Bees and Neonics v’s CCD

 

Everyone likes to talk about Neonics or neonicotinoid insecticides used mostly as a seed treatment for a variety of plants from Corn to Canola (Rapeseed Oil), Sunflowers and more. But what exactly are we being told and is it true.

Seems that at every corner I read about how Neonics are killing bees and we need to Ban the neonics or bees and humans will die… Man oh man oh man what a load of baloney… Never in all my life have I been subjected to such a load of crap… Not one study has proven a link between Neonics and beehive CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) but I am constantly bombarded by well-intentioned greenies who behave like Anti-smokers who don’t like the smell of smoke so they make all kinds of wild inaccurate and false accusations because they don’t like Monsanto or Bayer Corp as they make insecticides that kill bugs and yes in high enough concentrations they do kill bees.

The country with the highest usage of Neonics is AUSTRALIA and CCD has not happened here in Australia. We have had bad years where lots of bees died but nothing like ccd in the US and EU and the season of 2013-2014 saw the worst honey production in 200 years and lots of bees died over winter but this was all down to seasonal factors and nothing to do with ccd or Neonics.

Facts yes Facts just don’t support any connection for Neonics as a cause of CCD. Bee deaths in large numbers have been recorded as happening for thousands of years and we have detailed records of major bee death events in almost every country such as 950, 992 and 1443 in Ireland where most bees died for unknown reasons or there is the isle of white where 90% of bees died between 1905 and 1919 with three separate epidemics so it’s not unusual and its relatively common and it’s been happening before chemicals like Neonics arrived and will continue to happen after neonics are forgotten.

So what’s different today compared to before mmm not much really but I could say its frequency appears to have increased and the media coverage has increased and Cell size has increased. What most people don’t know is that many of the Organic beekeepers that stay well away from neonics were also affected by CCD but most small cell beekeepers were relatively unaffected by CCD.

So if it’s not Neonics and it’s not the crap beekeepers put in hives and it’s not farm chemicals then WTF is it that’s causing CCD to happen more frequently than in the past.

Fact is nobody knows……… but like a number of people who follow the science I would like to hazard an educated guess and say it’s no one issue but a number of issues all tied together.

First and foremost is its caused primarily by a Virus of some sort and given we have hundreds of records going back several thousand years describing exactly CCD this is the most likely answer. Secondly the frequency has increased and that is where all the other stuff comes in such as the chemicals used in hives to control Varroa Destructor or fungal issues, the chemicals found on farms of all types, the trucking of bees all around the country, bad management practices by beekeepers plus general environment instability are all contributors to added levels of stress that are allowing these reasonably common bee viruses to get out of control and then Bingo all the bees disappear often leaving just the queen and a handful of bees and all the bees affected by the virus left the hive and only those left behind have escaped the effects of the virus so no real evidence is left to be found and other bees seem to wait 3 to 4 weeks before entering those hives to rob out the left behind honey thus avoiding infection from the virus…….

So what can be done to lessen the impact of such virus attacks? And there devastating effects on bees!

Most small cell beekeepers ie cell size of 4.9mm or below have been relatively unaffected by CCD and generally don’t move there hives around much and don’t use any chemicals in their hives so for me this has to be part of the answer but it’s unlikely to be the only answer and given that CCD has not affected the Asian Honey bee Apis Cerana which has small cells of 4.8mm and below its likely a great place to start.

Lastly I would also say that many of the commercial operators affected by ccd don’t allow there bees access to a full variety of herbal plants that could help to protect bees from virus attacks and there is much to be said for providing a rich variety of herbal plants wherever you have bees to give them better health and vigour and in particular plants like Borage, Evening primrose, Teatree Leptospermum, Chamomile, Rosemary, Echinacea, Hyssop, Lemon balm, Sage and Bee balm to name a few have all been shown to help protect bees and improve there general health.

For further reading on this issue have a look at the following websites and happy beekeeping.

Had to include this quote As H. L. Mencken said, ‘For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.'

http://www.science20.com/jon_entine/part_ii_bee_deaths_and_ccd_flawed_chensheng_lu_harvard_studies_endanger_bees-149799

http://www.science20.com/timberati/blog/the_bees_knees_question_what_do_the_years_of_992_1443_1853_and_1903_have_in_common-138571

http://www.science20.com/jon_entine/part_i_bee_deaths_mystery_solved_neonicotinoids_neonics_may_actually_help_bee_health-149615

http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0006481

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2736458/

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/318/5848/283.short

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

 

 

Small Cell Bees

What compelling reasons do Hobby and commercial beekeepers have to use small cell foundation in there beehives?

