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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
    4,379

    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
    241

    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:
    http://bwrangler.com/index.html
    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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,694

    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
    46,142

    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 40y 200h 37yTF

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