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Author Topic: Why do we use foundation?  (Read 4010 times)
greenbtree
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« on: May 21, 2012, 10:27:09 AM »

I'm not trying to poke the hornet's nest here.  I really want to know - why do we use foundation?  I can see that the plastic is sturdier during extraction, but the bees really hate to draw it out.  To get larger bees?  Why is that an advantage?  (I've had people tell me the larger bees can take advantage of Red Clover, but have yet to see a honey bee of any size on Red Clover).  Is it potentially faster for them to complete cells on foundation?  So far I am not seeing a lot of difference between wax foundation and them filling a totally empty frame.  In my drone thread the consensus seems to be that it is not to limit drones.  I can see that a couple of frames of foundation to get a new batch of bees building in the right direction would be good - anything else?  Is it that larger cells hold more honey?  If so, how much more honey would there be in a frame of large cell verses small cell?

JC
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2012, 11:33:29 AM »

You've touched on all the reasons that are usually given.

Baudot in 1898 was the first to come up with the idea of using larger embossed cell imprints.  He was a Lamarckian who believed that by altering the experience of the bee (i.e. placed in a larger cell) the behavior of the bee would be altered (i.e. that they would make larger cells and thus larger bees in the future.).  He was correct about the behavior change, but not the reasons for it.  The genes of the bees are not altered and so their long term behavior is not altered.   But large bees are not able to draw natural cell comb because they are physically unable to turn withing a small enough area.  Big bees will draw comb intermediate between large cell and natural cell.  After a two or three generations on newly drawn comb, the cell size will return to the genetic programming.

Baudot reasoned that bigger bees would have longer tongues and would thus be able to drink nectar from the purple clover that dominated his part of Belgium.  Again he was correct that the big bees had big tongues, but I don't think the changes he made enabled the bees to utilize purple clover.  I understand that purple (or red) clover that is grown in the US is not a forage source for honey bees.

Foundation can provide a good guide for drawing straight comb.  but you would only need a few frames of foundation to get the bees started right.  And even that is not necessary if you use a comb guide of some sort on each frame... like a 1/4 inch wedge of wood hanging down or a strip of wax.

Foundation does make the comb stiffer, especially in the case of newly drawn comb.  And plastic comb is much easier to handle than wax comb.   Any kind of foundation which has cells all of the same size has the draw-back that it is not what the bees actually want.  They want frames with a variety of cells on different parts of the comb. That's why they build it that way.   grin
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 11:48:26 AM by FRAMEshift » Logged

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Javin
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2012, 12:47:30 PM »

The reason I use foundation is strictly for starting a hive.  It's forces the bees to draw straight comb.  Then, once hive body is drawn out, I split it into two bodies, replacing every other comb with an empty frame with a "starter strip" so they can build natural comb.  Once THAT'S built out, the foundation comb can be tossed and replaced with more empty frames with starter strips, and voila, a hive with all natural comb.  Keep cycling the comb and after awhile they'll have natural comb built.  Still, I use foundation to get them started just so I don't have to fuss with poorly drawn comb in the beginning.

As for the commercial keepers, the extra effort would be a too much when dealing with thousands of hives.  The foundation keeps the bees making straight comb that is centered correctly in the frame so the machines can be used to uncap and process it.  I've also read that bigger bees produce more honey by being able to carry more back in a single trip.  Dunno how accurate this is, but maybe that's a reason, too.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's just to reduce the work required to get the bees to put the comb where you want it, and make it stable enough (bees often won't draw to the edges or bottom naturally) and with the wiring allows them to put it through the mechanical extractors without destroying the comb.  This means reusable comb, which a single hive body can lose about 8 lbs. of honey if it has to redraw all its comb.

So that'd be my guess.  For the hobbyist, I'd say if you're wanting to go the all-natural route, and not planning on using an extractor, then foundation isn't entirely necessary if you're going to stay on top of them and keep them creating their comb in the right direction.  I tend to take the lazy out and get them started with foundation then weaning it out personally. 
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Irina
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2012, 01:20:52 PM »

Frameshift,
<But large bees are not able to draw natural cell comb because they are physically unable to turn withing a small enough area. >

I have a concern now.

