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Author Topic: Walter T. Kelley F-style Frames  (Read 15539 times)
Walt Starr
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« on: June 01, 2012, 08:12:37 PM »

Hi all, Newbee here.

I've been researching getting into beekeeping in the 2013 season. I'll be getting with some local beeks for this season to try things out and see if I can shadow them in their apiaries (hey, I'd be free labor for them).

If I do this, I want to go 'treatment free', or attempt to stay away from aracicides, antibiotics, etc. Basically chemical free. Due to this choice I'm convinced that foundationless is the right way to go, as well as going with 8-frame medium supers and frames exclusively to standardize all equipment.

My question centers around the F-style frames sold by Walter T. Kelley. I'm wondering about direct experiences with these frames, how the bees take to them, any dos or don'ts with them, etc. (I already figure NO pre-waxing the guides).

My plans would be to purchase enough wooden ware for five hives, but start with three packages and let the bees do what they do. I'm also wondering if wire should be installed in the F-style frames prior to installation in the hive bodies or if its a better idea to leave out wire and let the bees do what they do.

Any experiences with these frames would be greatly appreciated.
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2012, 08:22:09 PM »

Where are you located?
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Walt Starr
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2012, 08:38:20 PM »

Illinois, about a 50 minute drive west of Chicago.
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AllenF
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2012, 08:47:26 PM »

I do not know of anyone using these frames but I am sure there are several out there using them.   I believe those frames will work fine for you.   
Copied from the catalog:    "This frame is designed for those who want to go foundationless. This frame has a comb guide built into the top bar that is centered and measures about 1/4” x 1/4”. The bottom bar is solid. No foundation is used in this frame. A coating of wax on the guide will help the bees draw on this frame." 
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Oblio13
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 09:29:09 PM »

I use 8-frame mediums and Kelley's foundationless frames. The only downside to them is that if you don't keep an eye on them sometimes the bees will make a cross-combed mess. When that happens, I just wait until the entire super is full of honey and harvest the whole thing.

(Usually we just harvest a frame of honey whenever we need some. Just pick a full frame, run a knife around it and let the comb plop into a bowl, then put the empty frame back.)
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Walt Starr
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 10:14:31 PM »

Thanks for the info. As a Newbee, this looks more and more like the way I should go. If Michael Bush weighs in on my choices I'll feel very comfortable.
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Joe D
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2012, 10:28:05 PM »


I don't use those frames, but I have some hives total foundationless, and some with combed frames.  If you keep an eye on them when they start building. When they run comb across frames you may have to cut and straighten out, put rubber bands to hold cut ends in.  If you catch quick enough you can gently bend it in to place.  I have had 1 hive that ran across frames, and a few that were angling to one side.  Most run comb straight though.  Good luck when you get your bees.

Joe
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annette
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2012, 01:00:45 AM »

I know Michael Bush uses them or has mentioned them.

But my experience has been different and I must share. I have always used the top and bottom grooved frames and melted starter strips into them. Never had any problems with the bees drawing out the frames nice and straight.

Last year I ordered about 70 of the Walter Kelley frames and just interspersed them between the grooved frames. Firstly they fit in the hive differently. They seem to be a bit longer in length or something. I think you have to use the Walter Kelley supers to go with them.

They made a mess in every hive I used them. The bees cross combed in all 5 of my hives last year and I ended up with the worst mess of having to fix each and every frame and still they made a mess again.

I finally took them all out and will never use them again.  I cannot for the life of me figure out the problem because the frames look so nice with the bevel and all. But they just did not work for me.

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Oblio13
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2012, 09:00:45 AM »

... Firstly they fit in the hive differently. They seem to be a bit longer in length or something. I think you have to use the Walter Kelley supers to go with them...

I have hive bodies from at least four manufacturers, and none of them are Kelley. Haven't experienced this problem.
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T Beek
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« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2012, 09:06:34 AM »

This is my fifth season using foundationless and my third using Walter Kelly frames.  As long as I've also used drawn frames that are placed alternately between the empties I've never had any problems.  I've heard of some beeks simply placing full boxes of empty foundationless frames and regretting it when they have a look, finding just alot of cross-comb, and confronted with a real mess to correct. 

If a beek has no available drawn frames they could use some (marked) foundation frames 'just to get started' and remove them as they hatch out.

I also have a mix of frames of differing heights/sizes and have experienced minimal issues.

t
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gardeningfireman
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2012, 08:49:04 PM »

I haven't had any problems with combs going "across" frames with or without foundation. But, I do get a lot of frames where the bees build "double comb" or combine the combs of two frames together. Makes a mess. This happens in both boxes with nine and ten frames.
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gdoten
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2013, 02:53:16 PM »

I've read Michael Bush's foundationless page as well as other sites/blogs and I'm still not certain how to start a new hive from a package without using foundation. I'm ordering a bunch of the Kelley F frames (for 2 new 8 frame medium hives) and what I'm unclear about is should I just put 8 F frames into the medium boxes? I read that every other frame should be an already-drawn frame, but I don't have any of those.* Should I just get some "regular" frames that'll take foundation and use those between the F frames and then rotate them out over the season? Or maybe every other frame should be wired, like Walt seems to be asking?

(*My first year was last year, with a deep box of 10 frames and a package, but my bees all disappeared at the end of Sept. So I'm trying something new this year! Plan to try and catch a swarm to put into this first hive.)
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2013, 03:30:55 PM »

Yeah, it sucks if you don't have any drawn frames to use but using foundation to start a "foundationless" system is fine if that's all you have.  I always have some around just In Case.  I suggest marking them so that as your bees build up and out (and then hatch out) you can remove them, replacing with foundationless frames.  Use the 'removed' foundation frames placed in another box for catching swarms.  Swarms 'love' old brood comb. 

