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Author Topic: Can I transition to small cell foundation one super at a time?  (Read 6244 times)
Bee1
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« on: May 19, 2007, 07:53:52 AM »

Can you transition to small cell foundation one super at a time?

 Basically my very new hive (5 weeks old, 1 deep, 1 medium) has not worked the second super yet and I’d like to go out in the yard today and change the foundation in the second hive to small cell.   I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to switch the bottom deep, probably not this season, so the hive would be would working with 2 different size foundations for awhile. 

Is the plan worth a try?  This way I wouldn’t have to be changing foundation in the 2nd box. 

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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2007, 09:47:20 AM »

It is not that simple.  It takes small bees to build small cell.  As long as you have large cell in the brood area, they will keep rearing large bees.
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2007, 10:50:21 AM »

 Undecided Thats not what I wanted to hear..
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2007, 01:30:41 PM »

Are you going to regress to 5.1, then 4.9?  If so, you can put 5.1mm in the top box, and let them draw it out and use it.  Then switch the other box later.   Most of the bees will still be bigger until you get both boxes switched, but at least it will be drawn out and the 5.1 shouldn't be a problem for the big bees.
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2007, 02:49:30 PM »

Actually,  I peeked in today and it looks like they have been cleaning up and doing repairs in prep of moving up.  I'm going to leave them alone for now  and devise a new plan --- maybe something like if and when they need to be split I can be ready to move them into sc, and maybe even 8 frame boxes.

ciao,
Bee1 -  slowing down, aaah. 
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2007, 07:08:45 PM »

My new nucs will be going into 8 frame mediums soon. I wanted to go with the small cell but Bushy Hill's description of the small call foundation said for experienced beekeepers. I am new. Foundationless also interests me very much but I get the sense I should gain a bit of experience first.

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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2007, 07:18:07 PM »

the more i measure my "starter strip" foundations comb, the more dissapointed i get. they just don't build small cells huh i'm really thinking bout importing some of that HSC or permacomb! it sure is expensive...with all the postal costs and stuff but for results..i hope it'll be worth it, if i do it.
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2007, 11:19:44 PM »

My new nucs will be going into 8 frame mediums soon. I wanted to go with the small cell but Bushy Hill's description of the small call foundation said for experienced beekeepers. I am new. Foundationless also interests me very much but I get the sense I should gain a bit of experience first.

Jack

I started out going to do small cell foundation and then ended up cutting the foundation into starter strips. I think it is best to start out the way you want to go instead of learning one way and then have to learn the other way. If you want to go foundationless then do it.
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2007, 11:22:48 PM »

i'm really thinking bout importing some of that HSC or permacomb! it sure is expensive...with all the postal costs and stuff but for results..i hope it'll be worth it, if i do it.

Yep. HSC for instant regression. That it the way to go these days. Enough for one brood box or a nuc and then from there go without foundation.
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2007, 11:44:29 PM »

Bee1- sure you can do it like that, but you will still have a transition period where the bees will rework some of the cell sizes.  The process will not be finished after the bees have drawn the second box.  I tried a few colonies a box at-a-time as you are suggesting, mine worked out alright.  I did it because I would rather work by the box, instead of rotating frames out and up.
     You could add a second box (smallcell foundation) now, a third box (small foundation)early summer.  Remove the bottom box (old largecell) early next spring when the cluster is up high, and add a box of small foundation on top.  Basically you do a demaree (I think that is what it's called) and at the same time do a swithcheroo of boxes.  You will most likely have to rotate the second box(now the new bottom box) out of the stack too (later, perhaps) because the initial box (attempt) at drawing small cells usually doesn't look too pretty.  By the middle of next season you would have removed all large cell boxes that are on the hive now, as well as the first box of smallcell that you installed. 



I wanted to go with the small cell but Bushy Hill's description of the small call foundation said for experienced beekeepers. I am new. Foundationless also interests me very much but I get the sense I should gain a bit of experience first.

