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Author Topic: Small Cell Foundation Not For Beginners?  (Read 19576 times)
thomashton
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« on: January 24, 2006, 05:35:09 PM »

Hi everyone. Don't post that often, but am here nearly daily to see what everyone else has to say.

Was wondering what you thought of this. I am putting together my first hives for my first season of beekeeping. I am planning on using small cell foundation, but when I checked on prices with a seller (I think it was BeeSource), their website stated that sc shouldn't be used by beginners.

Now I thought I would try to start things out "right" by giving small cell or even just starter strips. Should I be considering using regular foundation at first instead of beginning with sc? huh
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amymcg
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 05:43:59 PM »

The reason they say that it's not for beginners is because they don't want to put the instructions up there for regressing the bees.  If you want to do small cell foundation, then get yourself a package of small cell bees to go with it.

If you can't get small cell bees, you will have to get large cell bees and buy the 5.1 foundation, then the 4.9 foundation.  You can't just stick large cell bees on small cell foundation, they won't draw it properly.  I would suggest you join the yahoo group "organicbeekeepers" many discussions about it there.  Michael Bush can help you out too.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2006, 06:33:08 PM »

If you want natural Varroa contro, use the small cell.  Us it in the manner that you find it convenient for you.  Starter strips.  Full sheets.  It depends on your philosphy.  But don't count on total control of the Varroa until you're seeing 4.9mm or below in the center of the brood nest.  You will probably have to feed some more frames into the center over the next couple of years before you get there.
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Michael Bush
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Finsky
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2006, 01:13:12 AM »

I think that it is very stupid to offer to beginner "natural varroa control" in black box. It is really irresponsible.

Even all professionals manage with varroa. Beginner have job enough to learn beekeeping. In every country bees have vanished 90% from nature when varroa come arrived. How beginner could do better?

Just now in New Zeland varroa destroyed in 3 years feral bee colonies, and bees really had natural beecombs.

"It depends on your philosphy." - Yes I have seen that many beginners have philosophy but not faintest idea how to nurse bees. I have noticed stupid things to happen.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2006, 06:53:10 AM »

>I think that it is very stupid to offer to beginner "natural varroa control" in black box. It is really irresponsible.

Which is why I say not to count on it until you reach the 4.9mm threshold.

>Just now in New Zeland varroa destroyed in 3 years feral bee colonies, and bees really had natural beecombs.

I'd say that more than half ofthe "feral" bees have unatural beecombs.  They have escpaed from hives with 5.4mm comb and they are too big to draw natural comb.

>"It depends on your philosphy." - Yes I have seen that many beginners have philosophy but not faintest idea how to nurse bees. I have noticed stupid things to happen.

The first thing anyone who is going to keep bees needs to leran to do is monitor Varroa levels.  If you don't, you'll never know if what you're doing is working or not.  This is the most complicated part.

Using small cell or natural sized cell is not complicated at all.  The bees will take care of it if you don't interfere by using large cell foundation.

If your mite levels get high, then you should deal with them.

The typical advice here is to use Apistan in the spring and fall and odds are it will fail.  The mites here, in Nebraska, have built up resistance.  The next advice, here, is usually to use Checkmite which will make the queens sterile and the drones sterile, if you're lucky.  From my observation of friends who have used it, it will kill all your bees if you're not lucky.
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Michael Bush
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2006, 06:54:45 AM »

Actually, what *I* think is REALLY iresponsible is for beekeepers to keep using large cell foundation and breeding millions of Varroa mites every year.

I wish you would all cut it out.
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Michael Bush
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Finsky
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2006, 08:04:08 AM »

Quote from: Michael Bush
and breeding millions of Varroa mites every year.
.


I have written: Varroa is not problem in Finland any more. It is one of the easiest thing in beekeeping. Not worth to set upp your beekeeping according to varroa.
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Jack Parr
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2006, 08:28:43 AM »

evil

Actually the folks at the LSU Louisiana Bee Lab  did not really want to engage in a conversation about small cell beekeeping, after I mentioned the subject at last year's Louisiana beekeeper's meeting.

They are aware of Dee Lusby but would not say much about her and her small cell ideas either.

I don't see these folks often but I will encounter them in the future, I'm sure, and I will pump them further on the small cell subject.

The Louisiana Bee Lab does, I think, have a good reputation for their bee research efforts. However I also think that since scientific reasearch on anything can go on for a long time and scientist must stick with their efforts in the direction they have chosen. Appearently, in the small cell case,  that is not where they want to go.  Also this is MY speculation on the small cell subject and what the bee lab does.  

In the future I will probably develop a more familiar relationship with the Bee Lab guys and hopefully gather more insight.

Further since comb can, and, does last for years, the build up of pupae residue/shells  accumulates in the cells and thus causes them to become smaller? creating small cells? That is one answer I got from a long time bee guy...
 wink
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Apis629
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2006, 02:36:32 PM »

I guess I've lucked out...my bees still don't have Varroa! Cheesy
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2006, 07:29:13 PM »

>Further since comb can, and, does last for years, the build up of pupae residue/shells accumulates in the cells and thus causes them to become smaller? creating small cells?

They build up to some point at which the bees chew them out.  The more they accumulate the more places for things likeAFB spores to hide.  Maybe that's one of the causes of AFB problems?  Built up cocoons that the bees ould have chewed out if they had natural comb?

>I guess I've lucked out...my bees still don't have Varroa!

