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 Post subject: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:36 pm 
I see you got similiar results as I on your pf-100 frames. I used them because i wanted to experiment with small cell and I got a rally good price on unwaxed ones that I could not match with woodware and foundation. I found that suceeding generations did a better job drawing them than the larger size bees that came in the nuc. Some colonies did a much better job of drawing them out than others. Only advantage is you can scrape off a mess and let them try again. I heard from a texas beekeeper that the plastic frames inadvertently left in the sun turned goo in a hot southern area. Your report of sunlight causing fragility, is making me rethink my plans to buy more for my use this year. The permadent appeared to be drawn much better. What size are the cell pattern on it?


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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:42 pm 
> Some colonies did a much better job of drawing them out than others.

I've seen that, too.

>The permadent appeared to be drawn much better. What size are the cell pattern on it?

5.35 to 5.4 mm can't recall. I consider Pierco standard frames at 5.25mm to be near the ideal of 5.2 eventually adopted by Root, after initially deciding on 5.1 after a great deal of measuring natural combs. Not sure why he moved up to 5.2. May have had to do with the imprecision of manufacturing with wax.

Later, the cells were made larger, partly to allow for easier extracting and also due the belief that the cells get smaller with time. People also believed that bigger was better than smaller.

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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:50 am 
I always have to scratch my head when I see results like this with small cell frames. What was the beekeeper expecting?

Simply put, if you use a tool for anything other than its intended use, you should not not expect it to perform as originally intended. Bees naturally draw honey storage cells larger than brood cells. If you are going to let bees draw out combs in areas of the hive for honey storage, why aren't you giving them 6.5mm drone comb foundation? They will draw that out perfect in the honey supers.

Personally, I can see two really big errors comparing the pics of Permadent and Mann Lake's small cell frames.

#1) The Permadent frames were situated in the hive closer to the brood than the 4.9mm frames. I can tell that by the pollen stored in the Permadent frames, and a couple frames looked like they might have had a little brood raised in them. If you want to compare how well the bees draw out Permadent and 4.9mm frames, then the frames need to be equally distant from brood, with them preferably being drawn out in the broodnest.

#2) The small cell frames were farther from brood, where bees naturally want to build larger cells. The small cell frames don't have any pollen or discoloration from raising brood. If you put a 4.9mm frame where the bees want to draw out 6.5mm, and then compare it to a 5.2mm frame that was drawn out in an area of the hive where bees prefer building combs 4.9mm-5.4mm, is it any wonder that the bees don't draw the 4.9mm frame out as well?

4.9mm frames just require a different management technique. 4.9mm foundations need introduced near brood, preferably between two frames with brood or right beside brood when the broodnest is expanding. Once the combs are drawn you can use them for honey storage, but trying to get small cells drawn out in honey storage areas is counter to what I see the bees naturally do.

I am to the point that I am trying to let my nucs draw out all my new combs, and I end up with very few bad frames that need scraped.

I have not had a problem with shattering Mann Lake frames. I have had Pierco ears snap off when messing with frames in really cold weather. I try to avoid working with bee equipment in really cold weather though. Cleaning up deadouts is one of the few times I will handle bee stuff in really cold weather. (This does not suggest that I have less deadouts of hives with more small cell frames either, which would explain why I haven't had problems of 4.9 frames breaking in cold weather. I've never paid much attention to that either way, and I know someone could infer that if I don't put a disclaimer here.)


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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:38 am 
> I always have to scratch my head when I see results like this with small cell frames.

Thanks for commenting.

This was not advertised as "small cell". It was sold as standard foundation. 5.0 is on the small side of normal, but the official small cell is 4.9 and less.

> What was the beekeeper expecting?

Good foundation will be drawn without a lot of fussing. The Permadent was, with the usual exceptions as shown.

> Simply put, if you use a tool for anything other than its intended use, you should not not expect it to perform as originally intended.

This is sold as standard foundation without any caveats, and is expected to perform as well as any other standard foundation.

