Welcome, Guest

Author Topic: Differences in observations in general and in specific, differences in cell size  (Read 659 times)

Offline Michael Bush

  • Universal Bee
  • *******
  • Posts: 19760
  • Gender: Male
    • bushfarms.com

"Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth." --Blaise Pascal
"People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others."--Blaise Pascal
I've always been a bit amazed and amused that everyone always seems to think that on any issue one person is wrong and the other is right. Especially when that difference is based on each person's observations, and most especially when it relates to something as complex as bees. I'd be far more surprised if everyone's observations always agreed.

Bees are complex animals and what they do depends not only on the bees themselves but the stage of development the bee themselves are in and the stage of development the hive is in and the stage of development that the seasons are in and the stages of development that the surrounding vegetation is in. In other words, in almost anything related to beekeeping the results of almost any measurement or any manipulation will depend on everything else. There may be some generalizations you can make but it's amazing how often when you think you have one that's a sure thing it doesn't apply in circumstances that differ. What happens in a spring build up, a flow, a fall wind down, a dearth, a hive with brood, without brood, with a laying queen, a virgin queen, no queen etc. varies greatly. I'm not saying I can explain any difference in observation myself, but I have no doubt that the people involved have no motivation to lie to me on the matter.

Of course if we want to compare observations we need to try to equalize some of these things as well as making sure we are measuring the same thing. For instance, if we are measuring cell size are we averaging in anything smaller than a drone cell? Or are we averaging in anything that actually has brood in it? Or are we just measuring the core of the brood nest? Are we trying to establish a range? Or a mean? Are we measuring in the same manner, i.e. are we measuring across the flats or across the points? But still we have differences in observations.

In the case of cell size of natural drawn comb we have Dee Lusby's observation that the worker comb is very uniform in size, and Dennis Murrel's observation that they follow a pattern of small in the center and larger on the edges, with the largest along the top. We have mine, which is similar, but not identical to Dennis's. We have Tom Seeley who says:

"The basic nest organization is honey storage above, brood nest below, and pollen storage in between. Associated with this arrangement are differences in comb structure. Compared to combs used for honey storage, combs of the brood nest are generally darker and more uniform in width and in cell form. Drone comb is located on the brood nest's periphery."
The nest of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.), T. D. Seeley and R. A. Morse

Which sounds very similar to Dennis and my observations. That there are honey storage cells and they are not the same as the brood cells.

Langstroth said:

"The size of the cells in which the workers are reared never varies"
Does this mean that Dee is mistaken? Dishonest? I think not. I've gone to AZ and looked at the comb from cutouts she's done with the bees still on the comb and the comb in "swarm ketching frames" and the sizes are very uniform. So why are her's different? I have no idea. But my point is that she is reporting accurately what she sees. Dennis has had, in the past, the pictures and maps of measurements and cells sizes on his web site, so either he's quite a wiz at manufacturing pictures or he's honestly sharing what he's seen. Since it is more similar to what I see, and since I know him to be a straightforward guy, I believe it's just what he's seeing. I ask people doing cutouts, all the time, to report what they find as far as cell size and we see a lot of it in the area of 5.2mm and a lot of it in the area of 4.9mm. Is one of them wrong and one of them right? I don't think so. I think they are reporting what they find.

As far as varying cell size:

"...a continuous range of behaviors and cell size measurements was noted between colonies considered "strongly European" and "strongly Africanized". "
"Due to the high degree of variation within and among feral and managed populations of Africanized bees, it is emphasized that the most effective solution to the Africanized "problem", in areas where Africanized bees have established permanent populations, is to consistently select for the most gentle and productive colonies among the existing honey bee population"--Marla Spivak
Identification and relative success of Africanized and European honey bees in Costa Rica. Spivak, M

Do measurements of worker cell size reliably distinguish Africanized from European honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)?. Spivak, M; Erickson, E.H., Jr.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin