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Author Topic: Why not try small cell II  (Read 6610 times)
Fox Creek
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« on: May 03, 2013, 09:20:23 PM »

    
    Last year I asked this question without realizing the firestorm it would bring. (Well, firestorm may be a little strong.)  VanceG advised we all "eat some prunes for gods sake!" My reason for posting on this subject again, is twofold. First, I would like to update the varroa issue in my hives...Simply put, so far so good, no varroa. I have read so many post from new beekeepers complaining of varroa problems from the get go. Are they using small cell? Second, I would like to hear from any new beekeepers who started with small cell.  (no large cell ever).  What has been your experience? Do you suffer varroa? Did the bees build comb without problems?
    We all are aware of the studies. Most claiming small cell has no effect. What I would like to know, have any studies been conducted, with any of those claiming small cell success. Not someone as myself who only have a couple years in, but those who have been at this for a number of years who claim the small cell helps stop or reduce varroa?

    Yes foundationless is the goal.  
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 10:56:41 PM by Fox Creek » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2013, 02:29:13 AM »

Yes small cells reduce varroa in the initial beginning  grin

But then the mites adapt and the infestation is the same as normal cell hives  I'm sorry

But if you ask a question often enough you may get the answer you are looking for, mabee not the truth.  Brian


mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2013, 06:41:53 AM »

I agree with Edward.
The best thing you can do for your bees is to let them figure it out. Bees have been around for 230 million years. They have the genetics to handle this problem. If you have enough hives and you stop treating them, the ones with the right genetics will win out and over come the problem. The hard part is that you will initially loose a. Lot of bees and then you will have to build from them. I read some where that in India, when varroa was discovered, the the Beekeepers decided not to do anything. They lost a lot of bee but after 2 years their bees recovered with no treatments.
There are a lot of beekeeper here that are doing the same thing. That's what I am doing and it is working so far. It also helps to collect ferrel hives. That is how they survived. That was a big boost to my apiary last year.
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2013, 07:34:13 AM »

I started my bees from packages last year and went foundationless from the start.  I did see some dead varroa on the bottom board after the whole winter. [5 total].   That doesn't seem like enough to worry about for now.  My bees had no problem building comb at all. 

Tip: keep your hives level if you want straight comb.  We had a significant drought last year and the ground moved quite a bit.  It showed in the comb.
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2013, 09:21:30 AM »

Fox Creek,

Don't know if I qualify for your study, but I am in year 7 beekeeping. Started with SC & still run mostly SC. My hives are a mixture of foundation & foundationless, still making the switch. I read all the hype both ways and my conclusion is to do what works best for you. As for varrao, I have not seen one in my hives yet. That may change tomorrow, but as of now, none.  Might I suggest doing your own study. Get as many SC hives as you can and see for yourself. Be sure to keep them far enough away from any LC hives to prevent drifting. I have some LC hives for queen rearing but I keep them app 300 ft away from my SC hives.

BTW, Rurification is correct, foundationless requires a level hive. Need to keep a check on a regular basis.  yippie chick
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2013, 03:31:03 PM »

There is no harm done raising bees on small cell. But do not confuse small cell with natural cell.Large and small cell are extremes manufactured by man to conform to a perceived outcome. I  have no hard feelings whichever you choose.

For what it's worth, generaly the mite population is not very high in any first year package install as they start off with no brood for the varroa to multiply in. Do not let the first winter with a low mite count fool you. Monitor it.
The second year, if you have any varroa at all in the spring ,the population can explode exponentially. A lot of new beekeepers lose their bees in the second winter by being apathetic.If you do get a mite population treat them in August if you are going to treat.This leaves a couple brood cycles to raise winter bees that have not been infected by various pathogens that mites may inflict.

If you get mites, don't ignore them,they will not ignore your bees.
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2013, 07:18:48 PM »

""" I haven't seen any varroa mites in my hives ""

Have you done a mite test and counted the eventual mite drop or fall out? If not then you don't know how hard the infestation is or isn't  Brian


mvh Edward  tongue

Small cells, fondationless, sure why not if it suits your way of beekeeping, but it is not a mite treatment or prevention.
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2013, 10:55:27 PM »

Yes small cells reduce varroa in the initial beginning  grin

But then the mites adapt and the infestation is the same as normal cell hives  I'm sorry

But if you ask a question often enough you may get the answer you are looking for, mabee not the truth.  Brian


mvh Edward  tongue

    Wait a minute....hold on.....Lets get something straight. I did not post this #II as an invitation to debate views on small cell vs large cell. Or for you to insinuate I am looking for affirmation. (perhaps you teach second grade)

    What the post asks.  Are you a beekeeper who started with and only with small cell?  What has been your experience? Second. Have there been any varroa studies completed at the apiaries of those claiming small cell success? 