> Bees naturally draw honey storage cells larger than brood cells. If you are going to let bees draw out combs in areas of the hive for honey storage, why aren't you giving them 6.5mm drone comb foundation? They will draw that out perfect in the honey supers.

Because this was the brood chamber and they raised brood in some and not in other.

> Personally, I can see two really big errors comparing the pics of Permadent and Mann Lake's small cell frames
> #1) The Permadent frames were situated in the hive closer to the brood than the 4.9mm frames. I can tell that by the pollen stored in the Permadent frames, and a couple frames looked like they might have had a little brood > raised in them. If you want to compare how well the bees draw out Permadent and 4.9mm frames, then the frames need to be equally distant from brood, with them preferably being drawn out in the broodnest.

They were in the same box, directly above the brood at the time they were placed, but on opposite sides. I did that deliberately.

> #2) The small cell frames were farther from brood, where bees naturally want to build larger cells. The small cell frames don't have any pollen or discoloration from raising brood. If you put a 4.9mm frame where the bees want > to draw out 6.5mm, and then compare it to a 5.2mm frame that was drawn out in an area of the hive where bees prefer building combs 4.9mm-5.4mm, is it any wonder that the bees don't draw the 4.9mm frame out as well?

Please Note. These are not 4.9. I repeat they are 5.0 and were placed in opposite sides of the same box in roughly the same position. The box was added fairly late in the season, though: August.

> 4.9mm frames just require a different management technique.

I don't have any 4.9 frames, other than the prototypes Dee sent me years and years ago. They did not do well in local tests, but as I say, they were prototypes.

> I am to the point that I am trying to let my nucs draw out all my new combs, and I end up with very few bad frames that need scraped.

FWIW, these actually were nucs that grew.

At any rate, I am not interested in constant tinkering and fussing to force a bad idea to work.

As I have stated elsewhere, though, some hives seem to have drawn the 5.0 out just fine and raised brood in it. This is just an example where they did not, and not a large sample.

I plan to report further later when more of theses combs are available for examination. I have not entirely given up on them since I have quite a pile of them. I am just noting that they are not as reliably drawn as the larger cells.

As I have said before I thought that I was buying a Pierco knock-off.

IMO Pierco standard frames at 5.25 (the shallows are different) is the best I have tested. I think 5.25 is very slightly large, but 5.25 is close to perfect for my bees and my operation.

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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:23 am 
When I bought the pf100's I was told they were 4.9 which attracted me after reading about thepeople who claim they control mites with small cell. They continue to make these claims in the face of the studies by universities. Then, I was told they were 4.95mm and now 5mm! I doubt they are more than one size! My observations were as i stated that some colonies drew them out like good little engineers following a blue print and some made messes which I scraped off if not full of brood. Other than the wooden frames the nucs came on this spring, all were the pf100. I can say I have distinctly different sizes of workers in my colonies, much different than a few percent. It could be drift but I doubt it. I am going to buy more of the pf100's whatever size they are and see if I can continue my regression of the bees size. I suppose I left more honey on the increased cell surface of the smaller cell and larger cells would be better for that. But I am not convinced that putting the bees back in their historic range of size won't help control the mites. I am keeping bees for my enjoyment and to stay engaged in productive activity in my dotage. I do not want however to run all drone comb in my supers as sure as you breathe some queen will go up and lay in every one of them! In fact, I may go foundationless in my brood chambers and let them build anything they want there after they are regressed just to see what happens with my bees in my location.


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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:10 am 
> I can say I have distinctly different sizes of workers in my colonies, much different than a few percent.

So do we all. That is due to nutrition, not so much the cell size. There is a very small effect due to cell size, but that is probably more due to less base area to cover with food for the larva, than the amount of space in the cell,since there is plenty of room in cells ranging from 4.9 to 5.9. The main difference is the amount of empty space.

There is, however, a large effect on bee size due to seasonal variations in nutrition. My son noticed this one spring and we set about feeding pollen supplement and found that variation largely disappeared in years when we fed supplement.

