The Efficiency of the Use of Enlarged Cells

XX Jubilee Apimondia Congress – August, 1965 – Pages 675-677


“The large cell” preoccupied and continues to preoccupy many beekeepers and scientists in numerous countries. Etienne de Meyer (Belgium), in the first report presented to the XI-th International Congress of Apiculture (Paris 1-17 August 1937) said:

The large cell is only a selection, better said a means of selection…” In his opinion the possible limit might be that of 575-600 cells per dm2, that is, cells with a diameter of about 6.3-6.2 mm. He also demonstrated that the bee ”adapts itself” to the cell put at its disposal, and that only an artificial honey-comb with cells of a corresponding size would permit to maintain the bee’s size and body dimensions.

The second report presented to the same Congress by Dr. A. Zappi Racordati (Italy), on the theme “The problems of the large cell in Italy”, mentioned among others:

“To obtain larger bees it would not be sufficient to use honey-combs with cells larger in size than those normally built by the bees, but, it will be necessary to find a way of obtaining as large as possible bee queen and drones. Periodic replacement of the honey-combs is always a very important measure which permits to guarantee to the bee the best conditions of development: it would thus seem necessary to make this replacement also in case the larger cells are adopted”…

“We have in Italy too, enthusiastic adherents for enlarging the bees by means of the Baudoux method. Measurements made with the greatest accuracy by the National Institute of Apiculture, using a single method (that of De Meyer and Trannazer) on a considerable number of working-bees honey-combs, belonging to the pure Apis ligustica race, have clearly proved that size of cells – even in relatively limited zones – varies within wide enough limits, more exactly between 860-760 per dm2”.

Under the influence of the above mentioned reports, I set myself the purpose to experiment on the efficiency of large cell honey-combs. This was possible beginning with the year 1941 when I was able to build honey-combs with cells of 5.65 mm and 5.85 mm diameter, that is, 726 and respectively 678 cells per dm2.

The experiment (in the year 1941) comprised 4 local race (Region of Ploiesti) bee families living in Dadant beehives with 12 standard frames and stores, and working in honey-combs with cells of 5.4 mm diameter (794 cells per dm2). The experience lasted 4 years. Two of the bee-families from the experimental group were completely shaken off into new hives equipped with artificial honey-combs and cells of 5.65 mm diameter. For the other two families, the artificial honey-comb frames with enlarged cells were intercalated in the brood-nests, during the intense Acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) and linden-tree (Tilia) harvest. All the bee-families of the experimental group behaved almost identically: the majority of the cells were transformed in drone cells and a small part occupied by brood-nests of working-bees, but with thickened walls.

During the following years (1942-1944) the experiment was repeated with the same number of bee-families and identical unfavorable results. During the years 1954-1958 I adopted a new working method: the artificial honey-combs with enlarged cells were used for building up and honey storing during the intense harvest period for other colonies and after the honey extraction they were used for the colonies of the experimental group (during the following season) for brood breeding, using as for the first experiment, the shake-off method. The honey-yield of the colonies from the experimental and control groups, in the conditions of stationary bee-breeding, is shown in table 1.

Table 1.

Table 1.


An analysis of the figures in table 1 shows that the yield-increase obtained from the experimental group bee colony during the 5 years of experiment varied between 11.1 and 15.5% or in average by 16.9% per year which can be considered a positive factor for the efforts which every beekeeper is undertaking in order to increase production and investment rentability in apiculture.

Experimentation with enlarged cells frames (5.65 mm) was successfully undertaken by beekeeper Vladimir Cudelca of the Region of Bacau (city of Roman), in the middle of the province of Moldavia, with a group of 5 bee colony during the years 1957-1963. According to his statement, the increase of production he obtained was over 20% yearly, which might mean that also in other regions of our country the enlarged cell can and must contribute to the productivity of the apiaries in our country.

Further researches (Eng. E. Mirza and collab., 1962) revealed data which are supporting a large-scale use of enlarged cells honey-combs. These researches are showing that in the bee-population of our country the cell size of the natural honey-comb presents a great variability, depending on the zone. Thus in the Transylvanian highland the average horizontal diameter is 5.50 mm, the differences, as compared to that average, ranging between the limits of 5.24-5.88 mm. It is to be mentioned that in the mountainous zone the size varies with in the limits of 5.35-5.88 mm.


1. Experiments with a large cell honey-comb in the conditions of the Socialist Republic of Romania (5.65 mm) show that a large scale introduction of such honey-combs represents an important reserve for the increase of the bee-hive’s productivity in all sectors. To this aim it is necessary that the honey-comb should be build up first – during intense harvesting – in other colonies or in the respective colonies for honey-storage, and only afterwards it should be used for brood breeding.

2. Recent researches concerning the cell size of the natural honey-comb built by the bee-population of our country show that there is a great size-variability and that in the mountainous zone these sizes greatly overstep the artificial honey-comb cell size which we have experimented (5.88 mm). Consequently, in a zone which represents approximately a third of the territory of the S. R. Romania, the use of honey-combs having cells with a horizontal diameter of 5.65 and even 5.88 mm constitutes a problem of acute actuality.

3. In all countries where research-work is showing that, in certain zones the bee-colonies are building natural honey-combs, it is to be recommended that the bee-colonies should have at their disposal honey-combs with cells as nearly as possible to the size of cells which bees are building naturally.


The XI-th International Congress of Apiculture – in “Romania Apicola”, No. 11-12/1937.

Etienne De Meyer – The work of Baudoux, in “Romania Apicola”, No. 2/1938.

Antonescu C. – The efficiency of the use of enlarged – cells honey-combs in “Apicultura”, 1959.

Mirza E., eng. and collab. – Data concerning the size of cells in S.R.R. honey-combs, in “Apicultura”, 1961.