    Please, lets stay on subject.
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2013, 11:10:42 PM »

i'm a little confused...nothing new...

if foundationless, or natural cell, is the goal, why bother with small cell in the first place?
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2013, 11:17:25 PM »

I started my bees from packages last year and went foundationless from the start.  I did see some dead varroa on the bottom board after the whole winter. [5 total].   That doesn't seem like enough to worry about for now.  My bees had no problem building comb at all. 

Tip: keep your hives level if you want straight comb.  We had a significant drought last year and the ground moved quite a bit.  It showed in the comb.

    Too cool. I did not want to try,  what you have done. My understanding has been, to place foundationless frame between built comb frames. This would be a good guide for the bees. I have done this with nice results. I may try it your way....if I have the nerve!
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2013, 11:18:35 PM »

i'm a little confused...nothing new...

if foundationless, or natural cell, is the goal, why bother with small cell in the first place?

    My post following yours may explain.
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2013, 04:09:47 AM »

Last year I asked this question without realizing the firestorm it would bring.My reason for posting on this subject again,    We all are aware of the studies. Most claiming small cell has no effect. What I would like to know, have any studies been conducted, with any of those claiming small cell success.



?? ??

You might try Learning more about how the varroa mite lives, thrives and its Life cycle , how it lives in symbiosis with the honey bee and them you will have the answers to your questions, not the ones you seem to bee looking for  Undecided


mvh Edward  tongue
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 08:19:43 AM by edward » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2013, 07:26:22 AM »

I had a hive on small cell foundation for a couple years and did not see the reduction in mite population that I might have expected.
Perhaps you need every hive in your yard on small cell, but if your up to the challenge, you are out nothing but the cost of small cell foundation,which is minimal if you were going to buy foundation anyways.
As far as people with mite problems from the get go, they may be buying nucs that had mites when they got them, or a pckage shaken from a mite heavy hive. I think most package suppliers treat the package for mites when they are off comb as this is the most effective time to treat your whole new colony.
 Would I try it again? Perhaps. But I think by just adding small cell that your problems with mites may not go away. You will need to incorporate other methods.
You need to remember the varroa mite cycle is exploding as the colony size is contracting late in the summer.Any bees with virus contracted from mites going into fall may not overwinter well. Look at your overall stress factors going into winter. If your bees can get out and forage occasionally, then overwintering may not be an issue like it is up North.If your not mooving your bees, thats one less stress factor.Will you be exchaning out old comb occasionally? Thats a factor.Are you in a pesticide contaminated area? Another factor. Just look at your overall picture and it may be a bigger factor on bees surviving with mites than just changing to small cell.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 07:39:34 AM by buzzbee » Logged
Fox Creek
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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2013, 03:49:17 PM »

Last year I asked this question without realizing the firestorm it would bring.My reason for posting on this subject again,    We all are aware of the studies. Most claiming small cell has no effect. What I would like to know, have any studies been conducted, with any of those claiming small cell success.



?? ??

You might try Learning more about how the varroa mite lives, thrives and its Life cycle , how it lives in symbiosis with the honey bee and them you will have the answers to your questions, not the ones you seem to bee looking for  Undecided


mvh Edward  tongue

    You left out where I said, "those at it for a number of years."  I believe those who claim small cell success and have been doing this for years. Again, Not I! Those with years of experience. Why have we not seen studies of these successes?

    Again with the affirmation thing?
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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2013, 04:03:35 PM »

You might try Learning more about how the varroa mite lives, thrives and its Life cycle , how it lives in symbiosis with the honey bee and them you will have the answers to your questions, not the ones you seem to bee looking for  Undecided mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2013, 08:41:04 AM »

>We all are aware of the studies. Most claiming small cell has no effect.

http://www.beeuntoothers.com/index.php/beekeeping/articles/66-small-cell-studies
http://www.elgon.se/pdf-filer/Small_cell_test_designs13c.pdf

>What I would like to know, have any studies been conducted, with any of those claiming small cell success.

Sort of.  The nearest thing to it would be Jennifer Berry who worked with a small cell advocate who was succeeding at the time, but none have actually tried to figure out why small cell beekeepers are succeeding when to be consistent with the current theories they should be failing.

>The best thing you can do for your bees is to let them figure it out.

