I was wondering if anyone has any experience with wiring "frames" (of any sort) and letting the bees build their own comb incorporating the wire? If so, does it work? If so,is there anything that needs to be considered such as the orientation of the wire? Is there any problems?
>I was wondering if anyone has any experience with wiring "frames" (of any sort) and letting the bees build their own comb incorporating the wire? If so, does it work? If so,is there anything that needs to be considered such as the orientation of the wire? Is there any problems?
I have not tried it but it is apparently a common thing in Africa and other undeveloped countries. They say it works pretty well. The bees sometimes don't end up with the comb in the middle of the wire and the cell has to be used for storage of honey or something, but it seems to work from what I've heard. I have done just starter strips. As the comb gets attached on three sides it's pretty stable. After it's attached on four sides and has "ripened" a bit, it gets stronger as it gets older. I've extracted mediums done this way if they were ripened well and attached on all four sides and I was gentle in how quickly I increased the speed on the extractor.
This year I'm trying an experiment on some Dadant Deeps with a 1/16" welding rod down the middle for support. I just bent an "L" on the ends to hold it in. I'll let you know how it turns out.
I too have tried the starter strips (about a 1/4" - 1/2") with a wedge style top bar. I used two horizontal wires. The bees have very nicely integrated the comb into the wires. It cuts down on foundation costs, but forces you to spend time wiring the frames (opposed to just using plastic foundation).
I've never tried just wiring without starter strips.
Dee L. told me that Ed does this sometimes and it works best on mediums and shallows. Also, Dave Cushman has a diagram of what he calls "regression frames" in which he uses 2 strips of wood where the wires would run in a deep frame. He puts starter strips on these. He proposes them for regression, but it looks like it would also have the benefits of extra support while giving the bees more "starter strip" to work on. However, it would reduce total cell numbers.
Last year I pulled a boner. I shook swarmed two hives of bees into a single brood chamber with a divider inside like Richard Taylor does. It went fine until later on in the season when I inspected and found that the hive body I put them in had no foundation. Oh yes it had beautiful new frames with beautiful new wires and they built a nice fine comb. Too bad they built it off the top bars and down the sides of the wires. It was a mess. Yes there is a moral to this story. Well several in fact. If you go through all of the trouble of assembeling frames and wiring them for gosh sakes put in the foundation. And if you have the time you might double check them before using
But if you put in a starter strip of foundation, they will usually build off of that. Otherwise, without some "centering" device the bees will build it anywhere.
That was great information to know about the founation starter strips. I have been tempted to skimp on that, but now I think I will learn from your examples. Perhaps save myself some trouble, eh?
If you build your own frames you can also put an angle on the bottom of the bar and then you might be able to skip the starter strip.
I make blank sheets of wax (dipping wet boards in wax and peeling off) and make blank starter strips. That way the bees can build what they want and I can observe what they build.
Here's a foundationless frame with no wires:
This is with NO wire. He tells me after the comb has hardened (ripened?) that you can extract the deeps. I've done it on mediums with starter strips before. You just have to make sure it's attached on all sides at lest some and the comb has had a chance to harden and you have to be a bit gentle when extracting (a good idea anyway). In other words, you can crank it up pretty good when the comb is empty, but work your way up slowly or you'll have a blow out.