierco will accept small cell pretty good....true?
True in my bee yard.  All my deep frames are pierco plastic foundation in wood frames.  Those are normal sized cells (5.3mm I believe).  All my mediums are PF120 which are 4.9mm cells.  I have hives with BOTH frames being used for brood at the same time and my bees brood them both up.  I would recommend rolling a thicker layer of wax on the PF120s to get them going, especially if you’re just starting out.  It can make a world of difference.

Quote
what are the pros/cons of using wood frames-w-wax vs.wax coated plastic like mann lake's pf120?
I like the plastic foundation in wood frames because they are more rigid than the pure plastic, but either will work.  You do get more cells with the all plastic frames.  I don’t think the bees give a hoot which way you go.  However in the south, the PF120’s (or any all plastic frames) might be problematic with SHB.  There are lots of nooks and cranies for pests to hide in those all plastic frames.  Seek some local advice on that.

As for drones, they’ll fit them in anywhere they can, like between boxes  Sad
« Last Edit: January 30, 2012, 09:50:05 PM by BlueBee » Logged
kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2012, 09:57:11 PM »

you have opened a new can of worms with this one  grin

small cell is pretty much worthless in my opinion....except to the people who market small cell.  natural cell, or foundationless, is a better way to go for many reasons.  the bees draw exactly what they want, including drone cells and don't make the mess looking for places to stick drone cells.  wood frames are cheaper and if you are doing foundationless, they are great. 

i'm sure there is someone on here who still does small cell and they'll chime in and tell you i'm all wet!   evil
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2012, 10:33:05 PM »

>i plan to get my packages from 2 people. 1 person already raises them on small cell and he recommends 8 frame mediums on Kelly small cell.

Not a bad choice.

>the other guy i am getting packages from raises them on Pierco.i have read that bees raised on the pierco will accept small cell pretty good....true?

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm#foundationtoday

Pierco foundation   5.2 mm
Pierco deep frames   5.25 mm
Pierco medium frames   5.35 mm

Pierco deep foundation on wood frames would be almost a first regression.  They get bigger from there...
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm#whatisregression

>is Mann lake small cell wax foundation any good?

As far as I can tell all the wax small cell comes from Dadant.  (I question if Kelley's does, but I don't know).  My guess is Mann Lake's comes form Dadant as well.  What do you mean by "any good"?

The Mann Lake PF100 series (PF100s for deeps and PF120s for mediums) are 4.9mm plastic frames with foundation and have worked the best for regressing.

>what are the pros/cons of using wood frames-w-wax vs.wax coated plastic like mann lake's pf120?

The plastic will be drawn more reliably the wax will get reworked, probably to something larger than 4.9mm.  How do you feel about plastic?
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesphilosophy.htm

>do the bees draw out drone cells on small cell foundation?  or do you have to use a different size for them to draw out drone cells?

Bees always find a place to draw drones.  But if you want to make it easier, just give them an empty frame between two drawn brood combs and they will usually fill the first one with drone comb.
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T.J.
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2012, 09:10:32 PM »

thanks everyone for all the advice i appreciate it.

i also see i have alot more reading to do in a short amount of time.i thought it might be a little easier starting from scratch and trying to keep everything the same but i guess not  Undecided

so if i start off with wood frames and small cell foundation.....will the bees re-work any of it for drone cells?

i dont have an aversion of using plastic but i also dont want drone cells everywhere.

i like the idea of maybe going foundationless but starting with packages i dont have any drawn combs.i imagine it would be a huge mess to dump the packages into a hive body full of empty frames with no foundation.

again thanks for all the advice,
T.J.
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 09:27:29 PM »

Quote
i like the idea of maybe going foundationless but starting with packages i dont have any drawn combs.i imagine it would be a huge mess to dump the packages into a hive body full of empty frames with no foundation.

sometimes, but sometimes they do that with foundation also.  do some reading on starter strips.  that's the best way to get them going, or one sheet of foundation down the middle. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
T.J.
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 10:06:14 PM »

I've been out of school 23yrs and now kathyp has given me 23 pages of homework to do  grin (search starter strips on here = 23 pages of topics)

thanks alot kathy... lau

T.J.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 11:25:04 PM »

TJ, my advice is start with enough Mann Lake PF100/120 frames to get your packages through the first 8 weeks. That might be 8 to 10 frames per hive.  By then all the big bees will have died (or at least moved on to forager status) and your hives will be regressed.  