If you haven't seen Varroa, then you aren't looking hard enough.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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Apis629
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2006, 10:53:49 PM »

I'm serious, I've monitored mite drops, done sugar roles and when my colony was inspected by the state, the inspector did an alchohole roll and couldn't find a single Varroa mite.  I've even culled drone brood with an uncapping fork and still nothing...that isn't to say that I'll never get them, of cource.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2006, 06:40:20 AM »

>I'm serious, I've monitored mite drops, done sugar roles and when my colony was inspected by the state, the inspector did an alchohole roll and couldn't find a single Varroa mite. I've even culled drone brood with an uncapping fork and still nothing...that isn't to say that I'll never get them, of cource.

Are you isolated?  What kind of bees do you have?  What size foundation are they on?

The inspector hasn't found any on mine either.  But I see one now and then.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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bassman1977
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2006, 03:44:15 PM »

I want to use start strips (cut from small cell foundation) until I can get the bees regressed to 4.9mm.  I saw in a post in Bee-commerce, that a wedge shoud be cut on the top bar when doing foundationless frames.  Is this something that has to be done?  What are the advantages of doing this?  I was just planning on putting the strips in the wedge frames.  If it is very important to do the wedge thing, how exactly is that done?  Any pictures to use as an example?

Quote
But don't count on total control of the Varroa until you're seeing 4.9mm or below in the center of the brood nest. You will probably have to feed some more frames into the center over the next couple of years before you get there.


Michael, what are you talking about here?  I was under the impression getting to 4.9mm would be something that could be done in a season, season and a half tops.  On average, what is the time it takes to get a large cell hive regressed to 4.9mm?

I want to make sure I have all my fact straight before doing small cell.  Just when I think I'm ready to begin, something else pops up.   huh
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2006, 07:13:46 AM »

It's all good.  If you let them build what they want the first time around it will be around 5.1mm.  That's enough to slow down the mites some and shorten the pre and post capping some.  If you never do anything else you'll be ahead of the game.  but to really control the Varroa mites requires something more like 4.9mm to 5.0mm.  This is usually about what the bees that were raised on the 5.1mm will build.

I don't know how everyone else prevents swarming, but I feed empty frames into the brood nest to keep it from getting congested.  There's nothing like keeping them busy drawing some comb in the brood nest to change their direction.  Since I do this anyway, I don't see any more work involved.  IMO if you don't, they will swarm no matter how many supers you throw on.

I keep a metric ruler handy and measure some comb now and then and try to end up with the smallest in the core of the brood nest.  That's all.

If you just keep monitoring the Varroa mites, you'll know when you've stablized things.  You'll only find  one or two mites on the tray of your SBB after a week or so once things are stable.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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bassman1977
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2006, 05:30:44 PM »

Got ya.  Thanks for clearing that up.  Anyone on the wedge part of the question please?

Quote
I want to use start strips (cut from small cell foundation) until I can get the bees regressed to 4.9mm. I saw in a post in Bee-commerce, that a wedge shoud be cut on the top bar when doing foundationless frames. Is this something that has to be done? What are the advantages of doing this? I was just planning on putting the strips in the wedge frames. If it is very important to do the wedge thing, how exactly is that done? Any pictures to use as an example?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2006, 08:02:26 PM »

>I saw in a post in Bee-commerce, that a wedge shoud be cut on the top bar when doing foundationless frames. Is this something that has to be done?

If you want to use no foundation at all, you still need something to guide the bees.  This can be as simple as putting an empty frame between two drawn combs and let the combs act as a guide or a starter strip or a full sheet of foundation.  Two other kinds of guides are to put a wooden strip in the groove (like a wooden starter strip) or cut a bevel (or add a bevel) on the top bar.  I've done all of them except the wooden strip, but those who have done it assure me it works fine.  I like the bevel the best because I don't have to buy any foundation.  I never have to put in any foundation and I never have to have any foundation (or starter strips) sag or fall out.

>What are the advantages of doing this?

Nothing to put in.  Nothing to fall out.

> I was just planning on putting the strips in the wedge frames.

That will work fine.

> If it is very important to do the wedge thing, how exactly is that done?

You can just cut the top bar before you assemble it, or you can cut the corner off of a one by board at a 45 degree angle.

>Any pictures to use as an example?

My web site has pictures of mine and Langstroth's originals.  www.bushfarms.com

And Charles Martin Simon has his with the bottom bar also beveled.  Look at the "SuperUnfoundation" links:

http://charlesmartinsimon.com/stinging-insects.htm
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Ruben
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2006, 07:32:11 PM »

So I ordered a 3lbs package of italian bees from www.gabees.com back in the fall, I am trying to figure out what foundation to use, would I have to order specific bees to use small cell foundation? It sounds like the small cell are the way to go. If so then is there a benifit to using the larger cell? Just curious why everyone would not be using small cell if it will make the hive healthier.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2006, 09:13:44 PM »

>So I ordered a 3lbs package of italian bees from www.gabees.com back in the fall, I am trying to figure out what foundation to use

Your choice.  But I'd use small cell or none. Smiley

>, would I have to order specific bees to use small cell foundation?

No.

> It sounds like the small cell are the way to go. If so then is there a benifit to using the larger cell?

None.

> Just curious why everyone would not be using small cell if it will make the hive healthier.

Because no one wants to listen or try for themselves, or better yet, let the bees do it for them.  The bees will build the smaller cells if you let them by using no foundation.

Dadant was only selling the small cell unwired and only in deeps.  Now, if you call, you can get it in medium and you can get it already wired.
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Michael Bush
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Apis629
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« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2006, 09:27:01 PM »

Does anyone sell Small-Cell plastic foundation?
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Ruben
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« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2006, 10:07:25 PM »

Michael when you say no foundation, I am assuming that you mean putting the frame in with nothing on them? If so what keeps them from binding all of the frames together? Also if you do it that way can you harvest honey w/comb? That might be a stupid question but if you don't know then the only stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked!
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