It’s a debate that has been around for over 100 years since the introduction of larger cell size foundation and today the debate surrounds the bee’s ability to control disease vectors without dying and with little or no chemical imputes on small cell foundation.

Let’s forget for a moment about small cell and disease control and look at one aspect of small cell bees and why the home hobby beekeeper and the Commercial beekeeper would want to have small cell foundation in their hives.

Firstly just to be clear for everyone that no study of any type has ever found any detriment to having small cell bees in their hives. Only arguing about if it can or cannot be used for disease control!

So why have small cell Foundation in your hive i.e. cell size of 4.8mm, 4.83mm, 4.9mm, 5.0mm to a maximum size of 5.1mm are all considered small cell sizes for foundation whilst current large cell size commercially available foundation ranges from 5.3mm, 5.4mm 5.5mm 5.6mm up to a whopping 5.7mm and some even bigger!!!!!!!!

$MONEY$ yes small cell bees make more $MONEY$

This can’t be true you say but hey there have been quite a number of people who have stated this long and loud but nobody was listening………… “Are you listening Now”………. It’s not the first time I have made this argument and it won’t be the last time.

How can small cell bees make you more money compared to large cell bees?

Some important facts to understand about bees!

1

Bees make a number of different cell sizes and the deeper the combe the smaller the cell size gets and natural small cell bees usually start around 5.1mm and go down to 4.7mm and smaller

 

2

The size of the cell effects the time it takes for a bee to hatch and the difference can be up to 2 days earlier hatching on 4.8mm cell size bees compared to 5.4mm and larger cell size bees

 

3

Small cell bees of 4.8mm to 4.9mm size foundation live longer from 8 to 12 and often up to 16 weeks compared to a general 6 weeks for large cell bees on 5.4mm or above foundation size.

 

 

Knowing and understanding these three pieces of information should be enough for most people to see that you are going to end up with more bees in your box and in simple terms more bees equals more honey equals more $MONEY$

Just how many more bees are we talking about??????????????

Under normal conditions with a good queen she will lay around 2000 to a generally accepted 3000 eggs a day. If the bees normally only live for 6 weeks during the summer then that’s between 80,000 to 126,000 bees in the box!

If the bees live longer by just 2 weeks we end up with a hive of 112,000 to 168,000 bees in the box and that’s up to double the number of bees and you can easily expect an increase of 20% to 50% more $ honey $

More bees equals more $honey$ so if the bees live for an extra 4 weeks compared to large cell bees then you can expect a colony size that’s very large from 140,000 to 210,000

And if by some accounts the small cell bees can live for up to 6 weeks longer than large cell bees then you could end up with 168,000 to 252,000 bees in your box. That’s a tripling of the number of bees and $HONEY$ compared to large cell foundation bees.

Smaller bees are faster flyers and more agile and able to escape predators so more bees return to the hive faster and less predation on the colony and they eat less with more frequent return journeys. The older a bee is the smarter it gets and can pass this information onto other bees so having longer living bees!!! has many advantages.

Now if the bees hatch just 1 to 3 days quicker this makes for a much smaller more compact brood chamber that’s easier to manage and keep warm and requires less bees to manage it and this frees up bees for other duties like cleaning the hive and foraging so more bees are able to go out and collect $honey$ and pollen.

What’s the catch? Why doesn’t everyone use small cell foundation in there beehives.

Until recently it simply was not generally available to purchase in most places around the world because the 5.3mm and 5.4mm where the accepted norm dating back around a 100 years when people believed having a bigger bee would allow it to have a longer tongue and thus access more flowers but this simply does not happen i.e. it’s not true.

Today the debate rages over small cell bee’s ability to fight disease and survive Varroa destructor and once again completely misses the point of small cell bees.

Now with small cell foundation being relatively easy to purchase or make yourself it’s easy to make the switch but bees have now been manipulated to be bigger for around 100 years and some bees take time to epigenetically re-adapt to the smaller cell size of 4.8mm or 4.9mm but most bees are fine with 5.1mm but true epigenetically small cell adapted bees takes around 5 years and a little patience but most people see a big difference in year 3 of this process with a 30% plus increase in honey production and after 5 years you are getting all the benefits of small cell bees.

Am I saying this just because I have small cell foundation for sale…NO. and I am not the only person with small cell foundation for sale I am sure. I have been talking about the benefits of small cell foundation for a long time before getting any foundation equipment of my own and anyone willing to do just a modicum of research will come to the same conclusions.