I published a link to the study examining the effect of cell size on bee size somewhere in the recent past. Apparently the cell fill factor does not have much effect on bee size or varroa reproduction and cell size can change the bee size a few percent, as I recall. There was some speculation that less spare space in a cell would result in varroa being mashed, but apparently they are too quick to get crushed often.

> It could be drift but I doubt it. I am going to buy more of the pf100's whatever size they are and see if I can continue my regression of the bees size.

Good luck. That whole regression thing is mostly smoke IMO. I don't know what it is that causes bees to adjust to smaller cells, but it seems that they do. I commented how my bees are still looking for entrances on the south side, generations later. Who knows how bees pass their culture down through generations? I don't. Does changing cell size change bee size? Nobody has shown anything more than a minor effect AFAIK. Think about it. Does the size of cradle determine the size of baby?

I've been to Arizona a few times and the first thing I noticed is the bees on the bushes in Phoenix and Tucson there tend to be smaller. That is because they are largely AHB. As for my perspective on Lusbys, please read my accounts of my visits there and my 2002 Bee Culture articles on the topic.

Keep in mind, also, that Lusbys built up from their second crash mainly by using swarms caught on golf courses in and around Tucson, where they lived at the time. (By that time, the area was heavily Africanized and the number of swarms had ballooned).

http://www.honeybeeworld.com/Lusby/default.htm
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/Lusby/2005.htm

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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:40 pm 
This was not advertised as "small cell". It was sold as standard foundation. 5.0 is on the small side of normal, but the official small cell is 4.9 and less.

Available with 100% US beeswax coating
Food grade plastic
4.9 cell size
One piece design requires no assembly
Impervious to wax moth or rodent damage
http://www.mannlakeltd.com/mm5/merchant ... e17#PF-100
(Don't shoot the messenger.)

> I am to the point that I am trying to let my nucs draw out all my new combs, and I end up with very few bad frames that need scraped.

FWIW, these actually were nucs that grew.


I meant that I kept them as nucs. I get a strong nuc, and shake the bees off a couple frames, and give those frames to other hives. (Or I split a nuc to make 2 nucs used as mating nucs with full size frames.) I introduce foundations or foundationless frames to the nucs. I use the nuc to produce comb, rather than allowing them to expand larger and produce bees or honey. I am still a hobbyist/sideliner, so I can afford to fuss with things more. Although this is how Mike Palmer gets his new foundations drawn too, and he is commercial, so there must be some economic/efficiency merit to this method.

Think about it. Does the size of cradle determine the size of baby?

A cradle isn't a womb, but there are still some Japanese women who say the size of a shoe significantly affects the size of the foot. I would suspect there are folks who wore shoes that were too tight as kids, and have mis-shapen toes as a result. (Especially folks raised in the Depression era or really poor families.) It might be worth noting that cultures that eat more protein typically have larger bodies - and when small people like orientals eat a diet with higher protein, they grow larger also.

I will be the first to admit that my operation has a mix of Pierco, Mann Lake PF frames, foundationless/natural cell combs, and 5.4mm and Duragilt. I like the PF frames because there are more brood cells per frame, allowing potentially faster buildup in colder weather with a contracted cluster.


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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:04 pm 
Quote:
Quote:
This was not advertised as "small cell". It was sold as standard foundation. 5.0 is on the small side of normal, but the official small cell is 4.9 and less.

http://www.mannlakeltd.com/mm5/merchant ... e17#PF-100 (Don't shoot the messenger.)

The web pages keep changing. The stuff I have is 5.0. Mann Lake says that PF-100s are 4.9, but Randy and Dee both got 5.0 and so did I when i double-checked. No matter, the PF-100s on the web are supposed to be 'natural' colour now and the ones I have are white. There are no numbers on them, so it is confusing. So, what are these? http://www.mannlakeltd.com/mm5/merchant ... een=page16 ? Are they actually Rite-Cell? If so, the sheets are about the same as Permadent, or were last time I bought several thousand sheets a decade ago. If so, then these are what I thought I was getting.
Quote:
I meant that I kept them as nucs. I use the nuc to produce comb, rather than allowing them to expand larger and produce bees or honey. I am still a hobbyist/sideliner, so I can afford to fuss with things more.

