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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    47

    Default Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    I've spent enough time cruising this site about every angle related to foundationless frames, read many books, but I've not been able to read of the collective experience of those who have tried it. Collective meaning more than one or two people.

    For this thread, I'm interested in seeking experience of beekeepers in using foundationless frames from the initial install of a package. Not a nuc, nor a split. No regression stories. No migration from large cell or move to small cell, or pros and cons. Absolutely opinion free. Just "I installed a package and began without foundation. Here's how i did it. Here's what what worked, what didn't (and why), and what I'd do differently."

    Please detail the facts. From those who have installed a package and gone entirely foundationless from square one. What happened? How did you go about it? Please be specific. Did you use a ladder frame? How did you introduce the queen? If things didn't go well, did you correct and continue or abandon? what were your observations? We're you using an 8 or 10 frame hive? Deeps or all mediums?

    I'm a second year beekeeper and my interest in this isn't because I think it's "the right thing to do," rather a technique some are employing and I suspect that there is a lot of experience on this forum that I can't find in one place, or that doesn't spin into an almost political discussion. it's also hard for me to gain any understanding of this issue without putting boundaries around the experience, which is why I've asked for responses only related to package installs. And more specifically, Langstroth hives.

    Many thanks.

    Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,235

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Well, I don't meet all of your criteria but I do meet some.

    I interleaved drawn comb with emtpy frames in a 10 frame deep.
    Mounted the queen cage on one of the empty frames.
    Placed the (now open) package inside the hive body ( removing 5 frames) and closed up the box.
    4 days later, checked back to find that the bees had filled out the empty frame with comb, attaching to the queen cage. Manually released the queen,
    pulled out the now empty package and queen cage and replace the missing frames, both drawn and empty.

    Other than that, it was non-remarkable. The bees filled out all remaining frames and thrived for a couple years.

    Fuzzy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Weatherford,Texas,USA
    Posts
    450

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    James, last year I hived three packages with out the benifit of drawn comb or plastic comb.
    I am in 8 frame mediums, but going to go with 10 frame mediums this year.

    So my 3 packages were all placed into empty hives. The only thing in them were bare frames and I thought they girls would know what to do. They queens were kept in their cages and tied to the middle frame. I thought the guides on the frames would help them draw it out and I even rubbed some bees wax on the guide. It was a mess, being new to beekeeping i was so very frustraited. I had to keep cutting and straightning their comb out. It was like performing a near cut out every time I checked on them, which was often. I kept 1:1 syrup on them to help fuel the wax making process and make wax they did but very seldom was it where I wanted it.

    I will say that afte the first box was done the second, third, and fourth worked out better. I did give in and started adding a few frames WITH foundation to help guide them in the right direction and if I did it all over again I would start out with a few frames of foundation to give them something to hang on to and to orient them in the right direction of comb drawing.
    "It's better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees!" Zapata

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Last May I lured a 3 pound swarm in an 8 frames medium with only one old empty brood frame in the center. After a day I placed in all foundationless frames with waxed 1/2" starter strips and fed them. They drew out good comb, not perfect but good enough to where I didn't have to fix anything.

    There going strong today. In fact, as soon as my queens are ready I'm going to split this hive in fear of them swarming.
    President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
    www.habitatforhoneybees.org

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    JACKSON OHIO
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    do not meet all the specs BUT last year i hived 9 swarms ALL on foundationless frames just a starter strip they are all still alive no treatments at all and all are local bees

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    243

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Last year I hived two 3lb packages of Italian's into 8 frame mediums boxes, no foundation, just starter strips. I did use one full sheet of foundation in the center of each bottom brood box to give them something to work off of. For starter strips, I started the year by cutting 1/2-3/4 inch strips of foundation and waxing them into the top groove. It is important to have your hives level. A level hive, and a reference frame, I had vitually no issues. I did feed them to encourage them to draw out comb. When it was time to add a box, I took a frame from the bottom box with no brood/eggs and moved it up to the center of the second medium. This provides a ladder for the bees, and also a reference.

    I later switched to cutting wood starter strips on the table saw. A wee bit of glue in the groove, slide them in, done. No fuss, no mess, no time. I waxed the wood strips last year, this year I'm skipping that step too. M. Bush suggests you will get a stronger attachment onto bare wood than you do with waxing.

    All in all, I only had a couple frames that got off track with some whacky comb. I just fixed it best I could, and tore some of it out if it was way off.

    Once you get into the flow and they begin to store honey overhead, if you place foundationless frames between frames of uncapped honey, the bees will continue to make the adjoining combs wider. If the honey is capped, you can have success adding foundationless frames between. I had read the link I attached below before I started, but forgot about this point when the rubber hit the road.

    I also experimented with running 30 lb mono fishing line through the frames for support. That was pretty sucessful too. They envelope the line/wire, whatever you decide to do and you get the added support for those warm summer days. If you do not have support, you need to be extra careful until they attach the comb to the sides and bottom of the frames. The way on a 90+ summer day is soft and will sag if you turn the frame, or end up at your feet. If you keep the frames verticle, not too much to worry about.

    I have not extracted yet, hopefully this year. From what I have read, just start slow and treat new comb with care and you can avoid most blowouts. My extractor has baskets that will support the comb, so I'm not that worried.

    My one hive had a great queen, they built up fast, with the help of feeding, they made > 6 mediums of comb last year before fall. I plan to make a small split/NUC off of this hive early this year

    Some good tips can be found here -

    http://www.beekeepingforums.com/thre...foundationless

    Good luck - I have 2 hives, stacked 5 mediums high right now, and there is only 1 frame with foundation in each (the middle frame in the first box when the packages were installed).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Quote Originally Posted by PAHunter62 View Post
    I also experimented with running 30 lb mono fishing line through the frames for support. That was pretty sucessful too. They envelope the line/wire, whatever you decide to do and you get the added support for those warm summer days. If you do not have support, you need to be extra careful until they attach the comb to the sides and bottom of the frames. The way on a 90+ summer day is soft and will sag if you turn the frame, or end up at your feet. If you keep the frames verticle, not too much to worry about.
    I strongly recommend using some fishing line to support the comb. I didn't and lost 2 combs last year by not being mindful enough of the softness of new comb. I'll be "fishlining" my empty frames this year!