Then start to add Kelley foundationless frames.  You don't need starter strips because the bees like the wooden piece attached to the top bar.  If you place each foundationless frame between two drawn PF120s, the bees will have no problem drawing straight foundationless comb.  Even if you don't put them between drawn comb you will still probably be ok.

You can keep using the PF120s for a few years until they are ready to be discarded.  Then you will have regressed foundationless hives, and nothing you use will be wasted.

While we're at it, let me also suggest that you consider going with all 8 frame mediums as recommended by Michael Bush.  You will save yourself lots of compatibility problems and heavy lifting.  Just a suggestion. Smiley
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 06:16:41 AM by FRAMEshift » Logged

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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2012, 12:10:02 AM »

Quote
thanks alot kathy...

my pleasure!!   grin

or do as FRAME suggests.  i am just cheap.  well, not me.....the way i do things is on the cheap.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Vance G
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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2012, 01:22:16 AM »

If you feel your Mann Lake frames are redy to discard in a few years, ship them to me and I will do the hazmat honors for you as required. It won't be required but I will use them for another twentyor so years with no ill effect unless you have used a lot of fluvinate and coumaphos.  Just scrape them down if you get too big a patches of drone comb built over the stamped cell bases.  Use them as frame guides and put empty foundationless frames between two well drawn out plastic ones.  If they draw a few all drone comb ones, move them to the 1 and ten position or 1 and 8 positions in the box.  let them fill one with drone brood and cut it out and kill a bunch of mites and put it back between two well drawn out plastic frames.  It is easy and drawn comb is an asset to be treasured if you are not contaminating it with hard acaracides or phropylactic antibiotic and fumidil treatments. 
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2012, 06:26:11 AM »

Vance, I agree with you.  I was just saying that if someone's goal was to be completely foundationless, they would not have to keep the plastic foundation.  Small cell is not the same as natural cell, but having a few Mann Lake's mixed in is not going to cause a problem at all.  Yes, I will be scraping mine down and re-using them.  The only problem with scraping them down is that the bees are slow to re-draw the comb on PF120s if they have a foundationless frame available to draw.  So you might need to stick them in a PF120-only hive to get them re-drawn.

The only point where I might differ with your advice is that I would not cut out the all-drone comb from foundationless frames.  As you say, drawn comb is an asset to be treasured, so I would freeze the drone comb to kill the mites and then stick them back in the hive to be cleaned up by the bees and re-used as mite traps.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 06:43:40 AM by FRAMEshift » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2012, 08:41:46 AM »

So you guys think 1 box of 120's per hive is enough? I start in the spring with nucs and I was gonna use 2 boxes of 8frame med before i put the foundationless in. Would be nice to cut that in half.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2012, 09:38:38 AM »

So you guys think 1 box of 120's per hive is enough? I start in the spring with nucs and I was gonna use 2 boxes of 8frame med before i put the foundationless in. Would be nice to cut that in half.

Big bees will build large-cell comb if you give them foundationless frames.  So ideally you want to keep the bees on 120s until the original package bees have died or become foragers.  How many frames you need depends on how quickly the bees are drawing comb and laying eggs.  Not all the hives will draw comb at the same rate, so you might start all the hives on one 8-frame box and have some additional boxes of 120s  in reserve if some of the hives use up the first box in less than 6 weeks.

By 8 weeks it should be safe to add the foundationless frames.  If you get a small amount of large cell, it's not the end of the world.  Even regressed bees will draw some larger brood cells and drone comb and of course honey comb.  You just don't want lots of brood comb drawn by the original package bees.

Oblib, I see that you are starting with a nuc.  If the nuc is already regressed, you don't even have to use 120s at all.  But if the nuc is standard foundation, your queen is going to continue to lay in the foundation and you are not going to get regression.  If natural cell/ small cell is your goal, you might be better off with a package.  If you don't care about small cell, you could skip the 120s and just add foundationless frames to the nuc.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 10:27:33 AM by FRAMEshift » Logged

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T.J.
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2012, 09:52:25 PM »

wow.i want to thank everyone for all the help/advice.it is greatly appreciated.

FRAMEshift, that sounds like a good plan (starting out with the pf120's).so i need to start off with a full box of 120's and then start adding kelly's foundationless frames after 8 weeks? do i need to let the 120's get completely drawn out before i switch or just wait for the 8 week mark?

i am going with all mediums & half of them will be started in 8 frame mediums the other half in 10 frame mediums to see which i like better.

another quick question about the kelly's foundationless frames : do they need to be wired?

again thanks for the advice,
T.J.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2012, 12:05:57 AM »

FRAMEshift, that sounds like a good plan (starting out with the pf120's).so i need to start off with a full box of 120's and then start adding kelly's foundationless frames after 8 weeks? do i need to let the 120's get completely drawn out before i switch or just wait for the 8 week mark?

