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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Buda, Texas
    Posts
    922

    Post

    In the past, in my first go-round in beekeeping, I used to hive swarms either on foundation or sometimes on drawn comb. Now with the mite problems and the emergence of natural-cell size beekeeping (I prefer to use the term natural-cell instead of small cell since it is more accurate) I want to try to get some of my bees onto natural size comb. A swarm seems like the ideal way to start this since there is a good chance they are already the natural, smaller bees. My question is if it feasible to hive them in one or two medium boxes that are filled with empty frames. The empty frames were used before and have had all of the old comb removed but still have traces of wax and imprints of comb on the inside perimeter. Will the bees likely build combs within the frames the way I, the beekeeper, would like or are they likely to cross-comb them? Unfortunately, I do not have any spare drawn comb available to mix in and I do not want, for obvious reasons, to mix in large-cell foundation. What have been y'all's experiences in this matter? Thanks for the advice,

    Jeffrey
    "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. " John 10:11

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

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    Jeffrey

    I think the compromise is to use starter strips to get them started straight
    something like this

    http://www.drobbins.net/bee's/window/Dsc00780.jpg

    Dave

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,397

    Post

    I don't use any anymore

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Chittenango,Ny (upstate)
    Posts
    309

    Post

    Jeffrey, I agree with Drobbins. I have had good luck with starter strips with my swarms. In fact I have two going right now that I caught in the past week. You only need a thin strip of foundation. I use 11/2" just to give them guide to start. Some guys don't use any at all but I have had better luck with the strips Good luck Ken

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Borden, In
    Posts
    98

    Post

    Dobbins

    Do you you need wire in the frame? I don't see any in the picture.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Fairfield, Virginia
    Posts
    1,002

    Post

    >(I prefer to use the term natural-cell instead of small cell since it is more accurate)


    I agree it sounds more correct.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,660

    Post

    My problem with this is that if you give a swarm a whole box of only starter strips, and simply allow them to build out the comb as they see fit, the resulting box of frames may be built so that the frames will not be interchangeable. What I mean is that the bees will build nice brood-sized cells on the center frames, but will build honey/drone-sized cells on the outer frames. These honey/drone-sized cells cannot be moved to the center of the box without ending up with a bounch of drones.

    I guess if you stayed on top of them you could keep shifting outer starter strip frames into the center as they develop the brood chamber.

    What am I missing?

    [size="1"][ June 06, 2006, 09:45 AM: Message edited by: AstroBee ][/size]
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
    Posts
    5,080

    Post

    I thought natural cell varied from 5.0 to 5.2, and small cell was 4.9 continous. Am I wrong?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Post

    LMN

    I've wired them before but have since stoped
    If you don't you just have to handle them more carefully

    Dave

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,598

    Post

    iddee

    it varies but in a lower range than that
    MB has pictures on his website of 4.7mm brood comb

    Dave

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,336

    Post

    > one or two medium boxes that are filled with empty frames.

    One is plenty. I wouldn't give them two unless they need it. Most swarms will fit in a five frame box.

    > The empty frames were used before and have had all of the old comb removed but still have traces of wax and imprints of comb on the inside perimeter.

    I'd want more than traces, although a half of a cell will do. A full cell will do better.

    > Will the bees likely build combs within the frames the way I, the beekeeper, would like or are they likely to cross-comb them?

    Since you have only the imprint, it's hard to say. Probably, most of the time they will follow that. But sometimes they get a wild hair. One drawn comb can make a lot of difference in getting them on the right foot.

    >I thought natural cell varied from 5.0 to 5.2, and small cell was 4.9 continous.

    The picture on my web site is from an unregressed commercial package of Carniolans. It's 4.7mm.

    I have pictures of comb from Pennsyvania with 4.4mm comb.

    > Am I wrong?

    Yes. Natural cell varies much from 4.4mm to 5.2mm but most is around 4.8mm to 4.9mm for worker comb.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
    http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

    Here's some that was 4.6mm:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/Prim...arterStrip.JPG
    Here's some that was 4.7mm:

    The accepted standard in the 1800's was 5.08mm for natural sized worker cells, but, of course, they vary a lot so you have to decide how you want to average them out.

    The smaller sises tends to be in the core of the brood nest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,397

    Post

    Just glue in a strip of wood to give them a center guide.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    West Newton, Pa.
    Posts
    915

    Post

    I had an adjustable shade blind on my porch that quit working properly so I replaced it with a new one. I was about to throw the old one out when I realized that the wooden slats that made up the blind were the perfect thickness and width to become center guides for foundationless frames.

    I slice the slats lengthwise to give me two pieces of center guide that are about 3/4" wide by 1/16" thk. by 6ft long. I cut the guides to length and insert them in the top of the frame where the foundation normally goes and then use my brad nailer to fasten the frame strip tightly up against the guide. After fastening the guide in place I rub on a thin coating of beeswax on the guide and it's ready to go. These slats seem to be a good thickness for the bees to start their comb from and I don't have to make any modification to a normal frame.

    From one old porch shade blind I believe I have enough slats to make a couple hundred center guides.

    [size="1"][ June 08, 2006, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: carbide ][/size]
    Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken!

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