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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    saginaw MI, usa
    Posts
    28

    Question foundation less frames

    does any one have any experience with foundation less frames apposed to pre waxed foundation? I'm told they build faster combs on foundation less frames?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Tompkins County, New York
    Posts
    118

    Default

    Michael? Michael Bush? Where are you? Yoo hoo!

    Oh, well, look here.
    My beekeeping blog: The Bee Yard

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    221

    Default

    Try the search function. A multitude of posts on the subject.

    JT

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,399

    Default

    Yes, and yes....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Herriman, Utah, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default

    I've read the many passionate posts each claiming one method superior to another and decided to play around a bit: I'm new to this and figure it's the quickest way to sort 'my way' from the many opinions.

    I'm using wood frames w/wax coated plastic foundation because that was the first recommendation I got. Later, I read about foundationless frames about the time my 1st package bees had built comb in half of a single brood box. There were some nicely drawn foundation frames but mostly comb in the spaces between frames and avoiding sections of the provided foundation un-touched. Lesson here is these bees on that day in that box with that queen, with the weather at that time etc, etc, etc. prefer to build in the empty space. Notice the many contributing factors which the following test certainly doesn't delineate.

    So I removed the foundation from a single frame to see what happens. They built nice, straight comb on the foundationless frame fully drawn in a week. At the same time, they continued working the foundation frames although they were not drawn very symmetrically and had interesting patterns around the edges.

    What's the lesson? They will work with what they have, but prefer to do what they want, which is build comb they way they have for centuries, in a cavity.

    If that doesn't work for you because you need a sturdy frame that is re-usable and won't fall apart in an extractor, then you should give them equipment towards that end. For me, for now, I'll give them some of each and see what they want and tailor my harvesting to what they do. It's easy when you've only got 1 hive and are not invested in lots of equipment. Different story if you're trying to sell lots of honey or transport bees on sturdy comb.

    Sorry this got long and no doubt others will come to a different conclusion. It's just me trying to find 'my way'.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Cambria County, PA US
    Posts
    404

    Post Foundationless

    I'm having amazingly good results right now with popscicle sticks. Two hives at my home location are drawing virtually perfect natural comb, with cell-size consistency much better than what I expected. I go out every couple days and put a new empty frame in the middle of the brood nest, and gradually work the old frames outward and upward. I'm really really happy with how well this is going.

    Let me qualify a few things:
    1) I'm regressing both hives at this site. I'm keeping no unregressing hives at this site.
    2) I've had a good flow on for quite a while. It is still early in teh year here. Clover is just barely starting. There has been absolutely no dearth here.
    3) I don't expect them to drawn small/consistent cells all summer. I'd expect they'll start making drone comb at some point.
    4) Both these hives are smaller colonies, but are growing. The bigger doesn't have the whole top box fully filled (but they are close). This hive was hit by a bear earlier this year and have had to work to recover.
    5) I AM cycling the 5.4 out of the hive slowly.
    6) Yes, I guess this is turning into a small cell/regression post.
    7) I am using deeps for hive bodies.
    8) I put a white flat push-pin in the top of each foundationless frame. This helps identify those frames later.
    9) I did have a few frames early on that weren't consistent in cell size. These frames were not started in the abosulte middle of the brood nest. I culled out the larger cells and re-used. They were repaired quite nicely.
    10) Location location location! Must start from the middle. One frame at a time has worked best for me.

    ***Ross' answer really is right on the mark. I think that ealldredge stuck the landing as well.
    Last edited by dug_6238; 06-10-2008 at 10:36 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Do you need some kind of starter strip or can you just use standard frames with no foundation?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Oxford, Kansas
    Posts
    1,988

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Wax View Post
    Do you need some kind of starter strip or can you just use standard frames with no foundation?
    you can use either a starter strip or staple a popsicle stick to the bottom of the top bar for a guide. Make sure your hive sets level and your frames pushed together or you may end up with a mess.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Cambria County, PA US
    Posts
    404

    Lightbulb Popsicle sticks

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=218196

    Stapling them could work well. I didn't and just started my wedge bar nails at a slight angle to draw the wedge bar in tight. I haven't had a popsicle stick drop out yet. Staples are not a bad idea though - try it both ways and see which you like better. Riverrat couldn't be more right - level (side to side) is crucial.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
    Posts
    693

    Default

    I don't mean to hi-jack this thread, but I'd like to add a question to this. I've been told that when using foundationless frames, the frames must run Norh/South. Is this true?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Default

    All My frames are now foundationless. They have saved my bees by slowly going to small cell sizes.

    The North/South/East/West has made no difference. My hives face every direction and they all do about the same.

    The best advice I got for anyone going foundationless is go slow. The first frame drawn is nearly always full of drone cells. Just slowly work this frame to an outer wall and leave it there until you have enough worker comb to fill the brood box and then move it up to the honey stores. Moving this drone comb up to quickly just causes the bees to draw more drone comb in the corners of each comb. I have even extracted a few foundationless frames. Just go slow and only with comb that has aged a bit. Do not trim the wax all the way off your cut honey combs(my cut honey goes in the jars). This way you can place them back in the hive a super at a time and still get good straight comb.

