I wanted to closely document the transition to small cell to help others with the process, both backyard and commercial-scale beekeepers. If you are not aware bees raised on natural comb have a good track record of surviving without any chemicals in managed hives. A much better track record than commercial or backyard beekeepers that use chemicals currently enjoy. The fact that feral bees are surviving in natural comb without chemical should be obvious. It seems to be a point on which advocates of conventional beekeeping are in complete denial in spite of enormous evidence to the contrary.
This is natural comb in a conventional frame without foundation. Please note the very technical starter strip made of two large Popsicle sticks/tongue depressors. Simply hold two together and press them gently but firmly into the foundation grove on a conventional frame. The frames I use are from Rossman Apiaries www.gabees.com. I cannot vouch for there being such a perfect fit on frames from other sources. Some sources recommend painting the starter strip with melted wax to encourage the bees. I did not because the bee drawn wax is stronger and I did not want to create a weak link in the frame at the attachment point. Clearly, the bees had no trouble figuring things out without a wax coating.
This is a close up of a frame that has been drawn to about a third of the frame. The golden area is cells filled with honey. The frames are not fully drawn and the bees are already packing in honey. The photographs do not do justice to the absolute beauty and perfection of natural comb.
All of these photographs were taken three weeks after the introduction of open frames with starter strips into the hive. All frames shown are deep frames.
You too can save the world, one beehive at a time!