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Author Topic: Thumbs up for foundationless!  (Read 4838 times)
Bill W.
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« on: July 13, 2008, 05:32:15 PM »

I started my beekeeping with a hive package and it came with plastic foundation, so as I've expanded I've continued to use it.  Some large cell and some small cell, but it all worked about the same.

Later I got some wax foundation as part of a used gear buy and it seemed to work about as well.

A couple weeks ago I started to run out of gear.  Between splits, swarms, and a couple cut-outs now, I'm at 13 hives, which is more than I ever planned to run.  Anyway, I had picked up a swarm and realized I was all out of foundation, so I figured this was a good time to try foundationless.  I picked up a large bag of popsicle sticks and glued them into the groove at the tops of some empty frames, installed them to either side of my remaining two plastic frames, dumped the bees in and hoped for the best.

Today I found they have nearly drawn all of the foundationless frames and just drawn some burr comb here and there on the plastic.  Not only did they draw the foundationless much faster, they obviously significantly prefer it to the plastic.

So, I'll experiment some more to make sure this holds true for other hives, but I can't image wasting more money on foundation in the future if the bees react like this.

Of course, this is a medium.  I haven't tried with a deep yet and it seems like that may be more fragile.
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suprstakr
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2008, 05:51:07 PM »

I use deeps sams thing . Welcome to natural comb-keeping. Smiley
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2008, 11:02:55 PM »

Once you go foundationless you never go back.  Welcome to more natural beekeeping.
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ajm
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2008, 07:54:59 AM »

  Can you explain to me how to go foundationless?  I do not want a comb mess and I am unsure how to start.  Waht do you do about the honey supers?


ajm
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Ross
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2008, 08:57:14 AM »

Honey supers and brood boxes work the same way.  You give them empty frames with some type of center guide.  Some people use popsicle sticks glued in the top groove.  I prefer to cut a bevel on my top bars using the table saw.  Anything that creates the center guide usually works.  You could break out the wedge, turn it sideways, and glue/nail it back in as well.  Just make sure it's secure.  That's what all of your comb in attached to.  That's why I prefer mine attached solidly to the bar itself.
http://www.myoldtools.com/Bees/frames/

I use the middle style now.
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2008, 08:58:11 AM »

The simplest way is to put an empty frame between 2 capped frames.  You will likely get a nice beautiful straight frame of drone comb.  If its filled with honey, then who cares?  The problem is the queen will crawl through the pits of hell to get up to empty drone comb.  She'll even go through boxes of capped honey!!  If you don't like brood in your supers then you will need excluders.

Other than that method, usually you will have a guide of some kind, whether that is just a thin strip or wax or wood, or a "V" peice of wood on the bottom of the top bar.

I have some and it seems to work well, the bees will draw the empty space better, but I still prefer plastic even with its downsides.

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So, I'll experiment some more to make sure this holds true for other hives, but I can't image wasting more money on foundation in the future if the bees react like this.
 That is why I like plastic...spend once, reuse many. Smiley

Rick
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Rick
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2008, 09:08:22 PM »

  Does foundationless promote drone comb?  Will they build regular brood comb?


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bmacior
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2008, 09:11:34 PM »

how do you process foundationless honey comb?
Barb
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Bill W.
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2008, 09:21:03 PM »

Crush and strain.  I don't have an extractor, so even with my plastic, I do scrape and strain.

I'm not really set up to keep a bunch of drawn comb around, so I prefer to scrape everything down for the winter and let them draw it again next year.  I'm sure that probably lowers my yields, but this is a hobby for me and I produced more honey than I knew what to do with at two hives.  With my current numbers, I'm going to have to make mead or something just to get rid of the stuff.  Wink
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Greg Peck
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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2008, 09:45:29 PM »

Man I had a different conclusion to my attempt at foundation less frames. I put some in a few hives and the bees drew them out quickly but they are huge sized cells. And the queen is laying in them. I must have 5 or 6 full drone frames out of the 10 foundation less frames I put in. One hive built the comb down to the bottom but not on the one side. There they extend the neighboring frame over into the foundation less frames space so when I pull the foundation less frame I ripped a bunch of come apart and made a mess. I basically decided that the cost of foundation is not that bad compared to the mess and hassle of pulling drone frames that I dont want in there. Sad
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2008, 08:32:03 AM »

  Does foundationless promote drone comb?
Yes and No.   If you have all worker size foundation when you start with a foundationless frame thren yes they will build drone comb.   The bees like to manage drone population and when they are given the oppurtunity to build comb,  they will  build drone comb until they are satisfied they have enough.

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Will they build regular brood comb?
Yes, once they have enough drone comb.

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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2008, 08:36:41 AM »

I've also noticed that what they draw out as storage comb for honey is drone comb sized(less wax needed?).  Then the queen will get up there given half a chance.

The hives that I started out as swarms on empty frames drew that out nicely.  But I don't get that opportunity all that often.  Most of the time it is replacing combs, and then it doesn't work very well.

