Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Starter Strips

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,572

    Question

    Hello All,

    I’ve been following this site for several months and have found it to be an extremely valuable source of information! I’m a novice beekeeper with only one year of experience, so perhaps my question is trivial or has already been addressed.

    I know that many have suggested using starter strips of foundation as an economical way of expanding the number of hives. I also understand that this technique has limitations, namely that frames created in this way cannot be used in an extractor, and much care must be taken when inspecting them due to their fragility. My question is: Can starter strips be used in combination with wired frames. What I suggest is: install the foundation wires as usual, but only use a small piece of foundation affixed to the grove in the top bar and unconnected to the wires. It seems that the bees, as part of the process of building the comb, would embed the wires into the comb. In this way the frames could be used as if the beekeeper has used standard full-frame wired foundation.

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

    Sean

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,113

    Post

    I wouldn't say you COULDN'T extract a frame that was from just a starter strip, but you would have to be very gentle and it would be difficult to extract that last little bit. I have not tried wiring and using strips, but the idea has occurred to me. I'd say sometimes it would probably work and sometimes the bees would probably come up with something you didn't plan on. But I would try it if you want to see.

    Another thing you could do, is make blank foundation by dipping a peice of wet masonite (the correct size) in wax and peeling off the sheets. Control the thickness by how hot the wax is. Hotter=thinner. This could be used unembossed and wired and I think it would work fine. I haven't tried this, but plan to this year. This uses wax you already have to make foundation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    17

    Post

    You can use starter strips there is no problem, all you have to do wire your frames horizontal and melt the strips (approx 2 inch) in the wire. .. on top not on the bottom. <G>
    You also can extract the frame because the bees build the combs and the wire is sitting right in the middle.
    If you melt a whole wax shied in let it sit on the bottom from your frame, the bees closing the gap on the top easy but almost never on the bottom.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    17

    Post

    You also can make your own wax sheets. It’s something you can do during the wintertime. I made my own mold from silicon and this works fine. The sheets are a little bit bigger but that’s ok, when I melt the combs I get the wax back. I never use a frame longer than 3 years for the brood and almost never use a brood frame for honey. Let them build the combs in the upper supper and after you extracted the honey bring them down for the brood. There are no drone cells on a frame from the honey super. The bees finish the combs totally without any holes even the corners are closed. Combs like this are great for the brood they have no holes to hide queen cells and if you control your hive during the summer you will find all queen cells very easy. This is the best way for a good swarm control

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,421

    Exclamation

    Hi -

    Alfred wrote:
    "Let them build the combs in the upper supper and after you extracted the honey bring them down for the brood."

    If one is at all interested in keeping bees on a near natural system, I would not recommend this procedure at all. This will work if you are keeping bees on large cell size like 5.4 mm, but it will totally wreck havoc with small cell hives because the bees naturally build larger cell comb for honey storage, and smaller cell size for brood. You end up putting honey storage comb right in the middle of the brood area.

    If this way of beekeeping is not a concern, then yes, moving combs from supers down to brood areas will work, but only if you are working with chemicals to keep the bees alive.

    Alfred, can you explain more in detail about your wax mold? How did you make it, and what do you use for a release agent?

    Regards,
    Barry

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    17

    Post

    Now don’t tell me you keeping bees on small cells and using your oil fogging on top of it.
    How many beekeepers using small cells on this board?? If someone likes to go the way with small cells he has to talk to Dee or someone else.
    And believe me, it is not so easy to bring the bees from the regular cells to the smaller one. If you try it alone with a few hives than your working forever without any success. Ask Dee, in the beginning he had approx 1000 colonies and lost almost all. He worked hard again and again; he has success but still hasn’t won the battle.

    If someone asked and I tell what he or she can do is there anything wrong? Everybody has to treat his bees against the mites with chemicals or without.
    The only natural system in beekeeping is putting strips in the frame and let the bee working. They have it in the genes since 65 million years and they know exact how to make cells and how big the cells have to be.
    When I started beekeeping I had bees in straw basked and put only a little bit wax to start in the basked, a few wooden sticks cross and that was it.

