I know a guy running 400 hives solely for cut comb, using foundationless frames. If this technique gets around it may mean trouble for Ross Rounds, as our tremendous advantage is that frames can be reloaded without having the endless cleaning associated with used cut comb frames. (We are finishing our 200 supers of Ross Rounds, and are about to start on our 500 frames (50 supers) for cut comb and are dreading the job. These 50 supers will take more time than the 200 Ross Round supers!
He runs his cut comb in deep frames. When he uses a new frame he applies a coating of beeswax to the top bar. For used frames he does nothing. He says that the microscopic traces of beeswax from the previous year are enough to get the bees started. He has a bottom bar on the frame as otherwise the bees will draw down to the queen excluder.
He goes for a 12 ounce cut, so he can get several from a frame. He does not hesitate to combine 2-3 cuts in a single container to make up the 12 ounces. He does not drain the edges, and will add 1-3 ounces of liquid honey if necessary to get to 12 ounces.
His package is not pretty as the combs are all different sizes and thicknesses. And late in the season the liquid honey is always crystalized. He cannot use the standard jewelry boxes for packaging as most of his combs are too thick, so he uses a lightweight box not unlike the clamshells sold by some dealers.
But...in a normal year (meaning most years) he produces some 20,000 12 ounce cuts and always sells out. He has effectively 'trained' his customers to this package. The only downside is that he takes a real price cut compared to either Ross Rounds or 'regular' cut comb. But his price is part of what lets him sell 20,000 a year, and considering that he has far less labor than cut comb and somewhat less labor than Ross Rounds, he may come out ahead of the game! Last year he sold his cut comb for $2.25 (wholesale, in a carton of 24), compared to my $4.00 for Ross Rounds or $4.50 for my cut comb in a jewelry box. The $2.25 is also what the big comb honey producers in Florida and Michigan were getting in 2006 for their cut comb in jewelry boxes.
Lloyd Spear, Owner of Ross Rounds, Inc. Manufacturers of round section comb equipment and Sundance Pollen Traps.