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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Fortson, GA, USA
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    20

    Default not drawing foundationless comb

    This is my second attempt to try to go without foundation for my honeybees and this time the bees are not drawing comb. I glued fat popcicle sticks into the frames to give the bees something to draw off of but in about a months worth of time they haven't done anything. (The first time they drew the comb between the frames.)
    I have a couple of excuses for them not drawing the comb but does anyone else have some good advice? Thanks.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,497

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    In order to draw comb bees need lots of nector, so if there is no flow on in your area you will have to feed...and lots of it for them to draw out comb.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Pikeville, Tennessee
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    Quote Originally Posted by myfiverings View Post
    I glued fat popcicle sticks into the frames to give the bees something to draw off of but in about a months worth of time they haven't done anything.
    Did you coat the sticks with beeswax? I believe that will give them a clue at where to start.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Fortson, GA, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    I didn't put any wax on them. That was one of the thoughts I had. I will give that a try tomorrow. Thanks.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    3,541

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    I understand that on the surface it makes some sense that you should wax the comb guides, but it is not necessary, and there is no question that the bees attach wax to wood better than you do.

    In visiting a beekeeper recently, he was complaining about his TBH...the comb was falling off the bars when he tried to inspect. Later, he started to melt some wax to coat some more top bar comb guides with.

    Try comparing how easy it is to simply peel wax off of wood when you apply it...now try the same with wax that has been attached by the bees.

    If your bees have plenty of room to do what they need to do (raise brood, store nectar), then there is no reason for them to draw comb (foundationless or otherwise).

    If you feed in order to get comb drawn, you are likely to get extra large honey storage cells (unless the comb is in the broodnest and the bees want it for brood).

    deknow

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Pikeville, Tennessee
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    I myself prefer to use " strips from foundation cut with a straight edge and a pizza cutter and use a melted wax applicator after putting the strips into a slotted top bar. That way I don't need to detach the wood strip and nail it back. To make the bees build straight combs I will put the frames next to one or between two more-established combs, being careful not to turn the frame around and keeping on the same side of the center it was built. When I look inside the hive I get the Joy Of Beekeeping feeling. I'm giving the Housel positioning a try with the two new hives I have. The Housel positioning claims to be based on natural swarm comb, where starting in the center; the Y's in the bottoms of the foundation strips be facing the walls. With your sticks the bees should build it naturally that way if you don't turn your frames around or place the frame on the other side of the center. I would like to hear if the bees actually build the Housel find once your bees start building upon your sticks. What deknow suggest does make sense so if you would like more wood surface for them to build on I would suggest just to apply wax to the bottom edge in hopes they will build passed the wax up to the bar. And I do as Alpha6 says; however I feed the bees sugar water with 2 sugar 1 water ratio, for bees wax is bee fat secreted from their sections. If you think this sounds interesting why not give it all a try.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,541

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    We have around 600 foundationless frames in service. Not all of them are perfect, but they are all deeps, and none of them are wired. I think I've only ever dumped one comb off a frame...Ramona never has. (Mike Palmer almost did )

    Most of the common wisdom flies in the face of my experience.

    1. I've never found rubbing or melting wax necessary...If the frame is placed where the bees will build comb, they will build comb regardless of your waxing it or not. I doubt waxing it will make it more likely to be drawn out if it is placed where the bees would not tend to build comb.

    2. We used foundation starter strips on our first foundationless experiments (Ramona attended one of Gunther Hauk's workshops and informed me that bees build comb without artificial foundation....amazing!). The foundation needs to be attached (melted wax, nailing in a cleat). An inch or 2 of small cell foundation will _not_ cause bees to draw small cell comb.

    By using a grove topbar (or by not removing the cleat on a standard langstroth top bar) and gluing in a wooden comb guide (we use "jumbo craft sticks"), you have a permanent comb guide...you can even render a whole box of comb by putting a piece of glass over a box full of frames in the sun. One of my reasons for not wanting to use foundation is the inevitable chemical contamination from any foundation I'm likely able to buy....using a starter strip reduces that risk, using a wooden comb guide eliminates it.

    3. If you keep the frames tight together, your hive is level side to side, and you don't start out with a mess from leaving in the queen cage while they start to build comb, they seem to generally draw straight comb. Make sure the comb guide is deep enough (again, "Jumbo Craft Sticks"....like tongue depressors), and fix any problems before they amplify. Remember, removing some burr comb with eggs is a lot better than waiting until the the larvae are older.and have been fed.

    I had a "wild comb" hive (built under a top cover with a shim under it). I placed it over 10 foundationless frames to grow, and they drew straight comb in the foundationless frames below the crazy comb.

    4. I know everyone says to put the foundationless frames between straight comb (capped honey or brood), but I disagree. The bees like to hang as a cluster and draw several combs in parallel at the same time. Frames of foundation or drawn comb interspersed hinders the formation of one uninterrupted cluster. Remember, building comb between drawn comb is something that, in nature, only happens as part of a catastrophe (attack, overheating/melting, earthquake, etc). You really should witness several combs "precipitating" out of the mass of bees...as they leave it behind (as they move down), it is fully drawn....it isn't separate clusters working rather independently.

    I hope this is helpful....or at least confusing.

    deknow

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Pikeville, Tennessee
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    I know everyone says to put the foundationless frames between straight comb (capped honey or brood), but I disagree.
    I am one that took on advice only. With your apparent experience I concede you have the better argument and I'll try just letting my bees build as they choose. If the hive is plumb and level seems like they will build combs straight regardless.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,789

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    I have no foundation in my hives. I have my top bars cut at 45 angle [thanks Humble Abodes]. I use no wax on them. I do put a 3/4" bar across the middle of all my deeps after having some comb collapse. I have had great success with either placing foundation between some plastic frames and also by just letting them draw a super of foundationless.

    Follow Dean's advice and you won't go wrong. I do recommend trying some special cut frames from Humble, they work very well.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    302

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    last year I used foundation starter strips-that worked fine. This year I tried turning the wood strips 90degrees and stapling them to the frames which for the most part has worked fine. where I did not have guiding draw wax on either side, I did have some problems with them curving outer comb across frame top bars which took some work to fix, so I would use drawn comb guiding if you can

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    302

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    also I found just attaching chunks of wax to the wood strips at least got them interested in that bar. The bare wood bars didn't get a whole lot of attention

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,007

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    Who am I to say, but I believe if the bees need the comb they will draw it and if they don't they won't. I have basically foundation frames but I screwed up last fall with my extraction (too much heat) and eight of the frame totally collapsed into the honey bucket. I used these frames this year leaving the vertical wires and the small amount of comb left around the edges and the bees fill it in just nicely. They are the last ones to be filled but they have no problem drawing them straight as though they were foundation frames.
    I really love this hobby. You can be a blooming idiot and still make out.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Augusta County, Va. U.S.A.
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: not drawing foundationless comb

    On my frames (langs) and top bars TBH) I have used both wooden starter strips and wedge shaped. I only drizzle a little wax on the strip guide, not the whole frame. This stilll leaves them about an inch wide piece of wood that they attach the comb to. I don't believe that the little 1/8 inch wide oiece of frame with wax on it weakens the comb whatsoever. If some of you are having a comb adherance problem, are you melting the wax all across the whole top of the frame?
    The only time I have had comb drop was when I played in the hives with brand new comb, heavy with brood and stores, on a very hot day. This was in the Top Bar Hive. Not with full frame hives.

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