Jack

Shakerbeeman,

     I read that in the dadant catalog, and took it to be nothing but a bunch of hoohoo.  I see no way in which working with largecell foundation first will make you more capable of dealing with smallcell.  Largecell is one choice, one direction.  Smallcell is another.  One methodology is not built upon basics learned by working in the other.  Ask yourself why you wanted to try smallcell, and how using largecell first will help reach that goal huh  The only reason I can think that a dealer would suggest smallcell for experienced beeks, is because experience teaches rule #1 the bees do what they want.  They do not always draw foundation as intended, and in order to achieve "pretty" smallcell frames, you are going to deal with culling some practically new combs.  Dealers don't want to deal with dissatisfied customers, especially those whose dissatisfaction is a result of not knowing rule #1.  Hmmm, I just read this post to check for errors, sounds to me like I'm chewing you out or something-  I don't mean it like that, not at all so please don't take it the wrong way.  I just don't care to read that little "experienced only" disclaimer in the catalog, gets me kind of fired up
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2007, 11:51:19 PM »

This is great and thanks for the confidence. While you are at it, what do you think about skipping the small cell and just starting out with the foundationless. Each 5 frame nuc will be ready soon to transfer to 8 frame mediums. I could just fill them out with foundationless. I am in the process of making frames and at this point I still could make 45 degree angles on the inside of the top and even the bottom frame parts as I see in some pictures. What do you think?
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2007, 07:34:52 AM »

     You could add a second box (smallcell foundation) now, a third box (small foundation)early summer.  Remove the bottom box (old largecell) early next spring when the cluster is up high, and add a box of small foundation on top.  Basically you do a demaree (I think that is what it's called) and at the same time do a swithcheroo of boxes.  You will most likely have to rotate the second box(now the new bottom box) out of the stack too (later, perhaps) because the initial box (attempt) at drawing small cells usually doesn't look too pretty.  By the middle of next season you would have removed all large cell boxes that are on the hive now, as well as the first box of smallcell that you installed.

In the ideal world that may be the case,  but anyone who has worked with bees long enough knows things never go as planned.  Even if it does work as planned, your talking multiple years and a lot of work.  If your really intent on going to small cell,  buy some HSC and be done with it.



     I read that in the dadant catalog, and took it to be nothing but a bunch of hoohoo.  I see no way in which working with largecell foundation first will make you more capable of dealing with smallcell. 

I totally disagree with you on this and I believe you are missing the hole point by simply comparing small cell to large cell.  The disclaimer says "experienced beekeepers" not "experienced large cell beekeepers".  There are enough areas for the newbee to make mistakes with large cell bees on large cell foundation that just get worse when they attempt to regress at the same time.  Just take a look around the forums of the issues people have installing packages.  How many are spacing the frames too far apart and getting burr comb?  Mishandling queens? etc. etc.   You believe these people are ready to regress bees?

Since the dealers charge more for small cell foundation, you think it is in their best interest to deter people from buying it?  They understand the issues that a first time beekeeper has to deal with and know regression at the same time only amplifies the chances of failure.  It is in their best interest to make a successful first time beekeeper who will continue to buy supplies for years to come, not fail and quit.

I guess the bottom line is that if a newbee is so hung up on small cell, than buy small cell bees or HSC.  Don't think you can just buy large cell bees and magically make them small cell with no beekeeping knowledge.   It is great to see so many hobbyist getting into beekeeping,  but I fear a lot will get frustrated and quit because of all the issues trying to convert to small cell. Yes it can be done,  but is it not trivial.  Michael Bush, who has more beekeeping knowledge in his little finger than most of us here spent years working at it.   So don't believe someone who has never had bees before can just jump right in to it.

I am starting to see the same attitude towards regressing to small cell as I saw a few years back when essential oils was the cure all.  People were so determined that it was the right answer, they only proclaimed the good results and wrote off the bad results to something else,  and would attack those who provided objective findings.  Now this is not an attack on small cell (I actually have some HSC and feral cutouts),  just the fact that regression is not as smooth as some like to claim it is.  It seems that the general process is always explained in the "ideal case" and very few actually have "ideal" results.   Just take a look at Tillie's experiences.   I'm sure there are others, I know I have, out there with similar experiences that just figure they did something wrong and just keep their mouth shut.
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2007, 10:19:08 AM »

I just have to add that I'm sure it all has to do with the person. Some people can work on their own cars, others haven't a clue what is under the hood. I rebuilt my first engine with out any prior experience from instructions in a book. Experienced mechanics around the shop kept telling me I was messing up. I got the engine together and in the car and it ran great.