How do you do that when you determine their cell size and what proportion of drones to workers etc.  If you are going to let them figure it out, then you should let them...

>if foundationless, or natural cell, is the goal, why bother with small cell in the first place?

Agreed.  Natural comb is easier, and the results are the same for the same reasons.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
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Fox Creek
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2013, 05:30:02 PM »



    This spring I added to my apiary, three new hives from packages. I regress my bees using pf100 frames. Unlike last year, this year I put foundationless frames between small cell built comb. The bees built beautiful comb on the foundationless frames. Problem?

    These foundationless frames now have brood which will not be regressed. Have I set myself back a step or two?  Would I be better off using pf100 frames exclusively for the first few generations?
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« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2013, 12:17:30 PM »

>These foundationless frames now have brood which will not be regressed.

What size cells did they build?
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2013, 10:35:54 PM »

>These foundationless frames now have brood which will not be regressed.

What size cells did they build?

    Thank you Michael for reminding me of the reason I have your book in my library. I referenced your book last night and while I'm not sure how I will measure the cells, I will be putting my unused queen excluders to use. Tomorrow I will be adding a second box to the hives. I will be pulling the foundationless comb above the excluder. Later I will be able to measure these cells. (when I'm sure of what I'm doing.)

   Thanks again!
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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2013, 09:38:05 AM »

Here's how to measure cells:
http://www.bushfarms.com/images/47mmCombMeasurement.jpg
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« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2013, 03:23:57 PM »

>These foundationless frames now have brood which will not be regressed.

What size cells did they build?

    The cells built by the packaged bees on foundationless is 4.9mm   

    This relieves my concerns.
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2013, 10:13:26 PM »

>The cells built by the packaged bees on foundationless is 4.9mm   

Once again the bees defy the entomologists... Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2013, 03:36:33 PM »



    How about no foundation! It appears the last time I worked my hives, I put everything back together, minus one frame. A frame out of the middle. Yesterday, as I lifted the inner cover, I saw attached to the inner cover, perfectly built comb. This comb kept the correct bee space between two built comb frames.  It would appear the bees are looking out for me too, covering for my foolishness. 
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« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2013, 09:01:34 AM »

Second, I would like to hear from any new beekeepers who started with small cell.  (no large cell ever).  What has been your experience? Do you suffer varroa? Did the bees build comb without problems?
I guess that would be me.  Started on small cell ten years ago, never done anything else.  I'm a Bond Test (ala John Kefuss, Dee Lusby, Michael Bush, others) beekeeper, doing absolutely nothing for mites or any other disease.  In the early times, I did lose quite a few hives, but rarely any obvious signs of mites.  Usually it was what I call "cold starvation" when a warmer climate adapted bee can't move the cluster in a cold snap and starves to death within inches of honey.  I don't currently suffer much varroa, at least no hive losses to speak of.  They are in there though.  You can see a little test I did by pulling out pupae and counting mites on my blog: parkerfarms.blogspot.com  Comb building is definitely more difficult with small cell.  Small cell wax must be built during a flow and almost always in the broodnest or it does not get built correctly.  Regression is hard and I never fully completed it, having bought some small cell nucs and using that comb to seed the rest of my hives.  That's what actually did it for me.


What I would like to know, have any studies been conducted, with any of those claiming small cell success. Not someone as myself who only have a couple years in, but those who have been at this for a number of years who claim the small cell helps stop or reduce varroa?
There is one study that is often conveniently ignored because it used africanized bees.  But the cell size component was in there.  I have not found any of the studies to be appropriately rigorous, and having been a Master's student and written a study (on an unrelated topic) I know what they look like.  For instance, one of the studies uses plastic comb and compares it to wax comb.  That's just unacceptable.  Furthermore, none of the studies continues past a few months.  None of these people seems to have done any research on small cell beekeeping, has done it themselves, or has even asked somebody who does it currently.  They're all jokes, written and conceived in ignorance and reviewed in the same.  If they had just asked a small cell beekeeper, they'd have looked a whole lot different.


   
Yes foundationless is the goal. 
Small cell and foundationless are not the same thing.  I have heard of cell size with foundationless being from 4.3mm to the biggest drone comb you've ever seen.  It takes a lot more management in my experience and it's just not utilitarian enough for me.  However, if you're willing to put in the work and want to do it, have a ball.
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« Reply #24 on: August 09, 2013, 03:33:37 PM »

If you let your bees swarm or you divide a hive it is a way of treating varroa



mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2013, 11:34:38 AM »

So you'd consider a swarm the same thing as putting a pesticide in a hive?
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Solomon Parker
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« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2013, 04:17:20 PM »

If you walk to work

Take the bus to work

Drive your car to work

Take the train to work

are they the same or different?

