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Author Topic: Why not try small cell?  (Read 8879 times)
specialkayme
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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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Michael Bush
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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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Michael Bush
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specialkayme
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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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Chrisd4421
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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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Fox Creek
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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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kathyp
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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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« 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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Michael Bush
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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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Michael Bush
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T Beek
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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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Fox Creek
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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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Brother Dave
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« 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.

Sent from my SM-T210R using Tapatalk
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