I got my first bees from doing a cut out despite all the discouragement I got from people telling me how difficult it was gonna be, I had no experience and I would probably get frustrated and bla-bla-bla. (i did leave out in the earlier post the fact that my bees had the brood comb from the hives I removed from the walls.)

I keep making the mistake that people have a bit of intelligence. I keep thinking they are able to read and figure the stuff out. After all I did it. And I ain't all that smart. 
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2007, 12:09:06 PM »

I wouldn't recommend starting with foundationless, or even starter strips, based on my past experiences.  Robo, I don't think I'm missing the point in whole or even partly.  The disclaimer is attached to the small cell add, but not the other (LC) foundation.  That would imply "experienced large cell beekeepers", would it not?  I have looked around the forums, and see the issues facing newbees.  Spacing frames too far apart will cause problems regardless of foundation type used.  Mishandling queens is just that, it can easily be done despite large or smallcell.  From what I understand of Tillie's posts, she used starter strips and bees drew out a mess.  I do not recommend strips because that was also my experience.  I do believe "these people" are ready to regress bees if that is what they want to do.  Small foundation is more expensive, I chaulk that up to marketing.  It is still "new, special, different" and can sound enticing because of claims that it reduces varroa loads.  I have, and am not, making any of those claims as I cannot say I've seen it myself.  My bees survived on largecell foundation without treatment, and they are now surviving on smallcell.  Of course dealers are interested in making (more) money and want repeat business.  What I'm saying is that the "experienced beekeepers" disclaimer is easily eliminated from the equation once someone learns rule #1, bees do what THEY want.  What that means is that (yes, I agree with you) this is not an ideal world and plans don't always work.  Is that something that must be learned on one's own, or can it be shared on beemaster forums?  If Shakerbeeman gets that, understanding that he may not get "pretty combs", I see no reason why I should not be willing to share my experiences.  And yes, changing over to smallcell takes time and effort.
     Glad to hear you don't believe in magic Robo, I don't either.  But I don't think a transition from large to smallcell requires it either.  I do think newbees do not  have to learn all experiences on their own.  How is a beekeeper to get experience with smallcell unless they 1.) try it, or 2.) ask questions of beekeepers who have?  I just read Jerrymacs post, yes it depends on the person.  If someone knows how to use their resources, I think they can work through just about anything.  If someone can't identify or use those resources, it could turn out to be a very rough road.  Asking questions on this forum is an indication of someone using a resource.

I keep making the mistake that people have a bit of intelligence. I keep thinking they are able to read and figure the stuff out. After all I did it. And I ain't all that smart. 

Nice post Jerrymac, I can relate.  I don't like approaching people as if they were lacking in intelligence
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2007, 01:15:27 PM »

Both of you guys are right; it does take a bit of lets see what happens and experiment. That is what it is all about. New procedures and products do not just happen, but rather from some experimentation. Some times it turns out sometimes it turns out real ugly real fast. It is all about the game plan, but in the end there has to be some purpose to the plan. I have read a lot about small cell and there seems to be some evidence that suggests that we may be on the right track.  Please note I said some evidence and suggest, I am not attempting to infuriate anyone, but rather taking an overall look from the outside. We as of yet do not have the cure all system for anything in place (I think we never will).
   If you want to go to small cell, there will be a learning curve, and time between from where you are at to where you want to go. As long as we all understand that this is all experimental in nature, I think we can all learn. The real “test” will be if it works across the board. I also believe that a lot of this will be“hand on” learning; however this forum will provide the ideas and common pitfalls for all of us to learn from. In the end we may gather information that may lead us to the ultimate cure for what ever problem we encounter as bee keepers.
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2007, 02:42:18 PM »

I wouldn't recommend starting with foundationless, or even starter strips, based on my past experiences.

Looks like we will have to agree to disagree again. From my experience,  I believe a first time beekeeper will have much better luck regressing bees with TBH than Langstroth's with SC foundation.