I can't, and won't. I expect things to work the way they should and not force things. In particular, I hate to force bees.
Quote:
I would suspect there are folks who wore shoes that were too tight as kids, and have mis-shapen toes as a result.

That sounds like an argument against forcing bees onto abnormally small cells for their type.
Quote:
It might be worth noting that cultures that eat more protein typically have larger bodies - and when small people like orientals eat a diet with higher protein, they grow larger also.

That is what I am saying about why you are seeing small bees. Try feeding them better. You'll have bigger bees, regardless of cell size.
Quote:
I will be the first to admit that my operation has a mix of Pierco, Mann Lake PF frames, foundationless/natural cell combs, and 5.4mm and Duragilt. I like the PF frames because there are more brood cells per frame, allowing potentially faster buildup in colder weather with a contracted cluster.

That is my theory, too, but I figure there has to be a lower bound when it comes to going to smaller size cells. I like Pierco because of the thin bars and smaller cells. 5.25 is close to ideal IMO.

I would like these 5.0 frames just fine if the bees found them more suitable (and if they did not shatter). I listen to my bees, or try to, and they seem to be saying that these are just a bit off.

In my mind, the small cell movement is just as wacky as the large cell movement. Both are a fringe, except where AHB is the rule, like parts of the south, and in parts of Europe where the bees are larger.

Most of us find that when there are two extremes, the middle ground is safest.

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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:34 pm 
If nutrition is the cause for my bees getting smaller as the season progressed, I marvel. I am on good irrigated pasture that is far from a monoculture. There are about ten small holdings with gardens and flowers and big berry patches all around. Three kinds of clover, alfalfa, dandelions every time the hayground gets cut, which means a rotation of dandelions all season long. Are all those deficient in protein and might result in stunted bees? I am not convinced though I do understand you have the weight of experience on me and do respect that. I think I will continue my march and see where it leads.


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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:06 pm 
No matter, the PF-100s on the web are supposed to be 'natural' colour now and the ones I have are white. There are no numbers on them, so it is confusing.

2 years ago I bought some natural PF medium frames, because they were out of the black frames. Those frames were white. This year, I bought some more natural color medium PF frames, and they were yellow. I don't know if they deliberately changed the color, or if they go with whatever the cheapest undyed plastic is for that run.

I expect things to work the way they should and not force things. In particular, I hate to force bees.

I look at it that swarms or nucs are in comb drawing mode. That is something they do good and comes naturally to them, so I don't feel I am forcing them by taking steps to keep them locked in that mode. I don't feel that it is forcing bees any more than squeezing bees down to get them to draw comb honey.

That sounds like an argument against forcing bees onto abnormally small cells for their type.


How do we decide what is too small though? How do we decide what is the proper cell size for their type? After I have let the bees draw out their own brood combs in frames with no foundation, I commonly have 5.2 cells in the center of the frame, with slightly larger cells around the perimeter of the frame. When I introduce another batch of foundationless brood frames to that same hive, they draw about 5.0 cells in the center of the frame, with larger cells around the perimeter of the frame again. I have only had a couple hives draw 4.8 or 4.9 cells, and those were small patches of cells that small. Of course, I have heard that the farther from the equator, the larger the cells are naturally, so that may explain why I see 5.0 pretty regular, but not smaller. 4.9 might be a little smaller than my bees prefer here in Ohio, but they still seem to do ok on it.

That is what I am saying about why you are seeing small bees. Try feeding them better. You'll have bigger bees, regardless of cell size.