If you want to know more just give me a call. Or you could read my other articles about why small cell bees and why they are the way of the future for beekeepers around the world.

one very good article about cell size can be found here http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm  and here  www.resistantbees.com

 

 

 

 

Small cell bees a controversial subject

Why have bees on foundation cell size of 4.8mm to 4.9mm????

 

Are there compelling reasons why a beekeeper would choose to regress there bees down to a 4.8mm or 4.83mm or 4.9mm or at least down to 5.1mm wax foundation cell size compared to the standard of 5.4mm or 5.7mm up to 6.8mm wax foundation cell size used throughout most of the beekeeping community worldwide?

For the past year I have been combing through article after article about bees, I have been reading every book I can get my hands on and studying this subject in the most intense manner and I have come to the understanding that the standard wax starter used by most beekeepers is totally UNNATURAL and is outside the normal range of natural cell size’s used by bees. I recently grabbed samples of comb from old ferrel colonies and measured the cells and in all cases the breading chamber cells where 4.8mm to 4.9mm which fits totally with all historical records of natural cell size for bees. In many countries where beekeepers are not experiencing disease issues its common that the beekeepers use only starter strips in there frames or go foundation less in there frames and this allows the bees to make natural comb that ranges from 4.8mm to 5.1mm for the main worker breeding chamber so the use of starter foundation wax with a printed cell size of 5.4mm or above is I repeat OUTSIDE the normal range of what is natural for bees.

This unnatural size has become so ingrained in the beekeeping community that the mere mention of using 4.8mm cell size is likely to have you excommunicated from most beekeeping clubs and here in Australia it’s almost impossible to find anyone selling commercially produced 4.8mm foundation wax. In fact most commercially produced wax foundation in Australia is not even labelled to tell you what the cell size is, so if you don’t take along your verniers and measure the cell size at the shop you don’t even know what you are buying.

What I don’t understand is why this unnatural standard has persisted within the beekeeping community and continues to be propagated and supported by the beekeeping communities and government authorities around the world as I believe there are very strong and compelling reasons to get bees back to a more natural standard foundation size of 4.8mm to 4.9mm

Beekeepers have spent the past 100 years using unnatural foundation cell sizes of 5.4mm to 6.8mm and as a result bees have become about 5% to 15% larger than they were in the past. The consequences of this are vast and fare reaching in all areas of bee culture from disease control to the bees’ ability to fly and compete.

This is a debate that has been raging for the past 20 or more years and seems to have no end but one thing is clearly accepted by all parties and that’s the historical evidence going back hundreds of years that shows very clearly that all apis mellifera spp bees in the past had a cell size range of 4.8mm to a maximum of 5.3mm in the main breeding chamber. The majority of mellifera bees only use cell sizes from 4.8mm to 5.1mm with just a few examples from tropical area of up to 5.3mm

Before the use of pre-printed foundation and removable frames beekeepers always let the bees do their own thing and then along comes man with his wisdom and we know better attitude and as always we decided to overly interfere with a natural system that was working quite nicely all by itself till we intruded in there natural ways. Now bees are having so many issues it’s amazing they are still alive with all the insect pests and diseases and chemicals we use both on the bees and chemicals we use in the bees wider foraging environment.

Regressing bees back to the smaller cell sizes of 4.8mm to 4.9mm can take up to 5 years before the full range of benefits emerges so any study that is less than 5 years in length cannot and will not show the true value of this process. Most scientists trying to regress bees back to small cell foundation were not successful in this process and resorted to full depth plastic small cell foundation to compensate for their lack of ability in properly regressing there bees and then they preceded to get results that were at odds with the experiences of those who have been successful at full regression and these bad results have been used by many people to deter beekeepers from regressing there bees back to small cell size foundation of 4.8mm. This is the same bullshit science that you can observe in the diet industry but most people have no training or desire to spend hours and hours a day reading all the available material in order to get to the truth of the matter. Reports of there being no benefit in regressing bees to small cell foundation in connection to Varoa control without going the full 5 years for the regression process to be completed are simply false because it takes time for the genetics of bees to normalise back to their original standard. Re-queening each year for 5 years with your own queens is the only way and in the 4th or 5th year you will finally see a tremendous difference with your bees compared to the old bee stock. Every time you buy a queen from outside your apiary you will need to go through this process with the new queen unless it’s from a fully regressed small cell 4.8mm up to 5.1mm breeder.

