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Author Topic: Why not try small cell?  (Read 9088 times)
Fox Creek
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« on: October 07, 2012, 11:43:56 PM »

  I'm new to beekeeping and I would like to share some thoughts.  The first beekeeping book I read was "The Backyard Beekeeper." I found this to be very informative and decided to try my hand. I ordered four hives from Mann Lake. I contacted Olivarez's Bees in Orland Ca. and reserved four packages.
  While waiting for April to arrive I read "The Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping". Not knowing anything about beekeeping I decided to send for the pf100 and pf120 small cell frames from Mann Lake.
  I started my beekeeping using small cell and no chemicals. My Carniolan bees had no problem building comb on the small cell and the foundationless frames I inserted between built comb frames.
  As of now I have never seen a mite. My hives seems to be doing very well going into winter.
  I have also bought and read, "The Practical Beekeeper" by Michael Bush. I have to say, I'm a believer in natural, no chemical, small cell beekeeping.
  I do not understand why one would resist using the small cell.   
   
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Jim 134
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 12:36:40 AM »

IMHO
http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/documents/m08138.pdf


     BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 02:33:40 AM »

Thank you Jim. I read this report awhile back. The debate rages on! As a new beekeeper I decided it would harm nothing to go small cell. So far so good. I guess I will find out. 
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 03:04:04 PM »

After a decade of no Varroa issues at all, I won't go back to large cell...
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2012, 07:00:59 AM »

 I'm new to beekeeping and I would like to share some thoughts.  The first beekeeping book I read was "The Backyard Beekeeper." I found this to be very informative and decided to try my hand. I ordered four hives from Mann Lake. I contacted Olivarez's Bees in Orland Ca. and reserved four packages.
  While waiting for April to arrive I read "The Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping". Not knowing anything about beekeeping I decided to send for the pf100 and pf120 small cell frames from Mann Lake.
  I started my beekeeping using small cell and no chemicals. My Carniolan bees had no problem building comb on the small cell and the foundationless frames I inserted between built comb frames.
  As of now I have never seen a mite. My hives seems to be doing very well going into winter.
  I have also bought and read, "The Practical Beekeeper" by Michael Bush. I have to say, I'm a believer in natural, no chemical, small cell beekeeping.
  I do not understand why one would resist using the small cell.  
  


You are gold to those that promote small cell.

Had bees not even one year, and you are a believer in small cell. Great job!

As there are always the next wave of beekeeper coming on board and taking this same position, yes you are right, the battle rages on.

I know many beekeepers who once thought the same way as you. I suggest, before being an advocate for small cell and claiming to be a believer, a bit more time may be required. Even the hardest of die-hard small cell supporters say that regression and getting to the correct genetics, is a several year process. Of course no need for that promotion any more when the new smallcell crowd claims smallcell success with less than a year of beekeeping experience.

Give it some time.  Wink You state you have never seen a mite yet claim smallcell is a success after one summer. I'm surprised even smallcell folks can stand by and seemingly say nothing about that.

Your bees were probably treated prior to getting them. And it is common to have first year hives with little or no mite problems. It hardly can be translated into claiming smallcell success.

Good luck.
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2012, 09:14:40 AM »

For a little light reading:

http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/personnel/documents/Berry1109.pdf

I've got SC hives, but they had to be treated for mites with all the rest for the past two years.
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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2012, 10:01:51 AM »

I believe the biggest part of success is having a plan and executing that plan.

If you are a beginning beekeeper, you better follow somebodies else plan and not pick and choose the parts you do and don't like till you know what you are doing and can decide for yourself.

If you choose to be treatment free, by all means follow their plan exactly.