You get to work  rolleyes

mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2013, 10:21:31 PM »

I guess I wouldn't agree.  I mean, I don't do either of those things, so I'm still not treating, but I wouldn't agree that allowing a hive to swarm is the same as putting pesticides in it.
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« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2013, 10:45:21 AM »

>If you walk to work
>Take the bus to work
>Drive your car to work
>Take the train to work
are they the same or different?

If you walked and got mugged and beaten on the way but still managed to get to work would they be the same or different?
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« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2013, 03:14:38 PM »

 grin
Same difference , parasites living of others  police

you with your wallet  Jerry

 or bees mugged by mites,

you and the bees keep working  chop chop



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There are many ways to treat mites, with or without Chemicals
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« Reply #30 on: August 21, 2013, 04:35:05 PM »

First off, I know nothing about small cell other than what I have read.

Now for what I have read.

1.. Use small cell for 4 years to fully regress, without treatment, and your hives will have no varroa problems.

2.. Use any comb for 4 years, without treatment, and the surviving bees will have become resistant to the mites and your hives will have no varroa problems.

Conclusion... I see no advantage to small cell.
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« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2013, 06:09:44 PM »

1. after 4 years the mites will have adapted to the small cells,

2. after 4 years without "any kind" of treatment there wont bee any bees , then again you wont have any varoa either  need help

mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2013, 10:43:32 PM »

This is wrong  rolleyes
Small cells don’t keep varroa destructor at bay

In a recently published article, Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies, Jennifer Berry, William Owens, and Keith Delaplane report on a series of three field experiments in which they compared varoa mite counts for bee hives with small and standard size comb. The hopes that smaller “natural” cell sizes would discourage varroa mites were dashed.


We conclude that small-cell comb technolgy does not impede Varroa population growth.

The article can be downloaded here (pdf). It appeared in Apidologie 41 (2010) 30-44 and comes with a handy German translation.

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




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« Reply #33 on: August 22, 2013, 07:11:08 AM »

This is wrong  rolleyes
Small cells don’t keep varroa destructor at bay

The article can be downloaded here (pdf). It appeared in Apidologie 41 (2010) 30-44 and comes with a handy German translation.

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



That report and experiment certainly seems done well, and is fairly conclusive in their study to me, but I would like to see the study duplicated by a second or third source to confirm before claiming it as absolute. They did a good job on their report though.
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« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2013, 07:42:59 AM »

This is wrong  rolleyes Small cells don’t keep varroa destructor at bay The article can be downloaded here (pdf). It appeared in Apidologie 41 (2010) 30-44 and comes with a handy German translation.http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/documents/m08138.pdf
That report and experiment certainly seems done well, and is fairly conclusive in their study to me, but I would like to see the study duplicated by a second or third source to confirm before claiming it as absolute. They did a good job on their report though.


There are many studies showing that it doesn't work , unless a cure is found for the mite small cell treatment is going to live its own Life and hopeful misguided beekeeper looking for a silver bullet are going to bee cond into buying snake oil.

mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2013, 09:14:32 AM »

    "All the boring and soul-destroying work of counting mites on sticky boards, killing brood with liquid nitrogen, watching bees groom each other, and measuring brood hormone levels—all done in thousands of replications—will someday be seen as a colossal waste of time when we finally learn to let the Varroa mites do these things for us...

    "I have never yet counted even a single sample of mites from any of my bees. I consider counting mites as a way of evaluating Varroa resistance to be fraught with all sorts of shortcomings and difficulties. It's very time consuming and hence the size of the apiary, the number of colonies tested, the gene pool, and the income available all start to shrink. It's also very easy for the results to be skewed by mites migrating from other colonies or bee yards. "—Kirk Webster

There are a few positive small cell studies, but also several that show higher mite counts on small cell and people always ask why or use this to discount small cell. I don’t know for sure why, as it is inconsistent with my experience, but let’s look at that. Let's assume a short term study (which all of them have been) during the drone rearing time of the year (which all of them have been) and make the assumption for the moment that Dee Lusby's "pseudodrone" theory is true, meaning that with large cell the Varroa often mistake large cell workers for drone cells and therefore infest them more. The Varroa in the large cell hives during that time would be less successful because they are in the wrong cells. The Varroa, during that time would be more successful on the small cell because they are in the drone cells. But later in the year this may shift dramatically when, first of all the small cell workers have not taken damage from the Varroa and second of all the drone rearing drops off and the mites have nowhere to go.