So what are the compelling reasons why beekeepers might choose to go against the established culture of using unnatural cell size’s and go through the process of regressing there now oversized bees back to their original natural size of 5% to 15% smaller than the bees we are breeding today?

Advantages of small cell bees bread on foundation of 4.8mm to 4.9mm

  • Smaller bees collect more honey
  • Smaller bees fly better so they can collect more honey
  • Smaller bees are faster flyers so they can out compete the opposition and collect more honey
  • Smaller bees use less energy so they don’t use as much honey (More honey for the beekeeper)
  • Smaller drones are faster and more successful at mating and can compete better with feral bees thus improving open mating of bee yard stock and feral colonies
  • More bees in the breeding chamber making a more compact breeding chamber requiring less heat to keep bee brood alive.

o   Full depth plastic frames of 4.8mm to 5.1mm cells do not achieve this extra density of brood and should not and cannot be used as part of any trial as it nullifies all results. It has been shown as a tool that can be used for some bees in the process of regression where bees didn’t naturally want to regress and its lazy bad science to use this method and the results cannot be trusted.

  • Smaller bees live longer

o   They can live for 8 to 12 weeks during summer compared to the Average of 6 weeks for our current artificially enlarged bees

o   By living longer they can double the number of bees in a hive to an average of 120 thousand or more

o   The longer they live the more honey they can collect

  • Shorter breeding cycle

o   Smaller bees hatch 1 to 2 days quicker than larger bees

o   Quicker turn around in the re-use of the breeding cell allows for more bees in the hive and better use of the breeding chamber

o   This also has an effect on the Varoa Mite breeding cycle and makes them less effective at breeding in the hive

o   Diseases and fungus have a shorter window of opportunity to be destructive on the brood

o   All this means you get more bees per area in a quicker time frame, shorter time for spring build up.

o   More bees means more honey and a cleaner hive with less disease.

  • As bees get a little smaller the pests of bees appear larger to the bee.

o   Varoa becomes bigger to the bees and this allows better management by the bees and leads to better control of Varoa.

o   If the pest on your back is 5% to 15% larger you are naturally more aware of its presence and this greater awareness will automatically lead to better control by the bees of Varoa and better survival rates

o   Increased survival rate from Varoa Destructor and tracheal mites by 30% to 40%

  • Better general disease control. Smaller natural sized bees generally handle pests and diseases better than there artificially enlarged brethren
  • Higher disease and mite survival rates means it’s easier to stop using poisons in the hive and allow natural selection with no chemical controls to determine which bees to breed from.
  • You get to save money by Not Paying for chemicals to poison your hives and diminish your bees survivability in a natural environment
  • With better general survival rates the genetic diversity is kept and further breeding options are retained.

So is cell size the answer to all our prayers, absolutely not as it is just one of the many issues facing bees today. There will be people who totally disagree with everything I have listed above but the number of people who are having great success with small cell foundation is growing and they don’t need to use any chemicals in their hives anymore and it’s easier to do than risk 100% colony deaths trying to achieve this on oversized bees as the general survival rate of fully regressed bees is clearly much higher. There are some very small number of beekeepers who have achieved no imputes on large cell foundation but they are far and away the minority in this debate as most beekeepers claiming success with no imputes i.e. no chemicals or poisons are using small cell foundation bees.

The use of Small cell foundation is just one part of the management of your bees that can be used by the beekeeper to finally gain the upper hand against issues such as disease and Varoa Destructor Mites. Bee breeding programs are ongoing and many alternative solutions can and will be found but for now this has been shown as the only truly working solution to many of these issues and I highly recommend that governments and scientists take this issue seriously and do the proper science on fully regressed bees and show clearly the way to regress oversized bees back to smaller cell size without cutting corners to avoid false and misleading information whilst remembering it’s about survival and has nothing to do with mite numbers. Mite number counting as done by many people and scientists tells you nothing about the colonies ability to survive which in the end is the only thing that matters. The bees that survive will be your honey producers of the future and they need to survive regardless of the mite population.

In Summery

Using all the available tools to help the survival of your bees makes sense and to dismiss a tool without truly trying it is to miss an opportunity that just might save your bees.

It therefore makes since that beekeepers should have a wide range of genetic stock in there apiary’s and after several years of survivors a new class of bee will emerge and there is your perfect queen a great survivor.

The biggest problem you face is finding someone to supply foundation of 4.83mm or 5.1mm as these are not as yet common sizes for commercially available foundation. Here in Australia it is simply not available as far as I know. To this end I am currently purchasing my own foundation rolling machine from china and will start making my own foundation at 4.83mm. Due to the cost of these machines it’s not practical for the backyard beekeeper to do this so we need more commercial availability of small cell size foundation. Ask and demand your local supplier to provide a wider range of foundation cell sizes is the only way we will see a change in this industry.

