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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    BelAir MD U.S.A
    Posts
    30

    Default natural comb vrs foundation

    Hi Everyone, I wanted to share something with the group tonight. I went to a field session with the local bee club today. We got into three lang hives all with plastic foundation. 2 of the hives were from packages installed last years which seemed to be doing fine. The other hive was installed 2 weeks ago I think 1 day earlier than my bees. In this hive the bees had drawn 1 full frame of comb, and 3 frames partially frames. I'd say maybe around 40% full . I think in the same amount of time my bees have built a lot more comb. So, my question is do bees build comb faster with out foundation? Or is plastic foundation not that good?

    Thanks
    Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,622

    Default

    I'd say it's more about location with nectar flows than it is the type of foundation used. They will start drawing out natural or wax faster than plastic sometimes, but once they start it's all about the same, in my experience. I'd say where your own hive is located is having a better flow than where the hive in the club was located. Another big item of importance is the population balance of the hive. The number of bees of correct age to draw wax.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,949

    Default

    >do bees build comb faster with out foundation?

    Yes.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default

    I mention this in another post. I did 20 hives this spring, combination of full plastic, wax foundation, and empty frames..... in all cases they drew the empty frames much faster....... usually a frame in about 3 days. they don't avoid teh plastic, but like MB website says the seem to work much faster when they work both sides.

    My theory is not the same as Michaels though... Mine is based on teh construction pricipal. I think its harder for them to build straight out frome the frame face. When they build comb on there own they build the on the edges to almost full height before teh move on... Kind of like shigeling. much faster if you do it in the right order and from the right angle

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,949

    Default

    Actually I'd say you are correct. Certainly drawing comb out in space is what they do and they do it the way they have always done it without foundation. With foundation, they have to change their whole technique. but also, they know what they want to build and the foundation may not be that size.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Weymouth, Massachusetts
    Posts
    220

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    I'd say it's more about location with nectar flows than it is the type of foundation used. They will start drawing out natural or wax faster than plastic sometimes, but once they start it's all about the same, in my experience. I'd say where your own hive is located is having a better flow than where the hive in the club was located. Another big item of importance is the population balance of the hive. The number of bees of correct age to draw wax.
    Ray what is the correct age for drawing wax?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,622

    Default

    Natalie,

    I've read the info on age of wax production but can't remember posatively the age, but seems it was 10 days. I'm suspecting it's 10 to 14 days or somewhere close to that.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Weymouth, Massachusetts
    Posts
    220

    Default

    Thanks a bunch, I was wondering so I could see if comb production picks up at certain intervals, such as 10 days after installation etc.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Manhattan,Montana,USA
    Posts
    358

    Default

    i installed two three pound packages on plastic foundation about three weeks ago and it definetly seemed as though there were alot of young bees when I installed them and the the first week and a half the really drew out alot but it has definetly slowed the last week and a half. my baby bees should be coming out this weekend so it will be interesting to see if the comb building picks up. i also figure some of the reason for the slow down is there are only so many bees and the amount of frames they drew quickly is the amount that all the bees cover. when the population expands i assume that more frames will be drawn quickly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Posts
    176

    Default

    This is my first year with foundationless hives, but I agree wholehartedly that bees build comb faster when their are doing it themselves.

    For example, I started 3 packages this year (2 carni and 1 Italian) on foundationless frames with one fully drawn comb in the center. All hives have been provided with an endless supply of 1:1.

    The Italians were hived at the start of the Big Leaf Maple bloom. In six days they had drawn 80% of the center 6 foundationless frames and were starting on frames 1 and 9. I was stunned! When the maples were done blooming they seemed to slow down, but with all the new larvae to tend I guess it might have not been the flow that slowed their progress.

    The 2 Carni packages were hived two weeks later. One of these colonies progressed at much the same pace as the Italians, while the other colony has two less frames drawn. Also a good show.

    So far so good for this first attempt at foundationless beekeeping. There is just something about naturally drawn comb that is very enticing to look at.

    ~Reid

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