I am still a learner, and, first year I added the frames with the small cell foundation to my brood box. Actually I added a box of the small cell foundation frames with 2 frames with drawn combs. I did this using M. Bush advice on small cells... just to be natural and partially work on varrow mites problem. I did this on my 2 hives on 04/21 and checked them yesterday - only few bees are in upper box. Now, I don't know if the reason they don't move to upper box is the small cells or they just are not that strong. They have plenty of storage in bottom box; 1st hive has 4 frames with brood; 2nd hive has 2 frame with eggs only.

Thank you.
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Finski
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2012, 01:38:56 PM »

I really want to know - why do we use foundation?  JC

You seems to be quicker to ask than think
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Javin
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2012, 01:51:13 PM »

The hives don't sound particularly strong.  If one hive only has two frames of eggs, and nothing else (in other words, 8 empty frames) then this hive needs to be fed the sugar-water or better still, raw honey through a feeder to keep them going.  If you have two hive bodies, remove one to reduce the amount of space they have to heat and protect.  (You can get roaches and stuff getting into the empty cavities if bees aren't there to protect them).  Also, make sure your hives are COMPLETELY level, putting a level on the top of them to make sure they're straight all the way around.  (This is based on another theory of mine, but it doesn't hurt.)

Wait until you've got about 8 drawn frames of comb before adding a new hive body.

Same would go for the hive with 4 frames of brood.  It sounds like you're saying the hives are particularly low on food stores and brood heavy?  I don't normally recommend trying to save a dying hive (they could be dying because of disease, bad genetics, etc.) but it SOUNDS like you've got some good layers, they just don't have the food stores.  Is that about right? 

You say you've had them for over a year.  How much honey were they left with at the end of last year, and how did your feeding go over the winter and now?
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Irina
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2012, 02:28:06 PM »

Thank you Javin,

These 2 hives survived the winter and now each hive has probably more than 4 frames of honey mixed with the pollen as a food storage. When I checked them in April, they both have some capped brood, eggs and plenty of honey in upper hive body. All bees were in upper hive body. So I removed the bottom hive bodies, stored the frames with honey for emergency feeding if I need in future. Then my upper boxes went on bottom board. At that time I though that the hives are doing fine so I added one more hive body on each hive. And, like I said previously with the frames with small cell foundation.
They still have plenty of honey stored. I am not planning to feed them. But, from my inexperience view, they are not that strong now. I am not sure why?

Thank again.

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Javin
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2012, 03:05:10 PM »

Hrm.  Where are you located? 

Now I'm just spitballing here, but they could have moved to the upper portion of the hive while overwintering, and since that's where the queen's hanging out, just started up this year's hive there.  I suspect the queen would have eventually moved to the lower combs eventually once things got rolling. 

So let me get an idea of just what you're working with:

You have two hives, one with 2 frames of brood, and some honey.  The remaining 8 frames, are they empty?  Drawn comb?  Just foundation? 

What's the exactly layout of the second hive?

Both hives currently only have the single hive body?

How long ago was your last inspection?

How many frames of honey/pollen were in the lower hive bodies, and how many were empty?

Was the comb in the lower frames also fully drawn?

What kind of foundation are you using?  Wax?  Plastic?  None?

Is it safe to assume this is a langstroth?  (Sounds like it from the talk about frames/hive bodies, but I suppose it could be a Warre too).

Thanks!
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2012, 03:32:14 PM »

I am in Southern NH.
I started my Winter with 2 deep hive bodies/10 frames. And, I want to convert my hive into medium boxes only this year.
I did my last inspection on 2 hives yesterday

1st hive - 1 deep box with 4 frames of brood, 4 frames of honey and some pollen; 2 frames
              with  drawn combs and little storage of honey & pollen.
            - 1 medium box on top of deep with 7 frames (wax small cell foundation) and 2 plastic
               frames w/fully drawn combs and small pollen storage; 1 frame w/honey.
2nd hive - 1 deep box with 1 frame of eggs only and some storage around it; 4 frames of honey and
                some pollen; 2 frames with w/fully drawn combs and little storage of honey & pollen.
              - 1 medium box on top of deep with 7 frames (wax small cell foundation) and 2 plastic
               frames w/drawn combs and small pollen storage; 1 frame w/honey.

