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Natural cell size & Varroa

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Somerford 

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I was reading the bushbeefarms site last night for the first time and wondered if anybody here has tried/is going to try his style of management....ie let the bees build wild comb that is of a smaller cell size than found on foundation ?

He claims (rightly/wrongly?) to have cured his bees of varroa due to the shorter gestation period for the bees (1 day earlier to cap the cell, 1 day earlier to hatch) therefore the mites don't reach adulthood and are killed by the bees...

I was thinking about trying it with a hive, using standard frames with 2 wires strung horizontally. Obviously the hive will need to be 100% level, and I will need to dip the starter bars in wax, but I hope by using the wires the bees will incorporate them into the wild comb so I can extract them in the conventional way.

Any opinions ?


S
 

MrB 

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i actually heard of this on my beginers course last night!
i was also led to believe that you can buy the foundation with the smaller cell structure.
 

steve1958 

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I guess extracting the honey is the challenge.
How do people manage with Top Bar Hives?
 

Finman 

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I
I was thinking about trying it with a hive, using standard frames with 2 wires strung horizontally. Obviously the hive will need to be 100% level, and I will need to dip the starter bars in wax, but I hope by using the wires the bees will incorporate them into the wild comb so I can extract them in the conventional way.


S

That is normal procedure where is difficult to get foundations.

But if you do not use foundatúiopns in langstroth box you loose 8 kg honey per box and 3 box are 24 kg. It is expencive job this way.

Compare costs 1 kg foundations versus 8 kg honey.

And bees tend to build drone combs which you cannot use in brood box.

.

.
 

plumber 

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4.9mm cell foundation

thornes do it, bit pricey £5.76 for 5 sheets BS deep or Langs/deep both wired
 

oliver90owner 

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Thornes standard or drone or small cell makes little difference if you are trying to get the bees on the cell size they would naturally build.

I was going to make wired plain brood foundation (14 x 12) last season, but failed miserably. Guess I will try to do better this winter.

I would expect natural choice of cell to be right for accommodating the bees, with some drone around the bottom edges and corners, dependant on the strain of bees.

Extracting honey from brood frames is not a regular requirement, so supers - whatever depth, can be normal wired normal cell-size foundation.

This may present a problem with the Dartingtons, but I can generally use spare stores in other hives, unless I decide to go the ruthless route and extract as much honey as possible, and then feed sugar. At least I don't have to worry at all about sugar-honey, my way. Looks like I will need to be careful with the frames, or does it not make any difference (extracting tangentially) whether wired or not, anyone? I am thinking the frames will be OK to extract without being wired, but may be touchy, to turn upside down, when inspecting?

Regards, RAB
 

jean 

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Hi Somerford.
I've been doing this with 3 hives this year. First point, the idea is not to get rid of varroa, but to keep the varroa level low enough for the bees to survive without other treatments.
Next, it takes several years of letting the bees build their own new comb each year for it to regress to natural size. And, they build more than 2 sizes of cells.
I wired my frames vertically so the wire was in the comb from the beginning.No extraction problems- I had no honey to extract:confused: but the comb was very solidly attached.I used starter strips of 2cms, but don't know if this was necessary.
You have to be prepared to be patient and let the bees get on with it. I found it a fascinating experience, and I'm going this way with all my hives in the future.
 

victor meldrew 

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Having found natural comb (often in an empty frame feeder) in my hives and upon close examination have found no size difference between foundation based and natural ?. The term regression used by enthusiasts has me baffled :confused:. Bees alter cell sizes as they go along in order to suit their requirements. Take the ad-hoc alterations to accomodate drones from eggs laid in worker cells. I understand that bees build worker cells using their own body dimensions as a template, therefore any one using a tbh would ,I assume have to Regress their bee size before leaving them to their own devices ?

John Wilkinson
 

oliver90owner 

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Ian.

Thanks for posting the link. That video was a revelation.

List,

Icing sugar is effective (contrary to reports on this forum).

Fresh foundation is important (I will encourage new brood foundation to be drawn in the OSR flow next year (yes, 14 x 12 frames as supers!) and use it for shook swarm procedures later. I may also extract any spare 'horizontal' stores in the Dartingtons, for the same purposes.

I will give some plain foundation as an experiment to see what they draw and I might just see what would happen with a shook swarm on those plain foundation sheets. Probably too many things to actually get meaningful experimental results from - but it might give me an inkling of how I would like to proceed in future seasons.

More thoughts:

Shook swarms can be given some comb to avoid a delay in egg laying and those frames can be removed when capped (as further varroah trapping). That brood will likely not be disposed of, but transferred to one colony, which will be singled out as the 'dump' for any mites and a target for extra IPM throughout the season if, and as, necessary.

Just some of the immediate thoughts and ideas from that presentation (many thanks to Jennifer Berry for the inspiration).

