Controversial comment by Jennifer Berry

(1/26) > >>

At the Metro Short Course on Saturday, Jennifer Berry said (not an exact quote) "Don't let anyone tell you that small cell fights the varroa mite.  There have now been four studies and none of them showed that small cell made a difference." 

She also said that Dee Lusby has africanized bees in Arizona and she would therefore not have a Varroa problem - that it doesn't have to do with cell size but with the behavior of the africanized bee.  She said in the wild bees build cells from 4.9 to 5.3 mm.  From the back of the room another instructor said with his tongue in cheek, "But Jennifer, you didn't regress them properly."

So I throw this out there because I thought it was discouraging to new beekeepers and didn't help them keep their minds open.  I know Don K in Lula has his Varroa mites under control and all of his bees are small cell.  I also know that Michael Bush who doesn't use chemicals either, has small cell bees and no Varroa problem.

I'm sure all natural cell beekeepers do have some Varroa mites, but the bees are able to manage them, in my limited experience, when they can choose cell size.

I haven't made a conscious effort to regress my bees, but from year two I have only used foundationless frames and my bees are doing fine - if hives die at my apiary sites, it's because I made a clear beekeeper error and I usually know what it was - rather than that they died from Varroa.

Interested to hear what you all think,

Linda T in Atlanta

here is my admittedly non-scientific observation on small cell.  it's bunk.

i'll expand a bit as i duck  :evil:

look at the people who have gone treatment free.  they all have some things in common.  they have allowed weak hives to die.  they have cultivated queens and stock that are proven survivors.  SOME have their bees on small cell.  many, and i'd guess most from what i have read, have gone to "natural"  cell,  doing as you have done, and allowing the bees to draw what they need/want.

in addition to the above, most of us don't do things like drone comb manipulation, etc.  

small cell is like all kinds of other neat ideas.  they seem valid, they cost more, they end up being more cost and bother than they are worth.   and yes, there was at least one good study done on small cell that said it made no difference.  it's the only one i am aware of and it as in bee culture (i think?) a year or so ago.  i think it was also reposted here.

well come to think of it maybe small cell is a bunk idea. that;s why lot of people sneak around buying hives of small cell bees when there bees die. :-X funny I make my living -full time not part time off bees. but who am I to doubt studies that maybe chemical company's might give big grants for. yep your right don't work=don't use it. use what makes your bees happy. I stopped defending it 5 yrs ago. that's why I sell 4.9 mills to the open minded. :roll: :-D


And I, Don, am one of your most eager customers and talk up your bees all the I believe in what you are doing but was disappointed to hear Jennifer nay-saying so definitively.  If she had positively commented on natural cells or foundationless beekeeping, I would have felt better.

I have heard her say (and she did say this in another talk at the short course) that if you buy any foundation from anyone, including most organic beekeepers, it is laced with fluvalinate and other poisons.  She did a study at UGA that required that her control hive have foundation with no tracing of poison and in the end had to use popsicle sticks as starters because they couldn't find uncontaminated wax from anyone including beekeepers like Bill Owens who hasn't used chemicals ever in his hives.


I've had smallcell for years.

And like some others, when they first came out with comments against it (or the overhype and promotion of over inflated claims), I have been hammered for years. Before smallcell, it was FGMO. Then smallcell. And lately, I have been hammered by Warre groupies who email me from time to time with colorful language.

Oh well. The studies supported what I said before they came along. Such is life. Beekeeping is funny. I think we will be having this discussion 20 years from now. Right along with conversations of why one should not kill off all swarm cells, and why placing your hives in the sun is a good thing. It takes a lifetime to change the chant that some repeat after running their heads up some beekeepers butts, following like sheep, and always wondering why the grass is greener as claimed by those on the other side of the fence. But it never seems to be once you really take a look after taking off the blinders.

BTW...the comments were not controversial. Perhaps to those who don't want to hear it. But not to those who agree with Berry, or found their own findings in line with hers.

Could of made lots off selling smallcell. But I didn't. I never sold one hive of smallcell. Maybe that says a bit more than the others who actually sell it to the hopeful sheep in line, holding the kool-aid cup.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version