Has research been done on honey bees comparing 5.4 mm comb cell size with 4.9 mm? I have heard that small cell (4.9 mm) beekeeping can control varroa mites.

Below is a listing of research into European honey bees on small cell combs. Three of the articles (1, 2, and 5) deal with small cell and varroa mites. All three conclude that small cell does not help the bees deal with varroa mites, or otherwise reduce varroa mite numbers. Article #3 shows that small cell combs do not reduce tracheal mites. Study #4 is unrelated to small cell’s effect on parasitic mites and shows that smaller combs do result in smaller bees, when measuring specific morphological characters.


  1. Berry, J. A., Owens, W. B., and Delaplane, K. S. (2010). Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies. Apidologie 41: 40-44.
  2. Ellis, A. M., Hayes, G. W., and Ellis, J. D. (2009). The efficacy of small cell foundation as a varroa mite (Varroa destructor) control. Experimental and Applied Acarology 47(4): 311-316.
  3. McMullan, J. B., Brown, M. J. F. (2006). Brood-cell size does not influence the susceptibility of honey bees (Apis mellifera) to infestation by tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi). Experimental and Applied Acarology 39: 273-280.
  4. McMullan, J. B., Brown, M. J. F. (2006). The influence of small-cell brood combs on the morphometry of honeybees (Apis mellifera). Apidologie 37: 665-672.
  5. Taylor, M. A., Goodwin, R. M., McBrydie, H. M., and Cox, H. M. (2008). The effect of honey bee worker brood cell size on Varroa destructor infestation and reproduction. Journal of Apicultural Research 47(4): 239-242.