    Later, John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, Texas
    Posts
    1,378

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaHoney View Post
    I don't mean to hi-jack this thread, but I'd like to add a question to this. I've been told that when using foundationless frames, the frames must run Norh/South. Is this true?
    My experience has been that direction is not a factor. The side to side levelness of the hive is probably most important. I cut a bevel on the top bars of all my frames which causes the bees to sort of "slide down" and festoon into the center of the frame. They rarely start the comb off center, but if the hive is not good and level side to side they get out of center as they draw it down and can end up attaching the sides and bottoms to the next frame. Putting the empty frames between fully drawn frames helps some but levelness is still important. Also if you put an empty foundationless frame in their honey storage area, put it between sealed frames or they many times will just draw the adjacent unsealed comb wider into the empty space.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
    Posts
    693

    Default

    Thank you for the answers. That will save me lots of money in foundation :-)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, Texas
    Posts
    1,378

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaHoney View Post
    Thank you for the answers. That will save me lots of money in foundation :-)
    I bought 1 box of 50 sheets of SC foundation the first year I started beekeeping. Most of it sat on the shelf until it was so brittle that I gave it to my wife to melt into candles. I am up to nearly 100 hives now and have yet to buy another box of foundation. I do buy a few boxes of HSC per year because I like to keep 3 or 4 frames of HSC in each broodnest as a hedge against SHB. The SHB larvae can't tunnel through it like they can wax to get away from the bees. The bees seem to figure this out and will keep the SHB sequestered on the plastic comb.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    saginaw MI, usa
    Posts
    28

    Default

    i was told your hive opening should be faceing south. not shure this is the first season with bees.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Default

    I actually prefer my hives facing south east. They warm up quicker of a morning and get to work sooner durning the cooler months(spring/fall). But if your location requires you to face your hive any other direction it will not hurt any thing. Feral hives opening point in every direction.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Default

    Kinda funny about fondation...

    In commercial beekeeping, even a few pennies saved across all one's
    hives can be a significant savings, and any pennies saved go right to
    the bottom line as profits.

    Now, why is that that all the large professional commercial operations
    use foundation?
    Why don't they at least use empty frames in their brood chambers?

    The answer is that any wax you give the bees is wax that they did
    not have to make themselves, and making wax is a slow process for
    anything but a newly-hived swarm.

    No one has figured out how to convince bees that they have swarmed
    in order to get that great comb-drawing action going. Someday, someone
    will figure it out.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Default

    I'm told they build faster combs on foundation less frames?
    with side by side comparisons over 2 years with 30 beehives, I say no way, no how do they build faster without foundation, except possibly the very first few frames in a box when starting new splits. This would explain the apiary legend that "they build faster without foundation". People likely assume that if the first few frames seem faster, then overall their faster, but they are not. Investment in foundation is worth every penny, as hives take off when given foundation and flounder when you don't, when given time in side by side comparisons. Its easy to pick the foundationless hives out of my apiary, as they are the short ones.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,407

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    An observation on foundation use:
    When I began stimulative feeding the first week of January, this hive began to grow along with most that were being fed. It grew until its brood nest occupied most of two 8-frame, medium depth supers, then its queen began to falter, the bees attempted supersedure, but alas once the virgin queen, thus produced had emerged, both queens soon vanished - whereabouts unknown. Now I had a queenless/broodless colony I still wanted to save. Since there were so many bees, a nice strong honeyflow, and a colony in need of a new queen, I decided to "experiment". I moved the hive off to the side, placed an empty super in its place, then put seven new PF-120 frames (previously coated with extra beeswax) into the empty super, then in the middle I placed another PF-120 frame (this one already drawn) containing eggs and young larvae from a colony with a nice mother queen - for the queenless bees to raise themselves a queen from. I then shook the bees from their old equipment into this new super. In less than a week several queen cells were built, the seven new PF-120's were all drawn into comb and most were already nearly filled with nectar and some pollen. I kept watching and by the time there was a nice young virgin queen, the combs were nearly all filled with capped honey or pollen (absolutely no place for a new queen to lay), so once again I moved the colony off to the side and placed an empty super in its place. I then put two frames, almost solid with pollen on each of the outer sides of the new super, placed the frame with the virgin queen on it (the only frame with a palm size area of empty cells on one side) in the center, filled in with more new PF-120's coated with extra beeswax, then shook the remainder of the colony into the new super. Again, they soon had drawn out comb on the new foundation and filled it with nectar and pollen. But by this time the new queen had mated and started laying, but she was slow to start and only managed to fill one comb with eggs/brood before being blocked, all the other combs were filled with honey, nectar, or pollen. So this time I moved over a few combs of emerging brood from other hives, placing them adjacent to the one comb of brood already in the hive and again more new PF-120's, while moving the frames filled with honey and nectar up into another super, leaving combs of pollen towards the outside of the bottom super. Finally, mission accomplished.

    Though I use some foundationless frames, some wooden frames with foundation, some one piece plastic frame/foundation units. So far, I must agree with MichaelW and Jim Fischer. Though a hive, during a strong honeyflow, will often draw a few foundationless frames into comb - almost overnight. That's nothing compared to what they can do with a super filled with frames of foundation. Of course, given the above mentioned experience, sometimes, perhaps foundation can provide too much help, depending on the circumstances.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 06-16-2008 at 10:30 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,399

    Default

    In side by side observation on 50 hives for 5 years, I would say that foundationless is the absolutely fastest way to get frames drawn. Wax foundation is a distant second, and plastic foundation isn't even in the race. I had hives side by side with my mentor this year. I pulled multiple capped supers per hive, he had nothing capped and only partially drawn out. That's just my experience. Your milage may vary....

    Does anybody believe the foundation makers are testing wax for accumulated pesticides?
    Last edited by Ross; 06-16-2008 at 11:02 AM.

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