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Author Topic: Natural Comb Results  (Read 472 times)
BrentX
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Location: North Star Delaware


« on: August 02, 2011, 09:32:43 PM »

After reading here about foundationless hives, I gave it a go this year.  Here are the results...

When drawing out new frames the bees seem equally content to draw out natural comb frames as frames with wax foundation.  The few black plastic foundation frames were the LAST to get drawn.  The black plastic is good for the beekeeper to see the eggs and larvae, but other than that I cant recommend it. 

One hive started out making some wonky comb in foundationless frames, which I straightened up easily.  After shimming the hive to make it dead level all the comb was drawn straight.  (I believe the bricks supporting the hive shifted some as the hive weight increased) The bees made a lot of drone foundation on the first couple of foundationless frames, but thereafter settled in to a healthy balance between drones and worker size cells.

Most foundationless frames were given a wood starter strip.  I started out using one or two popsical sticks, but later cut just right strips on my table saw that were inserted into the top grove on the frame.  I also made some frames with a v shaped top bar which the bees also liked.  Buying frames is much easier than making frames.

As the hive grew I would replace every other drawn comb in a box with undrawn foundationless frames.  The drawn comb removed from the box was alternated with foundationless frames in the next super.  In this way a box full of new undrawn foundationless frames was spread through two boxes.  When the flow was on all would be drawn out by the next hive inspection.  As the honey came on the next supers were placed under the honey.

So far so good.

I was concerned about extraction having read mixed reports here.  The honey was extracted in a radial extractor   A few frames had partial blowouts in the extractor, but the foundationless frame blowouts were in the same proportion as the wax foundation blowouts, leading to the conclusion was the blowouts were more  a result of the high temperature (105 F) on extraction day.

With a mix of foundation and natural comb I did not push regression this year.  I just let the bees make the comb they wanted.

The foundationless comb is absolutely beautiful, I find it esthetically pleasing.  It makes me happy Smiley

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Sundog
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Location: Florida Suncoast


« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 10:31:57 PM »

Nice post.

Be happy!
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Michael Bush
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Location: Nehawka, NE


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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2011, 12:03:32 AM »

>foundationless frame blowouts were in the same proportion as the wax foundation blowouts, leading to the conclusion was the blowouts were more  a result of the high temperature (105 F) on extraction day.

It's also related to how new the wax is.  Brand new wax is very soft (with or without foundation) and prone to blow out.  Mature wax is stronger.  A couple of weeks of age on the wax makes a lot of difference in strength.
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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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