You're preaching to the choir. When I hear people say anything about small cell making smaller bees, I disregard it as smoke. I have not seen any difference in the size of mature bees between bees from larger cells and smaller celled hives. The only difference I have seen in bee size is in freshly emerged, fuzzy baby bees. Sometimes the abdomen will appear smaller, but the head and thorax appear similar sized between small cell and large cells bees. (Judged by eyesight.) It appears the abdomen is a little smaller sometimes with small cell bees. By the time they are adult foragers, they appear similar sized to other bees. I try to feed hives 6-10 pounds of patties in the spring.


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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:55 pm 
Vance G wrote:
If nutrition is the cause for my bees getting smaller as the season progressed, I marvel.


Why do you think they are getting smaller and how do you measure that?

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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:16 pm 
Quote:
I look at it that swarms or nucs are in comb drawing mode. That is something they do good and comes naturally to them, so I don't feel I am forcing them by taking steps to keep them locked in that mode.]


If that works for you, then good. For me, if I want to winter bees outside, then I have to let them get strong. Last split can't be after the middle of July for reliable wintering and some years cut off early and others, we get late flows and the colonies make a lot of honey.

Quote:
I don't feel that it is forcing bees any more than squeezing bees down to get them to draw comb honey.


I never squeezed them, or they would be gone.

Quote:
How do we decide what is too small though? How do we decide what is the proper cell size for their type? After I have let the bees draw out their own brood combs in frames with no foundation, I commonly have 5.2 cells in the center of the frame, with slightly larger cells around the perimeter of the frame. When I introduce another batch of foundationless brood frames to that same hive, they draw about 5.0 cells in the center of the frame, with larger cells around the perimeter of the frame again.


Foundation is necessarily a compromise and there is nothing natural about it, no matter what anyone says. It is strictly for the convenience of the beekeeper.

What size is best? Probably no size, but we have to decide, which is worse, too big and so there are too few cells per square inch, or too small, so that the bees resist using them and are cramped (and we find extracting is less efficient due to honey trapped by capillary action). Or maybe the average brood cell size we find when we examine a lot of wild comb?

If the last one, then we are following Root and he was torn between 5.1 and 5.2. He settled on 5.2 after using 5.1 for a while, if I recall my history correctly. I once spent a lot of time checking facts when debating with some people who tortured the historical texts to make them appear to say what they wanted to hear.

Quote:
Of course, I have heard that the farther from the equator, the larger the cells are naturally, so that may explain why I see 5.0 pretty regular, but not smaller. 4.9 might be a little smaller than my bees prefer here in Ohio, but they still seem to do ok on it.


Ask Marla if that is true next time you see her, Or Frank Eishen, or Dewey Caron... These people actually know from first-hand experience and are not making up a new beekeeping religion.

Quote:
The only difference I have seen in bee size is in freshly emerged, fuzzy baby bees. Sometimes the abdomen will appear smaller, but the head and thorax appear similar sized between small cell and large cells bees. (Judged by eyesight.) It appears the abdomen is a little smaller sometimes with small cell bees. By the time they are adult foragers, they appear similar sized to other bees.


Smaller cells get less feed for the larva due to smaller base area, so the resulting bees may be starved a bit, just like queens which are not well-provisioned. Good queen producers throw out small queen cells and any batches where there is not surplus royal jelly after the larva pupates (Easy to see with JayZee BeeZee cell cups)

Are you using closer frame spacing in some hives or experiencing bowed frames? I often wonder with all this emphasis on cell diameter how many people look at cell depth.

Some one-piece frames are bowed 1/8" or more and if rotated so the bows are not all the same way, then that takes 1/4" off the spacing. Place a straight edge on some of them to check (before they are drawn).

What happens when the bees fill a frame with larvae and then the beekeeper comes along and takes that frame and places it into a nuc beside a bowed frame that barely leaves enough room for the nurse bees to get access?

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 Post subject: Re: plastic frames
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:18 pm 
Ask Marla if that is true next time you see her, Or Frank Eishen, or Dewey Caron... These people actually know from first-hand experience and are not making up a new beekeeping religion.