    You’re telling in one sentence; If one is at all interested in keeping bees on a near natural system, I would not recommend this procedure at all. This will work if you are keeping bees on large cell size like 5.4 mm, but it will totally wreck havoc with small cell hives because the bees naturally build larger cell comb for honey storage, and smaller cell size for brood.
    What do you think is the natural system?
    No beekeeper can work with tow different cell size in his hobby or business.
    The best way to keeping the colonies healthy and the honey clean is to go the way I told before. And in my opinion, only a stupid beekeeper would use large cells in the honey super and small cells in the brood super. I would say that is not even a beekeeper.
    Many beekeepers using the frames year after year and the cells getting smaller and smaller and they almost never let the bees renew the combs. I have seen combs, dark brown and almost black, the bees couldn’t be much bigger then from a 4,9 cell but they still had mites and infected the hives from beekeepers in the neighborhood.
    All the trouble we have now comes or started from beekeepers, not from the bees!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,421

    Post

    Hi Alfred -

    All my bees are on small cell (actually a variety of cell size). I was all set to start using FGMO on my bees when I read about small cell and decided to give it a try. This make my 4th year with small cell bees. Four years since I last used any chemicals or drugs. I removed all the old comb from the hives and now have only clean wax in them.

    FYI ... Dee is a she, not a he.

    I am well aware of the work involved to convert ones hives to small cell. I too lost most of my hives in the process but they stabilized and now are increasing in numbers. I also did it with a small number of hives (under 10). Actually, working with fewer hives is easier to convert to small cell than with a large number.

    You are more than welcome to give your input and advice on this board. I hope I am also given the freedom to offer my POV also.

    I didn't say "natural." I said "more natural." I do believe that it is more natural for bees to not have chemicals used on them. If other methods allow one to not use chemicals, we are getting closer to a more natural balance for the bees.

    Beekeepers can and do work with different cell sizes in their hives. I use small cell in the brood chambers and still use the 5.4 comb in the honey supers. I can guarantee that even you don't have uniform cell sizes in your hives. You may think you do and it may appear that way at a glance, but if you took a ruler to the combs, you would see variation in cell size.

    Take a look here: http://www.bee-l.com/biobeefiles/lee/index.htm

    Here is a good example of what bees do naturally. Look at the size of the cells from the brood comb. If you have ever seen a feral hive and studied its comb, you would know that bees use small cell sizes for the brood comb and larger cell size for honey and drone comb. This is natural. How do you know different size cells can't be used in a beekeepers hive? Have you ever tried it? There are others on this board that have combs of varying cell size in their hives, and not treating their bees also.

    Call me a stupid non-beekeeper if you like, but I'm just doing what the bees want to do and trying not to force my will onto them. If all the trouble we have now comes from beekeepers, then what are you doing differently to change that?

    Regards,
    Barry

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hello Alfred and Everyone,

    I also keep bees on small cell with two different size types of foundation and without any treatments. It is very handy to just use one cell size in a hive but that's hard to obtain in a short time.

    My bees will freely draw about 6 deep frames of small cell and then choose to draw larger cell comb toward the exterior portions of the hive. That is what the bees want. Is it important?

    Beekeepers who treat their hives with chemicals should already be sorting and keeping brood frames seperate from honey super frames. It's not much more trouble to mark the top of the small cell frames and keep them positioned correctly.

    I also think that some of the problems beekeepers experience are the result of assumptions made and passed along as truth. Maybe were not as good at keeping the bees as we sometimes think.

    I will admit to being pretty stupid for most of the time, as I believed most of those assumptions and kept my bees accordingly. I now think I might be have been equally stupid in some other areas. As the bees go to great lengths to rework my expensive small cell foundation, there must be a reason. Maybe standardization was great for the railroads and Henry Ford but not so great for the bees. My stupidiy probably doesn't end there either.

    One thing I do know is that those beekeepers on small cell who have made it past their second year are having some problems most others don't. They are trying to keep their healthy bees out of the trees. Those areas of the garage that use to store half of their equipment every winter can now be used for other projects as the equipment is now full of bees and out in the field. I will be building some top bar hives to see how the bee build comb without the constraints of foundation.

