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  1. #1
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    Default Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Last week I added some foundationless frames to a hive for the bees to draw comb - they build one of the frames with around 70% drone comb
    what does this mean? why so much? i have never observed this before, usually it is all workers cells

    also in low season, do they turn drone comb into normal comb or once it is drone comb it stays? in winter they still give drones?
    Last edited by beeMT; 03-17-2014 at 11:48 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by beeMT View Post
    Last week I added some foundationless frames to a hive for the bee to draw comb - they build one of the frames with more around 70% drone comb
    what does this mean?

    also in low season, do they turn drone comb into normal comb or once it is drone comb it stays?
    Good question. I started using foundationless last year. I have a deadout which had a frame that the bees formed a mixture of about 50/50 worker to drone comb. I am going to use it either in a package that I am receiving late April, or in a split. I also am wondering what they are going to with this comb.

    Phil

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    It's normal for the first frame to be all drone or mostly drone, maybe even the next one too.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    The way I see it , it is the bees saying they need that much drone cells in the hive. What I do is leave it, and after they raise some drone, I move these frames to the outside and let them fill them with honey.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    I had a fair bit of drone on one or two combs in my TBH last year. but they moved on and I didn't have more issues with it. I think it's a Spring Thing!
    Technology is great.....when it works.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Its all great guys. It is the bees telling you they don't have enough drone comb. They'll raise drones in it in the spring but when they have their quota they use these cells for honey storage. They prefer a bigger cell for storage.
    Back when I ran foundation I would use two foundationless frames per box. These would be drawn 100% drone. Usually by mid summer these would be full of open necter.
    I always put these 3rd frame from the outside.

    Once I went foundationless the bees still just drew out about the same amount of drone and the rest will be worker cell.
    Contrary to popular belief the bees know what their doing.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by beeMT View Post
    Last week I added some foundationless frames to a hive for the bees to draw comb - they build one of the frames with around 70% drone comb
    what does this mean? why so much? i have never observed this before, usually it is all workers cells

    also in low season, do they turn drone comb into normal comb or once it is drone comb it stays? in winter they still give drones?

    The previous responses pretty much nail the situation you are facing. Bees want a certain percentage drone comb in the hive as well as a certain percentage of drones themselves in the hive based on the time of year and resources available. So what you see when you put that first foundationless frame in a hive that previously had all foundation is this "oh thank the maker we can finally make some drone comb all in one place instead of having to cram it into every nook and cranny". So you move that comb to the edge of the brood nest and when they want drones they will raise drones there, and when they don't they will store honey and pollen. What you will also see going forward if you continue with the foundationless and leave them the drone comb that they want is less burr comb. The tops of my hives are mostly clean except for a little bit of propolysis.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    What you will also see going forward if you continue with the foundationless and leave them the drone comb that they want is less burr comb. The tops of my hives are mostly clean except for a little bit of propolysis.
    Does this apply to Lang hives too? I've got one hive that's always busting at the seams and always seems like it's the not-so-nicer of the two, and also the most "creative" at finding places to put comb. They're also the healthiest and best producing, so I've got some shallow plastic foundations I was accidentally sent, I wonder if I made a one or two frames up with that, then they would build drone in the open spot and it would reduce the amount of creative comb? I also kind of like the idea of letting them act more natural. I've always wondered how it affected the hive not having any drones, other than more room for workers and less resources used.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by senilking View Post
    Does this apply to Lang hives too? I've got one hive that's always busting at the seams and always seems like it's the not-so-nicer of the two, and also the most "creative" at finding places to put comb. They're also the healthiest and best producing, so I've got some shallow plastic foundations I was accidentally sent, I wonder if I made a one or two frames up with that, then they would build drone in the open spot and it would reduce the amount of creative comb? I also kind of like the idea of letting them act more natural. I've always wondered how it affected the hive not having any drones, other than more room for workers and less resources used.
    I only have Lang hives so that's what I was referring to. Your mileage may vary because bees are different from place to place, just think about propolyis some hives bring in a ton and some hardly do any. As for your last sentence, don't kid yourself, if it's the right time of year and there are the right resources the bees are going to find somewhere to raise drones. I don't care how much foundation you put in the hive, if the bees need/want drones they will find SOMEWHERE to put them. So all hives have drones (season and resource dependant), the difference is where are they putting them?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    >they build one of the frames with around 70% drone comb what does this mean?

