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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,380

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Is foundationless the biggest Beesource hoax of 2010? Gee, who said that six months ago???
    "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain".

    Don't let this kind of talk discourage you. There are plenty of beekeepers who have successfully gone foundationless, myself included. It is not a hoax, it just takes a little extra attention on your part and does not fit into every beekeepers business plan.

    Is it "easier" to just drop in frames with foundation? - yes, I suppose it is. With foundationless you need to be more attentive as the bees draw out the comb, and expect that with the first few frames they might draw a higher percentage of drone comb.

    Since you already have established hives I would suggest making a slow transition this coming spring. As the colonies begin to build up and the brood area becomes congested, pull out just a few frames at a time and replace them with foundationless frames, keeping drawn capped brood comb on either side. Move the pulled brood frames up centered in another box. Continue doing this every week or two as they draw out the new comb. You will not only be helping to retard the swarming impulse by keeping the brood nest open, but your bees will quickly draw out some very nice straight comb for you. This method has worked best for me to get the most uniform comb built out with a minimal amount of attention or comb alignment correction on my part. If you end up with a frame with lots of drone cells just move them to the outside of the box and later they will fill them with honey, or use them as super frames.

    As far as natural cell being good for the bees - there seems to be evidence on either side of the argument touting the benefits, or lack thereof, to the bees overall health. Worst case, I don't think it can hurt the bees. It seems more likely to be beekeeper preference. But, excluding any value you may place on your extra time with the bees, it will save you money on foundation.

    Good luck whatever you decide!
    To everything there is a season....

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Walker County, Texas
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    I find foundationless and wood frames to be the best. The bees can build the size foundation thy need for their breed of bee. Bees of all breeds build about three different size cells. It's not good to put lg. bees on a smaller cell foundations then they normally build for brood. You will regress them and in regressing bees you must do it slowly or you will lose the colony. This is one cause of CCD.We tried putting bees on all 4.9 plastic frames and lost them all,many people do this not knowing what will happen.
    I find that bees build alot more bridge comb on plastic frames. They build much better on wax foundations. I totally don't like plastic frames.
    Before man took over bees there was nature,it did a better job.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boring, OR
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    i hope this is not a repetition of what has been said, but i confess i have not read all 3 pages.

    i have been doing foundations for years. i started to cut cost, and continued because i am a lazy beekeeper

    if you start a new package or swarm with no foundation or drawn comb, even if you give them guides, some hives will draw wonky comb. this is distressing to new beekeepers or people who like things very neat. to help avoid this potential mess, i always recommend that people use either one sheet of foundation or one frame of drawn comb on a new hive. after that, the bees seem to do a good job on their own.
    it also works best during a strong flow or if you are willing to feed them . if i catch a late swarm, i will either feed them longer, or make sure there are a couple of drawn frames in the box so that the queen can get to laying if the comb drawing is a little slow.
    the comb before completely attached to the sides is easy to break, so you have to be a little careful with early inspections.

    anyway, like all things beekeeping there are + and -, and lots of opinions!

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,427

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    >And note that is 100% drone Comb !!!

    Yes and it's 100% full of honey!!!
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #25
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,804

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >And note that is 100% drone Comb !!!
    Yes and it's 100% full of honey!!!
    It is my understanding that the OP is about 1/4 of our age. So if his bees made this deep foundationless frame, which is all drone comb, will it be good as a brood comb next year or will it be best used as an extracting comb, therefore forcing a teenager to hoist 60 pound deep supers full of honey?

    Edit: looking back at the picture, it is maybe a topbar comb, but the OP mentions frames in his post. I can fully understand lots of drone comb in a topbar hive, because at the on set you are knowledgeable that you are not keeping bees for commercial production, but rather to do so in a more natural setting.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    columbus,ohio,USA
    Posts
    518

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    It is my understanding that the OP is about 1/4 of our age. So if his bees made this deep foundationless frame, which is all drone comb, will it be good as a brood comb next year or will it be best used as an extracting comb, therefore forcing a teenager to hoist 60 pound deep supers full of honey?

