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  1. #1

    Default Foundationless frames,how much drone brood?

    Hi, I use foundationless for some time already. I notice there is a LOT of drone brood. I would say almmost as much s worker brood. Is anyone here using the same (foundationless frames) noticing this also?

    Also another observation, since I didn't use excluders, the brood can be found everywhere, even in the honey supers. The bees tend to block it but, the flow here is such that they cant do it on time. As I transport my hives locally this is not good. I need to extract the honey before transporting them. I plan to use excluders and medium suppers ( I hope in medium suppers the honey wil ripe sooner), although I don't know how much the excluders can be used in hives which I would like to keep as naturally as possible.
    Basic idea would be to give the bees the first two boxes and to get honey only from the medium at top of them (above the excluder).
    What do you think about this settings?
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  2. #2
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    Default

    The only way I have ever been able to get mostly worker size cells drawn on foundationless frames is by placing them between frames of worker brood in the brood chamber. I usually add 2 frames after the weather warms enough that spreading the brood causes no chance of chilling them.

    It is my opinion that foundationless frames are a waste of time compared to foundation for brood combs. For a colony to build worker populations it needs the comb in the brood chamber to be as perfect as possible. Having one comb of drone cells in the brood chamber while drawing new comb helps reduce the amount of drone cells that are built on the new comb.

    Using queen excluders is much debated, I like them but others don't. I don't have problems with the bees working above excluders because usually my colonies are strong when I add them. Weak colonies do not like to work above excluders.

    My colonies are in a deep and 2 mediums for the brood chamber. I put on the excluder when I put on the first honey supers. I make sure the queen is in the deep and place the excluder above the deep, then I replace the 2 mediums of brood and add the honey supers above. Having the brood above the excluder draws the bees up through the excluder. When the brood in the 2 mediums hatches the cells are filled with the bees winter stores. I slide one box to the rear about 1/4 inch so the drones can excape.

    Your nectar flow conditions and the type bee you use will dictate what you must do to be successful. Evaluate what you do and eliminate anything that does not produce the result you want. DO NOT GET LOCKED IN TO ANY SYSTEM OR METHODS UNTIL YOU KNOW IT WILL WORK!

  3. #3
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    I usae foundationless and have no problems with drone comb because of it. Its a a sign of a poor queen not because of foundationless.

    only had 1 out of 40 this year (hives) with this issue. replaced the queen scratched the drones, problem gone.

  4. #4
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    When I added foundationless frames, the first few frames ended up being drone comb on some of my hives. I moved those to the outside positions (1 and 10) and put a new frame in the spot the drone comb came from. The bees made worker cells on that frame.

    It seems to me that when I add foundationless frames to a nuc, they draw worker cells. When I give it to an established hive, they want to draw drone cells. I'm making several nucs this year, and I'm in the process of using them as a comb factory - I steal frames of drawn comb to prevent them from swarming.

    The main thing to remember is, the bees will draw worker cells when they need them. If they think they need drone/honey cells, they will make those instead. Just remember, a frame of drone comb is just a nice frame of drawn comb for the honey super.

    I think Michael Bush said once the ideal time to add foundationless frames is before the nectar flow. If you give them frames during a flow, they try to use that frame for honey storage, and draw out honey storage sized cells, which is also the size of drone comb. Being as that frame is in the broodnest, the queen quicklyfinds it and lays drone eggs before the bees use it for honey storage.

  5. #5
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    A natural hive has about 20% drone foundation. That's two whole frames out of ten. The only raise drones in it when they feel the need for drones and then they backfill it with honey. According to this research: Levin, C.G. and C.H. Collison. 1991. The production and distribution of drone comb and brood in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies as affected by freedom in comb construction. BeeScience 1: 203-211. they will raise the same number of drone no matter how much drone comb they have and no matter what you do.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    I usae foundationless and have no problems with drone comb because of it. Its a a sign of a poor queen not because of foundationless.

    only had 1 out of 40 this year (hives) with this issue. replaced the queen scratched the drones, problem gone.
    I disagree. The few frames with foundation I have in the hives are brood from end to end. The queen can't lay worker brood in drone size cell frames.
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Countryboy View Post
    When I added foundationless frames, the first few frames ended up being drone comb on some of my hives. I moved those to the outside positions (1 and 10) and put a new frame in the spot the drone comb came from. The bees made worker cells on that frame.

    It seems to me that when I add foundationless frames to a nuc, they draw worker cells. When I give it to an established hive, they want to draw drone cells. I'm making several nucs this year, and I'm in the process of using them as a comb factory - I steal frames of drawn comb to prevent them from swarming.

    The main thing to remember is, the bees will draw worker cells when they need them. If they think they need drone/honey cells, they will make those instead. Just remember, a frame of drone comb is just a nice frame of drawn comb for the honey super.

    I think Michael Bush said once the ideal time to add foundationless frames is before the nectar flow. If you give them frames during a flow, they try to use that frame for honey storage, and draw out honey storage sized cells, which is also the size of drone comb. Being as that frame is in the broodnest, the queen quicklyfinds it and lays drone eggs before the bees use it for honey storage.
    But as far as I know they are not very willing to draw comb without the flow. Or am wrong?
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  8. #8
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    You are correct, they must be fed or have a nectar flow to draw comb.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    I disagree. The few frames with foundation I have in the hives are brood from end to end. The queen can't lay worker brood in drone size cell frames.


    Okay I am confused by this statement... they are drone comb end to end already??

    when they do that becausde of a bad queen ( foundationless only) you have to remove most of the drone comb.....