    Fatbeeman on youtube has a tutorial if you need it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    686

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    I started out foundationless with packages from day 1 and the only thing I can say about the experience is to feed plenty of sugar water so they build comb and make sure the comb they do draw out is going in the same direction as the top bar, otherwise you'll get a huge cross combed mess that will have to be fixed later. I started with all 10 frame deeps and dumped the queen in with the rest of the package bees. I have no idea what a 'ladder frame' is but if that means did i wire them, no i did not. I can see how my hives are already building up and the huge advantage they have over packages that are available in April so the only thing I would do differently is not order packages but to order nucs. I started with top entrances too, so I made 2 good decisions from day one, starting with packages was the mistake.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Indiana, Clay County
    Posts
    566

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    I have had some bees draw perfectly strait comb from foundiationless and others that would build circular/curved even on plastic foundation . I now alterante starter strips with pastic foundation in all my hive bodies and supers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Tigard, OR
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    I installed my girls last year into a TBH, and aside from a piece of burr against the queen's cage (which was easily removed) I've nothing but straight comb.
    As for me, all I know is that I know nothing...
    - Socrates

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    White County, Arkansas
    Posts
    874

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    I use starter strips so that about 1-2 cell depth only are showing. I have also used wax poured into the groove a little at a time until I have a decent coating along the groove. Both worked well and I still use them. The starter strip is faster than just pouring, even though I pour wax in the starter strips to secure them. As long as the frames are hung straight up and down with no SIDE sway(?) they draw straight and true. I have had incidents with wavy comb, cut it off and they built true and with the comb angled across the frames, where I had to finally rotate the hive to get them to build true. This has been with packages and swarms.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Bruce, WI
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Three years ago, I started with medium boxes, foundation less frames. I hung the queen cage in between 2 frames. I fed sugar syrup. They built comb quickly, while not always perfect they knew what to they were doing. I used the wedge frames, popped the wedge off and nailed/glued into place on the top of the frame. I do have a top and bottom entrance on the hive. This method was simple and I will be doing it again in April. The hive did really well the first year, they came through winter very strong. I split them, then they still swarmed. The split didn't make it, but I also did not feed them, as they did have plenty of honey with them.
    As far as starting out a package, I would do nothing different.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    I have 3 packages coming. I will start them with all honey painted HSC except for one comb of drawn honey filled PF100 to get them started with a broodnest. I will only feed in foundation less when they are downsized. And then, I will only put the foundation less between HSC or well drawn PF100.
    Last year, when I put foundationless in the super above nucs on 8 frames, the bees built comb from the bottom up! What a mess. One hive cross combed terribly. Another did ok.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Leominster, MA USA
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Quote Originally Posted by yeedah100 View Post
    Last year, when I put foundationless in the super above nucs on 8 frames, the bees built comb from the bottom up! What a mess. One hive cross combed terribly. Another did ok.
    If you stay with one size frame (ie. all deeps or all mediums) for both brood and honey supers, you can pull up a frames from lower box to upper box - this is what is meant by "ladder frames". (Three frames are best as this gives the bees two "interior" areas to occupy.) The bees like having something to climb up to reach the top of the bars so they'll draw comb downwards. Otherwise, they can start from the bottom and you'll get the collapsed, messy comb. In nature, bees always start at the top - they are not accustomed to having empty space suddenly appear above them and if they do "mess up" the comb, it still functions for them. Use the ladder combs so the foundationless combs will also perform for you

    When you aren't treating, there is no need to distinguish between "brood" frames and "honey" frames.

    Ramona

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Leominster, MA USA
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    We have a fully drawn foundationless box we keep to show comb variation under different conditions. When we installed the package, we added a shim to the top of the 10 frame deep to accommodate a paper plate of honey to get the bees started. They filled the underside of the telescoping cover with crazy, undulating combs. The deep below, all foundationless frames with popsicle stick guides, has 10 perfectly drawn combs.

    Ramona

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramona View Post
    If you stay with one size frame (ie. all deeps or all mediums) for both brood and honey supers, you can pull up a frames from lower box to upper box - this is what is meant by "ladder frames". (Three frames are best as this gives the bees two "interior" areas to occupy.) The bees like having something to climb up to reach the top of the bars so they'll draw comb downwards. Otherwise, they can start from the bottom and you'll get the collapsed, messy comb. In nature, bees always start at the top - they are not accustomed to having empty space suddenly appear above them and if they do "mess up" the comb, it still functions for them. Use the ladder combs so the foundationless combs will also perform for you

    When you aren't treating, there is no need to distinguish between "brood" frames and "honey" frames.

    Ramona
    I learned this the hard way. I am doing all deeps this year....

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Susquehanna county, PA
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Please share your foundationless experience from package install.

    Last year I hived one 3lb package of Italian's into my warre. I took the top bars off of the top box and shook the bees in, I also let the queen out at this time since they were with her for at least 2 days. I put the bars back on, my fabric, then my quilt box and lid ratchet strapped it to the base and didnt mess with them until last week when I put two boxes under my other ones.
    I dont use foundation, or a starter strip. I am now using topframs and 1/2 bars on the side to be in compliance with pa bee laws.
    My bees are fine, doing what they need to. They were bringing in tons of pollen the last few weeks. I have had no comb collapse.

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