The previous inspection was on April 21. They were in good condition, not great. Both hives had eggs, capped brood, food storage.
And, like I said I removed the bottom hive bodies (all bees/cluster was in the top bodies), stored the frames with honey for emergency feeding if I need in future. Then I added medium hive body on top of each hive. 
Thank you again for helping me to understand the situation.
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2012, 04:25:27 PM »

Ha!  Well, I don't know how much I'm helping you understand the situation.  From what I can figure, everything sounds pretty good. 

Hive 1: 4 frames of brood, 4 of pollen/honey, and two frames of drawn comb...
Hive 2: 1 frame of eggs w/storage, 4 frames pollen, 2 frames comb (that's 7 frames?)

These should theoretically be markers of a healthy (or at least growing) hive.  How was the winter in NH?  It was remarkably calm here in VA, so I don't know how much of a role it could have played up there.

Have you identified the queen in both hives?  If you have eggs in one, that's an excellent sign, but what about the one with capped brood?  Any queen activity there?  If I were missing a queen, I may be tempted to just merge the two hives (just put the hive body from the weaker hive onto the stronger one) to try and salvage one of them if they were particularly weak.  You'll lose the foragers, but it doesn't sound like there's many of them around anyway.

What does the egg pattern look like?  If it's sparse and scattered, you may already have a laying worker problem, in which case you'll have a lot more drones than you should lulling about. 

If both hives have laying queens though, I'd be tempted to just tough it out until the brood hatches, though I would probably take one frame of brood from hive 1 and put it into hive 2 to help it out.  If memory serves (which often it doesn't) you could expect to get about 2000 new bees from a single, well laid deep frame of brood, so the extra workforce would help the second hive a lot.

I'd also like to hear the input of more experienced keepers.  It's been a decade and a half since I previously kept bees, and I've only just picked up the habit again myself.

I really hope it works out!  Keep me posted!
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2012, 05:15:55 PM »

When I first started keeping bees, I used nothing but wired foundation in my deeps, along with cross-wires that I added after I put the foundation into the frames, and thin unwired foundation in the shallows for cut-comb honey.  I did this because that's how the old guy at the bee store, as well as the book he gave me, said it must be done (I'm a team player).

I'd like to know how many of those deep frames I carefully cross-wired over the years.  I'd also like to know how many times I ended up cutting honey out of those multi-cross-wired deep frames.  You can do it, but you end up with lots of little squares of comb and very sticky hands.

Like many beekeepers, I eventually found myself in a situation where I'd be hiving a swarm or dividing a colony and didn't have enough wire-enriched foundation.  In those cases I just used empty frames, or frames with a little strip of my thin cut-comb foundation at the top of the frame.

Much to my surprise, I found out that the bees actually have the ability to build their own comb without human guidance at all.  What I also found was that, even in deep frames, that amazing free-lance, bee-designed comb was really pretty darn durable too.  I haven't wired a frame in almost ten years.  I can't say that my bees are any happier, healthier, or handsomer without foundation, but I can say that it's easier, cheaper, and more fun for me.
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2012, 05:20:37 PM »

I'm curious, AndrewT:

Do you "level" your hives when setting them up?  And what do your winter losses look like?
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2012, 06:07:31 PM »

I try to keep them level side to side, and leaning just a bit towards the front to keep rain water out.

The past few years, I've not had more than four hives at once, and I have averaged loosing probably one colony each winter.  It's mostly been one of the "older" colonies that I loose, with the splits that I make almost always living through their first winter and giving the most honey the next year.  Since I don't treat for mites, it may be that the older hives that don't swarm, and don't have that interruption of the brood cycle end up with a lot of mites by the end of the season.  So, I just watch my colonies in the spring and I take a few frames of brood and honey from the strongest ones and put them in nucs and let them raise their own queen.  I've been watching all my colonies more and I didn't loose any this past winter.

