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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    45

    Default Plan for newbie: foundationless from nuc

    Newbie foundationless plan

    Hiya,
    I'm a first year beekeeper, starting with 5 frame nucs (on foundation) this month. I want to try to go foundationless, and have done a great deal of reading about this. I know there are risks and frustrations, but want to try anyway.

    I've read a lot on this forum about foundationless management, but I want to have a step-by-step plan for a beginner. I know I might have to abandon the plan when chaos sets in! I'm hoping you all will comment on the plan and questions I have below.

    Just to be clear, I am NOT asking for a debate on the pros and cons of going foundationless, or opinions about whether I should try foundationless as a newbie. I simply want the first steps for someone who is simultaneously learning about beekeeping as a whole, and learning about managing foundationless hives.

    Here's a bit about my set-up: Only deep nucs were available to me, so I'm starting with a deep brood box (8 frame). I want to use only mediums as supers, and transition to an all medium hive next year. I have a bunch of deep and medium frames with foundation, and a shipment of medium foundationless frames from Kelly's arriving soon that have a comb guide already on them.

    Here is what I'm thinking - please edit as you see fit:

    1. Install my 5 frame nuc in the 8 frame deep, alternating pairs of drawn nuc frames with single undrawn deep frames. I'm considering going ahead and trimming out the foundation of these undrawn frames (leaving a guide-strip at the top), but could start with foundation in this box.

    2. When it is time to expand the brood box, I'll add a medium. Should I just put a box full of medium foundationless frames on? Or should the medium have a mix of frames with and without foundation in an alternating pattern? Or, should I go further and take a frame of drawn comb from the deep, cut it to medium size, and hang it in a medium frame with rubber bands?

    3. When it is time to add honey supers, I'll add a medium. This is the part I'm worried about, because I understand that in foundationless, the bees want to draw deeper comb. I'm thinking I'll take a frame or two of the drawn comb from the medium part of the brood chamber, and start the honey box with that, alternating with and foundationless frames.

    Am I way off base?

    Thanks for your advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,311

    Default Re: Plan for newbie: foundationless from nuc

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanna View Post
    Just to be clear, I am NOT asking for a debate on the pros and cons of going foundationless, or opinions about whether I should try foundationless as a newbie. I simply want the first steps for someone who is simultaneously learning about beekeeping as a whole, and learning about managing foundationless hives.
    Well, being that I'm a fairly new beek who uses ONLY foundationless, I think I may be able to help there a little bit.

    1. Install my 5 frame nuc in the 8 frame deep, alternating pairs of drawn nuc frames with single undrawn deep frames. I'm considering going ahead and trimming out the foundation of these undrawn frames (leaving a guide-strip at the top), but could start with foundation in this box.
    I'd just put MEDIUM frames (with starter strips) in between the nuc frames. The bees will draw them out nicely, then when it's time to go to med. boxes, you simply have to trim the excess comb off of the bottom bar, FAR less work involved (and less danger to your brood) than trying to chop a deep frame down to med. height with live brood in it.

    2. When it is time to expand the brood box, I'll add a medium. Should I just put a box full of medium foundationless frames on? Or should the medium have a mix of frames with and without foundation in an alternating pattern? Or, should I go further and take a frame of drawn comb from the deep, cut it to medium size, and hang it in a medium frame with rubber bands?
    If you have 3 med. frames from the deep below, checkerboard the med box with them, then put 3 new med frames into the deep box.

    3. When it is time to add honey supers, I'll add a medium. This is the part I'm worried about, because I understand that in foundationless, the bees want to draw deeper comb. I'm thinking I'll take a frame or two of the drawn comb from the medium part of the brood chamber, and start the honey box with that, alternating with and foundationless frames.
    Now you can use those other 3 med. frames from the deep brood box...use them for a checkerboard and the bees will draw out nice comb in between them, as they'll be BROOD frames (well, at least until all the brood emerge from them, then they'll be converted to honey use; but the bees should have started drawing out the other frames by then).

    It's not the only way, but it should work great for you
    -Rob
    (beekeeping since I finally got the RIFA to stop killing all my hives)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: Plan for newbie: foundationless from nuc

    Hi Rob
    Thanks for your reply! That's an interesting idea. It hadn't occurred to me that I could just put medium frames in the deep box. Sounds like either way I'll be trimming down comb. Appreciate the tip...
    Z

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,311

    Default Re: Plan for newbie: foundationless from nuc

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanna View Post
    Sounds like either way I'll be trimming down comb.
    Well, sortof; but at least with the med. frames you just have to scrape the burr comb off the bottom of the frame...no need to worry about making straight lines (personally I prefer using a paint scraper & blunt-force over having to be careful with a knife ), and no having to be ginger while handling frames of "rubber banded in" comb.

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