Feel free to contact me about getting some small cell foundation for your hives.

Further reading can be found here and there is always Google http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

 

 

Bee and beehive Diseases Part 3

Organic Beekeeping methods for the control and management of healthy bees

 

When reading much of the available literature from beekeepers who are claiming success in there fight with Varoa Destructor it becomes very clear that nothing works perfectly from day one and getting back to a sustainable organic treatment free method of beekeeping will take a bit of persistence over several years to get it right.

 

So here is a list of some of the things I believe will go a long way towards having treatment free beehives.

The Main Points to consider;

  1. Use small cell foundation on all your hives 4.8mm or 4.83mm or 4.9mm
    1. The best size is 4.83mm but this is not available at this point in time so use Apis Cerana 4.8mm foundation from Asia or 4.9mm if available from your local supplier

                                                    i.     Demand small cell foundation from your local supplier

  1. Not all bees will be able to draw out the new comb properly in the first or second year

                                                    i.     So pinch the queen and let bees make a new queen.

                                                   ii.     Repeat pinching of queen every 6 months till you get a queen and workers that are ok with the smaller cell size.

                                                  iii.     For colonies that just will not draw out the small cell sizes properly you may pinch the queen and introduce a queen from the bees that did draw out the comb correctly.

  1. Remove ventilation from the top of your hives
    1. Use a flat lid with no ventilation and no cavity space on the top of your hive

                                                    i.     Lid can be insulated if need

  1. Bees like a constant temperature of 32c to 35c and top ventilation means the bees have to work constantly to heat the brood wasting energy and effort that could be used elsewhere.
  2. Cooler temperatures in the hive allow Varoa to breed better
  3. Remove tin or fill gap with insulation from the top of the hive as tin heats up to much and can cook the bees on really hot days
  1. Give your hives a really good forward tilt to allow any condensation build up in winter to flow out the front of the hive and not drip on the brood chamber
    1. Good strong hives will quickly clean up any mould from winter as soon as the temperature warms up and hive numbers increase in spring
  2. Don’t move bees around
    1. Find ways to have bees permanently located rather than constantly transported
    2. Orchard owners etc. who have bees permanently on their properties will be forced to manage there orchards in a better way when they have to consider the health of the bees on there property
  3. Don’t feed sugar to bees
    1. Never feed bees unless you absolutely have to because you truly believe they will die of hunger

                                                    i.     Always leave honey in the hives over winter

                                                   ii.     Leave more than you believe they need as it’s better to leave more rather than less.

                                                  iii.     Collect pollen from your bees and if need feed it back to them in times of dearth.

                                                  iv.     Feed only honey to your bees.

                                                   v.     Use the honey you took and make pollen patties.

  1. Plant herbs such as Borage around the hives to give bee’s access to a variety of pollen and nectar types that help protect bees against disease such as Foul brood.
    1. Commercial beekeepers should ensure they over winter in areas with a large mix of herbs for winter and spring forage to ensure maximum health of the bees.
    2. Fields and areas devoid of flowers and herbs encourages disease
  2. STOP using poisons in the hive like miticides and fungicides
    1. There will be a transition period from large to small cell size
    2. During this time only treat hives that show wingless bees DWV
    3. Better to let them die and restock from those that survive because in the long run this will give you the best bees

Here in Australia we have an amazing opportunity to make the transition back to a smaller more natural bee before the Varoa mite arrives and if beekeepers around Australia can do it we are unlikely to suffer from the massive bee deaths that would occur today if Varoa arrived here today.

The issues mentioned here are just the start of a process that will take many years to make the transition to smaller cell size bees that are more naturally resistant to Varoa and other diseases.