With the early warm weather building things up sooner than usual this year, I made my splits too early.  For the first time, I lost first one, then the other during a long, really cold spell that we had in late April.  In a couple of weeks, I plan to make two more and try again.
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2012, 09:50:29 PM »

Frameshift:  Do you have a reference for the Baudot development of foundation in 1898?  I'd like to have it for giving talks about foundationless frames.

Linda T (posting this rather than PM because I think the answer would be helpful to others)
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2012, 10:34:31 PM »

The original case for selling foundation was that you would consistently get workers and not drones.  Collison pretty well debunked this in his research, but the idea persists.  The other selling point has always been the x pounds of honey to make y pounds of wax (sold at various levels) and the idea that a pound of foundation would save you several pounds of honey because the bees don't have to secrete it.  I don't buy it as what seems to matter most is that in a flow there is somewhere to put the nectar as quickly as possible and they draw foundationless faster than foundation.

Later, Baudoux started stretching foundation to get larger cells and larger bees.  He started this research in the late 1800s and continued it into the 1900s.  The most I've found on his research is in the ABC XYZ of Bee Culture editions in the range of the 1920s to the 1940s.  They include many of his charts of measurements of bees anatomy from different sized cells from 4.7mm to 5.6mm and some mention of foundation down to 4.4mm.  Several of these charts used to be on Beesource under POV and Dee Lusby, and perhaps still are, but the links I used to have are now broken so either the folder structure changed or they have gotten lost.  You might try google books and see if you can find a scan of an early 20's edition of ABC XYZ.  If I was home and if I had a scanner that was working, I'd scan them for you...


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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2012, 11:22:41 PM »

Thank you, Michael.  You are always so generous with your information.  I am so excited to be coming to the conference in July and finally will get to meet you in person !!!!

Linda T
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2012, 11:23:40 PM »

and the idea that a pound of foundation would save you several pounds of honey because the bees don't have to secrete it. 




A langstroth box has 1 kg foundations. It is needed 6-8 kg honey to make it.
3 boxes foundations is  20 kg honey.

So you get waste wax in beekeeping.How to recycle it?  Do you burn it as candles or do you make new foundations. To me new foundation is 4 US dollar/kg when I give waste wax to the foundation maker.


If you crush the combs and sieve the honey, or make comb honey, you loose 2 kg wax against 25 kg honey.

So in comb honey production you yield is half that of ready combs.

It has been shown in researches even if folks do not mind it.
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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2012, 11:42:16 PM »

I just found it on Google books in the ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture - thanks so much - helps to have the source...people are always asking me about the reason foundation is larger and I quote M. Bush, but didn't have the original.  Hooray!

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2012, 11:50:39 PM »

Finsky: I know what I think.  What I think might be wrong.  I would like to know what other people think, and figure others might think it was an interesting topic.  I kind of thought that was the point of the forum.

JC

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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2012, 01:17:06 AM »

Finsky: I know what I think.  What I think might be wrong.  I would like to know what other people think, and figure others might think it was an interesting topic.  I kind of thought that was the point of the forum.

JC



Because of stupid head suffers the whole body.

This is eternal debate about consuming honey for "natural" wax production.
I have changes ideas quite many times with Michael Bush, but ideas remain the same.


Foundation is just natural. I uncap honey and melt old combs. Something wrong in that?
Then I give it to wax maker and he makes to me foundations.


I just bought strawberry dribling fertilizer and blueberry dripling fertilizer. It about 100 US dollar per 25 kg.
Some think that it is poison. But it is their problem. Not mine.


When Jesus lived 2000 years ago there was a potitical movement in Israel. They said that human world is too technical and humans must return to nature.

And organic honey producesr cannot nurse bees in plastic hives but they sell their honey in PLASTIC JARS AND IN PLASTIC BOTTLES.

.
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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2012, 08:42:45 AM »

from my 1888 copy of the abc of bee culture by a.i. root: ...note that this isn't an after the fact analysis of what was done...this is an account of what the plans _are_ in 1888 WRT enlarging the bee via larger foundation.