    It means it's time for them to raise drones and there wasn't enough drone comb to raise enough drones. If you pull it out it's about a 100% chance they will repeat it until you finally leave them drone comb. Once they have enough they will stop making drone comb. A hive that is not established yet often does not make drone comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    I don't care how much foundation you put in the hive, if the bees need/want drones they will find SOMEWHERE to put them. So all hives have drones (season and resource dependant), the difference is where are they putting them?
    Yeah, I think I might put a foundationless frame in. I've wanted to play with it anyways, and the more I think about it, they probably spend a lot more resources and time building and laying drone comb all over the place than anyone loses in a frame or two of drone comb. I know it causes a lot more work for me. Lol, now I'm worried about the one that doesn't build everywhere - what's wrong with them. And yeah, this hive loves to glue everything down. They're either overly ambitious, or my other one is just the lazy step-child.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    A side note on drones. I know it appears that they have no purpose in the hive.
    It could be my imagination but it seems to me that hives with a healthy population of drones just run smoother.
    It could be that only healthy, strong colony's raise lots of drones. Either way I like to see them in my hives.
    As long as there's not too many that is.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Did you have a dedicated drone frame in there? My understanding is that they're going to have a certain percentage of drone comb regardless and my experience has seemed to match that assumption. I try to keep at least one drone frame in the hive, especially when adding new foundationless frames for them to draw out. -js

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    If Kelley would have had drone frame in stock, I would have gotten a few. It wouldn't have done me any good anyways, I'm going to mediums, but I guess I could have cut one down. I figure they'll draw their own drone comb on a foundationless frame, and if they don't they just don't want any.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Not sure the belief that "bees know how many drones they want" is much more than a rationalization and folktale.

    Honey comb (as opposed to brood comb) is built will large cells on foundationless frames by economical bees. If in build up, the queen enters a region of large cells, the result is whole frames of drone.
    I see this at the end of the summer dearth, when honey comb has been scraped clean by hungry bees, and the queen moves up for winter. The result will be several frames of drone. The fall drone is wasteful and dangerous -- the drones are ejected scarcely a month later, it encourages little fall swarms, and the drones serve as mite factories during the classic September mite spike.

    A huge advantage of foundation is it limits this unplanned and irrationally exuberant drone production. While spring drone is likely useful for mating, swarm initiation and all the other natural processes -- the role of foundationless in creating unregulated colonies need to be considered.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    I use all wax foundation (no plastic). If you cut off the bottom 10% of the foundation bees will make what they want there. Thats one of the problems with foundation it doesn't make provisons for the 10-15% drones that they want naturally. If you raise queens you really want these drones. Not to mention on small cell we are seeing drones taking the hits from varroa first to help protect worker brood. With a small % of drones brood that has been advocated over the years have we put things out of sync? Having bees with minimal propolis have we weakened them by taking away there natural way of protecting against disease? Ooops wasn't gonna go there in this thread... Anyway my point was to let them have there drones before you go foundationless.

    Clay

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    Not sure the belief that "bees know how many drones they want" is much more than a rationalization and folktale.

    Honey comb (as opposed to brood comb) is built will large cells on foundationless frames by economical bees. If in build up, the queen enters a region of large cells, the result is whole frames of drone.
    I see this at the end of the summer dearth, when honey comb has been scraped clean by hungry bees, and the queen moves up for winter. The result will be several frames of drone. The fall drone is wasteful and dangerous -- the drones are ejected scarcely a month later, it encourages little fall swarms, and the drones serve as mite factories during the classic September mite spike.

    A huge advantage of foundation is it limits this unplanned and irrationally exuberant drone production. While spring drone is likely useful for mating, swarm initiation and all the other natural processes -- the role of foundationless in creating unregulated colonies need to be considered.
    Maybe you just have retarded bees or a failing queen. I am 100% foundationless and they only time I have drones when I shouldn't is laying worker or failing queen.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Foundationless Frame Turned into Drones Comb

    >Not sure the belief that "bees know how many drones they want" is much more than a rationalization and folktale.

    I don't know of an online version but I saw Clarence do a presentation on this at a bee meeting:

    Levin, C.G. and C.H. Collison. 1991. The production and distribution of drone comb and brood in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies as affected by freedom in comb construction. BeeScience 1: 203-211.

    And it would indicate that they do.

    A decision tree:
    http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/6/1092.full
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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