Alternative to Chemicals



    The honeybee cells prior to 1893 were about 4.9 mm. in diameter. After that year, the comb cells were artificially enlarged to 5.4 mm. and up. The thinking at that time was that bigger bees meant – more honey.  But, the natural cell size of 4.9 mm. bees have 22% more cells per frame.  Which shows that actually it’s more bees that make more honey.

    We should look at the bees in the wild and try to mimic their natural habitat. There is air movement in the hollow trees at all times. The use of screen bottom boards will duplicate that air flow and a large number of mites and trash will fall out the bottom just like the hollow trees. With small cell bees you will virtually eliminate your Tracheal and Varroa mite problems. The trachea tube of the 4.9 bees are smaller and therefore prohibit the mites from entering into the trachea of the bees. This makes one less thing that you’ll have to treat.

    Another example of this is with the Varroa mite.  The 4.9 bees have a shorter capping time of the cells by 12 hours and shorter post capping time by 12 hours. This interruption of the life cycle means less Varroa getting into the cells and reproducing in them. Therefore,  less Varroa mites will be reaching maturity. Also, the Varroa mites do not like to lay their eggs in the smaller 4.9 cells.  The bees will chew Varroa mites out of the cells on the down side of the honey flow. The chewing out will start slowly as the queen stops raising drones, and will pick up as the drones are expelled from the hive, then will taper off just prior to the brood nest cleaning time.  Varroa mites will multiply faster on regular 5.4 foundation and drone brood than on 4.9 foundation and worker brood.

Small cell bees, when used in conjunction with screen bottom boards along with powder sugar dusting in the fall, will give an effective chemical free control of Varroa.

Side Note:

1. It takes about 90 days to evaluate the performance of a queen.

2. As we get older the bee hives become harder to lift. My mentor, John Seaborn (, now uses 8 frame medium boxes for brood and honey supers.  In doing so, you have one box size and one frame size.  We have found that this cuts cost and saves your back!

3. If you choose the 4.9 bees and have other hives of  5.4, separate the 5.4 yard from the 4.9 so as to eliminate drifting during the honey flow. This also keeps the 5.4 from bringing mites into the 4.9 hives, allowing you to evaluate the 4.9′s.

4. The use of harsh chemicals has failed us. We need to change our approach as to what type of treatments we use on the bees. Natural treatments have proven to be safe and effective.


Bon Aqua Springs

10832 New Cut Off Road

Bon Aqua, TN 37025

Phone: (931) 670-6862