    .
    eaiser than being a human hay elavator.
    Chris Cree
    Cree's Bees

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Twin Falls, Idaho
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    I've never bought one sheet of foundation and I have had zero problems, even when I don't put drawn comb on each side of the new frame. I just don't see what all the fuss is about. Bees have been drawing nice comb way before I ever started bothering them.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Floyd, VA
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    Using foundation is similar to egg producers keeping hens in a cage with no roosters. Or milk producers keeping cows with no bulls. Or a farmer spraying Roundup to control weeds. It is a modern agricultural practice to increase production.
    True, modern agricultural practices aimed at increasing production at all costs have boosted food production tremendously in the past few decades (one of the main reasons for the disappearance of small family farms in this country). But what have been the environmental implications? And how healthy is the food being produced?

    The tide is turning in agriculture away from "at all costs" production boosting techniques in favor of more "natural" and sustainable models. I'm not sure if using foundation should be equated with some of the practices you cite in your argument, but I certainly don't believe that you can use "modern agriculture" as a justification for anything! Any researcher who isn't directly connected to the "boosting production at all costs" model would probably agree that the state of agriculture in this country today is truly terrifying.

    Again, I don't know where using foundation fits in this argument, but for me, it's just one less off-farm "input" I have to purchase for my production system.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,694

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    The tide is turning in agriculture away from "at all costs" production boosting techniques in favor of more "natural" and sustainable models.

    I disagree. Only a few countries are developed enough to have high production farming. In those countries, the vast majority of the populace don't grow a garden because they can't afford the cost - actual labor.

    There is a local certified organic farmer. His method of weed control is to burn the weeds between his corn rows with giant petroleum powered blowtorches. How is this any different than the farmer using petroleum based fertilizers?

    The average joe still looks at price tags when grocery shopping, and high production farming techniques still enable low cost foods. More 'natural' and sustainable production tends to cost more, and the target market is the more affluent buyer - not the average joe.

    BTW, modern agriculture does NOT boost production at all costs. Modern agriculture is about profit driven production - you do what makes the most profit. Production at all costs does not care about profitability.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boring, OR
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Production at all costs does not care about profitability.
    very true. this is what some totalitarian governments have done when they have forced their populations into (or out of) the fields. with profit in the mix, production is geared to what the people demand and will pay for. organic whatever is a good example. if that fad wears off, or the cost causes people not to purchase, organic whatever will disappear.

    i would guess that profit does not figure into practices for most backyard beekeepers. we do it for other reasons and profit is a bonus. keeping costs down probably does motivate some of our practices.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Floyd, VA
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Countryboy View Post

    There is a local certified organic farmer. His method of weed control is to burn the weeds between his corn rows with giant petroleum powered blowtorches. How is this any different than the farmer using petroleum based fertilizers?

    The average joe still looks at price tags when grocery shopping, and high production farming techniques still enable low cost foods. More 'natural' and sustainable production tends to cost more, and the target market is the more affluent buyer - not the average joe.

    BTW, modern agriculture does NOT boost production at all costs. Modern agriculture is about profit driven production - you do what makes the most profit. Production at all costs does not care about profitability.
    I don't think "organic" is a blanket term for "sustainable" at all. Even before the US government got involved with the watering down of organic standards, there have always been unsustaibable farming practices allowed under organic guidelines. I have neighbors who are certified organic that probably use more pesticides in their vegetable operation then some of my non-organic corn growing neighbors. They may be slightly more benign pesticides, like pyrethum-based sprays, but they are still pesticides being applied in an unsustainable manner. I wasn't trying to argue that all "organic" practices are automatically better.

    However, there is a big difference between petroleum based fertilizers and farm-generated organic fertility sources (livestock manures, legumous covercrops, etc.). Synthetic nitrogen can grow a plant, but it does absolutely nothing for the health of the soil or the ecosytem surrounding the plant, therefore leaving the crop more suseptible to a number of pest and disease problems, and reaking havoc on the environment through leaching and runoff (like the "dead zone" found in the Gulf). When used properly, organic fertility sources actually contribute to the health of the soil and the surrounding ecosystem, creating a healthier crop and avoiding the environmental degradation caused by leaching of synthetic fertilizers. It can be argued that all agriculture is inherently unsustainable, but I believe that some practices are more sustainable then others...

