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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    New Cumberland, PA
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    1,378

    Default Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    In preparation for the upcoming Nectar Flow, I would like to encourage my bees to work in the offseason come March and create fully drawn frames from foundation. I really don't want them to create honey.

    Should I put on empty supers with foundation and feed them 1:1 sugar syrup.

    Will they work the foundation or will they just take it down into their brood area or could I expect both to happen.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,671

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    If there's no reason to use comb, they will likely not make any from foundation. Feeding 1:1 is a stimulant but it's too early in the season to expect good results. I would wait and do this later.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Posts
    674

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    Once it starts to warm up, feed, feed and feed! Sure they will backfill some of the brood chamber but it will also stimulate them into filling out foundation. Feeding will "trick" them into thinking that a flow is on, thus they will be needing the storage space. Feeding can also shoot the queen into soem serious brood production, thus making the hive stronger for the actual honey flow. You will, though, need to watch for swarms with this kind of growth.
    So...feed, feed and feed!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Corryton, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    578

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    Another little trick you can do is to spray the foundation with a mist of syrup, let it dry to a tack and then recoat it, then give it to the bees. The syrup will get the bees onto the foundation, and something about licking off the syrup seems to get them to draw it out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,479

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    You need warm nights before they will draw much wax outside the brood nest.
    Early Spring, feeding, a strong colony can draw 2 or maybe 3 frames on the edge of the brood.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,610

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    They only build comb when they need it. They can only build it very efficiently when the weather is warm, although they manage even in cold weather if they need it. Needing it means they need somewhere to store nectar, pollen or brood. Giving them syrup will not cause them to build empty comb, nothing will. But, assuming it's warm enough for them to take the syrup (the syrup has to make it above 50 F) and warm enough for them to build comb, it will cause them to build comb to store the syrup in.

    The foundation, of course, is irrelevant to all of this, it just gives them a blueprint for what you want, instead of what they want but still will not encourage them in any way to build comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,256

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    I experimented with 6 late season splits this past July. Big mistake. I'm growing, so didn't have any drawn comb to put into the hives I took the splits from. Gave them foundation...and fed fed fed. One hive, the ungrateful little witches, tore the foundation apart, and hauled it outside the hive. the other 5 hives seemed to deal with it ok....
    Regards,
    Steven

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Munfordville, Ky. U.S.A.
    Posts
    1,244

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    Try wax coated plastic foundation, and spray it with sugar water. Mine took right to it last year.</p>
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 12-29-2009 at 11:34 AM. Reason: UNQ

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,027

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    About the first week of December I shook enough young nurse bees from three other colonies to fill a 5-frame medium nuc then I gave them a young mated and laying queen. Besides feeding generously with 1.5:1 sugar syrup and pollen substitute, I endowed the nuc with five frames of beeswax foundation with horizontal wires. Four of them were small-cell, and the fifth was drone cell foundation. Within a few days they had drawn out the small-cell foundation, stored some sugar syrup and began a brood nest. The drone foundation initially had a palm sized area drawn normally (as drone comb), then this area was filled with sugar syrup, a few weeks later they appear to be attempting to draw the remainder of the drone foundation and thicken the cell walls to create small-cell comb - it appears very odd.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
    Posts
    483

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    Joseph,

    very interesting. Can you comment on your daytime and nightime temperatures through the month that the new nuc drew the comb?

    -fafrd

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    St Louis County, MO
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    StevenG: Why do you say the 6 late season splits were a bad idea? I've read the arguements made by Mel Disselkoen http://www.mdasplitter.com/article.htm for doing that and have been considering it.

    Do you mind giving a little more detail on what you did and how it turned out?

    Thanks,
    John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,256

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    John, I did not have comb to give my late season splits, or to put into the donor hive to replace the comb taken. Even though I fed the donor hives and the splits, the bees at least in one donor hive did not draw out the pure wax foundation and instead removed it. I hesitate to think what I'll find in there this coming spring.

    Because of the lack of comb, I had to feed feed feed the splits not only to get them to raise brood, but to draw foundation. From August 1 until October 1 I was feeding them at least a gallon a week in zip loc bags... Around Thanksgiving, I did the Mountain Camp on all my hives, including the splits. They had grown to about 1 1/5 deep brood boxes, but the two outside frames in the bottom box hadn't been drawn out.

    I suspect the natural slow down of the queen preparing for winter, plus the desire of the bees to store honey and pollen for winter led to them not building up as fast as I had hoped. However, if they come out of winter ok, and build up into gang-busters next spring, it will be the smartest thing I've ever done!

    If that's the case, I plan to split the splits, to increase my number of colonies. While trying to get a crop, I am also sacrificing a honey crop from some of my hives to a) build up my colony numbers, and b) get a lot of drawn comb for future use. I am used to doing swarm control splits in early April, but this year my queens didn't arrive soon enough, and I lost some swarms. I'll make my spring splits, and let the splits raise their own queens...

    Imirie has written that comb is our most valuable asset. He's right. And I'm going to follow Mike Bush's regimen of foundationless comb this coming spring. The beauty of this forum is that I don't have to make someone else's mistakes... I'm too busy making new ones of my own.

    But so far, in 4.5 years since resuming beekeeping, I've gone chemical free and have only lost one hive.
    Regards,
    Steven

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,027

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    Quote Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
    Joseph,

    very interesting. Can you comment on your daytime and nightime temperatures through the month that the new nuc drew the comb?

    -fafrd
    Daytime temps early December low 60's F to 70F, Nightime temps 40's to 50F, later in December the temps have slid to be another ten degrees cooler than the early December temps (Day - 50's to 60F and Night - 30's to 40F).
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    St Louis County, MO
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    Steven,
    Thanks for the reply. I've just gotten through my 2nd season as a new beekeeper and am thinking about increase next season. Right now I intend to make splits out of my three hives when they start building swarm cells with the hope of getting 2 or 3 splits (3 or 4 total colonies) out of each to get to 9 - 12. I figure I'll be doing a lot of feeding to make that successful and will be trading a honey crop for the increased colonies. Realistically, if I get 7 to 9 that make it through the following winter I'll consider it a success.

    Mel Disselkoen talks about doing that twice a year and in theory turning 1 colony into 16. I'm sure that's extreme. But he writes pretty strongly about fall splits.

    Did you give you July splits mated queens or let them make their own? I'm curious about your comment about the natural slow down for winter. One of my colonies superceded last fall and it was making brood like crazy. It was my weakest hive at the end of July and by mid Oct was really strong.

    Thanks,
    John

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,256

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    John H, since we're getting I'm sending you a pm.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
    Posts
    483

    Default Re: Foundation into Fully Drawn Combs

    Thanks for the response, Joseph. Sounds like your temperatures are not too much warmer than where I am (Bay Area, California). I have not had much luck in getting my nucs to draw new comb in December and have been providing them new frames of Honey Super Cell so they can continue to expand. Based on your experence, I may try to add an empty frame to see if they wil draw some natural comb (have only tried some small cell plastic foudation up to now).

    Do you have any idea when, in your area, drones first become present and a new queen can successfully become mated?

    -fafrd

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