I think it's important in any test to let the mites get bad enough for the bees to respond to them. That's been my experience. And yet none of the experiments let that happen.

    "...when 150 queens were introduced into nucs with brood untreated for 18 months. This brood had a normal outward appearance when the nucs were made up, but four weeks later about half of them were starting to decline with PMS-type symptoms. But after another three weeks, almost all of these colonies appeared normal and healthy again."—Kirk Webster

It's also important that they be in a real world environment, and not some artificially created one. The reality of how a mechanism in nature works is infinitely complex. Kirk Webster said this about breeding but it applies to any experiment:

    "Bees that combine genuine hardiness, mite-resistance and productivity can only be maintained in the long run by having many hundreds of colonies constantly exposed to mites—and all the other known and unknown stresses in the real world, commercial beekeeping environment. This is the only way the bees can be tested for all the characteristics they need in order to thrive. And this testing and selection must continue year after year—to keep building up their resilience, and help the bees adapt to a changing world."—Kirk Webster

In the end, as Dann Purvis says, "it's not about mite counts. It's about survival". No one seems interested in measuring that. What I do know is that after a couple of years the mite counts dropped to almost nothing on small cell. But that did not take place in the first three months...
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« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2013, 02:36:35 PM »

    I follow the responses on this post closely. Solomon's report is of interest to me. I would guess his approach to small cell is a lot more scientific than mine. Although all of my foundationless comb is under 5.0 I will be monitoring them closely.
    Two years in and I have not a trace of Varroa, in any of my six hives. I do not use suppers. All deeps with the Mann Lake small cell frame. (some foundationless) At this time each of my hives consists of  three to four deeps.
    My hives may be somewhat isolated. I live in the mountains, at 3000 ft. I do not know of any other beekeepers within a few miles. Could it be, the only outside influence may be feral hives. Could it be these feral bees are regressed?
    Because of Varroa destructor, I probably would not have ventured into beekeeping, if not for reading the "Practical beekeeper" and "The Idiots Guide". 
    Yes, yes, I know. I could one day open my hives and find an explosion of Varroa. If this happens you will hear my screams in New York!
    I look forward to learning more.
       
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« Reply #37 on: August 22, 2013, 09:57:09 PM »

Michael Bush...........

   Do you use Small Cell or foundationless AKA Natural Cell  huh  I see on your website you talk a lot about foundationless.  Can you tell me the average size of a natural cell that bees will make for worker cells on foundationless  huh                    



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« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2013, 09:19:29 AM »

> Do you use Small Cell

Yes.

>or foundationless AKA Natural Cell

Yes.

> I see on your website you talk a lot about foundationless.

Yes.

> Can you tell me the average size of a natural cell that bees will make for worker cells on foundationless

I don't really care what the "average size" is.  I care what the core of the brood nest is.  The core of the broodnest of natural cell (once they are regressed) is typically between about 4.6mm and 5.0mm.  Around that core it's typically about 5.1mm.  The very top where they often put honey varies a lot and is sometimes drone sized...

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

As far as what I use, I think the current count is something like this:

3,000 foundationless frames
300 4.9mm wax foundation.
1,000 wax dipped PermaComb (4.8mm with the wax)
300 Honey Super Cell (4.9mm)
3,000 PF120 (plastic one piece frame in 4.95mm)
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« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2013, 09:09:56 AM »

No treatments since 2007, no (well, rarely) foundation since 2009.  Average winter losses are under 50% (2011-12 saw a 100% survivor rate, a first!).  Minimal varroa counts for several years now.

The best part (for me) in allowing the bees to "do their own thing" are the 'amazing variations of cell sizes' on any given brood frame  cool  People tend to like things more neat and tidy than honeybees  Wink

THE TRUTH DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU STAND  grin
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« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2013, 09:28:32 AM »

Average winter losses are under 50%

I wouldn't bee content with that result seems too high when there is alternatives.

How would people react if a farmer lost 50% of his cows every year?

mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2013, 10:11:53 AM »

Edward; Good for you, not to be content with my results or anyone elses.  You know what?  We can all tell  grin, that you're not content. Your avatar tells us as much. But I wasn't asking for your advise.  You know that, right?  It is obvious that you don't bother to read other beeks posts as you missed my 100% survival rate (2011-12) and 'focused' instead on my "under" 50% losses.  Go figure. 