    Up until recently, we as a society have been able to overlook all of the "hidden" costs in our food production system, but as energy prices rise and environmental concerns continue to surface, it is becoming harder for these costs to remain hidden. This is why even "big ag" is trending towards more sustainable practices- not because of some new-found sense of "save the planet" moral obligation, but because the economics of agriculture now favor it. Look at the huge growth of no-till in the past decade or so. Or integrated pest management techniques over routine pesticide applications. The playing field is becoming more leveled between high production techniques and sustainable practices, and I don't believe that this trend is just a fad brought on by the mostly-affluent organic or local food movements- it is the new reality. The only thing keeping big ag afloat today are the huge subsidies it receives from federal tax dollars aimed at keeping food cheap, no matter what the "real" costs. If these incentives were removed, every farmer left in this country would have to seriously look at their production practices with an eye towards reducing off-farm inputs and increasing sustainable practices- even at the expense of overall crop production. The economics would favor it.

    I don't believe that foundation is bad! I was just responding to the comment somebody made that if it increases production, it must be good...

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,694

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    I don't believe that foundation is bad! I was just responding to the comment somebody made that if it increases production, it must be good...

    I missed that comment. Perhaps you could show me where it is at?

    I did see where a businessman (odfrank) pointed out that foundation increased his production and made him money, whereas not using foundation cut his production and cost him money.

    When used properly, organic fertility sources actually contribute to the health of the soil and the surrounding ecosystem, creating a healthier crop and avoiding the environmental degradation caused by leaching of synthetic fertilizers.

    When used properly is the kicker. It's the improper use of ALL fertilizers that is the problem - not whether or not the fertilizer is organic or synthetic.

    Look at the huge growth of no-till in the past decade or so.

    I'm from Knox County, Ohio - which became known as the no-till capital of the world before a decade ago.

    If these incentives were removed, every farmer left in this country would have to seriously look at their production practices with an eye towards reducing off-farm inputs and increasing sustainable practices- even at the expense of overall crop production. The economics would favor it.

    Nah. Farmers would care less about input costs, because if the subsidies were removed, the price of food would go through the roof and they would still be profitable regardless of input costs. Inputs are only half of the profitability equation.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Santa Rosa, California USA
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Surprised this hasn't been routed to "Tailgater" yet...
    "Experience is that which enables us to recognize our mistakes - the next time we make them."

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    columbus,ohio,USA
    Posts
    518

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    dont put this in tailgator....I started this thread, and I don't have acsess to tailgator.
    Chris Cree
    Cree's Bees

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    McLean County, Illinois
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    For anyone interested...

    Demeter International Bee Standards

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,313

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Can we stay on topic here, please. We are talking about foundationless frames. great pumpkin peep wants to know about others experiences on this issue.

    I have experimented with this for the past 2 seasons. Here are my experiences/lessons learned.

    Yes they do seem to draw a lot of drone comb. I think Michael Bush is right though - you gotta let 'em have some drone comb or they'll just keep drawing it. So just move it to the side as he suggests and let them keep it.

    I have found that if I put a new foundationless frame in the center of the brood nest between 2 frames of sealed brood it gets drawn quickly and properly as brood size combs. Often they will not attach them at the sides and bottom for some reason though.

    If I set it in the honey super between 2 frames of capped honey it will usually get drawn as drone comb. It will still be proper thickness (and straight) though because they will not uncap the honey on either side to drawn it some more - they will just fill in the new foundationless frame. They usually do complete the frame and attach it on all 4 sides though.

    It is fine to have drone comb in the honey super. In fact I prefer it as it seems to extract faster and better. It might even have slightly more honey per frame this way (just my theory less wax=more honey?)

