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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Birmingham, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Starting a foundationless hive

    I am planning on starting my first beehive in the Spring and am currently in the process of getting equipment a little along the way. I have recently been planning to use frames with a starter strip to let the bees build their own foundation. Am I going to have a problem with regression by letting them do this if I start them from a package? And if so how can I minimize this issue?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,617

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    I'm not sure what you mean. Most foundation is large cell. What the bees draw naturally is usually somewhat smaller for brood and much larger for storage. I have been all foundationless for close to 10 years now. The bees draw what they need. What problem are you expecting?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Birmingham, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    Well I have read that when bees that were raised in large cells first start building their own foundation that they build something in between large cell and natural. I am wondering if this will be a problem for later generations of bees as they start building natural size cells will they still use the in-between sized cells.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Newport, New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    You may want to look at frame width on M. Bush's site:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm

    BWrangler's pages on Natural Comb are gone.

    But you can view some of it on the Wayback Machine:
    http://web.archive.org/web/200803251...m/bee/ncom.htm
    http://web.archive.org/web/200802042...m/bee/sxpe.htm
    Last edited by BWrangler; 04-07-2017 at 11:07 AM. Reason: link updated

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,668

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    as they start building natural size cells will they still use the in-between sized cells.

    Natural size cells are NOT just small cells. They vary in size. Only the core of the broodnest on a frame will be small cell. Even in 'small cell' bees, they will still continue to build cells larger than small cell, and they still use those larger sizes.

    Are you expecting the bees to only draw 4.9mm and smaller cells once they are fully regressed?

    If you are THAT worried about having frames of combs with the smallest cells 5.1 or 5.2 mm in the broodnest, you can always rotate those frames out of the brood boxes and into the honey supers.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Sauk, WI, USA
    Posts
    144

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    I have topbars, foundationless. One of the most interesting parts is taking a close look at the combs they build. I just pulled out all the empties in prep for winter (robbed out) and the size of cells varies wildly on each comb sometimes.

    As mentioned above, you could simply rotate out one old brood comb each time you're in or need to open up the broodnest until you feel they have fully regressed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    51,892

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    You may be surprised. Between the popularity of the Peirco frames and the Mann Lake PF100 series you may not have any issues with regression. I've had package bees that were drawing 4.7mm out of the box and they were not advertised as small cell bees. But if they don't draw it that small, I've been able to get them down to size (usually defined as 4.9mm or below in the core of the brood nest) in usually in one turnover of comb if not less. Even if it's more, drawing comb is what they do and you will get there eventually.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    1,756

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    Hi Guys

    BWrangler's natural comb observations are now at:

    http://bwrangler.litarium.com/behavior/
    -bW
    the BWrangler and BNews guy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    York County, VA, USA
    Posts
    234

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    This thread reminded me of what I did just early today. I had a slab of natural comb pulled by an overwintered hive in a slot w/o a frame (yes, i forgot again). Nine inches tall and about six inches wide. For giggles, I measured its cell size and got 7 mm. Maybe 7.1 mm. Big. So I think it was drone comb, but may have been where they planned on putting honey. I cut it out. Then I had a shortage of boxes/frames and a swarm call. I put really ratty comb into the box to draw the bees in, took them home. I put in a fully open frame into which I put a handy piece of natural comb that I happened to have lying around. (See where this is going?) Now I'll get to find out what the swarm does with it.

    Their queen was damaged, and looked dead, lying on her side on pavement. She was apparently hit by a car and fluttered 40 ft to a concrete parking lot next to the road. The swarm was pancaked all over a 3 ft diameter of concrete. One might think it possible they were heat-prostrated and thirsty, too. But they picked up and went right into the box I placed beside them except for the ball clustered around the queen's body. I put it onto the bottom board and everyone loaded right up. New queen was kindly donated by AstroBee from his insufficiently productive overwintered queens. They needed something _now_, and got it. It will be interesting to see whether they ignore the comb and make worker brood cells (swarm behavior), put drone brood in it (overwintered queen), or nectar (perhaps a swarm packing away stores pending the queen's sugar-plug release from her cage).

    Fun times, anyway.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often in my youth from the late David Sebree)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Bedford County, PA USA
    Posts
    225

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    I have a foundationless hive. Some say regression is good, others say it doesn't matter. Either way, by letting the bees do what they want to do is a more biodynamic way of raising bees.
    Local Carniolan Bees. All medium configuration.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    1,756

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    -bW
    the BWrangler and BNews guy

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    827

    Default Re: Starting a foundationless hive

    My hives are foundationless, they build what they want; they don't have a tape measure and I don't check; in fact, we've never discussed the subject. Can't say they're doing anything special because of it.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

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