Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Very Windy Day, And Small Cell Comb

Today was very windy.  I was taking stuff out to the yard so I could make some space in the shop, and perhaps add the benefit of possible swarm traps.  So, add five hives to the empty stands, and you'll start to see an idea of how I want the yard to look toward the end of the summer. 

You'll notice the double wide hive to the far right.  I'm trying a new configuration on that one with less ventilation and the bottom permanently attached.  I'm also trying to do upper entrances almost exclusively due to skunk problems.

Now the small cell.

Dee Lusby and her husband Ed were the primary apologists for small cell foundation in the modern age.  Bees left to their own devices tend to make comb of widely varying cell sizes and about the average for brood comb is 4.9mm in diameter.  However, most commercially available foundation is available in the 5.2mm to 5.5mm range or so.  So the Lusby's made their own foundation mill.  Similar mills as well as a variety of small cell foundation are now available from many beekeeping supply companies.

The argument is that in combination with a few other factors, housing the bees on 'small cell' comb gives them the upper hand in disease control.  I apologize in advance for the sideways pictures.  They were taken with the same iPhone as the one at the top, but just won't align right.

 The above photo shows 4.9mm comb drawn from small cell foundation.  This is the brood comb I use.

And here is comb drawn from larger crimp wired foundation.  I don't know its actual origin, this comb came from a hive that was given to me six or seven years ago.  It is old and dark and is good and strong for extracting honey.

There have been some actual scientific studies showing that small cell alone will not save bees from varroa mites.  However, Dee said that small cell was only about a third of the puzzle, another third being genetics, and the last third was the beekeeping method.  I have been successfully [depending on your point of view] keeping bees with her methods for eight years.  I have never lost all my bees at any one time.  Most especially, I have never used chemicals to treat the bees.  I can't really use the term 'organic' anymore because now that it's codified into law, the term is pretty much worthless.  But, the facts are, my bees are completely treatment free, and my honey is raw and unfiltered.

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