I have shared the performance of this colony which had almost a box of plastic small cell frames and natural positioning of these frames (as the uppermost broodbox). Which also had a tough experience with mice living in the bottom box during winter.

It gave top crop the first crop of winter rape, dandelions and some raspberry. It showed no wingless bees this year early on as it did last year. But it had an old queen. So the colony decided to shift it’s queen and did. Now they showed a few wingless bees. I concluded that was due to the declining amount of open brood to enter for the mites, son inte last brood of the old queen there was enough concentration of mites to develop some wingless bees. But to be consistent with my way of working I gave the colony 9 grams (two pieces) of thymol dish pieces. Next time no wingless bees.

My impression is that the colony is not performing less good with plastic small cell and natural positioning. Thus the conclusion is that plastic small cell frames are not negative for the bees, neither what I call natural positioning. If any of these configurations are positive is difficult to say. An overall smaller mite pressure in the apiary and the area could be the explanation. Due to epigenetic changes that have improved the bees, or/and conventional selection has done its job with the genepool in the apiary/area. Also plastic small cell frames and natural positioning may have contributed. At least plastic small cell may have good influence as there are more cells for each comb, thus faster buildup.

MT-colony conclusion
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5 thoughts on “MT-colony conclusion

  • July 15, 2014 at 10:34

    Hello Erik,
    I personally would and I’m actually using plastic SC combs only for regression. As I learned mites don’t like higher temperature and hence, higher cell density (as it occurs for 4,9 cell size which result in 25% more cells/comb) plus a comb distance of 32-33mm are beneficial for a higher brood nest temperature. Besides the negative effect on mites the higher brood temperature benefits the life time of worker bees. Therefore, my conclusion was that plastic frames have usually thicker cell walls and therefore, cell density is smaller compared to wax combs. Furthermore, at least for Rovergarden plastic frames the developement of two more or less comparable swarms given to either plastic frames and wax frames showed after a some weeks double as much brood combs for the bee wax hive compared to the plastic hive.

    So for me it’s surprising, that your plastic frame hive performs so well…:-). Maybe this bees are perfectly adapted to plastic.



    • July 15, 2014 at 13:32

      The Mann Lake Standard plastic frame which I use has plastic foundation with 4.95 mm cellsize measured over ten cells in a row. The Rovergarden you use has fully “built” plastic cells, thus thicker cell walls and measured over ten cells these 4.9 cells are not 4.9 cm over ten cells but something more like 5.3-5.4 cm. You can measure and tell us. I use quite a lot of wax when I roll liquid wax on the foundation, but sometimes it’s discussed that bees communicate through vibrating the wax. If so, maybe then can do that with the plastic as well. Another thing, I’ve seen quite a lot how the bees for different reason change the cellsize when they draw 4.9 foundation. Maybe what they want, but sometimes it’s more of the bigger type than I like. WIth the plastic foundation they can’t do that. But what happens is that if you don’t supply them with enough possibilities to draw drone comb, they may draw that anyhow on the plastic foundation.

      • July 15, 2014 at 14:33

        You are right, the distance of Rovergarden combs is much higher than the distance you provided for Mannlake -54mm for 10cells. Hence, your Mannlake combs might be better suited for the bees.
        Actually, I tried to get some Mannlakes early this spring, but has a lot of hassle with the british subsidary….

        Regarding the other point you have raised – that bees sometimes have difficulties to continue to draw 4,9mm perfectly. As you certainly know Lusby said, that early in spring, after swarming and late season bees draw more easily 4,9mm. They especially draw 4,9 badly, if big nectar flow is occuring. So you have some options to “guide” bees, that they build more perfect 4,9mm. I suppose that’s what you are meaning, don’t you?

        BTW, all your queens are laying eggs meanwhile and I’m looking forward to do VSH test in autumn. (will tell you…:-))

        • July 15, 2014 at 15:06

          Drawing 4.9. Different colonies do different even if they are living on small cells. Or I just think they are sometimes when for different reasons a box come into the extraction room and I sort the combs. All badly drawn I find go for melting down. I see more and more perfectly drawn, even if they are drawn high up in a super during heavy nectar flow. Colonies are different here. Colonies that show too many badly drawn, or almost only badly drawn, even if they are living on 4.9 get a minus in the notes. They will be shifted later on. Yes, they exist. For example a few carniolans I have tried.
          Concerning VSH I Will make a comment later on. I have found for my situation VSH isn’t the only thing to look for and as it seems not the first thing to look for.

          • July 15, 2014 at 15:23

            Ok, you make me curious! Up to now in my brain VSH is parked as the most relevant resistance parameter….
            I’m looking forward to hear more about your findings and thoughts!

            Regarding the selection citeria: I will use varroa resistance, 4,9 building ability and overall performance as very simple criteria for me next year. Let’s see how that works.

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