  10. #10
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    Even with a drone laying queen they won't draw drone comb wall to wall, just the normal 20% or so. The queen just lays drones in everything including the worker cells.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Even with a drone laying queen they won't draw drone comb wall to wall, just the normal 20% or so. The queen just lays drones in everything including the worker cells.
    generally I would agree Michael, Had one this year that did lay almost 80% drones and they built comb to accomidate her whims...... had to cut out 4 complete frames, to get them back to somewhat normal..... first time had one that bad though...

  12. #12
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    I have found that if you put a foundationless frame into a hive or nuc that has had all brood comb or HSC, they will most assuredly draw a complete frame of drone sized cells, regardless of where you put it. Once you re-arrange and put the drone combs on the outside, then most the time they will draw worker cells or a combination of worker and drone cells. When a swarm is started on all foundationless frames, they will in fact draw quite a range of different sized cells, some small cell brood, some medium cell brood and some drone cells. I have started swarms on an arrangement where I had one empty foundationless in the center, with an HSC frame on each side then a foundationless frame on each side of the HSC's then one more HSC on each side then fill out the rest of the positions with foundationless. So far, they have always built 100% small cell brood comb on the center foundationless frame between the HSC frames and a combination of cell sizes (mostly brood size though) on the foundationless frames on each side of the HSC frames. Once they get to the outer edges on the other side of the second set of HSC frames then you start to see a lot more drone sized cells, many times a frame or two that are all drone comb. There are several advantages I have found to this arrangement:

    1. They build up quicker since 40% of the frames are already fully drawn (HSC).
    2. They quickly and readily accept the HSC plastic frames.
    3. The expense of the HSC frames is greatly diluted since you only use 4 per deep or 2 per nuc.

    I use this arrangement where possible when I add a second deep to a growing colony as well. I don't always use the HSC, if I have any fully drawn deep frames of brood comb I will use them in place of the HSC. Only when I run out of fully drawn wax brood comb, do I use the HSC frames.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  13. #13
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    Default foundationless and more drone comb...

    I'm glad this topic came up, because I'm having the same issue with a package I started this past April. Started them out on some foundation and/or drawn comb, but by the 3rd super (I'm doing all supers on this hive, rather than deeps), the foundationless frames that have comb now are nearly ALL drone (about 3-4). I was a bit freaked, as they already have many drones in the hive (not wanting to encourage a varroa breeding ground as it were). So it sounds like if I move those middle frames to the outside, it'll help the bees to draw out more worker brood in the middle? And even though I'm using guides (popsicle sticks), they are still crossing some of the newly drawn comb from one frame to another. I suspect beekeeper error, but just wanted to check. :-)

    Jules

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by julesbeek View Post
    And even though I'm using guides (popsicle sticks), they are still crossing some of the newly drawn comb from one frame to another. I suspect beekeeper error, but just wanted to check. :-)
    Jules
    Did you level the hive from side to side?

    deknow

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by julesbeek View Post
    I'm glad this topic came up, because I'm having the same issue with a package I started this past April. Started them out on some foundation and/or drawn comb, but by the 3rd super (I'm doing all supers on this hive, rather than deeps), the foundationless frames that have comb now are nearly ALL drone (about 3-4). I was a bit freaked, as they already have many drones in the hive (not wanting to encourage a varroa breeding ground as it were). So it sounds like if I move those middle frames to the outside, it'll help the bees to draw out more worker brood in the middle? And even though I'm using guides (popsicle sticks), they are still crossing some of the newly drawn comb from one frame to another. I suspect beekeeper error, but just wanted to check. :-)

    Jules


    Cut out what you consider to be excessive comb, and let them rebuild it. Keep in mind as Michael states the normaly have quite a bit of it. I notice more drones without foundation than with, but As I stated before I feel a bad queen and very excessive drones is possible, I think that foundationless lets that bad queen lay more, and they make drones wheras on foundation, with no open drone cells she does not lay at all leaving a spotty pattern.

    Just a hypothisis at the moment.... but I had 1 this spring, and cutting out most of the drone comb and a new queen and teh hive is fine now.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Cut out what you consider to be excessive comb, and let them rebuild it.
    errr, do the bees consider it "excessive drone comb"?

    deknow

  17. #17
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    obviously not, they made it...

    You have to ponder which comes first the chicken or the egg?? Does the queen lay in a cell thats a drone cell the workers made, or do the workers build a drone cell around an unfertile egg??

    I don't have an answer, I suppose based on observation it is the a bit of both. With natrual cell size I have more drones than with foundaation. I also notice drone cells move... so my basic assumption is the workers build the cells first and the queen lays accordingly...
    BUT based on observations.... I have seen poorly laying queens producing a LOT (way over half) drones... and when the queen was replaced they return to worker cells... therby giving credence to the view the make cells based on the eggs she lays...

    Or do workers move eggs???

    I say anything over about 30% drones is excessive and time for a new queen.
    I think Michael disagrees??
    TO me (first year foundationless) This method shows off bad queens faster. no spotty brood, just excessive drones... I think on foundation with no drone cells the queen just didn't lay period.

  18. #18
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    >I say anything over about 30% drones is excessive and time for a new queen.

    20% is pretty normal during prime swarm season. More is not.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames,how much drone brood?

    I had no drones at all in this hive last year - she's making up for it now.
    I have a drone frame in the brood box and most of the super is foundationless. She also filled up two super frames with drones. (The drone frame did stop the drones throughout the brood box though.)
    I thought this was alot of drones, but found this thread and apparently this doesn't seem out of line.

    I did freeze the frames and then put them back. They don't have many mites yet, but this seems like a good proactive control approach. I found one drone cell with 6 mites in it! Yikes!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames,how much drone brood?

    I have noticed a LOT less drone comb when useing foundation.... Foundationless actually gives them more choice in the matter..... When I use foundation it appears to be less than about 5% drone comb...

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