-r
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Rick
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2008, 08:38:59 AM »

Man I had a different conclusion to my attempt at foundation less frames. I put some in a few hives and the bees drew them out quickly but they are huge sized cells. And the queen is laying in them. I must have 5 or 6 full drone frames out of the 10 foundation less frames I put in. One hive built the comb down to the bottom but not on the one side. There they extend the neighboring frame over into the foundation less frames space so when I pull the foundation less frame I ripped a bunch of come apart and made a mess. I basically decided that the cost of foundation is not that bad compared to the mess and hassle of pulling drone frames that I dont want in there. Sad

Greg,  I believe your experience is more the norm.  Yes you can get good comb from foundationless,  but it is a lot trickier than some proponents of it would have you believe.  I think a lot of folks have similar experience as you (I know I do) but feel "they" are at fault so don't discuss it.   There are the good and bad with both, but you are likely to get more consistent results with foundation,  especially those without years of experience with foundationless.
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2008, 08:59:33 AM »

I'll say this again for those that don't listen.  I have been 100% foundationless for 5 years.  I made over 40 gallons of honey this year.  I haven't lost a hive in several years.  It works.  It takes a while to get your hives in balance, but the bees will manage it.  So they draw drone comb, so what.  It's great for extracting.  So the queen lays in it, so what.  They need drones.  Don't you ever need to get a supercedure queen mated?  How are they going to do that if everybody prevents drones.  It's called natural beekeeping.  It has worked for eons.  Just slide the drone comb to edges or move it up to the supers and let the bees work.
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Bill W.
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2008, 10:37:39 AM »

Well, we're all used to dealing with a particular set of problems and the set of problems you know how to deal with generally seems preferable to the one you don't know how to deal with.

I may try foundationless in other hives and get poorer results, but I'm definitely ready to give it a try after my first experience.
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PeskySquirrel
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2008, 11:11:32 AM »

Is going foundationless as simple as installing a package of bees into a new hive with 10 starter-strip style frames? I like the idea of less expense and more natural comb. Plus there's the opportunity for smaller cells (though it's not clear to me if package bees are capable of building small cells--it seems not?). But that seems way too easy; just throw 'em in and let 'em build comb.
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« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2008, 11:33:35 AM »

Is going foundationless as simple as installing a package of bees into a new hive with 10 starter-strip style frames?
Best case yes.  But chances are you will run into snafus along the way.

Quote
I like the idea of less expense and more natural comb. Plus there's the opportunity for smaller cells (though it's not clear to me if package bees are capable of building small cells--it seems not?).
Large cell bees must be regressed which takes a few steps.  They will build smaller comb, but not 4.9 or "natural" sized comb the first shot.  You will probably get 5.1 or so.

Quote
But that seems way too easy; just throw 'em in and let 'em build comb.

Frame placement, guides, weather/flow, bee tendencies, etc all play a part in how the comb turns out.  Foundation was invented to give the bees a footprint to build upon to get consistent results.   Give then free range and results will vary.
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kathyp
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2008, 12:24:36 PM »

i had pretty mixed results with those that i let go foundationless.  swarm hives did pretty well.  cutouts did not.  added supers to last years hives were mixed in results.  i am sure that weather and nectar flow played a big part.  don't think i'll try fully foundationless next year.  i will probably mix foundation and strips.   this seemed to give the best results this year.  i don't really care about small cell, as there have been no good studies that prove it as a good control for mites.  genetics seem far more important.
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2008, 12:40:38 PM »

I just did that on May 17. I placed my new package of bees into a medium super with mostly all foundationless starter strip frames. I say mostly because I placed 2 frames in there that were drawn out already as a guide for them. This helps them to make straighter combs. It worked out great in the first super, but when I added the next super,I forgot to place any guides and they drew out the combs into the next frames over. I have been trying to fix this mess since then.

As long as they have even one frame in the middle as a guide, they seem to do very well.

Good Luck
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2008, 12:59:45 PM »

Oh, I'm listening just fine... grin

It can work, it just takes some different expectations and different management techniques, neither of which I'm comfortable with right now.  I have enough drones in my hives to mate all of the swarm queens in the county, thanks to the foundationless frames in my hives. 

If I move the drone comb to the outsides of the boxes and put an empty frame in the middle, then those drones hatch on the outside, they fill that with honey, and then draw the new frame in the middle as all drone comb!

Now the few swarms that I put on all foundationless they drew out very nice.  Although there were a few that fell out because they weren't wired...

I have plenty of supers with foundationless frames, all large comb.  I don't like to get a full frame of brood up in the supers.  Doesn't hurt all that much, but I don't like it.

I find it much easier to use foundation.  I like nice straight comb if possible, and some foundationless is straight, but more is wavy or irregular than the foundation comb.

Those are my experiences.  I'm glad it works for some, and it works somewhat for me, but it isn't my preference.

Rick
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