Quote
Several times it has been suggested that we enlarge the race of honey - bees, by giving them larger cells; and some circumstances seem to indicate that something may be done in this direction, although I have little hope of any permanent enlargement in size, unless we combined with the idea of selecting the largest bees to propagate from, as given a few figures back.  By making the cells smaller than ordinarily, we can get small bees with very little trouble; and I have seen a whole nucleus of bees so small is to be really laughable, just because the comb they were hatched from, was set at an angle so that one side was concave and the other convex.  The small bees came from the concave side.  Their light, active movements, as they sported in front of the hive, made them a pretty and amusing site for those fond of curiosities.  Worker bees reared in drone cells are, if I'm correct, sometimes extra-large in size; but as to whether we can make them permanently larger by such a course, I'm inclined to doubt.  The difficulty, at present seems to be the tendency to rearing a greater quantity of useless drones.  By having the hive furnished entirely with worker comb, we can so nearly prevent the production of drones that is safe enough to call it a complete remedy.



it's worth nothing that root observed worker cells to be 5 cells within an inch (5.08mm) or smaller...since we are now seeing a standard cell size in foundation at 5.4mm, it seems as if root was reporting on what was afoot in his day.

there is also this article from beeworld in 1933 that talks directly of enlarging the bees by enlarging the comb.
http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/ed-dee-lusby/historical-data-on-the-influence-of-cell-size/the-influence-of-cell-size-part-1/

every beekeeping book pre1900 pretty much agrees...worker cells are 5.08mm or smaller.  even a fairly recent publication by the a.i. root company (observation hives...i think 1999) mentions that the bees huber used were likely smaller than our modern bees.

regardless of what effect one thinks 5.4mm foundation has or doesn't have on bees, the historical record is quite clear.  bees have been made bigger....both through enlarging foundation and likely also via selection.

deknow
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2012, 08:54:10 AM »

.
In Russian Siberia official cell size is 5.6 mm. It was 2 years ago decided.

That cell size is another odd debate. Why we use big and small cars.
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« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2012, 11:29:07 AM »

Thanks Javin,

The winter was unusually warm this year, and I lost 2 hives; I had 4. I think, I insulated them too much for this warm winter... it is my fault.
One hive died in the bottom hive body, the cluster did not even go to the top box, plenty of food storage was left inside. I found that the water got inside the insulation and they might froze to dead during the cold days. Some bees were died inside the cells. I am not sure if they died because of the frozen water or starvation (they could not move to the honey storage); may be both conditions.
I would love to find the answer; just to learn from my mistake. Last winter I insulated the same way and all hives went through the winter very well.

Second hive died later, end of April or beginning of May. And, I only blamed myself. The queen was in the hive on April 21, some eggs, a lot of food storage and small population of bees. I should probably add one frame of capped brood to this hive from the stronger hive, but, I thought they would survive.
This was totally my fault.

Now about the existing hives:
I did not find the queens; I did not even look for them. And I don't think I have a laying worker.
The eggs pattern is very good and consistent, and only one egg in each cell.

I will follow your advice and add one frame w/capped brood from one hive to another (w/eggs only) hive to boost the population.
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« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2012, 02:18:35 AM »

>So in comb honey production you yield is half that of ready combs.

This has nothing do with using foundation or not.  It is a known fact that you will get more honey with drawn comb than when the bees have to draw the comb.  This is all about having a place to put the nectar.  But they draw the comb faster with foundationless which then gives them somewhere to store the nectar sooner.
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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2012, 11:22:54 AM »

Thanks for the references, deknow - and I am so looking forward to the conference in July!  (that's you, right?)

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2012, 11:38:26 AM »

and the idea that a pound of foundation would save you several pounds of honey because the bees don't have to secrete it. 




A langstroth box has 1 kg foundations. It is needed 6-8 kg honey to make it.
3 boxes foundations is  20 kg honey.

So you get waste wax in beekeeping.How to recycle it?  Do you burn it as candles or do you make new foundations. To me new foundation is 4 US dollar/kg when I give waste wax to the foundation maker.


If you crush the combs and sieve the honey, or make comb honey, you loose 2 kg wax against 25 kg honey.

So in comb honey production you yield is half that of ready combs.

It has been shown in researches even if folks do not mind it.