To many spoons in the pot ruins the soup regards

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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2012, 10:25:56 AM »

i agree with above.  my two biggest problems with small cell and "natural", is that 1. small cell foundation tends to be more expensive.  certainly more than my foundationless costs...which is far more natural. (+ i'm cheap!)  and 2. the natural thing tends to be a religion with some people. 

it's right up there with the natural childbirth craze...which didn't last long for a reason  evil

no harm in trying a thing, but do it with open eyes.  if you go small cell and think you are not going to have a mite problem, you will probably be disappointed.  if you do it and you are willing to deal with mites, you'll probably be ok.
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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2012, 10:30:08 AM »

You are gold to those that promote small cell.
gold?  how does that work?  most of us that "promote small cell" are simply sharing what is working for us.  I'm not sure why that is a problem, or how we are supposed to profit from that...where does the gold come from?

Quote
Had bees not even one year, and you are a believer in small cell. Great job!
Generally, people have opinions about things before they try them...are new beekeepers required to have have no opinion about beekeeping?  The poster is hardly claiming expertise and experience...I'm not sure why it's worth jumping down someone's throat for sharing.

Quote
...Even the hardest of die-hard small cell supporters say that regression and getting to the correct genetics, is a several year process.
...it would be hard to read our book and Michael's book (as the poster claims to have done) and not realize that.  It's also worth noting that the poster used cheap pf-100 series frames to start his packages on and to regress at the same time.  What did it cost? (not much more than any cheap plastic frame or wooden frame with foundation).  What is the downside? (perhaps harder to spin honey out of smaller cells....anything else?).

The poster isn't any more enthusiastic than any first year beekeeper who is excited about the things they are doing...should we chastise every new beekeeper who talks about how excited they are and tell them they don't know enough yet to share their excitement about being a beekeeper?  Why not?

Quote
Of course no need for that promotion any more when the new smallcell crowd claims smallcell success with less than a year of beekeeping experience.
...guess you must be looking for an argument, seeing as the poster didn't claim success.  The poster claimed that the bees built out the PF frames and foundationless frames well.

Quote
Your bees were probably treated prior to getting them. And it is common to have first year hives with little or no mite problems. It hardly can be translated into claiming smallcell success.
....and it hasn't been.

deknow
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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2012, 10:42:30 AM »

sorry...duplicate post...operator error
« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 12:58:27 PM by deknow » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2012, 12:56:11 PM »


.....light reading if you just read the abstract and the conclusions.  It's difficult to determine what such a study disproves, given that no one who "promotes small cell" would expect any positive results from the protocol used.

For instance, I could claim that I can drive safely on the highway at 55mph.  I would also claim that good visibility is important.

Someone could challenge my claim that I can drive safely on the highway at 55mph....they could ignore my claim that good visibility is important, and they could ignore all the other aspects of my driving habits.  They could then claim that it is impossible to drive safely at 55mph, and "prove it" by crashing the car driving in reverse, with a television on, while they are deep frying mozzarella sticks on the dashboard.

As Bjorn points out, not all claims should be given equal weight.  No one with experience and/or credibility has claimed that no matter what else your practices are, that using small cell comb will help you with mites.  Why would researchers not design a more useful experiment that would actually test the claims made by the most experienced and credible "promoters of small cell"...the claims that motivate the investigations in the first place?

deknow
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2012, 01:05:43 PM »

You can break it down word for word if you like. I guess you don't understand that when a kid hits a clutch basket time and time again, and you say something like "That kid is MONEY!" is has nothing to with actual currency. But I guess if I need to explain that one, you missed the "gold comment also.

I question anyone who says they are a true believer of anything after less than a year and is willing to question why anyone else would resist it.

I'm not jumping down anyone's throat. But I do question anyone (you) willing to take a stand on someone questioning success when not one winter or full year has been completed.

I'm reminding the casual reader of this forum that success, and the promotion of anything, in such a short period of time, is questionable.

I'm not upset. I would expect nothing less from a person who promotes smallcell. And I understand that some beekeepers debunks research accomplished on a longer time frame than the OP. I know you did it through the backdoor approach, but planting the seed that enough research has not been done is questionable, especially after you seemingly back up a first time person who "Is a Believer" after such a short period of time.