    I visited the Lusby's and came away with a different conclusion. They are quite satisfied with their small cell management and consider it a success. Allen Dick published an article in Bee Culture last year and reached the same conclusion.

    Anyway, keep watching, thinking and sharing.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi,

    Now don’t tell me you keeping bees on small cells and using your oil fogging on top of it.

    reply:

    No. Just bees and combs. No chems,oils, acids,ect whatsoever.

    How many beekeepers using small cells on this board??

    reply:

    Probably quite a few are and many who will be.

    If someone likes to go the way with small cells he has to talk to Dee or someone else.

    reply:

    I have spoken to Dee quite often via phone. Not to mention via bee lists and the net.

    And believe me, it is not so easy to bring the bees from the regular cells to the smaller one. If you try it alone with a few hives than your working forever without any success. Ask Dee, in the beginning he had approx 1000 colonies and lost almost all. He worked hard again and again; he has success but still hasn’t won the battle.

    reply:

    You need not tell me about the work involved I have hands on experience here. There is much work. As for the Lusby's sucess they no longer are battling mites just working bees for numbers now. The battles pretty much over.

    The only natural system in beekeeping is putting strips in the frame and let the bee working. They have it in the genes since 65 million years and they know exact how to make cells and how big the cells have to be.

    reply:

    At one time this was true until the introduction of larger and larger cell foundation. It is definitely certain that commercial colonies on a continuous up sizing have played a great role on the up sizing of the cell size of feral colonies. Barry would you happen to have info from Erik O. on this at hand? I could dig it up it need be.

    What do you think is the natural system?

    reply:

    Both "can" be, or not. Just because the bees build natural combs in tubes, skep, hives, ect doesn't necessarily need they have drawn natural cell sizing as many influences affect this. Many factors are at work here. From my European friends, have measured skep cell sizing and indeed they are not even the same cell size in the brooding area that they were even 30 years ago. The distinction from honey cell sizing and brood sizing seems to be disappearing.

    No beekeeper can work with tow different cell size in his hobby or business.

    reply:

    Of course they can. They do and always will. I have spent the last 4 years measuring combs. There is not only two, but many. Now Barry's description of colony cell size setup is indeed the same as I have observed.

    And in my opinion, only a stupid beekeeper would use large cells in the honey super and small cells in the brood super. I would say that is not even a beekeeper.

    reply:

    Forgive him Barry. As the above is the heart and soul of sucessful biological beekeeping that controls mites and makes for healthy bees. Which is modeled after what bees themselves do.

    Many beekeepers using the frames year after year and the cells getting smaller and smaller and they almost never let the bees renew the combs. I have seen combs, dark brown and almost black, the bees couldn’t be much bigger then from a 4,9 cell but they still had mites and infected the hives from beekeepers in the neighborhood.

    reply:

    This is definitely saying something. Wouldn't you say the bees were trying to achieve a smaller cell size. As Dr. Jaycox and others have shown that bees did not do this back at the turn of the century but chewed the cocoons out maintaining the cell size. Seems to me that the bees were struggling for survival but couldn't maintain. This isn't to say No cocoons build up but that the bees can and do control there build up. If the bees were building a much smaller cell size on the aforementioned bees what is this telling?

    All the trouble we have now comes or started from beekeepers, not from the bees!


    reply:

    No arguements here. But what are you doing to fix the current plight of beekeeping?

    Clay



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    Downsizing bees is hell, for the beekeeper and probably for the bees as well. I wouldn't pretend otherwise. I don't think anyone is pretending small cell beekeeping is 'natural'; moveable frames are grossly unnatural, so are foundation, nails, screws, glue, wood preservative and a host of other things. Hopefully, our comb size is closer to what bees would use without human interference - I say closer because a natural colony will of course have a wider range of cell sizes than any colony using artificial foundation - and if we end up keeping bees without miticides, that is one groosly unnatural and clearly harmful ingredient removed. It's only a small step in the direction of the 'natural', but everyone I know who's used it for a few years has agreed that its an important one.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads