Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,280

    Default foundationless beekeeping and drones

    A couple of years ago I thought it would be good to join the foundationless ranks. Last year was the first season I used a lot of foundationless frames. Some brood boxes were given to the hives, totally foundationless. (I was expanding, lacked comb) Other hives got foundation... some I was able to put foundationless between drawn comb.

    This past weekend was the first weekend I really got into the hives and did thorough inspections, as I made splits and requeened. I am seriously rethinking foundationless.

    Not because some of the foundationless frames were interlaced...I take responsibility for some of the more egregious disasters in the brood boxes. But even when the bees built straight foundationless comb, end to end and top to bottom, the drone cells! I have NEVER see so many drones in my colonies! I know that the bees will only build what they need... but my goodness! Now I don't mind that they tear up perfectly good foundation and build drone comb...the number of drone cells that way doesn't hold a candle to the quantity in my foundationless colonies.

    Just my observation, for what it's worth.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,081

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I've read 5-10% drones is a good number.
    I run 1 foundationless frame in position 4 of my top 10 frame deep, & they fill that frame with drone brood.

    You're bees are doing it more the natural way.
    Dan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,910

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I do mostly foundationless in the brood chambers - foundation for extracted honey (yes I know you can extract foundationless) and they do indeed build a lot of drone comb. Frames that have too much of it - move them up into the honey supers (all mediums right?) if you want, and then use them for winter food, start nucs with, extract them, crush and strain them, cull them or use them for varroa management. Or cut out the capped drone sections and put them back until they fill it with worker comb - varroa management until you get worker comb.

    It seems to me like this mostly happens earlier in the season.

    BTW those interlaced frames - cut them and straighten them out, they will end up being just fine.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,803

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenG View Post
    But even when the bees built straight foundationless comb, end to end and top to bottom, the drone cells! I have NEVER see so many drones in my colonies! Steven
    Hmmmmmmmm?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,379

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    If they have more drone comb they can raise the number of drones they want in one fell swoop instead of working so hard at it. But in the end they will raise the same number.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I just pulled out a frame yesterday that had been in a rapidly growing hive for about a week. It was all drone, about a third finished.

    We have to remember as beekeepers that we are messing with bee's natural intentions. They want to reproduce. They need drones to reproduce. So if we give them the opportunity in an unbalanced hive, they'll do what they can. Our 'job' is to divert those urges to reproduce into making honey. It's not always straightforward.

    Here's the question, now that they have all that drone comb, will they build worker if you give them more frames?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,720

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    Steven they'll build quite a bit of drone till they know at last they have enough.

    Keep those drone combs.

    Every time you are getting your bees to build a new box of brood comb, put in three drone combs. The bees will build the rest worker. Keep putting the drone combs wherever bees are building new comb. Remove them later you can get your hive just as drone comb free, or even more so, than a hive using foundation.

    It does require moving combs around between hives which some people have issues with but I'm fine with it.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Townsend, TN
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I agree with Michael bush and oldtimer, no matter what I do they will raise about the same amount of drones, some hives more than others but relativly the same.....I do the same thing as oldtimer and rotate them up every time i add a super(I run all mediums) untill they are full of honey.

    as a side note the hives that seem to really want to raise alot of drones I know to check them well and often untill they build swarm cells(they just about always do)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I have a frame of drone-size foundation in each brood box. I did an inspection yesterday and they had filled the drone frame entirely with nectar/syrup! Of course, here it's still been very cold and there is no drone brood nor drones flying at all yet. I suippose once they need the drones they will remove or eat the nectar and lay drone brood in there...? I have no foundationless frames in there yet.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,869

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    This is a good thread...as I just made up my first foundationless frames and am awaiting swarm calls. I plan on interspersing them between drawn frames. Just another part of this grand experiment!!
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,280

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I haven't given up on foundationless yet. Am interspersing foundationless among nice, straight, drawn worker comb... lolol
    And it helps that, in black magic marker, I wrote NF on top bars of foundationless frames.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seneca, sc
    Posts
    830

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    Draw out your foundationless frames in nucs between two straight drawn combs. Bees in nucs don't build drone comb. They will build nothing but worker comb, they don't need drones. Once the frame is drawn out and filled with brood transfer to production hives.
    Last edited by scdw43; 04-14-2011 at 07:13 AM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    637

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    In my 7 bar top bar hive nucs they definitely draw drone comb, which I have no issue with...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,756

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I lost a swarm to not having a spare hive this May, and yesterday located a plan for top bar hive - no foundation. hmmm. This thread says that might be a good idea for one hive. Next spring is going to be so much fun.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I only have about 3 years of foundationless experience, like the others have stated, once the bees build what they want for drone comb they will make mostly worker sized cells in the brood area.

    One thing that I have notices is that if the starter strip I put into the empty frame is wide like a paint stick the bees tend to start on the side of the starter strip so the comb is off by half a frame. By using thinner starter strips or no starter strips the comb is usually right down the center of the frame.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I put some foundationless frames in my second brood box (package bees, new hive) this spring. I interspersed the foundationless between frames with foudation, and the bees happily made worker comb in all but two -- #2 and #9, with some on the facing side of #8. No drones to speak of after the ones with the package died off until mid July, when they raised a nice crop of them on those two frames, nowhere else that I found. About half filled in with honey last time I looked, so they must be happy with the number at the moment.

    Next time I do this, hopefully with more drawn comb to start with, I'll put foundationless frames between brood combs except for those couple outside frames, I'll let them make drone brood there.

    I think three frames per box is about right for drone comb, that's about what I have, and if that makes the bees happy, that's what I'll give them.

    You could also use plastic drone foundation for those two spots as well, easier and then they won't make extra.

    Peter

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, U.S.A.
    Posts
    396

    Default Re: foundationless beekeeping and drones

    I take the wedge bar and use the bench grinder to bevel it to a tapered edge and tack it in the frame beveled edge down ...perfect comb built off it centered perfectly

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads