Presentation on theme: "And it’s implications to beekeeping and Varroa mites"— Presentation transcript:
1And it’s implications to beekeeping and Varroa mites Natural Cell SizeAnd it’s implications to beekeeping and Varroa mitesI’m not here to present a scientific study. I’m here to share my observations, measurements and experiences with natural sized cells. Everything I have done is easily duplicated by anyone, anywhere, with any breed of bees. I have done this with Carniolans, Italians, Russians and Feral survivors of unknown origin. I’m not here to prove anything to you. If you are interested you can quite easily prove it to yourself.
2Presentations onlineBefore you take copious notes, all these presentations are online here:
3“Everything works if you let it” Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick
4Small Cell = Natural Cell? Small cell has been purported to help control Varroa mites.Small Cell is 4.9mm cell size.Standard foundation is 5.4mm cell size.What is natural cell size?If you are like me, when you first heard of small cell the concept was foreign. Why would I want to make my bees smaller? After researching it more I found the claims were that this was the natural size for worker brood cells in European Honey Bees. Well, I wanted to know if this was true. If it was, I certainly would prefer my bees to be their natural size.
5(ABC XYZ of beekeeping 1945 edition page 125-126.) Baudoux 1893Made bees larger by using larger cells. Pinchot, Gontarski and others got the size up as large as 5.74mm. But AI Root’s first foundation was 5 cells to an inch which is 5.08mm. Later he started making it 4.83 cells per inch. This is equivalent to 5.26mm.(ABC XYZ of beekeeping 1945 edition page )
6“The leading cause of problems is solutions.” Severide’s Law“The leading cause of problems is solutions.”
21Tanzanian Top Bar HiveI started this hive with one bar with a blank starter strip and the rest of the bars with no comb guide at all in a five frame medium nuc. The spacing was what the bees built. I then moved that to an eight frame box and when it was full a ten frame box so 9 of the first ten bars had no comb guides at all. After I moved them to the long hive (33 frames) I put some comb guides on the rest because I was afraid they would go wild.
29What I’ve done to get natural comb Top Bar HivesFoundationless FramesBlank Starter StripsFree Form Comb
30Free form combI also took measurments on things like this. It’s all comb build on the inner cover.
31What I’ve done to get natural comb Top Bar HivesFoundationless FramesBlank Starter StripsFree Form CombEmpty Frame Between Drawn Combs
32How much difference between natural and “normal”? When you figure this in one dimension, diameter, it doesn’t sound like much. But how much is it in 3 dimensions?Standard 5.43 =Small cell 4.93 =Natural 4.63 =
36Things that affect cell size Worker intention for the comb at the time it was drawn:Drone broodWorker broodHoney storageThe size of the bees drawing the combThe spacing of the top barsThe spacing of the comb appears to be a clue to the bees of what the intended USE for the comb is.
37What is Regression?Large bees, from large cells, cannot build natural sized cells. They build something in between. Most will build 5.1mm worker brood cells.The next brood cycle will build cells in the 4.9mm range.The only complication with converting back to Natural or Small cell is this need for regression.
38RegressingTo regress, cull out empty brood combs and let bees build what they want (or give them 4.9mm foundation)After they have raised brood on that, repeat the process.Do this the same way you cull out brood combs. But cull them because they are above 4.9mm instead of because they have too much drone or are too dark. Swap them out when they are empty or don’t have brood in them.
39Observations on natural cell size First there is no one size of cells nor one size of worker brood cells in a hive. Huber’s observations on bigger bees from bigger cells was directly because of this. The bees draw a variety of cell sizes which create a variety of bee sizes. Perhaps these different castes serve the purposes of the hive with more diversity of abilities.
40Observations on cell size The first “generation” of bees from a typical hive (artificially enlarged bees) usually builds about 5.1mm cells for worker brood. This varies a lot, but typically this is the center of the brood nest. Some bees will go smaller faster.