I remember years ago when I first reported my less than success with smallcell. It was because I didn't do it for three years as I was told. It was for all kinds of reasons. And that is the way it goes. There is always excuses for those saying anything bad about smallcell, but when a person touts success of not finding one mite after a few months of smallcell use, and claims to be a "believer" while questioning why anyone would resists smallcell, is given a free pass.

Shame for even suggesting that this is a good idea. It should send red flags to anyone even listening to those that promote smallcell on such poor criteria.

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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2012, 05:19:39 AM »

   Well, I was happy to see I had some responce to my post. Some were helpful and some had advise. Mr. Six Stars ripped into my post like a monkey on a cupcake! At first I thought, "Oh what a fool I am!" Then I realized maybe the poster was a little harsh. Maybe He misrepresented my post. I could hear ax grinding.
    I'm new to beekeeping and made this clear. I have read many beekeeping books. This only means I have knowledge, not experience. I chose to follow the advise given in "The Idiots Guide and Practical Beekeeper." Why? It only made sense. If you start with large cell, you invite the pitfalls I read about. So, as my post stated, Why not try small cell ! What does it harm? The bees built comb just fine. Did I just get lucky? Maybe. As for the mites, I stated, "as of yet", not Never will!
    By the way. If your going to quote me, be accurate and complete. I did not claim success. You quoted me, "the debate rages on!", then ignored the rest of the paragraph where I stated, " So far so good, I guess I will find out!"    
« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 05:40:38 AM by Fox Creek » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2012, 10:37:34 AM »

As I understand the small cell theory, advocates believe it may help with mites because 1) leads to smaller bees which are harder for mites to stay attached, 2) less room for mite to reproduce in cell.  Any other beliefs on why small cell may help with mite problem?  (Or have I missed the point already?)
As I read the first post, I did not take it as claim of proof about small cell defeating mite. I did take it as antidote to ask the more experienced beeks, "do some of you see a Benifit to using more traditional, larger size cell foundation?"  Do some out there see a down side to small cell?

The post was far from a new beek presuming to teach you experienced folk a thing or to, it was an thread to be taught, to gather opinions about the pros and cons of different cell size.  "Why not small cell"

For me, that is a great question.  I have learned a great deal reading conversations on this site, some going back years. 

So I echo the question, why not small cell?  What are pros and cons?  Why might traditional cell be better.

PS.  We can't be thin skinned.  I personally think a bit of sarcasm can add needed passion to the debate.  But we also need to be sure to not discourage discussion.
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2012, 10:41:34 AM »

Also.

Great articals, thanks for posting.
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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2012, 11:22:54 AM »

Do not most of the mites reproduce in cell drone cells rolleyes
How small are the drone cells in a small cell hive Huh in millimeters Huh




    BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2012, 01:10:06 PM »

Welcome to the world of passionate beekeepers, Fox Creek.   Don't take anything too personally--we all have our strong opinions here, but there's a wealth of knowledge and experience to learn from. Keep enjoying your bees and keep your ears open for information.
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« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2012, 02:35:16 PM »

If genetics is one of the keys that will eventually allow the bee to overcome the V mite, then wouldn't it be ironic if its natural cell size is one of the traits that it uses to do so?
But please don't let my experience overly influence anyone.
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2012, 04:01:51 PM »

one thing about foundation of any kind is that the bees need to make drones.  some years, they make LOTS of drones.  one of the reasons i like foundationless (besides the being cheap thing) is that they can use whatever space they want for drone cells.  it does seem to cut down on burr comb which i think i nice.

i know this isn't really related to the small cell question....but just an observation that if you really want to do something natural, there is nothing natural about any kind of foundation.

to the question "why not small cell?", there is no reason not to do it.  do what you want, and keep what you like.  i only warn that research does not back the small cell reduces mites thing, and if you think that it will, you will most likely be disappointed.  if you think that it will reduce your mite load and you do not pay attention, you may well lose your bees.
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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.....