I see this 8# of honey to make a pound wax thrown out there alot. Can it be documented? Has there been a scientific study or is it just a number someone threw out at a talk once upon a time?
I'm not disagreeing just would like some facts on the study.  Thanks
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« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2012, 04:17:26 PM »

-
I has been documented in professional beekeepers test. It took 3 years.

idea was to find out, how much the colony makes honey when it has
1# drawn  combs
2# foundations
3# trips of wax

Colonies were bee packages.
It is somewhere in internet. I have linked it here few times.

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« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2012, 10:00:46 PM »

Hi Greenbtree,

I have a hornet nest you can poke, no hornets in it.  I don't use foundation, just frames.  In the langstroth I have a started strip, paint stirring stick cut in half glued in.  In my TBh I built them with a frame, top bar has a wedge pointing down.  You can extrude the langstroth with no foundation when the comb gets attached all around the frame.  The bees can build it pretty fast, and you dont have to buy foundation, install it, etc.  But to each his own way, or what you think is best for you.  As far as loss this past winter I started with 3, this spring still had 3, last month they swarmed now I have 6.  Extracted some honey last week, more in july or august.  That was my first winter.  Good luck to you all.

Joe
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« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2012, 11:23:36 PM »

I’ve never seen a little steam whistle or time clock in a bee hive that’s used to tell the workers when to clock in, or when to knock off. 

The way things get done in a hive is a bee comes along, sees something is started, and then she works on that thing for awhile, then another bee comes along, takes over from the first bee, and she moves on to something else.  IMHO this is how foundation works by mimicking the start or the foundation for each individual cell.  The cell walls are erected upward and outward  from these cell beginnings or cell foundations.  This is likely why wax coated plastic foundation works better than non wax coated plastic foundation, the wax coated foundation just looks or feels more like the start of real homey comb cells.  Maybe we should change the name from sheets of foundation to a sheet of foundationS
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« Reply #29 on: May 24, 2012, 02:02:23 AM »

>I see this 8# of honey to make a pound wax thrown out there alot. Can it be documented? Has there been a scientific study or is it just a number someone threw out at a talk once upon a time?

As I've pointed out, I think its irrelevant.  What is relevant is that they need somewhere to put the nectar.  It's not a math problem, it's a timing problem.

There are two studies that I have been able to find that are specific about the proportion of conversion.  The first was by Huber in Volume II, Chapter II of his "New Observations Upon Bees".

"Amounts of wax produced from various sugars
"A pound (453 grams) of white sugar, reduced to syrup, and clarified with the white of an egg, produced 10 gros 52 grains (1.5 ounces or 42 grams) of beeswax darker than that which bees extract from honey.  An equal weight of dark brown sugar yielded 22 gros (3 ounces or 84 grams) of very white wax; a similar amount was obtained from maple sugar.
We repeated these experiments seven times in succession, with the same bees and we always obtained wax in nearly the same proportions as above.  It therefore appears demonstrated that sugar and the saccharine part of honey enable the bees that feed upon it to produce wax, a property entirely denied to the fecundating dust."--Francis Huber

http://www.bushfarms.com/xstar.htm#Huber

The next was by Whitcomb, referenced in "Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products by Coggshall and Morse (pg 35)

"Their degree of efficiency in wax production, that is how many pounds of honey or sugar syrup are required to produce one pound of wax, is not clear. It is difficult to demonstrate this experimentally because so many variables exist. The experiment most frequently cited is that by Whitcomb (1946). He fed four colonies a thin, dark, strong honey that he called unmarketable. The only fault that might be found with the test was that the bees had free flight, which was probably necessary so they could void fecal matter; it was stated that no honey flow was in progress. The production of a pound of beeswax required a mean of 8.4 pounds of honey (range 6.66 to 8.80). Whitcomb found a tendency for wax production to become more efficient as time progressed. This also emphasizes that a project intended to determine the ratio of sugar to wax, or one designed to produce wax from a cheap source of sugar, requires time for wax glands to develop and perhaps for bees to fall into the routine of both wax secretion and comb production."

