Long Term Small Cell Study

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Solomon
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Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Solomon » Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:44 pm

All, I am thinking of putting together a multi-year scientific study of small cell. The available studies are hardly useful in figuring out what small cell's effects truly are. They are all too short.

My thoughts are leaning toward a multi-year study, comparing 10-20 colonies of each on both small cell and large cell, all on wax, all same size boxes and frames, all boxes and frames used for the individual populations alone, in two yards about two miles apart. Probably half and half in each yard. The study would consist of periodic mite checks, but the real metric would be year after year survival. The bees would have to be of generally all the same genetics, all locally adapted, and I would start with my own mixed stock that is already surviving TF. Honey if harvested would be recorded also.

This is the sort of study I want to see, one that reflects real life beekeeping, where the primary factor is survival, not mite counts. It would start next year at the earliest as I don't have enough bees to support this kind of endeavor yet. I would need some funding and was thinking about starting a GoFundMe campaign to get it working for next year. And next year might be even too soon if I cannot get a sustainable population up that high by then.
I would probably do all mediums, 10-frame, wax vertically wired foundation (that's what Mann Lake has). But that will mean a minimum of 100 boxes with 1000 frames and foundations, as well as tops and bottoms. That's $1000 in boxes, $900 in frames, $900 in foundation, and lids and bottoms. Add some labor to put it all together and get it set up, and it's a $5-10k project. And that's just for a minimum 10 vs 10 study.

I'm looking for suggestions and possibly an idea if people would be interested in pledging some money for this study.
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Michael Bush
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Michael Bush » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:15 pm

> The available studies are hardly useful in figuring out what small cell's effects truly are. They are all too short.

And they rely on nothing but Varroa counts.

"You cannot grock the desert by counting the grains of sand."--Michael Valentine Smith in A Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

And they don't let Varroa reach any critical level to see what happens next.

"...when 150 queens were introduced into nucs with brood untreated for 18 months. This brood had a normal outward appearance when the nucs were made up, but four weeks later about half of them were starting to decline with PMS-type symptoms. But after another three weeks, almost all of these colonies appeared normal and healthy again."—Kirk Webster
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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Solomon
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Solomon » Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:51 am

Also, the studies had problems actually getting the bees onto small cell. My problem will be the other way around, how to get my bees onto large cell. It will have to be shook swarms, and if I have to do it to one side, I"ll have to do it to the other side. The other option would be to put boxes of large cell above the broodnest and have the bees move into them, then take that one box and start a new hive with it.
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Imker Ingo » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:22 am

Solomon, have you contacted Dee Lusby? She should be able to give some advice. An excellent idea to do a proper long term study.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Solomon » Thu Mar 10, 2016 3:54 pm

That's not going to happen.
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Chuck Jachens » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:52 pm

Solomon,

In the thread "Research to support TFB" I mentioned last year in July that the national honey board was looking for proposals to fund.

I not sure when they will advertise for new proposals but there must be other sources of funds. If the research was to determine if small cell could be shown to benefit commercial mite control and improve survival rates, then it should be a lot easier to sell the proposal. I know you can write and with a scientific background finding a grant is doable. You have time to plan this out.

I would be happy to help with peer review, etc. I sure other would also be willing to help.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby waspkiller » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:24 pm

I don't think the studies that have been done so far have been done right, each one has some kind of fatal flaw.

I would like to see a study done as you propose, although for results to be meaningful you will need a much bigger number of hives, results from samples of 20 will be too random.

But for you Solomon there is a problem which puts you in a kind of no win situation. You are a known advocate of small cell beekeeping. What this means is that if your study finds survival is the same or better for large cell bees, people will accept it. But if you find survival is better in small cell bees it will not be accepted by non believers because of who you are. Kind of like those studies done by chemical companies to prove their products do not harm bees, people say well look who did the study.

This study needs to be done, but by someone perceived as neutral, and with a bigger hive sample.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Chuck Jachens » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:51 pm

Actually, a small sample size is not a deal breaker. Most studies start on a small scale and expland if followup studies and/or replication studies to confirm results.