41Observations on Cell Size The next generation of bees will build worker brood comb in the range of 4.9mm to 5.1mm with some smaller and some larger.The spacing, if left to these “regressed” bees is typically 32mm or 1 ¼” in the center of the brood nest
421 ¼” spacing agrees with Huber’s Observations The leaf or book hive consists of twelve vertical frames… and their breadth fifteen lines (one line= 1/12 of an inch. 15 lines = 1 ¼”). It is necessary that this last measure should be accurate;François Huber 1806
43Comb Width by Cell Size According to Baudoux Cell Size mm Comb width mmABC XYZ of Bee Culture 1945 edition Pg 126
46Comb spacing Workers space comb based on their intended use. Workers perceive the intended use based on spacing.Worker brood area will be 1 ¼” (32mm)Worker mixed with drone to will be 1 3/8” (35mm)Honey storage 1 ½” (38mm) to 2”What this means is that cell size is if we determine the spacing of the combs we affect the size of the cell.
47Pre and Post capping times and Varroa 8 hours shorter capping time halves the number of Varroa infesting a brood cell.8 hours shorter post capping time halves the number of offspring of a Varroa in the brood cell.
48Capped 9 days after egg layed Emerges 21 days after egg layed Accepted days for capping and Post Capping (based on observing bees on 5.4mm comb)Capped 9 days after egg layedEmerges 21 days after egg layed
49Huber’s Observations on Natural Comb Capped 8 days after egg layedEmerged 18.5 days after egg layed3(egg)+5(vermicular)+1.5(cappi ng)+3(capped larva)+6(nymph)=18.5If the day the egg is layed is the first day then this would be half way through the twentieth day.
50Huber’s Observations on Natural Comb “The worm of workers passes three days in the egg, five in the vermicular state, and then the bees close up its cell with a wax covering. The worm now begins spinning its cocoon, in which operation thirty-six hours are consumed. In three days, it changes to a nymph, and passes six days in this form. It is only on the twentieth day of its existence, counting from the moment the egg is laid, that it attains the fly state.”FRANCIS HUBER 4 September 1791.
51My observations on 4.95mm cell size Capped 8 days after layedEmerged 19 days after layed
52Why would I want natural sized cells? Less Varroa Because:Capping times shorter by 24 hoursLess Varroa in the cell when it’s cappedPostcapping times shorter by 24 hoursLess Varroa reach maturity and mate by emergenceMore chewing out of Varroa
53How to get natural sized cells. Top bar hives.Make the bars 32mm (1 ¼”) for the brood areaMake the bars 38mm (1 ½”) for the honey areaFoundationless frames.Make a “comb guide” like Langstroth did (see Langstroth’s Hive and the Honey-Bee”Also helpful to cut down end bars to 1 ¼”Blank starter stripsUse a brine soaked board and dip it in wax to make blank sheets. Cut these into ¾” wide strips and put in the frames.
54How to get small cells Use 4.9mm foundation Use 4.9mm Honey Super Cell (fully drawn)Use 4.95mm Mann Lake PF100 or PF120Use 4.9mm starter strips?
56So what are natural sized cells I have measured a lot of natural drawn combs. I have seen worker brood in the range of 4.6mm to 5.1mm with most in the 4.7 to 4.8 ranges. I have not seen any large areas of 5.4mm cells. So I would have to say:
57Based on my measurements of natural worker brood comb: ConclusionBased on my measurements of natural worker brood comb:There is nothing UNnatural about 4.9mm worker cells.5.4mm worker cells are not the norm in a brood nest.Small cell has been adequate for me to have hives that are stable against Varroa mites with no treatments.
58Contact Michael Bush bees at bushfarms dot com www.bushfarms.com Book: The Practical Beekeeper
60Let's assume a short term study (which all of them have been) during the drone rearing time of the year (which all of them have been) and make the assumption for the moment that Dee Lusby's "psuedodrone" theory is true, meaning that with large cell the Varroa often mistake large cell workers for drone cells and therefore infest them more. Then the Varroa in the large cell hives during that time would be less successful because they are in the wrong cells (worker). The Varroa, during that time would be more successful on the small cell because they are in the drone cells. But later in the year this may shift dramatically when, first of all the small cell workers have not taken damage from the Varroa and second of all the drone rearing drops off and the mites have nowhere to go.