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« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2012, 06:59:47 PM »

I bought the mann lake plastic 4.9 mm frames and put nucs on them that were very clean of mites.  I kept looking as they moved off the 5.4  and in the second year having been on the 4.9 mm frames, I found a whopping number of mites.  That is not a scientific study, it is my observation.  I treated with apiguard to knock it down.  This does not make me angry at 4.9 which I got cheaper than I could put together a wood frame with any foundation.  The bees after being habituated to them draw them as well as any foundation and I have tried several over the years.  It costs me nothing to have tried the small cell if I decide later there are no benefits culturally.  They are good servicable frames so I can't understand the vitriol.  Eat some prunes out there for God sakes!  It will change your outlook.
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« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2012, 04:59:12 PM »

Why not try small cell? Because I'm not convinced it makes a difference. Every study that I've read on the topic either states that the results are inconclusive, or that small cell has no effect on varroa reproductivity. One study I've read actually states the opposite.

The theories as to why small cell works are nice, but they are just that. Theories. Without proof that it works, I'm not interested in switching just yet. If evidence presents itself that it does work, I'll be interested in switching.

I went foundationless for approximately 5 years. In the end my hives crashed due to varroa (among other things) and I was left with 0 hives. My cell sizes varied, but were larger than they were "supposed" to be. I guess no one told my bees. If foundationless didn't work, I don't have much confidence small cell will work.

Every success story I've heard regarding small cell can not be duplicated. Those that it works for don't even know why, or how, it works. They just blindly go on believing it works when the studies say otherwise. That's fine for them, but don't impose it on me. Similar thought processes worked for the Greeks and their system of gods. Blind faith. I think I'll pass.

But why not use small cell? If you are going to be purchasing foundation, why not have it be small cell? Small cell foundation is harder to find, and usually more expensive. Usually the same with pre-built frames with plastic foundation. So there is a greater cost involved. But even if we can get it for the same price, if it isn't working, why do it? If we don't know if it works or not, why do it? I have one hive that has less mites on it because I let fruit rot on top of the cover. Why not throw rotting fruit on all my covers? Because I'm not convinced it matters.
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« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2012, 08:19:46 PM »

> 1) leads to smaller bees which are harder for mites to stay attached

I have never heard that one.

> 2) less room for mite to reproduce in cell. 

There have actually been some studies on that one.
http://www.apidologie.org/index.php?option=com_article&access=doi&doi=10.1051/apido:2001007&Itemid=129

>Any other beliefs on why small cell may help with mite problem?  (Or have I missed the point already?)

Pre and post capping times would seem the most logical (one day less of each) considering the life cycle of the Varroa.  Another would be the psuedo drone theory proposed by Dee Lusby, which is that on natural cell size the Varroa do not tend to reproduce in worker cells, preferring drones, but on large cell they mistake the large cell workers for drone cells.  There are also observations of more biting of mites and more chewing out of brood on small cell.
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« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2012, 09:30:22 PM »

There are also observations of more biting of mites and more chewing out of brood on small cell.


I haven't heard of those observations.

According to Marla Spivak, chewing or biting of mites is a hereditary trait. Much like VSH. I don't think having bees on small cell could promote any type of genetic trait any faster than having bees on any other type of cell size. It would be the equivalent to say those bees on small cell are more "cordovan" than those that are not. The cell size doesn't determine the bees genetic makeup. I would think any observations showing a correlation between chewing and biting on the one hand and cell size on the other are just a coincidental observation.

But hey. I'd love to be wrong Smiley

Speaking of, why isn't anyone selecting for a gene that promotes grooming? Or chewing?
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« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2012, 10:17:06 PM »

For me, I go foundationless to allow the bees to do what they do best.  They have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years without our intervention.  As with any life cycle, there will be good times, bad times and allowing nature to rule, the strong will survive.  I feel honored to be able to witness their ecosystem and in return, I try to intervene as little as possible.

