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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
    Posts
    260

    Default Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    So, I'm spending the winter building some new equipment (beats the doledrums over Christmas break when I'm avoiding half my family). I'll be expanding a little bit next year and am currently planning on starting/converting some hive to all mediums for interchangeability and weight (my wife helps out and a deep is simply too much). I've been considering frame type recently and was looking to get some opinions. Although I don't currently charge for pollination fees I am planning to move my bees around a bit (apples and blueberries) where I can build them up.

    Does anyone have experience moving bees with foundationless frames?

    How fragile are the new frames in the Spring?

    If they can be a problem would wiring them take care of it?

    I can always just order foundation, but to be honest I'm not terribly enamored with it and am particularly fond of cut comb. If I go foundationless I would probably build frames with a triangle pointed topbar which wouldn't take foundation. Not sure if I should hedge my bet and make standard frames and just flip the wedge bar for a guide though.

    Thanks for the input in advance,
    Mr. C


    (No I'm not worried about excess drones etc from foundationless frames there's enough people out there doing it that I'm sure I can make that part work out well enough. I'm really just concerned about the above questions unless I've missed something else entirely.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,323

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    Turning the wedge, in wedge top bars, so the edge points down, works quite well for me, though my OCD like tendencies want me to use comb-guide top bars instead (they look much more balanced/even).

    Here in the desert Southwest I like having horizontal wires in frames, even medium frames, it certainly helps to keep the comb where it belongs, in occupied frames, especially on the warmest days of Summer.

    Up there in Michigan you may not have hot enough Summers to cause comb drop/sag problems to justify wiring, but with lots of moving around it may be worth it anyway.

    They sometimes build foundationless combs that are almost entirely drone, but it's fairly easy to relocate those into a honey super, if the drones aren't wanted, use the drone combs to reduce Varroa, or to increase drone populations for queen mating.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
    Posts
    256

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    I have only been at this a season. Using deeps, all foundationless.

    When the comb is just starting...very stable
    When it is 2/3 drawn and filled but still unattached at the sides and fresh.....very touchy. I have steady hands and could watch it sway and wobble just holding it plumb over the hive....No way it would make a trip down our bumpy dirt roads.

    Once it ages a bit much better, even if still unattached at bottom.

    I did not have any fail on me, but by mid summer I had started wiring frames just so I wouldn't worry if I had to move a hive or split around.

    I did move a couple splits to a friends and they made it OK, but I also made a point of loading them so the frames were in line with the vehicle/road. That way hills and acceleration/braking wouldn't cause the combs to sway side to side.
    I also made sure to use older firmer frames for those splits knowing they would be taking a drive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,887

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    >Does anyone have experience moving bees with foundationless frames?

    Yes. And moving frames with wax foundation and plastic frames etc. New comb, on wax foundation or not, is very fragile if it's full of honey and heavy. I have had combs from everything but plastic fall out when going over bumpy roads with new comb in warm weather. I run all mediums, which helps as you have less weight before they get attached at the bottom. I don't wire. I move some to orchards every year, and of course an occasional hive being moved to a new yard. It hasn't been an issue.

    >If they can be a problem would wiring them take care of it?

    Wiring would probably help. But it is more work and gets in the way when I want to cut out queen cells or make comb honey...

    >I can always just order foundation, but to be honest I'm not terribly enamored with it and am particularly fond of cut comb. If I go foundationless I would probably build frames with a triangle pointed topbar which wouldn't take foundation. Not sure if I should hedge my bet and make standard frames and just flip the wedge bar for a guide though.

    Either works fine. The triangle top bar is stronger.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Spicewood, TX, USA
    Posts
    375

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    I'm another rookie with bees. I started out with founationless and there is a bit of a learning curve. The swarm that I trapped started with no drawn frames and they made a mess until I started alternating some foundation with them. The other 4 were from nucs with drawn frames and they drew comb flawlessly since there were drawn frames adjacent. I used two horizontal wires and popsicle sticks glued in the groove for comb guides. Overall, I am pretty happy with the results. I run all deeps and will be switching to 8 frame boxes this year.



    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Waukesha, WI
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    I used foundationless after doing lots of research my first year. I think for someone who had half a clue it would be very easy. I made lots of mistakes my first year (all due to my inexperience), but I plan to keep using it. I did the same top bar trick as mentioned above with no wire. I had no issues damaging it any time of year except when I let them build poorly..

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,285

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    though my OCD like tendencies want me to use comb-guide top bars instead (they look much more balanced/even).
    If you are OCD you can take a foundation frame and tack in a piece of triangular stock that you can get at a hobby store instead of the split out piece that comes with the frames. Then you can go back and forth between foundation and foundationless.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    829

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    I'm also foundationless and using deeps. I dropped one frame flat on the ground (thankfully the queen wasn't on that frame) and carefully picked it back up and ran with it. It was only about a month old. The bees fixed what little was smashed and were back using it as before. I only had one frame that could have been an issue. For some reason a hive that I cut-out in August drew one frame about 3" wide from top to the bottom. The other frames in the nuc were much wider, but this is what they wanted to do. Needless to say when I saw them doing this I didn't play around much with this frame until they widened it.