If you follow BEE-L forum, all studies have research bias, but that is why peer review takes place. I know peer review in itself is not adequate, but the most important part is publishing the result in a way that others can replicate the results.

Solomon's background will introduce some bias but I think he rise above them and report open and transparent results.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby waspkiller » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:56 pm

I am sure he will rise above them. The other guys are the problem.

However if Solomon is the one who is willing I guess it's better the study is done, than not done.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Solomon » Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:21 am

I'm not nearly the proponent of small cell that Michael Bush is. I'm a user for sure. I've never used anything else.

There are a number of studies that use 10 hives in each test group. Yes, it's a small sample, but it could be expanded by instituting a splitting policy, can split to make up numbers. I wouldn't want to lose everything too quickly, especially since TF theory involves a few more losses than typical.
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby waspkiller » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:11 am

Solomon wrote:There are a number of studies that use 10 hives in each test group.
Which has been correctly pointed out as one of the ways these studies are flawed.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby lharder » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:19 pm

I wonder if TF bees that are currently on small cell would simply shrug off being put on large cell. SC may be an additive factor that helps bees get over the hump, but once they are over that threshold, it ceases to be a problem in terms of survival. But maybe just maybe it makes a difference in terms of spring buildup and honey production. Population and production, number of splits/nucleus colonies you get out of them could be additional useful metrics to keep track of at the same time.

But what if you took commercial bees that may have some resistance, but aren't TF and are on large cell and did another set of studies on this group. Is there a difference in the time till adaptation takes place? Another thing to consider in this context, is whether you should be using fresh foundation and bees to reduce the benefit of the good microbes/non virulent viruses that your bees would inoculate new bees with.

So this study would be done in the beneficial context of existing TF bees. It would be great if something similar was done where mites are problematic. Some people are reporting horrible mite pressure (ie. parts of California) and the treating regimes are intense. (There really should be a GIS map made up to spatially illustrate these kinds of pressures in North America. Then overlay migratory commercial beekeeping movement.) More replication in a variety of situations is probably useful to get an overall sense. The problem with ecological studies is that outcomes are often not binary. Things have to be done lots to get a sense of the sets of system trajectories, and the probability of each one. Its why long term is so much superior to short term. Trouble is it doesn't fit in nicely with some graduate degree.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby waspkiller » Fri Mar 11, 2016 6:40 pm

Another possibility could be to start all hives with exactly the same bees, ie, packages, but requeen all of them with sister queens from a TF source such as Anarchy Apiaries. SC packages can be purchased from Old Sol, probably best to start with SC bees so they are instantly regressed, the LC hives should get the same bees purely so there is no argument they were started with different bees. SC bees with draw LC foundation fine.

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Solomon
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Solomon » Fri Mar 11, 2016 7:34 pm

Another idea I had, start each hive with a single box split from another hive, then the next year, before the experiment gets going, remove the old box.
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby waspkiller » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:15 pm

Sounds reasonable. What about the queens? Bought, or raise yourself? I'm just thinking about ensuring there are no objections later, from people who did not get the result they wanted.

Thinking about that, a large breeder such as bee weaver could supply sister queens if you asked, they graft so will produce a lot of queens from one mother.

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Solomon
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Solomon » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:59 pm

They would be my queens. I live in Oregon. Bee Weaver is in Texas. Totally outside my philosophy to bring queens in from that far away.
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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby waspkiller » Sat Mar 12, 2016 9:33 am

Should be fine. Especially as you are able to graft, you could ensure equal distribution of queen families between the two hive types.

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Re: Long Term Small Cell Study

Postby Allen Newberry » Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:20 pm

Perhaps use 10 hives started from small cell nucs shaken into new hives with unused foundation and 10 hives started with unregressed packages in same type of hive. Do this for both the small cell and large cell groups and both groups will have bees shifting size. Although, It might be better if you used the same bees just unregress them the year before.


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