    So in order to get perfectly dran frames that are attached on all sides here is what I do. Put one frame in the center of the brood nest between 2 frames of sealed brood. Let it get drawn there, but it probably won't get attached on the sides and bottom.

    Later move it to the side and put another frame in. Once it has migrated all the way to one side and most of the brood has hatched out, move it to the honey super and let them fill it with honey and finish attaching it on the sides and bottom.

    I prewire mine too, so by the end of the season I have frames that are drawn and have been used once for brood and once for honey, and they are plenty tough enough to stand up to the extractor.

    Honestly I find this to be a lot more work than buying foundation, but for me the bees are about the learning and the challenge. I wanted to do this to learn about it and now that I know how to do it - I will use both as the time and situation dictate. If I am pressed for time and need frames right away, then foundation goes in. If I have time to build slowly and watch the hive and move the frames, then yes I will continue to do foundationless frames.

    Go for it, however you want to do it.
    Troy

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Oakland, CA, USA
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    I'm a new-ish beekeeper, and I opted to go (mostly) foundation-less. I used wax starter strips, to give the bees some guidance.

    While the bees did build a few wonky combs -- very much like what you'd find in a feral colony -- most of the comb was astonishingly regular. It was like a textbook, in terms of cell distribution.

    The beekeepers in my area (Northern California) say that the bees build fastest on foundation-less frame, then next fastest on wax foundation, and slowest on plastic foundation. I have no personal experience with plastic, but I can tell you that my foundation-less bees built comb at a remarkable pace!





    You can still see the "spine" of the starter strip!

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Findlay, Ohio
    Posts
    323

    Wink Re: considering going to foundationless

    Troy sums things up nicely! An observation: Got a swarm call last spring and all I had on hand was 5 frames with foundation, and 5 without foundation (put in a starter strip and fishing line) and alternated the frames. After dumping in the bees and things settled down, took a look see - the bees were working two foundationless frames, by the end of the next day they had 2 hand size combs drawn. They continued filling out the foundationless frames then went to the foundationed frames.

    I have been introducing foundationless frames for the past few years and do agree that the easist and best way is to place them between drawn comb. I found out (the hard way) with another swarm, I put them in a super with only frames (no foundation) and did not stay on top of them, WHAT a mess!

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    1,398

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    Bees are fickle. I have some colonies that prefer foundation (wax and/or plastic), others no foundations, and some that love Permacomb.

    I try to use what they seem to jump on the quickest.

    I have some swarms/cutouts from last year that made a mess of things with foundation as well as foundationless frames. I gave up on correcting them. Didn't make sense to destroy the comb. Let them do what they want in that box and get them through the winter.

    They are industrious and will work hard next year when I start removing the frames and correcting what I can. So what if there are only 6 or 7 frames in the brood box. If they are in frames that can be removed both the bees, government and I can be happy.

    As far as using foundationless in extractors I haven't had a problem. I almost always "X" the frames with wire. Bees could care less that it is there and draw comb right through it.

    I have even seen the queen laying eggs as they are drawing out the comb in foundationless frames.

    As far as drone comb, I let them draw what they want. Sometimes they draw drone comb and then put honey directly into it. Other times the queen will come up lay a small section of brood and then move back down. The bees will then take care of the small section of drone brood and fill the rest with honey.
    De Colores,
    Ken

  20. #40

    Default Re: considering going to foundationless

    The best advice given, in my opinion Peep, is to try foundationless in a few and see how it works for you.....don't bet the farm. The ten hives I started foundationless several years ago produced excessive drone cells. Many frames were totally drone, almost all were at least 30+% drone. The argument that 'bees know best' may have been true a few decades ago. The introduction of varroa has changed that. Varroa are drawn to drone brood and reproduce most efficiently there. You may find yourself creating a first class varroa nursery.
    Contamination of commercial wax is a concern. Just remember that when they coat plastic foundation they use a miniscule amount of wax, so it shouldn't, in my opinion, be of signifcance. But if you are concerned you can buy unwaxed plastic and coat it with your own 'pure' wax.
    Good luck.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

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