    I've also traveled with the foundationless frames even less than a month old combs and they were fine. I closed the hive, put it on my front seat of my truck and went. I don't have really bumpy roads though, but I did travel about 30 minutes away.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
    Posts
    260

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    Thanks for all the feedback, I think I'm just going to go with it, it seems like plenty of people have had good luck with it. Now if I could just find a local supplier of medium nucs... guess I'll just have to convert some deeps over and raise my own for next year. It's going to be a busy winter I guess, can't wait to get my dipping tank set up this spring (I hate painting but love building).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    I refurbishing a lot of old, used frames this winter. I'm also switching into a frame rotation program. I'm not looking forward to the cost of traditional wax foundation so I'm wiring my frames and gluing in the tongue depressors and will rely heavily on foundationless frames and natural sized comb for the brood chamber.

    In the past two years, I have had no problems with foundationless frames. I tried to gently extract a few mediums, but it's not worth the hassle. All my mediums will be traditional wired, wax foundation that I've already purchased.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Weatherford,Texas,USA
    Posts
    449

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    One suggestion I have seen from the Fatbee man. If you want to wire for support but dont really want the wire is to use some fishing string. That way it can easily be cut for queen cells or what ever and will still provide some support for the comb.
    I also started this year and have been mostly foundationless. When I hived my packages I did have some frames with foundation to help them along since there was not any drawn comb.
    Jason
    "It's better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees!" Zapata

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    353

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    I also have gone foundationless and it works great for me and the bees.I use deep frames with a wire through the middle of the frames.I have mediums that are both ways .The one problem i had was when a hive starves out over winter and you try to tap the frames on a hard surface to dislodge the dead bees they may crack or break.One more thing to watch for is when you turn the frame on its side it is attached well to the frame.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
    Posts
    260

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    I did figure out a pretty efficient way to clean out dead bees. I sort of inherited a lot of old equipment a few years back from a couple different people that got out years ago (used to keep bees with my dad until the mites made it to Michigan in the 80s but I wasn't very old), and another beek that left some stuff at my farm he didn't want anymore. If the comb is not too brittle a shopvac with a brush attachment does wonders for pulling out dead bees. If you have brittle comb you have to be careful not to drag the brush across the comb too much or it pulls that off as well. I used that to rehab a lot of frames that were left outside etc., also good for mouse nests and cobwebs. I spent two years using the old stuff and finally just decided it was less work build some new that actually fits together flush and doesn't need sanding and painting and patches. Though a wire wheel on a grinder works well for taking off old paint too, but I like building a lot more than I like sanding and painting.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    JACKSON OHIO
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    1 Thing to remember when going foundationless is to make sure your hive is level side to side. Back to front can be high to allow rain run off , but side to side must be level. I hived 9 swarms all with coroplastic starter strips and all were drawn out perfect.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    Just a quick question, how are you all extracting your honey? Am I right in assuming you crush and strain or just have cut comb? If so, aren't you missing out on a substantial amount of honey (if the bees have to draw new comb all the time)?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,887

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    >Just a quick question, how are you all extracting your honey? Am I right in assuming you crush and strain or just have cut comb?

    I do foundationless. I don't wire. I extract.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#extract

    For years I used foundation and did crush and strain because I didn't have the money or the need for an extractor.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesharvest.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,285

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    If you have frames that are two piece on the bottom you can shove bobby pins, paper clips, tooth picks or something into the bottom row of comb to help support it for extraction. If it is a solid bottom maybe staple thin plastic strips on the outside of the bottom bar would help. I have a feeling that if you took the time to insert tooth picks into the bottom row of comb the bees would fully attach it to the bottom bar but that is just a hunch. Maybe close off the gap with popsicle sticks after the come is drawn down that far.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Clarkson, KY. USA
    Posts
    164

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    A trick I have used is using two #64 rubberbands anout a third of the way in from each side going around the short way. Place them on after you uncap and this will help prevent blowout during extracting.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Strafford, NH, USA
    Posts
    347

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    Why do the bees not draw comb all the way to the bottom bar? If they prefer this gap, is it then something that should be considered when using conventional foundation (I.e. cut out a corner or center from the bottom of the foundation)? Not trying to hijack, just curious about what I see as a followup question from above. Thanks

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    1,994

    Default Re: Foundation or Foundationless, Wire or No wire

    Quote Originally Posted by Fishman43 View Post
    Why do the bees not draw comb all the way to the bottom bar? If they prefer this gap, is it then something that should be considered when using conventional foundation (I.e. cut out a corner or center from the bottom of the foundation)? Not trying to hijack, just curious about what I see as a followup question from above. Thanks
    Good question Fishman. I understand they want the communication holes, but what can be done to encourage them to draw all the way down? I've thought of putting a popsicle stick in the center of the bottom bar just to see if they'll attach to that elevated, narrow edge.

    Ed

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