Saturday, March 23, 2013

Michael Bush: Natural Comb, Importance of Cell Size

Small cell comb is recommended for experienced beekeepers.  Oh yeah?  I'm not sure if anyone told me at the time but I started in on it wholesale.  What was I thinking?  I don't know, but I'm glad I did.  A lot of what I do goes like that, don't think too much about it, go on your intuition and sort it out afterwards.  I wanted to be successful and Dee Lusby was successful, so I did what Dee did and I still do.  Here's a concept that Sam introduced me to this weekend: maybe it's not the cell size that does the mites.  Maybe it's the stress that is the cause of problems and reducing it is the solution.  Severide's Law:  The leading cause of problems is solutions.  Foundation is a solution to bees building comb willy nilly, but it also causes its own problems.  Mike reports natural cells as small as 4.4mm to 5.1.  In my own hives I have seen with my foundationless frames 4.9 to 5.2.  The bees intent is what they draw.  They biologically need to have a certain proportion of workers, drones, and honey.  And the proportion changes at different tiimes of the year.  Manipulating the spacing can encourage the bees to draw a different size comb.  Standard frame spacing is a compromise between honey and brood spacing and ends up being about drone spacing.  Larger foundation they draw just fine because it's a bit larger than worker and smaller than natural drone.  Regressing takes time and several steps.  Iregressed from packages and didn't ever start out with large cell comb or contaminated comb.  I've never treated ever.  In natural hives, there is no single cell size.  Any chosen size will be a compromise between something and something else.  Reducing the capping time reduces the number of mites that breed in a cell.  Natural bees have more hygienic behavior.  How much does small contribute?  No one knows.  There is nothing UNnatural about small cell.  Conventional cell size is certainly too large.  Queens prefer natural comb to anything else.

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