The disclaimer is attached to the small cell add, but not the other (LC) foundation.

Perhaps because the bees people buy are large cell bees and do not have issues drawning LC foundation?

That would imply "experienced large cell beekeepers", would it not?

Where would you bucket TBH beekeepers?

My bees survived on largecell foundation without treatment,

So then why go thru all the effort to regress??

What I'm saying is that the "experienced beekeepers" disclaimer is easily eliminated from the equation once someone learns rule #1, bees do what THEY want.

And how do they learn that rule but from experience.  When people have no hands-on experience, they have no idea what to expect or how to react to what they see.  I don't care how many forums/books/whatever you read before you get your bees,  you are going to make mistakes or have issues.   There are a lot of folks here who did due diligence in preparing before they got their bees,  and they still get worried of things because they don't have any hands on experience.
Look at all the post questioning dead brood at the entrance or "does this look normal" posts.  My point is don't make it anymore painful (for the keeper or the bees) by trying to regress right out or the box.  Give it a year so you understand Rule #1 first hand.

How is a beekeeper to get experience with smallcell unless they 1.) try it, or 2.) ask questions of beekeepers who have?
3.) Buy small cell bees
4.) Plan ahead and buy HSC

I don't have a problem with someone trying it,  I have a problem telling someone who has no experience with bees to try it by regressing. Just like I wouldn't recommend somebody who is learning to fly jump right into experimental aircraft. As I stated before, if a newbee wants to try sc then buy sc bees or HSC.  If it was as trivial to regress as some make it out to be,  everyone would have small cell bees (except Finsky evil)

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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2007, 02:43:18 PM »

n9kww, right on Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2007, 03:07:04 PM »




My bees survived on largecell foundation without treatment,

So then why go thru all the effort to regress??


I didn't consider it a large effort because I was interested in seeing what happened, how the bees might have been different.  I am always looking to try new ideas, needed or not, just to add to my experiences and have fun with my keeping of bees.  Finding something that works is not good enough for me-  if I couldn't continue to experiment and grow in my understanding, I wouldn't bother at all.


Looks like we will have to agree to disagree again. From my experience,  I believe a first time beekeeper will have much better luck regressing bees with TBH than Langstroth's with SC foundation.


Alright, we'll agree to disagree.  I've posted my thoughts on this thread, I'm going to leave it at that rather than continue arguing.

Ben
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2007, 04:38:10 PM »

FWIW, I was in no way discouraged when my bees built cross comb on starter strips.  I wasn't happy, sure, but I look at all of it as my learning experience.  I share it here and on my blog because without the help of other people, especially the sharing in this forum, I would feel like a person in a boat without a paddle.  I read a lot about bees and beekeeping and in the end I learn best by doing.

As Michael Bush pointed out when I had my messy hive experience, some hives just do that.  I have 3 1/2 hives now and one of my hives, started from a nuc at the same time as the hive that created the mess, has done beautifully on SC starter strips - that's all I've put in that hive and they've drawn gorgeous comb.  I haven't measured it to see how small the cells are, but it's easy to see without a measuring stick that the worker cells are smaller than my last year's hives and that they are drawing about the same amount of drone comb as the older hive.  I am quite pleased with that SC experience.

I continue to learn from the messy hive.  It has calmed down a lot and still seems less interested in SC or in drawing comb in general.  I think the hive has a Russian queen mutt - (at least with more of that genetics) and the good hive has an Italian queen mutt (at least with more of those genetics).  The messy hive now draws comb that is straight.  I've not helped them with my interference, but all in all they are doing OK.  I think they need a better location (they are in more shade than my other hives) and in general they are more cantankerous than my other bees.

Personally, I think beekeeping will always be a learning experience and I wish I had started last year with SC rather than heed the catalog companies about how I needed to be "experienced" first.  But I am learning with every single thing I do with the bees.  And as always I continue to appreciate the support and interchange of this forum.

Linda T in Hotlanta
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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2007, 05:39:45 PM »

tillie, Ask any beekeeper who has kept bees for any length of time and they will tell you that they continue to learn. "IF" they don't, they are bee havers not beekeepers. rolleyes
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