Of the two Huber's was confined which insures there was no outside source of nectar.  But the conclusions of Whitcomb were that efficiency changes over time and other studies I've seen show that a young bee who becomes a wax worker at the appropriate age and who has done it while is more efficient than an older bee who has reverted to wax making or a younger one who hasn't gotten into the "swing of things".  So the actual number would be hard to come by.  I agree with Taylor who says:

"The opinion of experts once was that the production of beeswax in a colony required great quantities of nectar which, since it was turned into wax, would never be turned into honey. Until quite recently it was thought that bees could store seven pounds of honey for every pound of beeswax that they needed to manufacture for the construction of their combs--a figure which seems never to have been given any scientific basis, and which is in any case quite certainly wrong."--Richard Taylor, The Comb Honey Book
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« Reply #30 on: May 26, 2012, 07:56:56 PM »

The original question was why do we use foundation.  In my not so humble opinion,  #1 because it is tradition and people don't like to change and #2  because it make machine extraction possible.
If you think about it, the bees did without foundation for thousands of years, so THEY don't need it.  We do.
Also, a standard frame only has so many square inches of surface in it.  The bigger the cell size, the smaller the number of cells.  So you can have bigger bees but you have to have less of them or you can have smaller cells and more bees.  Either way the amount of honey gathered is not going to change very much.
As the English used to say "The whole debate is a tempest in a Teapot"
Regards
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« Reply #31 on: May 26, 2012, 08:21:23 PM »

And, for those of us who keep bees as a welcome diversion from life's stresses, and who either only sell a little honey, or none at all, the only real difference in using foundation or not, is the money you don't have spend on it and the little extra attention it takes to get straight comb without it.
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« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2012, 10:41:41 PM »

I use foundation because I don't have to be so careful with it during an inspection or split, or when I sell a nuc I don't have to say be careful with these frames the brood  might fall out on the ground with your 100.00 worth of bees. The foundationless frames are all right, I just am not convinced that there is any advantage other than the expense. I don't put chemicals in my hives. I don't shake sugar all over my bees every 10 days and use Kelley regular wired foundation and I don't lose bees anymore than people that treat or use small cell. I haven't bought bees since 2008 and that was three queens. I winter bees in single, double, triple, deeps and in 4 and 5 frame deep nucs. I raise my own queens from my stock. I don't think it has anything to do with the equipment. It is all about the bees genetics and the keeper's timely manipulations. Just my opinion.
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« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2012, 01:15:33 AM »

>I don't put chemicals in my hives.

But you put foundation in them and that is contaminated with chemicals...

>#2  because it make machine extraction possible.

I extract foundationless all the time.  Historically they were using extractors long before they were using foundation.
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« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2012, 01:39:08 PM »

I never have understood the argument about how using foundation allows you to use an extractor.  I have yet to take a frame of honey out of the beehive that wasn't attached on all four sides - a honey frame like that should do fine in an extractor, if you choose to use one.  If you blow out the frame (foundationless) in an extractor, I'll bet you are turning too fast and would also blow out a frame on foundation.

It's true that the bees often don't attach brood comb at the bottom and sometimes only attach it on the top bar of the frame.  But I wouldn't put a brood frame in an extractor.

I still worry about putting a starter strip of foundation into my hives in foundationless frames because I know the research shows that all the foundation the bee companies sell is laced with coumaphos and fluvalinate and I don't want to expose my bees to that, but a small starter strip is at least way less than a full sheet of foundation.

Linda T in Atlanta.
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« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2012, 02:11:31 PM »

all the foundation the bee companies sell is laced with coumaphos and fluvalinate and I don't want to expose my bees to that, but a small starter strip is at least way less that a full sheet of foundation.

Linda T in Atlanta.

Wow! Have you considered to change medication-----
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« Reply #36 on: May 28, 2012, 09:01:01 AM »

...everything that tillie.wrote in her last post is.true and well documented.  If anyone is showing signs of being on the wrong meds, too many meds, or not enough meds, it ain't her...as.Archie Bunker used to say, "ill just look at the guilty party and whistle."  ...can anyone guess in shoes.direction I am whistling?
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« Reply #37 on: May 28, 2012, 01:21:54 PM »

...everything that tillie.wrote in her last post is.true and well documented. 