I haven't had the opportunity to talk to Marla Spivak or Frank Eishen before. In March 2010, I did get to hear Dewey caron speak about Africanized Honey Bees. After his presentation, I talked to him and asked him how much of the AHB resistance to varroa was due to the smaller cells and shorter brood development time. He was very dismissive that smaller cells or a shorter development time had anything to do with varroa resistance. He claimed that AHB raised drone brood early in the season, whereas European bees raise drones later in the season, and that was the determining factor in varroa resistance. From his body language and the way he worded things, he gave the impression that it was not politically correct for him to allow the possibility that cell size or development time could affect varroa reproduction.
Sadly, I found myself disappointed and questioning his integrity. I've seen too many people who are afraid to be honest and say something politically incorrect for fear of upsetting the gravy train.

Smaller cells get less feed for the larva due to smaller base area, so the resulting bees may be starved a bit, just like queens which are not well-provisioned.

Are you using closer frame spacing in some hives or experiencing bowed frames? I often wonder with all this emphasis on cell diameter how many people look at cell depth.


Interesting point. I trim my brood frames to 1 1/4 inches wide. The cluster can cover more brood per a given volume this way, and it only takes one layer of bees to fill the gap between frames, rather than two.
It may be a very real possibility that brood do not get fed as good since there is a higher brood population density, added with a reduced population of nurse bees doing feeding.
I have seen smaller bees before in feral hives, and assumed it was due to inadequate pollen stores. Even in my hives when I do see small baby bees, usually it is only a handful of tiny ones, with most being normal sized. Normally I don't see all the bees in a hive being tiny.
In feral hives I have examined, the comb spacing was usually about 1 1/4 inches. It makes me wonder that when feral bees are faced with the decision of keeping more brood covered by tighter comb spacing, versus possibly not being able to adequately feed brood - maybe the tighter comb spacing has a higher net benefit even with some smaller bees due to insufficient feeding.
It's definitely something to think about.

I try to keep tabs on Bee-L. Recently, a link was posted about a South African beekeeper who has experience with AHB. I glanced at the link and found some really interesting info that raises several questions.

http://beeman.se/za/za-1-nf.htm
The pedigreed bees (left) get only a small strip of foundation at the top of the frame, and build the comb themselves to the prefered cell size. During the selection process the bees have been upgraded in size, and now build 5,2 mm cells, like european bees. The wild bees build cells around 4.8-4.9mm.
Wild bees (right) build smaller cells.
(bottom of the page)

I 'think' pedigreed bees are bees he has bred.
How are scutellata bees upgraded to draw larger cells?
Why do some scutellata draw small cells, and why do some draw larger cells?
If you can get bees to upgrade to larger cell size, is that the opposite of the regression to smaller cells that people do to European bees?
These are foundationless frames in the pictures. The bees should be drawing cell sizes that are 'natural' to them. If we can quickly change the bees mental imprinting of the proper cell size...what really is the proper cell size?

Starting to go off topic...there is also a page on a varroa study.
http://beeman.se/research/cell-nf.htm
They examined cell size, and the number of mites, and what caste and gender of mites were in the cells.

I do not know how the study was conducted exactly, or how long the study took place.

From what I understand, the mite climbs in the cell, has male and female babies, and the daughter and son mites mate before emergence from the cell. From the chart in the study, it would appear to be a significant difference in mite reproduction, even though they ended up with total numbers of mites in all samples.
Distrubution of offspring 640 cells/sq.dm 770 cells/sq.dm 900 cells/sq.dm Total
Both female and male ......73 89 85 247
Only female ..................27 11 32 70
Only male ....................10 17 17 44
Only protonymph ............22 23 8 53
No offspring .................18 10 8 36
Total ........................ 150 150 150 450

Cells with only females - unsuccessful reproduction.
Cells with only males - unsuccessful reproduction.
Cells with immature mites - unsuccessful reproduction
Cells with no offspring - unsuccessful reproduction.
Only cells with male and females were able to mate. Small cell with 73 was the lowest. That is 82%-86% of the successful reproduction of mites in other cell sizes. (Is 14%-18% less mites sufficient to affect bee colony survival?)


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