To be more precise; Survivor 'averages' at my place hover around 60-70% but chances are you won't read this far to learn that.

"difrnt' strokes for difrnt' folks" 

I'm certain you've heard that one before, right?  I really don't want to get off on the bad foot, as opposed to JB's "good foot"  cool............. BUT................

What truth are 'you' seeking 'this time' Edward?  Your own, right?  Isn't that what we all do?  OK, some more than others  Wink

Are you adding to the conversation or scaring others away?

Are you always this confrontational with people, or just when typing at the computer?  Honestly, your posts speak for themselves. 

I've been back on BeeMaster for just a few days after a very busy Spring/summer and "the attacks you've laid upon others over mostly nothing" is troubling to say the least.  I guess we'll have to wait and see if you now complain to the mods for me calling you out on your denigrating methods, heh?

Gonna have to ignore you from now on, Dude  grin  You'll get no more feedback (reverse drama?) from me.  Have a good life.

XIN LOI 
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« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2013, 03:12:39 PM »

It is obvious that you don't bother to read other beeks posts as you missed my 100% survival rate (2011-12) and 'focused' instead on my "under" 50% losses.  Go figure. 

To be more precise; Survivor 'averages' at my place hover around 60-70% but chances are you won't read this far to learn that.
No treatments since 2007, no (well, rarely) foundation since 2009.  Average winter losses are under 50% (2011-12 saw a 100% survivor rate, a first!).

If you write "Average winter losses are under 50%" I will naturally assume you mean "your average Winter losses", inclusive the good years.

OK so you revised your survival rates to 60-70% Even this is to low (in my opinion) 90% is average and 95% is good, anything under 85% I consider as a failure and if I was not preforming over that level I would have to take a closer look at the way I keep bees and make a change.

I was not looking for a confrontation, just a bit startled and surprised of the numbers

mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2013, 03:16:41 PM »

How are the rest of those that use small cells doing in there Winter survival rates?

What rates do you Think are normal and acceptable?


mvh Edward  tongue
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« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2013, 10:03:42 PM »

>How are the rest of those that use small cells doing in there Winter survival rates?

Winter survival is not just about mites.  The climate is different every winter.  Really long winters take their toll.  Bitterly cold winters take their toll.  Mild winters have very high success.  Good fall flows lead to good wintering.  No fall flows lead to poor wintering without some pollen in the fall.
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« Reply #45 on: November 12, 2013, 11:14:32 AM »



 hmm...   17 hives going in.. 14 coming out...

   Two hives lost were southern VSH queens..   BOOMING going into fall..  wintered like the rest of the hives.. early march they were dead.. stuffed into the cells inches from honey... not happy about it.. one hive was weak. did not build up well from a feral swarm.. tried to overwinter them anyhow, and it didnt work.   I have a similar hive going into this winter.. late June cut out that just never took off. I HOPE they make it and build up well in the spring.. I like the survivor stock and try to proliferate from them.   

  Mostly natural cell, some PF 120's. I have four hives left still on rite cell.   Mite counts in those hives ARE higher than in the other hives.. BUT.. the bees in the rite cell hives are Italians and Carnys commercially acquired, and they sit about 130 yards from the other hives.   Regression starting on them if they make THIS winter
   I did NOT treat the feral hives, I DID treat the rite cell hives (Hopguard only)
   So... not sure what that means as far as percentage..    Will know a lot more once I get the number of hives built up. I will be separating them to different yards, and working the yard about 4 miles away toward pure survivors with no treatments at all. I also intend to buy VSH (northern) if I can find them to add to that yard..

   Weather natural cell, or small cell works doesnt really matter. I am hoping it helps, but the fact is, I build my own frames, and use all mediums so it is cheaper and easier for me to go that route. if there is some small "aid" in varoa control somewhere in there, so much the better.  It is my goal to eventually be treatment free on all hives.. first, for better hardier bees, second, to save me work and money..   If I live to be 70 (20 years from now) I hope to still be using the genetics I pull out of this yard in the next few years.

 While I do not strictly adhere to any philosophy other than my own.. I agree with Mr. Bush that we will NOT get better bees until we stop treating...
   Having said that... there ARE times that you KNOW you have to treat if you want to keep hives alive...   It is easier to treat, and keep a strong hive that I can requeen with a survivor than it is to start a hive from scratch...   If I find that a hive is being overwhelmed, and the signs point toward the end, I prefer to treat to save it, and try a different queen later. Eventually it will all come together.
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39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.
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