61"Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth." --Blaise Pascal"All models are wrong, but some are useful" --George E.P. Box
62Observations of Beekeepers vs Observations of Scientists "It will be readily appreciated that in the course of many years and daily contact with bees, the professional bee- keeper will of necessity gain a knowledge and insight into the mysterious ways of the honeybee, usually denied to the scientist in the laboratory and the amateur in possession of a few colonies. Indeed, a limited practical experience will inevitably lead to views and conclusions, which are often completely at variance to the findings of a wide practical nature." --Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey, Brother Adam
63“If it's working for you, you should keep doing it.”--Jennifer Berry Quotes from conversation between Jennifer Berry, Michael Bush, Dann Purvis and others“If it's working for you, you should keep doing it.”--Jennifer Berry“The criteria is easy, it's not about counting mites, it's about survival.”--Dann Purvis
64Quote from Randy Oliver “If you're not part of the genetic solution ofbreeding mite-tolerant bees, then you're part of the problem”
65QuestionIf natural/small cell size will control Varroa, why did all the feral bees die off?AnswerThe problem is that this question typically comes with several assumptions.
66The first assumption is that the feral bees have all but died out. I have not found this to be true. I see a lot of feral bees and I see more every year.
67The second assumption is that when some of the feral bees did die, that they all died from Varroa mites.A lot of things happened to the bees in this country including Tracheal mites, and viruses. I'm sure some of the survival from some of this is a matter of selection. The ones that couldn't withstand them died.
68The third assumption is that huge numbers of mites hitchhiking in on robbers can't overwhelm a hive no matter how well they handle Varroa.Tons of crashing domestic hives were bound to take a toll. Even if you have a fairly small and stable local population of Varroa, a huge influx from outside will overwhelm a hive.
69The fourth assumption is that a recently escaped swarm will build small cell. They will build something in between. For many years most of the feral bees were recent escapees. The population of feral bees was kept high by a lot of recent escapees and, in the past, those escapees often survived. It's only recently I've seen a shift in the population to be the dark bees rather than the Italians that look like they are recent. Large bees (bees from 5.4 mm foundation) build an in between sized comb, usually around 5.1 mm. So these recently swarmed domestic bees are not fully regressed and often die in the first year or two.
70The fifth assumption is that small cell beekeepers don't believe there is also a genetic component to the survival of bees with Varroa.Obviously there are bees that are more or less hygienic and more or less able to deal with many pests and diseases. Whenever a new disease or pest comes along the ferals have to survive them without any help.
71The sixth assumption is that the feral bees suddenly died. The bees have been diminishing for the last 50 years fairly steadily from pesticide misuse, loss of habitat and forage, and more recently from bee paranoia. People hear about AHB and kill any swarm they see.
72Historic cell size measurements 1877 version of ABC of Beeculture, on page 147 says:"The best specimens of true worker-comb, generally contain 5 cells within the space of an inch, and therefore this measure has been adopted for the comb foundation."
73The 41st edition of ABC XYZ of Bee Culture on Page 160 (under Cell Size) says: "The size of naturally constructed cells has been a subject of beekeeper and scientific curiosity since Swammerdam measured them in the 1600s. Numerous subsequent reports from around the world indicate that the diameter of naturally constructed cells ranges from 4.8 to 5.4mm. Cell diameter varies between geographic areas, but the overall range has not changed from the 1600s to the present time."
74And further down on the same page: "reported cell size for Africanized honey bees averages mm."
75Marla Spivak and Eric Erickson in "Do measurements of worker cell size reliably distinguish Africanized from European honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)?" -- American Bee Journal v. April 1992, p says:
76"...a continuous range of behaviors and cell size measurements was noted between colonies considered "strongly European" and "strongly Africanized". "
77"Due to the high degree of variation within and among feral and managed populations of Africanized bees, it is emphasized that the most effective solution to the Africanized "problem", in areas where Africanized bees have established permanent populations, is to consistently select for the most gentle and productive colonies among the existing honey bee population"
78From: Identification and relative success of Africanized and European honey bees in Costa Rica. Spivak, M