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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Dutchess, New York, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Foundationless Frame Questions

    I have been reading about bees drawing their own natural sized comb on Langstroth frames and have several questions. I currently have drawn foundation which is all "standard size" but wish to gradually move to smaller cell natural comb.
    1) To get started, can I use a standard Langstroth frame which is empty with a popsicle stick as a guide and place it between two of the existing frames which I already have? As the bees complete the first frame then I would introduce another empty frame into the hive until the bees have drawn out all of the frames?

    2) Is this something to use primarily in the brood chamber or should I also encourage the bees to draw their own comb in the honey supers?

    3) If they draw their own comb in the honey supers, should I wire the frames? How do they fare in an extractor?

    4) How long should I reuse comb before I start the process over?

    5) When starting over, do I just remove the old wax from the center of the frame, leaving the top part for a guide and then reintroduce it to the hive?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,424

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    The answers to some of those questions are matters of opinion. So I'll give you mine but you'll also get different.

    1. Yes. BUT, because your hive at the moment likely does not have as much drone comb as the bees would like, the first comb they will build will be drone comb. You just have to allow them to do this until they think they have enough, after that they will build worker comb. Don't destroy the drone comb they will only build more. Later, when they have built a lot of worker comb, you can remove some or all of the drone comb if you wish.

    2. Your choice. Just be aware that natural comb does not have as thick foundation as man made comb foundation, so natural comb may not stand up as well in the honey extractor.

    3. Yes you should wire them. Long as you set the hive level, the bees will build the combs down exactly through the wires.

    4. Until the frame breaks down. I've used comb more than 40 years old. That's controversial though LOL!

    5. Yes. You may need to re-tension the wires.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    345

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    You can use a Popsicle stick or do what i do and pull the wedge of and turn it sideways then nail it to the top bar. If you are using wedge top frames!I would do it in the brood chamber only when there is a flow on.I use foundation in the honey supers unless i want some comb honey then i will put in open frames.As far as frame rotation goes i would say every three to five years unless you are trying to go small cell, then you may want to buy some small cell foundation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Bartow,FL<USA
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    1 yes this dose work fine ,or do 3 at a time during a flow in the brood box & checkerboard the honey super .
    2 both brood box & super can be foundationless
    3 they do not fare very well in an extractor unless you wire them I also recommend wiring the brood too but do not wire your cut comb
    4 I do not recommend any comb over 2 years old (although some of mine is 2 years old )
    5 your choice
    also don't be surprised when they make drone brood. They may use the larger cells to store honey & the may fee like making drones. this is why I recommend at least 2 frames I do not have a lot of experience with beekeeping in general & have only started foundationless this past year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Bartow,FL<USA
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    Fodationless is not small sell sometimes . they can regress themselves but not all ways & remember they will make drone comb Walter T Kelly has foudationless frames I myself prefer Popsicle method but I haven't tried the the sideways wedge .

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    [QUOTE=Big Apple;744029]I have been reading about bees drawing their own natural sized comb on Langstroth frames and have several questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Apple View Post
    1) To get started, can I use a standard Langstroth frame which is empty with a popsicle stick as a guide and place it between two of the existing frames which I already have? As the bees complete the first frame then I would introduce another empty frame into the hive until the bees have drawn out all of the frames?
    You certainly can.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Apple View Post
    2) Is this something to use primarily in the brood chamber or should I also encourage the bees to draw their own comb in the honey supers?
    In honey supers you will likely get honey comb, which is not useful for brooding as it can be even larger than drone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Apple View Post
    3) If they draw their own comb in the honey supers, should I wire the frames? How do they fare in an extractor?
    Frame wiring is primarily to hold foundation, but it can help a bit especially if you are using a tangential extractor. The best option is comb that is at least a year old and attached on all sides of the frame. Easier to do on medium frames. Bees will build around and over the wire, but not always 100%.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Apple View Post
    4) How long should I reuse comb before I start the process over?
    You can use it as short a time as you want. The generally accepted lifespan for a frame of comb these days is about five years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Apple View Post
    5) When starting over, do I just remove the old wax from the center of the frame, leaving the top part for a guide and then reintroduce it to the hive?
    That's just fine. Something to consider: wiring will make it substantially more difficult to remove the wax and start over. Not by any means impossible.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,481

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    >1) To get started, can I use a standard Langstroth frame which is empty with a popsicle stick as a guide and place it between two of the existing frames which I already have?

    Yes.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundat....htm#combguide

    If you have grooved top bars, I would use the popscicle sticks. If you have wedge top bars, I would turn the wedge. If you have drawn comb in the brood nest that is straight and flat, you can just put any frame between them with no foundation.

    > As the bees complete the first frame then I would introduce another empty frame into the hive until the bees have drawn out all of the frames?

    That is one method. You can do it anyway you like. You can give them a box full of foundationless and swap one drawn comb for a ladder and it will work fine as well.

    >2) Is this something to use primarily in the brood chamber or should I also encourage the bees to draw their own comb in the honey supers?

    Do you want clean chemical free wax?
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm#comb

    >3) If they draw their own comb in the honey supers, should I wire the frames?

    I don't. You can.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#dowire

    > How do they fare in an extractor?
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#extract

    >4) How long should I reuse comb before I start the process over?

    I have never retired a comb because it was old...

    >5) When starting over, do I just remove the old wax from the center of the frame, leaving the top part for a guide and then reintroduce it to the hive?

    Yes. You can also leave a row of cells on the sides and bottom and they will do a better job of attaching the new comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Cupertino, CA, USA
    Posts
    278

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    Ok, you've heard from the experts, I mostly agree with them, here is my newbee experience. I use 2 deeps for the brood chamber and the deep frames don't need wires since they never see an extractor. I captured swarms from hives that had been in a feral colony in a garage wall for years, gave them foundationless, and they drew 5.1mm brood cells. They seem to make a lot of drone cells in the foundationless frames in the brood chamber but that is because I also gave them some 5.4mm foundation. I use medium honey supers and the foundationless honey filled frames sometimes fail in extraction and the comb goes crashing against the wall of the extractor. I have a homemade radial extractor so maybe it has more vibration than normal. I've decided to use foundationless medium honey frames only for the honey that I cut out as comb honey, and foundation frames for extraction.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Redmond Oregon
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    Has anyone used the foundationless frames with a guide made by Walter Kelly? I'm wondering what you thought of this product, or if you have purchased similiar foundationless frames elsewhere, what was your experience and where did you get them?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
    Posts
    250

    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Questions

    I used a small number (15-20) of them last summer. I was not thrilled with them. The bevel was milled off ceter by nearly an 1/8" and ended in a 1/4" flat. The combs drawn on them were not as good as the combs on the frames i made myself with a sharper point and true center.

    I think I may have gotten some from a bad batch as others seem to like them and I have not heard my complaints voiced elsewhere. And to be fair to the company, I never bothered to call and complain.....it just wasn't worth it for the small number I bought.

    I will be trying the popcicle stick come spring unless I get bored and make another batch of frames.....

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