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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bloomington, IN
    Posts
    16

    Sad Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    My hive set up is as follows: 2 deeps with foundationless frames - This is my first spring as a beek.
    Yesterday I went into my hive for the first time since I put a candy board on in December. The girls had drawn brood comb and honey stores between the top of the frames and the candy board. So when I pulled the candy board off we had a small honey dripping and brood calamity. This was further exacerbated when I removed the inboard feeder and took a bunch of comb with it. That in itself would not have been an issue if it wasn't attached to the comb in next two frames. Then the comb inside both frames collapsed. I managed to remove the frames and the comb, but in the mean time a whole lot of honey leaked out into the hive, brood comb had collapsed and I panicked. I placed the collapsed brood and honey comb along with a whole bunch of honey soaked bees into a large plastic tub.
    There are two more frames of comb that are joined together in the top deep but I didn't touch those. I replaced the inboard feeder and the two collapsed frames with two frames with foundation, replaced the candy board the inner telescopic cover with and closed the hive back up. Is there anything I can do to "fix" this? I have lost quite a few bees, brood and stores... and I don't want to exacerbate the situation any further. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    1: What did/didn't you use for comb guides in your frames? Just taking out the foundations isn't enough, you have to have SOMETHING as a comb guide or you'll just get a mess.

    2: Sounds like you desperately need to check on your "bee space," if the bees are building comb where you DO NOT want it, then you left too wide a gap there & should consider installing some form of spacer to get it back down to 3/8" max (maybe an inner cover between the candy board and frames would work).

    3: Replacing wrecked comb with foundation, although I personally dislike using any plastic in the hive, is a decent way to start getting the bees "back on track" with their comb building; once they've drawn some nice, straight comb on that foundation, you can start using it as a "comb guide" for the other frames. Put a foundationless frame between the 2 drawn frames with foundation, and it'll be drawn similarly straight; then you can put 2 undrawn, foundationless frames between the 3 good frames....etc. Might take a while, but you can get all the crazy comb cleaned up & slowly replaced with good, straight comb that way.

    4: Don't lose hope; I managed to let fire ants kill my first 2 hives, and messed up installing the third so they absconded...got pretty depressing, but now that I have 3 happy hives with 0 Fire Ants & nobody absconding, it was a good learning experience & I'm no longer so depressed about it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
    Posts
    530

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    If you used foundation this would not happen. Now that the hive is pulling errant comb I do not know how you would fix it without using foundation.
    Good Luck
    Dave

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Burrup View Post
    If you used foundation this would not happen.
    Somewhat true, but if you use plastic foundation you're introducing petroleum-toxins into your hive too (though beeswax foundation does tend to solve that dilemma). Using good comb guides that give the bees pretty much no alternative to building straight comb works just about as well, but we can pretty much ALL agree that putting in frames with no foundation, or comb guides is a sure recipe for a mess.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    West Milford, NJ, USA
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    This is my first spring too, I had the same problem, it was caused because I didn't pay attention to the bee space. I had 9 frames instead of 10 in the brood chamber and the bees connected alot of the frames together. Michael Bush told me to go in with a knife and trim all the capped honey back, try to miss as much of the brood as possible and to be prepared for a mess, and to get the spacing so I could fit in the extra frame. I did this over a month ago and the bees had everything fixed up when I did an inspection about 2 weeks later. It didn't seem to set them back. Hopefully Mr Bush will chime in here and give you his opinion.

    Regards and best of Luck
    Bonnie

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,041

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    >Hopefully Mr Bush will chime in here and give you his opinion.

    Hopefully Mr.Bush will be more careful in promoting his agenda to beginning beekeepers with not enough precautions. Small Cell, Foundationless, No Queen Excluders, No brood Box Rotation.....These are some of his favorite contrayonisms that can set a beginner on a wild bee chase.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bloomington, IN
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    @rob - my frames have a small guide in the middle of the top par but now I am thinking the popsicle sticks guides are very necessary. Also next winter I will be sure to leave the inner cover between the candy board.
    @dave - foundation is NOT the way I want to go
    @ bonnie - did you just cut the comb between the frames and move them apart? Did you do anything about the leaking honey or just let the bees clean it up? They are so fabulous about doing that

    This is truly a learning experience and the support here is SUCH a huge help!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    West Milford, NJ, USA
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    It would seem to me that ALL beginning beekeepers make mistakes regardless of who our mentor is. I have alot of respect for Mr Bush, he is very generous with his information and PATIENT helpfullness with us who follow his lead.