Regards, RAB
 
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Black Comb 

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Thanks Ian, very good link.

Icing sugar - one report sats no, this says yes. As it will do no harm I will go with this when necessary.

Small cell, so no benefit, indeed worse. On the other hand some swear by it.

This is the norm for beekeeping, lots of different theories and no one way works for everyone.
 

oliver90owner 

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Small cell, so no benefit, indeed worse.

PeterS,

Please watch it again. You are wrong. That is not what is shown.

At about 20 mins in you will see the effect of offering over-sized cells to africanised bees.

The obvious and well proven result is an increase in varroah infestation as the cell size was increased over the natural size.

That result may well not have been reproduced in the later experiment by the speaker, but the affore-mentioned result is a stand alone result and cannot be ignored.

No chemicals on the small sized cells is a plus and can be reproduced.

It obviously depends on other things as well. Strain of bee may be a factor, time for the change to make an effect may be another, I don't know.

What I do see is conflicting results admitted freely by the speaker. I do not, however, take that as the obvious conclusion that you came to.

What it does demonstrate is that more questions arise from an experiment than are, perhaps, answered.

Regards, RAB
 

Black Comb 

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Yes the first set of results in the African were positive.

But 34 mins in she reveals the results on the European bee and these are saying it is worse in small cells.

So it's up to each of us to draw our own conclusions.

Excellent video, just wish we could hear the questions/discussion from the audience.

Regards
Peter
 
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Black Comb 

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One other thing that struck me was her testing of "hygienic" colonies - i.e the ones that cleaned out the cells most efficiently had the smallest count.
 

ian 

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Hi Oliver

Peter is correct, there are very few who have made this work. And, apart from a number of devotees who claim success, there is no independent research that will back up many of their claims. In fact, like this report, quite the opposite.

Ask Norton How his trials went with 100 odd hives!!!

As to Africanized bees, they are naturally on Small cell, that's the norm for them. THEY ALSO SURVIVE HAPPILY WITHOUT TREATMENTS!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africanized_bee#Geographic_spread


Thats 6 years out of date!

There are also a number of commercial q-rearing operations in some of these areas that export all over(go figure):confused:

Some trials with Monticola (African) bees on small cell did get done in Europe, but I believe the beek and boffin fell out when both claimed totally different results.


Check this guy out.

http://bwrangler.wordpress.com/small-cell-experience/

If you want more info Google Lusbys and small cell, they are the biggest devotees but it's not all roses they lost many hundreds of hives whilst regressing, and live in an area covered by the Africanized bee map;)

Given the fact Small cell has been around for many years with little main stream uptake I would proceed with caution.


If it was as good as claimed we would all be on it already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Regards Ian
 
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oliver90owner 

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All I said was he was wrong to state what he said as a conclusion.

I did not say more than 'What I do see is conflicting results admitted freely by the speaker. I do not, however, take that as the obvious conclusion that you came to.'

I stand by that. You may need to look into the statistical meaning of the word 'significance'. From those results I can not come to the same conclusion as you seem to want.

RAB

Regards, RAB
 

Firegazer 

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varroa tolerance

I very much enjoyed the video too, although wasn't clear exactly what the conditions for the experiments were: they seemed to use different sizes of bees (some used to 4.9, some used to 5.3) to stop bigger bees trying to squeeze into 4.9 cells. This may be OK, but either she had small bees using 5.3 cells - too big and this may affect things - or two different stocks of bees - loads of new variables to ruin the evidential dependencies. Maybe I misunderstood.

Other bits worth noting:

1) the icing sugar treatment was used to COMPLETELY CLEAR the bees of varroa (!) but I think involved a far more serious process than a sprinkling - she said something like "we roll the bees around and around in the stuff", so although it does have efficacy, there's no saying how effective a top-down sprinkle would be;

2) the figures for EI level (the level at which you should start treating) were very interesting. 125 mites per 24 hr in August for a 30,000 strong colony. This seemed to be more aimed at bee farming level (most small beeks would probably do simple treatments anyway as the costs are low) but it was good to see some hard facts on what's 'Worrying' and 'Very Bad'.

Best bit by far for me was the bit about gaining feral colonies that are more than a few seasons old. She was saying that swarm collectors who incorporated the genetic goodies from these swarms regularly (a friend of hers collected hundreds of swarms a season and introduced old strong stock to her main colonies) had fewer problems with varroa mites; either these colonies were developing tolerance for the mite - the Holy Grail, as all other results seem to be very temporary as the mites adapt to get around them - or they were learning better hygenic behaviour and keeping the mite populations down mechanically.

This seemed to be a hugely hopeful point: there ARE some feral colonies that seem to be varroa tolerant; if we keep combining these into the main farmed stock, it can adapt to cope with varroa without the long-term use of chemicals or serious interventions.

Maybe we should all be on the look-out for feral colonies that have lasted a few years and treat them gold dust?
 
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