I have nursed bees 50 years. I documented my opinion just now and well.

But I admit that no one can win one hive owners experiences.
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« Reply #38 on: June 02, 2012, 09:44:06 PM »

...and at least as far sas those of us in the U.S. are concerned, the documentation from Penn State (Maryann Frazier, Jim Frazier, Chris Mullen, et al) is that all 5 sources of foundation available had high levels of coumaphos and fluvalinate.  This has been talked about since 2008, and I don't know of anyone selling foundation claiming that they have anything different....a test is about $300, and anyone offering foundation that they could document was free of fluvalinate and coumaphos could sell all they had at a premium price.  I've thought about getting a foundation production line (I know of one available), but without a supply of clean wax, I don't see the point.  If you are self contained (if your wax is coming back to you as foundation) and you are not using these substances, then you are doing well...but buying foundation?  Any tests on foundation available in your country?

deknow
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« Reply #39 on: June 03, 2012, 07:22:24 AM »

As far as foundation,that only accounts for the chemicals dumped directly in the hive .The rest of the chemicals are drug in by the bees and absorbed into the wax. Foundationless does not eliminate chemicals completely. It just gives a clean start. Wghatever is in the bees environment eventually ends up in the wax. have you ever seen the staining from foot traffic on wax? Bees are not very good about wiping their collective feet before crossing the combs.
  Bees wax is a sponge for anything that contaminates it.

Oops,edited to add link:
http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/personnel/documents/Berry109.pdf
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« Reply #40 on: June 03, 2012, 09:03:01 AM »

Jennifer has talked to our bee club several times about this.  She tried to get "organic" wax from treatment free beekeepers and ended up using popsicle sticks or nothing because of the chemicals brought into the hive from the environment in hives that are handled with no treatment.

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #41 on: June 03, 2012, 09:08:25 AM »

Which means that all wax will eventually become contaminated. Foundationless does not remain chemical free. It only starts out that way.

From the article I posted above:

"We kept searching and finally headed south, all the
way to Brazil. Beekeepers in Brazil don’t treat with miticides
because of the Africanized bee population. They
emerge in 19 days which is too early for the foundress
mite’s progeny to complete development before the adult
bee emerges. Anyway, wax was collected and sent to
our lab. It was analyzed and, unfortunately, there were
so many other chemicals detected it wasn’t suitable for
our study."

So ultimately by choosing your pastures you may be able to help choose what chemicals get dragged into your hive.
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« Reply #42 on: June 03, 2012, 07:44:53 PM »

Jennifer has talked to our bee club several times about this.  She tried to get "organic" wax from treatment free beekeepers and ended up using popsicle sticks or nothing because of the chemicals brought into the hive from the environment in hives that are handled with no treatment.

Linda T in Atlanta

When you think about what any "wax" really is it makes a lot of sense. From jojoba "oil" to paraffin, any "wax" is simply a liquid that mimics some properties of solids but overall is a solvent. Since the beeswax is a solvent in a natural setting, it only makes sense that it would include just about anything from the environment visited by the bees.

Sadly, the environment has been so polluted with so many different chemicals, it is only natural that these pollutants would end up in the beeswax; yes, even the beeswax in hives of an organic beekeeper. Even food labeled organic will have some of these chemicals present. It's simply a fact that the polluted nature of our environment insures the pollutants are in everything.

It would take decades, even if all pollution stopped now, to significantly reduce the levels of these chemicals in the environment.

I think the real key, though, is that wax from an organic beekeeper won't have the miticides, antibiotics, and other treatment chemicals commonly found in commercial foundation. This means an organic beekeeper could make their own foundation without these chemicals if that beekeeper desired such for a specific purpose.

My thoughts are in terms of varroa control. Say you wanted drone foundation to have a frame of drone cells to remove and freeze in order to hopefully keep varroa levels down. You could purchase a small quantity of commercial drone foundation, then create a silicone based mold of that foundation, discarding the commercial wax after the mold has been created. Then you could make small quantities of drone foundation from your own beeswax so you could include a single frame in each of your hives for the purposes of varrroa control.

Just a thought from a neewbee.
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