As I said within our small cell bees the varroa focuses on the drone brood throughout the summer, apparently in contrast to the previous experience with the large cell bees.
The Varroa comes from the Asian bee cerana, which also builds small cells, and there the mites have also always been focused on the drones. We brought the varroa to us and our bees have been artificially enlarged so that the Varroa confused them with the drone brood. Dee Lusby calls this the pseudo-drone effect.
Therefore the drone brood takes the burden of the mites throughout the summer, then in autumn and spring, when the bees have more time and there are no drones, they proceed to clean the cells of the mites. Then the varroa has to go to the brood nest, as the otherwise preferred drone brood ids not around at this stage. (in small cell bees, with large cell bees the story sounds different) Then they open those cells were there are mites. This commonly occurs when the larva has violet eyes, even in fairly advanced stage. We call it “bald headed brood”, and hygienic behavior or VSH, which is all the same…
On the photo you can see some already cleaned cells, some where the mites have been on the head and some where they already started to eat the larvae in order to reach the mites.
If we see something like this in our colonies, we can consider ourselves lucky.
We have found through reading, that mills have been made in many sizes over the years, all the way up to 3-1/2 cells to the inch. THIS IS WHERE OUR INDUSTRY HAS GOTTEN INTO SO MUCH TROUBLE. CELL SIZES, THEIR SIZE, AND HOW TO MEASURE THEM. Most beekeepers universally agree that five cells to the inch is worker size and four cells to the inch is drone size in the feral population. But, the domestic sizes our bees today have ended up on, are quite different and have wrought havoc, as artificial combs have gotten bigger. The stress upon our honeybees caused by being out-of-balance with natural flora has opened Pandora’s box to foulbrood diseases, chalk, and viral infections. By being too big, our domesticated honeybees have taken on parasitic mite infestations as our now pseudo-drones, aka: worker bees, are perceived as a new food source by both Varroa and Tracheal mites. With all this damage being done, we find no teaching anywhere on the history of use of artificial comb foundation sizes in the USA, so our beekeepers can make rational decisions concerning proper usage.
The various comb cell sizes (706, 711, standard, drone, etc) were originally designed with meaning, which is now forgotten in today’s modern world. No one person or company is to blame in the USA or elsewhere in our world for artificially increasing honeybees so big as to cause disease and parasitic mite problems that now encompass over 135 nations at catastrophic level, placing them in a situation out-of-tune with the reality of Nature. Nothing was hidden and everything was written and published out in the open.
The only thing that has happened is that artificial supposition and an artificial domesticated system of beekeeping has so far prevailed over that found naturally occurring in Nature and has been taught.
It began with a simple idea everyone wanted to participate in, i.e. scientists, manufacturing houses. Now through the passing of each successive generation (figure 20 years to each new generation), the growing disparity of size between feral and domestic hives dictates this bigger-is-better trend must be corrected and its underlying causative effects must be brought to light and taught, if beekeeping as we know it is to continue.
In Belgium, Prof Baudoux measured workers in the range of 5mm to 5.17mm and 5.35mm per cell. (Ordinary drone cells he placed at 5.5mm next to 5mm for worker cells.) Even he found 5.5mm drone cells next to 5mm worker cells to be double in volume of cell contents for food confirming Mullenhoff’s results. When we then consider having today, foundation on the market as large as 5.7mm, it’s not hard to see how it would not be disastrous for beekeepers to use, because of parasitic mite attraction with a pseudo-effect on worker bees perceived as a food source just like that of drones.
Yet, look how much foundation on today’s market is 5.44mm in size (close to the 5.5mm drone size measured by Baudoux).
Wouldn’t this too, also be dangerous for attraction for parasitic mites, causing a pseudo-effect, with mites mistaking worker bees for drones?
JUST HOW BIG THEN, IS TOO BIG?
I would say too big is when a colony of bees starts to become distressed, which leads to stress, which leads to disease, which lets a beekeeper know through visual perception that something is wrong within the hive.