    Regards
    Bonnie

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    West Milford, NJ, USA
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Your "mess" may be more extensive than mine was as I did my repair quit awhile ago, it was mostly in the top deep and I had almost no brood yet in the comb involved to contend with. I had no crazy comb, they had drawn it all straight, just connected it in a bunch of spots. I removed the comb as gently as I could and did the trimming over a tray outside of the hive, I left all the scraps in the tray close to the hive and the bees robbed out all the honey. It was all new comb and cut apart easily.

    Best of luck, don't bee discouraged

    Bonnie

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,143

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    First congratulations on walking away to regroup. They do not need straight comb and you only need it to work the bees. They were fine and happy this morning and will be tomorrow almost always.

    If the hive is booming a fix is harder but a restart in a new box is easier. Cannot not see the hive to see where and what they are doing but I would guess the lower box is unused or crossed and tied to the top. You need to make some straight comb and build from that. Got another deep? You may be able to convince them they want to work there and be able to leave the mess for later when it is quieter. Reducing the bottom opening and opening a top entrance may help.You can pull honey frames and it will not hurt much to make space for straight comb. Just make sure there is still comb available for incoming flow to keep the brood nest available.

    No deep? Maybe a super will be drawn straight and they mostly will leave the bottom for you to fix later.

    When you dare tip up the upper hive and run a long knife slowly between the upper and lower deep to separate. Then slide to the side to get at the outer frames. Work where the bees are not at first. At some point you will be ready to just bite the bullet and remove the last of the mess.

    If foundation is a strong no no you can use just a short strip at the top. Thin short wood strips work well . Some bees will start to work a frame when you soak the guide with sugar water, some with wax , some are just stubborn, some will work anything but follow nothing.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sullivan, MO
    Posts
    903

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    The biggest mistake dabeewoman made wasn't not using foundation it was leaving space between the candy board and frames that the bees could draw crazy comb. Sounds to me that is what started the debacle. If a person isn't going to use actual foundationless frames like from kelley, then I think the next best would be wedge top frames with the wedge turned sideways glued and nailed/stapled. The only reason this is a big deal is because the person it happened to is a new person and cleaning up a mess like this is a little intimidating. This is no worse than many of the cut outs I have done. If the comb that came out is close in size to her frames then she could rubber band them into some empty frames and the bees will take it from there. I have had to trim over zealous honey comb before and the bees have it cleaned up in no time. Don't give up on the foundationless. I see no reason to spend the extra money to give the bees something they don't need to introduce either plastic (if you don't like, I'm personally agnostic to plastic good or bad) or wax foundation that might have chemical contamination from apistan or checkmite. Basic principals try to get your brood comb drawn NOW (spring) in the broodnest this is when they want to draw worker comb. If they do draw drone comb don't take it out of the hive, just move it over eventually to position 1 or 10 and they have it when they need it. If you are having honey comb drawn try to draw it between already capped comb because otherwise they will just make some obnoxiously fat honey comb instead of drawing the new frame.
    Rod

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,143

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    It is not that MB leads newbies astray. Standard hives and standard practices are the norm because they work. Part of the reason they work is because they are easy to understand.

    It is a risk reward kind of thing. If you want bees, standard is the easy start and it may be the best way to reach natural anyway.

    It is hard to understand keeping from the printed word. Experience is an ugly teacher.
    A bee is going to do what a bee is going to do. A human is going to do what a human is going to do. Better to read read and read some more. Advise from a website or a book is not the same as seeing it. Reading and doing both make each other better.

    Explaining by the written word is plain hard and I greatly those who are both willing and able to do that.

    Is an hour of reading worth five minutes of someone showing you. No, but each has value and I would not take just one or the other.

    Cheer for your side, don't poke the other.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    West Milford, NJ, USA
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Thanks Rod, Thanks Salty
    I had no idea that evoking MB's name could bring on such venom spitting, just thought he would have some good answers to dabeewomans problem, thanks for the input it's appreciated.

