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Regression- Forced or Natural

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  • Gary
    Regression the Natural Way Gary J Piantanida First off there are some confusing terms that have to be explained: Small cell: 4.9 mm cells mass stamped on a
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 2008
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      "Regression" the Natural Way

      Gary J Piantanida

      First off there are some confusing terms that have to be explained:

      Small cell: 4.9 mm cells mass stamped on a sheet of artificial wax
      placed in a hive to guide the bees as to what cell size to build.

      Natural Cell: Simply put no artificial foundation is added the bees
      are free to construct a nest as they see fit.

      Regression: The method of forcing a colony to build a smaller cell
      size. This word falls into two categories forced regression and
      natural regression that why it is confusing.

      Forced Regression: This method involves using wax foundation sheets
      imprinted with a 4.9 mm cell size they are put on every frame of the
      hive. This is a fast way and usually involves culling and
      reinstallation of sheets of foundation several times before the
      desired environment is reached.

      Natural Regression: This method uses no artificial foundation instead
      the bees are allowed to build the nest however they wish it to be.
      Bees that were raised on artificial foundation, when left on their
      own, usually build cells somewhere between what is natural 4,9 mm or
      smaller and 5.5 mm. The bees are allowed to continue the season the
      way they wish. In the spring the colony is shaken into a new hive and
      the old nest is harvested. The difference between the two regressions
      is that the bees are free to decide what cell sizes are needed and
      where they are located as in the wild. No artificial foundation is
      added

      First off let's clarify what is meant by regression. Regression is a
      term coined by Dee and Ed Lusby Langstroth hive users. These
      beekeepers use artificial foundation sized at 4.9 mm cells, this
      means if you measure the width of 10 brood cells (cell wall to call
      wall across the middle) it will be 4.9 cm, divide by 10 and you come
      up with 4.9 mm as a single cell width. The reason for the need
      to "regress" the colonies down to 4.9 mm foundation comes from just
      the opposite. In the early 1900 man decided that we could enlarge the
      honey bees thus enlarge the honey yield per colony. Some comb
      measurements were taken and the 5.5 + foundations were born.

      All of the above mentioned terms and methods were in response to the
      Varroa Mite. Everything was going fine in the honey industry until
      the dreaded Varroa Destructor Mite showed up in bee hives everywhere.
      The honey producing industry was nearly wiped out as it was late in
      the game that scientists realized the damage this little parasite was
      causing. Pesticide companies came to the rescue marketing
      insecticides to be used in the hive to control the pest. Then the
      second catastrophe hit when beekeepers realized the pesticides were
      not working!!! What happened? The little pest had built up a
      resistance to the pesticide. The chemical companies went back to the
      drawing board to invent a stronger pesticide.

      Meanwhile back on the Lusby Farm something was being noticed, bees
      that were on smaller cells were surviving with the mites somehow, but
      how and why? Not being scientists and not really having the means or
      desire to investigate further they made a foundation mill and filled
      their hives with what they coined "Small cell foundation" a term that
      will come to confuse beek all over the world. Well they had success
      and declared small cell foundation the silver bullet. Bee equipment
      distributors quickly jumped on the band wagon and marketed the
      product and everyone jumped on it.

      The Lusby's quickly became proponents of "Organic" beekeeping Dee
      Lusby can be found moderating a Yahoo organic beekeepers list where
      if you even mention adding anything that does not naturally occur in
      the beehive you are quickly reprimanded and shunned from the
      community, OH! Wait, artificial foundation is the exception here and
      this is where the camps split.
      The Lusby's wallowing in the praise of their discovery followed by
      hundreds of beekeepers desperate for the silver bullet cure failed to
      follow their wonderful discovery scientifically to the end. Well one
      Beekeeper did Dennis Murrell decided to finish what the Lusby's
      stubbornly refused to do. Dennis discovered that small cells were an
      integral part of the survival of the colony. He also discovered that
      it was not just 4.9mm cell sizes that played important roles but a
      variety of cell sizes determined by the colony to fit colony needs.
      Allowing bees to build nests free of obstructions yielded a colony
      that could devote maximum resources to areas needed when needed! He
      also noted that the smaller cells were at the core of the brood nest
      and that all bees allowed to manage their own colonies cleaned that
      core brood nest at crucial times of the year that were conducive to
      colony survival.

      Compared to:

      A colony that needs a variety of cell sizes but is forced to work
      with or rework artificial foundation is wasting time and resources
      which is causing stress on the colony. Additional stressors are
      exactly what the colony does not need when it must deal with mites.

      In conclusion we owe Dee and Ed Lusby thanks for stumbling on the
      smaller cell theory and Dennis Murrell who had the foresight to
      finish the work. The bottom line is weather you choose to force
      Mother Nature or work with her! It is plainly clear through my bias
      in writing which way I intend to go!

      Some Works Cited

      The Lusby's writings in the POV section of www.beesource.com
      Dennis Murrell's web site http://bwrangler.com/index.html
      My own experiences, observations and research

      www.hircshbachapiary.com
      www.biobees.com

      "If you think your a Beemaster it's time to quit playing board games"
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