Other points to consider

  1. Frame spacing is another problem because when we transition down to a smaller bee the frame spacing needs to be different.
    1. Although this is not critical in making the transition it will become an issue over time and we need to do more study to determine the best new spacing’s for smaller bees.
    2. Possibly around 25mm to 26mm
    3. Once we know the correct spacing it should be easy to remove a smidgin of the side of frames to bring the spacing a little closer. Or simply replace all frames with new frames of the correct size.
  2. Hive Timber thickness
    1. Whilst we continue to use overly thin lightweight timbers we will always have greater disease issues in bees
    2. What is the best timber thickness to use has yet to be determined but thicker I am convinced it should be.
    3. Commercial beekeepers will not like to use heavier boxes so maybe smaller boxes are required to keep the weight down combined with light weight timbers
    4. Maybe 7 frame boxes with thicker timbers would make an ideal match and still be compatible with current boxes.
    5. More research is required to determine the optimal timber types and thickness for bees
  3. The use of rough sawn timber for beehives to allow helper insects to establish colonies in the hives
    1. Making grooves and finding ways to incorporate helper spp insects such as pseudoscorpions to live in the hives with bees and help bees just a little to control pest spp like wax moth and hive beetles.
    2. More research is required on beneficial spp that are able to live side by side with bees
  4. Apiculture clubs and government authorities need to take seriously the issue of small cell size and its impact in controlling disease
    1. All beekeeper clubs need to start informing there members about the use of small cell bees and the process involved in transitioning to smaller bees
    2. Governments need to encourage beekeepers to make the transition and to fund more studies on the best ways to make the transition
  5. Commercial beekeepers who transport bees for pollination services and chasing honey flows in native forests will be the hardest hit by the introduction of Varoa into Australia
    1. A failure of these people to transition now to small cell bees when we still don’t have this pest will see many of these operators go out of business as they are likely to lose 100% of their bees in the first and second years of Varoa infestation
    2. The importation of Varoa resistant Queens from the EU and the USA must start now and combined with a transition to smaller bees will guard against economic ruin of the Australian Honey industry
    3. Varoa quickly develops resistance to miticides so it’s important to do all we can to develop bees that do not require any chemical imputes to control this pest spp.
    4. By the time Varoa arrives in Australia it is likely that they will be completely resistant to all chemical control methods
  6. Develop ways to encourage symbiotic relationships
    1. The use of chemicals in the hive breaks down the symbiotic relationships available to bees from helper spp even if there is little evidence of their true value at this stage.
    2. Many forms or Bacteria and Fungus are required by bees to ferment pollen to make the protein available for there digestion so when we use chemicals that disrupt this process it’s like humans and penicillin. We need to take probiotics to replace the bacteria in our systems after using bacteria killing drugs or we become unhealthy and bees are no different.
  7. Asia does not have most of these issues
    1. If you are looking for evidence of disease resistance based on size just look at all of Asia where they have little or no issues with mites on there bees. Even there Mellifera spp bees use the 4.8mm cell size the same as the Cerana spp as many beekeepers in Asia simply retained the bees in there natural size and just don’t have many of the issues we have.

 

 

Have I answered all your Questions?  J

Probably not but I hope I have shown the possibility of having healthy bees free from chemical manipulation. I will attempt to document my own adventures as I also need to transition my bees over to small cell foundation this coming September and will start selling small cell foundation within the next few months as I start the process of replacing all my foundation with new small cell foundation in preparation for the springtime as it’s now too late in the season for any major manipulation of my hives.

All beekeepers are responsible for the health of there bees and ignoring cell size as a major contributing factor in the health of bees and doing nothing about it is simple negligence. It’s not the only way of dealing with Varoa but it’s the only chemical free way of dealing with Varoa that has been utterly proven to work. The only issue is how long will the transition take? And will I get all my bees fully adapted back to small cell foundation before the Varoa Mite arrives.

 

Just one final note is that after researching and writing all this information I realised I had never actually measured the foundation I have been using. The foundation I had been using appears to have come from my local supplier but was not purchased by me and I was utterly shocked by the size and you can see the pictures below. At 5.85mm to 5.87mm cell size I was shocked to see just how big the cell size was that I have been using as starter comb. I am now very glade that I have only been using it as a strip of starter comb no more than 2 inches wide. I believe this is the standard size being sold here in Melbourne Australia so anyone using this size comb is in for a very rude shock when Varoa comes to Australia as this size comb will encourage Varoa Destructor spp to bread at unprecedented rates and the kill rate will be shocking. I will be replacing all this wax very shortly. It will be melted down and re-printed into a more bee friendly and healthy 4.8mm or 4.83mm or 4.9mm cell size which are the only proven cell sizes that truly work for the bees fighting against pests and diseases

Every comment I have made is based on information freely available on the net and I have spent the past year trying to discern truth from exaggeration

If you read this far I would love some comments and feedback on this interesting subject. Have you tried small cell size would you like to try small cell size foundation? If you’re in Melbourne give me a call and I am happy to talk about this and any bee related subjects any time

Send me an email via the contact page or Facebook or give me a Call  (Steve 0450562021)