    Bonnie

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Pitt County, NC
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Here are my two cents...I attempted to start completely foundationless last year. I had 8 frame mediums with popsicle stick guides. The bees hung around for quite a while(over a week) but each time I'd check on them, like you, I would only see comb in the wrong places(mainly in the top hive feeder) and not on the comb guides. The bees were festooning from the frames, and I read things people said along the lines of "if they are festooning, there is comb under them, you just cant see it." Turns out they were wrong, a few days later when the bees absconded, there was no comb on the comb guides. I had to get another package, this one I started on one box of foundation. Each time I add a box of foundationless, I pull on of the old combs from below up to the new box and replace the one below with foundationless. This way only the eight original fram have been foundation. If you wanted to, you could pull them out as you get more foundationless comb. Its not difficult using foundationless, and I just use popsicle sticks or the wedge bar, no wax or sugar required. But I don't think I'll start a hive without atleast one piece of foundation again. I suggest you put atleast one in there, maybe more and then go foundationless with all of the rest.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bloomington, IN
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Thanks Rod, Salty, Bonnie and Rob for all of your positive input and advice. I have a huge amount of admiration for sage advice, respect for experience and like Bonnie, respect and appreciate MB's different perspective and patient guidance.

    I went back into the hive this afternoon and did some trimming. There was some obnoxiously fat, capped, honeycomb in the top deep that was causing issue along with crazy comb. I put in 2 frames with foundation: one between the realy crazy comb and trimmed fat comb and the other between two trimmed fat combs. I popped the cutoffs into a tray next to the hive. Unless anyone suggests otherwise I will continue to monitor the hive and delve into the bottom deep in a couple of weeks.

    My 2 new hives will definitely benefit from this experience :0)
    Thank you all,
    Carolyn

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bloomington, IN
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Sounds like it worked for you fly. I may try a variation of combo like you did.

    Something I didn't mention is that out of 7 of my local friend's hives, mine was the only one that survived the winter. Apart from the crazy comb, it is a strong hive.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,143

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Things I read but did not really get:

    Wire or fish line makes a much stronger foundationless comb. The bees may pass around it but they will fill it in.
    It takes a lot of young bees to make a good queen.
    Requeening a package the first year is a good plan.
    There is a reason conventional keepers requeen.
    Deeps do get heavy.
    Last edited by Saltybee; 04-01-2012 at 04:18 PM.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,572

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Rolled sheet foundation wasn't commercially available until the turn of the last century, so Langstroth hives were originally foundationless, just like any other hive with removable frames. Foundation makes life easier for the beekeeper, but in the last few years it's become obvious that wax in beehives absorbs many of the agricultural chemicals in use and some people don't want them in their comb or honey. I would suspect that ALL foundation contains some level of miticide, for instance, and very likely significant amounts of chlorothalonil as well. Just the nature of wax and industrial agriculture, it's not a religious war.

    Micheal Bush does point out that one should take care attempting to go foundationless and to correct "improper" comb as soon as possible.

    This is like using queen excluders -- some people swear by them, other swear at them, and there is no controlled study anywhere that has definitive evidence either way.

    There are lots of ways to keep bees, and every location is a bit different, so each location will have a different result with the same setup. What works for one person in one location may not work very well for someone else in a different location.

    And things change, we learn more, forget what we knew sometimes, and figure out we made a mistake others. After all, the original Langstroth hive is rather different than what we know as the Langstroth hive today -- the single brood box was double glass walled, held 12 frames 19" long, and was something like 12" deep. Impossible to move, and it wasn't intended to be moved, but now we need to move hives (for many reasons) and have settled on much lighter smaller hive bodies instead.

    Peter

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    clark county, indiana
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    carolyn i loved reading about the foundationless hive, and unfortunately your dilemma, i did however learn from this. i too would like to have foundationless hives, i am a new beek, got my first and only bee package last year. it is the tradtional hive but i have been reading verociously about top bar hives and chemical free beekeeping. i also have read m. bush and really like his way of beekeeping. do you have a mentor close or do you belong to a club, this may be a way of getting some hands on help and advice, i recently joined the kentuckianna beekeeping assoc and am looking forward to field days this summer to get hands on experience. stay calm and keep on going thats my motto.
    cheryl

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Foundationless mess - HELP!!

    Quote Originally Posted by dabeewoman View Post
    ...I put in 2 frames with foundation: one between the realy crazy comb and trimmed fat comb and the other between two trimmed fat combs.
    Carolyn
    If you put foundation or foundationless frames between uncapped honey comb you will have the same problem. I would move the foundation between brood comb or capped honey. They will extend uncapped honeycomb into your new frame area.

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