Bigger is not always better, even when it comes to beekeeping. Natural (smaller) cells are better, especially for those of us who are choosing chemical and antibiotic free hives. Modern thinking is that bigger bees would give more honey; but the downside is that bigger bees are susceptible to a pesky mite called varroa. Think about it this way, if you ran a call center that was an resource and information center for beekeeping, and your company had large computer based call center software — the more information going around or the bigger you company is, the greater the chance of getting a virus.
This year, we are experimenting with downsizing giving them a smaller pattern cell from which to draw comb. Most commercially available combs measure around 5.5mm; however, bees left to their own devices, tend to make smaller cells averaging 4.9mm in diameter.
By using smaller comb, we are hoping that smaller cells and bees will help lower the varroa mites levels.
Small cells alone will not save bees from varroa mites, but we sure can help give the bees a fighting chance!
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