Yes, start with pf120s only.  I would start adding foundationless frames at about 8 weeks.  If  some of the pf120s  still don't have brood in them, you could remove those frames and replace them with foundationless or you could add a second box and alternate the drawn pf120s with foundationless.  Having a drawn pf120 on each side of an empty foundationless frame will help ensure that the comb will be drawn straight.  So you are using the drawn pf 120s as a comb guide.  When 7 of the 8 frames have been drawn, it's time to add a second box.  If you run out of pf120s, go ahead and add foundationless frames (between drawn pf120s) even if it's before the 8 week mark.  Use your judgement and don't take the 8 week mark as an iron-clad rule.

Once you give the hive foundationless frames, the bees will draw those in preference to the plastic frames, so leaving undrawn pf120s  in isn't going to help much until all the foundationless has been drawn.  Don't be surprised if the first foundationless frames are drawn with drone comb.  The bees will be anxious to make drones and they will take advantage of the freedom offered by the foundationless frames to do just that.  Once they are satisfied with the amount of drone comb, they will start drawing natural cell brood comb, and that's what you want.
Quote
another quick question about the kelly's foundationless frames : do they need to be wired?

They come with wire holes pre-drilled so you can wire if you want to.  We do cut comb only so we don't use wire but that's totally up to you.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 12:19:41 AM by FRAMEshift » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2012, 09:23:09 AM »

why would one deliberately get a volxwagon to haul a bunch of loads when they could get a pickup and hall it in one trip. bees dont get that much help with mites on small cell and onlythe old die hards still use it. i have hives 7=8 yrs old and never treated for mites and all are on medium brood foundation. but every one of mine caught locally with no bought bees in the area. i know i need some genetic diversity aand ocasionally one of my buddies bring me a cut out from their area but they always leave. as far as i know nouthing has been proven about small cell being benificial except for the few  that keep on on their soap box.
kathy ; go girl
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2012, 09:36:34 AM »

Bud, I'm not trying to sell small cell to anybody.  I suspect it helps but what I'm really doing is natural comb, which is cheaper and simpler than buying and installing foundation over and over.  But of course, if you start with bees from large cell foundation, you aren't going to get natural comb.... thus the need to use small cell foundation until the big bees go to bee heaven.

I think your results are a testament to good genetics.  Your bees come from those hives that have survived on their own so they have to be good.  I wish everyone could have your bees or Michael Bush's bees or whatever bees are best adapted to their local area.  But most folks still rely on bee packages from elsewhere, at least in the beginnning.
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bud1
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2012, 05:55:16 PM »

frame shift if some one wants to do the regression  later on fine, i just dont like sugesting it to newbees, they have enough to digest to start with. once they get enough time under their belt sure try out anything that tickles their fanticy. and i like natural comb, but it is easier for beginers to use foundation the first yr  then start playing. after one makes it that first year they are usually hooked and get to wondering , fine then go to it
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2012, 07:19:02 PM »

frame shift if some one wants to do the regression  later on fine, i just dont like sugesting it to newbees, they have enough to digest to start with. once they get enough time under their belt sure try out anything that tickles their fanticy. and i like natural comb, but it is easier for beginers to use foundation the first yr  then start playing. after one makes it that first year they are usually hooked and get to wondering , fine then go to it
I don't know, these guys seem to have done their homework... they are asking the right questions.  And using two types of frames is not much harder than messing with wax foundation.  My problem with going the first year with standard foundation is that you get a bunch of large cell drawn comb that you have to get rid of before you can get to natural comb.

If it needs to be simpler than what I have suggested, maybe the answer is to use all pf120 frames.  Then there is no messing around with anything.  The easiest time to move in the direction of natural comb is when you get your first package.

I know what you're saying Bud, and maybe it depends on how focused a new beek is.  But a year is plenty of time to study and improve your understanding of the issues involved.  It might not work with everyone, but I think the posters in this thread are pretty focused.
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wadehump
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2012, 08:47:18 PM »

go foundationless just make sure the hive is level side to side ,with about 3/4 to 1 inch fall back to front the bees will build what they need. Smiley
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