Small, large, natural  cell size? I need to ask my bees.

Chris in nj
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« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2012, 10:25:23 PM »

    Thank you all who responded to my Question, "why not try small cell". Some large cell beekeepers have tried the small cell and had little or no improvement. There are studies showing small cell show no improvement. Then there are those who insist success with small cell. (I have seen the Nebraska inspection sheets showing 0 mite problems over a period of several years at M. Bush's website.) I do not think those who support small cell are being misleading in the least. It has worked for them! So far so good for me.
    If I was starting out new again, I would still go small cell as I see no downside. Starting large cell seems to be counter productive.

    p.s.  I agree, getting to the point where most of our frames are foundationless would be best.   
   
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« Reply #25 on: October 23, 2012, 10:49:12 PM »

if i may make a point about MB's mite counts...and not at all to put down anything he says or does...lord knows i have gone to his site for answers lots of times....but he, and some others, do many  things other than small cell .  breeding for mite and disease resistant bees is probably more the reason for success than the size of the cell used.
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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.....

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« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2012, 10:54:14 PM »

Thank you Kathyp. I will keep this in mind and continue to learn from you and other experienced beekeepers! I have soooo much to learn!
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« Reply #27 on: October 28, 2012, 08:03:16 AM »

>but he, and some others, do many  things other than small cell .  breeding for mite and disease resistant bees is probably more the reason for success than the size of the cell used.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beessctheories.htm
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« Reply #28 on: November 15, 2012, 08:32:20 AM »

For me, I go foundationless to allow the bees to do what they do best.  They have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years without our intervention.  As with any life cycle, there will be good times, bad times and allowing nature to rule, the strong will survive.  I feel honored to be able to witness their ecosystem and in return, I try to intervene as little as possible.

Small, large, natural  cell size? I need to ask my bees.

Chris in nj

Excellent!!

Just go foundationless and WATCH your bees decide  cool
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« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2014, 10:35:58 PM »

    Three years in. Never a large cell frame in my bee yard. Small cell only. During the second year I added a few foundationless frames per hive. Not sure I like them. My bees have found other ways to raise drones. So,how are my hives   doing? Comb? Mites?
    Well, I have to say, last fall, as I was preparing my hives for the winter, I saw a mite on the back of a drone. This drone was outside, on top of a hive. All the warnings I have received here or read about elsewhere raced through my brain.   I went through every frame of every hive looking for more varroa. I could not find another. I closed up my hives, leaving plenty of honey to get them through the winter.
    I started winter with six hives. This spring I discovered I lost two, to starvation. Clusters of bees in the center of frames with honey inches away. Strange because we did not have a very harsh winter.
    As I went through my hives frame by frame, I looked closely for mites. Expecting the worse. Not one! No wing deformities either.
    Of my remaining hives, two are thriving (added boxes already), two are about average.
    So now after three years, no problems building comb on small cell, no mite problems.
   
    I still keep my fingers crossed!
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hjon71
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« Reply #30 on: March 21, 2014, 01:11:01 AM »

Good update.
As a new beek, I appreciate any info I can get and first hand experiences like this are IMO invaluable.
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T Beek
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« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2014, 07:41:22 AM »

A magnifier will tell us 'for sure' whether varroa is in our hives………all colonies have some……those little brown dots (smaller than a pin head) found on the bottom boards of Beekeepers around the country are very likely varroa. 

Look close and use it as an educational opportunity to conduct a thorough investigation of any 'dead out' colony found.  Learning and beekeeping (life?) go hand in hand…..and doesn't end until we die.
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"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."
Brother Dave
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Re:
« Reply #32 on: April 02, 2014, 03:45:13 PM »

I am in my third year as a beek I have three hives and no foundation. The bees seem healthy. No deadouts or queen failures this spring. My beekeeping friends that are using foundation don't have straighter combs. I am happy with foundationless fraimes. I won't go back.

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