Going foundationless is a little time consuming but well worth it IMO.  Why add someone else's problems to your beeyard?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2013, 10:11:13 AM »

Use what you have.  If you have drawn comb, that's nice.  If you don't, then you don't.  Keep an eye on them at first and straighten things if they get off.  Don't take the view that they might straighten things out if they are off.  One good comb leads to another.  One bad comb leads to another.  Bees build parallel combs.  That's what they do.  If you have a good guide, odds are the first comb will be straight, but, as Pooh says, "you can never tell with bees".  Keep an eye on things.  Combs can be cut out and tied into frames if worse comes to worse.  Wire will only make things harder to fix if they do get off...

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Michael Bush
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Rurification
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2013, 07:30:59 AM »

I started two packages foundationless last year.  One in a lang and one in a horizontal hive [22 frames long, fits two supers side by side on top.]   I used the F and S style frames.  The bees did pretty well.  Yes, there was some cross comb.   We had to keep an eye on it and push the curved ends back sometimes.   I had some double comb.   I learned how to do cut outs from the 'bad' comb into new frames.  I learned how not to hold frames where the comb wasn't completely attached.   In general, it was well worth the hassle.  I'm completely foundationless [happily, very little varroa] and I have enough straight comb in frames that I can checkerboard it with empty frames and get gorgeous comb.  Most of the time.

I have found that if I talked nicely and praised the bees profusely for the straight comb, then they were much more likely to draw straight comb from then on.   Not. 

The bees will do what they do.   If the comb is crazy, you can always harvest the wax.  I got some nice candles this winter.
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T Beek
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« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2013, 08:04:22 AM »

"One good comb leads to another" says MB!  I Love it  cool  I hear a song, Honeycomb Blues anyone?  grin
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gdoten
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2013, 10:18:12 AM »

Use what you have.  If you have drawn comb, that's nice.  If you don't, then you don't.  Keep an eye on them at first and straighten things if they get off.  Don't take the view that they might straighten things out if they are off.  One good comb leads to another.  One bad comb leads to another.  Bees build parallel combs.  That's what they do.  If you have a good guide, odds are the first comb will be straight, but, as Pooh says, "you can never tell with bees".  Keep an eye on things.  Combs can be cut out and tied into frames if worse comes to worse.  Wire will only make things harder to fix if they do get off...

So like someone who has not been reading beekeeping books, blogs, and forums for well over a year, I make a real bone-headed mistake. A week ago Sunday I hived two packages into 8-frame (the Kelley F-style) medium hive boxes, and proceeded to hang the queen cage from a center frame. No foundation or any already drawn-out frames, just 8 empty frames. Yes, I ended up with crooked comb that spans two frames each. And that first bad comb indeed lead to them building a second row of bad comb.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to fix the mess I created. I spent an hour in the two hives yesterday morning trying to do what I could. Lost a lot of comb in the process, but assume it's necessary to try and get the comb straight or I'll never be able to get in there to do inspections and all that.

How have others handled setting them straight? First thing I did was push a hive tool right down the middle of the comb that spans two frames in order to separate them. That was a mess, and mostly ended up losing half that piece of comb. Well, it just mostly fell off after being split in half. I salvaged the biggest pieces of comb and used rubber bands to try and hold them straight in a frame or two. Of course, the #117 rubber bands I got just for this purpose are pretty loose for medium frames; will have to find same shorter rubber bands. Should I just punt this comb altogether, clear it all out, and let them start again? I don't even know if the queens survived my less-than-surgical operations. Or have I basically done the right thing for now and it's a matter of continuing to watch how they build out the comb?
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-glenn-
Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2013, 12:35:10 PM »

Straightening comb is a art.  Sometimes you can just nudge it or bend a little, or cut just the end of the comb at the top barn and push it over.  Rubber bands are helpful to hold it over.  Sometimes you can cut it out altogether and rubber band it in.  Sometimes the was is too soft and there is too much honey or nectar and it's better to scrap it.  How do you learn when to do what?  You try it and see what works.  The main thing is to get a straight one just before the one they are going to draw next.

Also, you need to understand how brood comb and honey comb differ.  Brood comb is a definite thickness.  This allows you to put an empty frame between two brood combs and get a straight brood comb.  Honey comb varies in dept.  This means that you can't expect that same result (a nice even comb between) if you put an empty frame between two drawn, but uncapped honey combs.  They will just make them thicker and not draw the empty frame.  This is true even if that frame has foundation.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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gdoten
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« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2013, 01:33:09 PM »

How do you learn when to do what?  You try it and see what works.

I figured that might be the answer. As with most things, it takes experience. I certainly won't be hanging a queen cage in an empty box of foundationless anytime soon!

Honey comb varies in dept.  This means that you can't expect that same result (a nice even comb between) if you put an empty frame between two drawn, but uncapped honey combs.  They will just make them thicker and not draw the empty frame.

Is “dept” a typo, and you meant depth, as in thickness?

Had no idea honey comb was different thicknesses. So they will make the existing uncapped honey combs thicker if you put an empty frame between already drawn hone combs? Interesting.

Thanks for the help, Michael.
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-glenn-
Michael Bush
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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2013, 10:14:39 PM »

Yes, should be "depth" and should be "wax" not was...
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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
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