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Author Topic: New beekeeper - want to go foundationless  (Read 852 times)
bzzzybee
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« on: April 08, 2008, 09:00:45 PM »

Hey there. I'm new to the forum, but this seems to be a great place for information!

We just moved to a new house out in the country and we decided we should try beekeeping. One short course and two partially built hives later, and we find ourselves devouring all the beekeeping information we can find. But now, of course, we find we have a huge number of questions, most importantly, what to do once the nucs show up. So here's the situation:

Two hives, all medium boxes (up to 3 per hive atm)
Two 5-frame nucs on foundation on the way...

...and we want to go foundationless.


Can we do that? And if we can, how do we go about doing it?

I know the nuc frames will have foundation, and I strongly suspect it will be larger-cell (5.2-5.3ish). I'd like to get the bees drawing comb quickly, as we have no comb from other hives because we're...well...new. We're planning to use popsicle stick guides in the open frames (I'm hoping I can just wood glue them in), but I'm not sure how to position the empty frames in the hive with the nuc frames. My initial thought was the nuc frames in the center, empty frames on the edge like this: EEENNNNNEE. However, I'm concerned that the bees may decide they have no comb and so they should swarm. Would it be better to put an empty frame in the middle of the nuc frames like this: EENENNNNEE as a way to entice them to draw the comb? Am I overthinking this?

Just trying to start the hives out on the right foot. Any help would be appreciated.

-bzzzy
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Pond Creek Farm
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2008, 11:10:06 PM »

You need to seek out Michael Bush and his website www.bushfarms.com   I have learned much from his posts and have planned my regression program around his advice.
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Brian
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2008, 12:47:27 AM »

I started 3 of 4 packages on foundationless last spring and will start 1 for my daughter this spring the same way.  The only suggestion is to monitor the comb building as there may be a tendency for the bees to build bridge combs between frames.  If that happens just detach 1 end and bend the comb into the frame and the bees will carry on with the correction.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2008, 07:04:16 AM »

>Two 5-frame nucs on foundation on the way...

Medium or deep?

>Can we do that? And if we can, how do we go about doing it?

Sure.

>I know the nuc frames will have foundation, and I strongly suspect it will be larger-cell (5.2-5.3ish).

Most likely unless someone tells you otherwise.

> I'd like to get the bees drawing comb quickly, as we have no comb from other hives because we're...well...new.

Not a problem.  Bees start new hives with no comb all the time.  They are called "swarms".

> We're planning to use popsicle stick guides in the open frames (I'm hoping I can just wood glue them in)

That works.

> but I'm not sure how to position the empty frames in the hive with the nuc frames. My initial thought was the nuc frames in the center, empty frames on the edge like this: EEENNNNNEE

I'd do that for a few days and then start feeding the empty ones into the brood nest one at a time.  Don't put another one in until the last one is drawn.

> However, I'm concerned that the bees may decide they have no comb and so they should swarm.

Bees do NOT swarm because they have no comb.  They swarm because they have no room or because the queen has no where to lay.  But if there is no comb they build it.

> Would it be better to put an empty frame in the middle of the nuc frames like this: EENENNNNEE as a way to entice them to draw the comb?

Yes because they will drawn nicer comb:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#historicreferences


> Am I overthinking this?

Yes.  But that's what happens when you keep bees.

Just trying to start the hives out on the right foot. Any help would be appreciated.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
bzzzybee
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Location: Westminster, MD


« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2008, 09:27:09 AM »

>Two 5-frame nucs on foundation on the way...

Medium or deep?

Mediums. We're doing everything in mediums. Partly because of weight, but mainly because it's modular, so I can use all the pieces interchangeably.


> but I'm not sure how to position the empty frames in the hive with the nuc frames. My initial thought was the nuc frames in the center, empty frames on the edge like this: EEENNNNNEE

I'd do that for a few days and then start feeding the empty ones into the brood nest one at a time.  Don't put another one in until the last one is drawn.

> Would it be better to put an empty frame in the middle of the nuc frames like this: EENENNNNEE as a way to entice them to draw the comb?

Yes because they will drawn nicer comb

So it sounds like I should give them a few days in the new hive wih the brood nest together as it arrived in the nuc, then start feeding empty frames, one at a time, into the center of the nest to help them draw straighter comb. Once the frame is full (ignoring open corners) then do I move it back to the outside edge? Or should I leave it as part of the brood nest and just add another empty to the middle? My instinct says to do the second option....


> However, I'm concerned that the bees may decide they have no comb and so they should swarm.

Bees do NOT swarm because they have no comb.  They swarm because they have no room or because the queen has no where to lay.  But if there is no comb they build it.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around beepsychology. I know there are multiple reasons for swarms (read your page, VERY informative). But I'm still trying to understand where my role as a beekeeper can help keep that from happening. I'm sure it's something that will only come with experience.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2008, 08:19:02 PM »

>So it sounds like I should give them a few days in the new hive wih the brood nest together as it arrived in the nuc, then start feeding empty frames, one at a time, into the center of the nest to help them draw straighter comb.

That's what I would do.

> Once the frame is full (ignoring open corners) then do I move it back to the outside edge? Or should I leave it as part of the brood nest and just add another empty to the middle?

You want to end up with the core natural sized, so I would leave it at the core and move the larger cells to the outside.

> My instinct says to do the second option....

Correct.

>I'm still trying to wrap my mind around beepsychology. I know there are multiple reasons for swarms (read your page, VERY informative). But I'm still trying to understand where my role as a beekeeper can help keep that from happening. I'm sure it's something that will only come with experience.

They run out of room (crowded, no where for the bees to cluster) or it's that time of year and they have enough bees to have a successful reproductive swarm.  Not enough drawn comb is not a contributing factor.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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