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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    78

    Default foundationless -why drone cell sized?

    I put a couple of blank (empty) frames in a couple of my hives about 2 weeks ago to split up the brood zone a bit and as an experiment to see if I could successfully get the bees to draw their own comb. I have read several descriptions of this that suggest the bees start off by building a lot of drone comb on the first blank frame, then perhaps for the second and other blank frames will build worker comb. This suggests to me that the colony would rather build more drone comb than it usually does, when working from standard foundation. Is this right?

    Anyway...my bees have merrily festooned and drawn nice comb on these empty frames, not sure if it's all drone, but the cells did look a bit big. I did not haul it all the way out as they were so busy festooning and clinging on. There seems to have been a steady flow here all July, as they have been making comb the whole month.

    cheers

    Rob

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Los Altos, CA
    Posts
    121

    Default Re: foundationless -why drone cell sized?

    I assume all your other frames are with foundation? Thus they are all worker cells.
    Did the flow just turn on in Canada? Perhaps they need some drones for swarm season.
    I'm 100% foundationless for years. When I put a swarm in a box they start with worker cell sizes, not drones. They build what's needed.
    If I put bees in without a queen they will draw drone sized cells.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: foundationless -why drone cell sized?

    Colonies like to have lots of drone. Foundation deliberately inhibits there ability to do this so when you give them a blank frame that they can do whatever they want with the first thing they will try and do is balance out their numbers with drones.

    I haven't any any of my foundationless hives draw full frames of drones though. They seem to start out with drone cells at the top and them shrink down to worker cell as they build down. This works out great because usually they end up filling the top and edges with honey anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    santa monica, ca
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: foundationless -why drone cell sized?

    Might it be that they are building honey storage, and the queen lays in it before they have a chance to fill it with honey?
    Buzz Abbott
    USDA zone 11a, Western Garden zone 24 (75 ft elev. n34.0w118.47)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: foundationless -why drone cell sized?

    Quote Originally Posted by jip View Post
    I assume all your other frames are with foundation? Thus they are all worker cells.
    Did the flow just turn on in Canada? Perhaps they need some drones for swarm season.
    I'm 100% foundationless for years. When I put a swarm in a box they start with worker cell sizes, not drones. They build what's needed.
    If I put bees in without a queen they will draw drone sized cells.
    Hi jip,
    Seems to have been a steady flow here for at least a month and it looks like it's going straight into the 'fall flow' with no break. This is year 1 for me so it's all learning. From other reading I have done since starting I think I would like to transition to foundationless over time. I did wonder if the apparently large cells (maybe drone) were simply due to the 'big bee' effect of the standard foundation the hives are based on, and that they would over time reduce the cell size. Anyway it is very cool to see them make their 'own' comb.

    Rob

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: foundationless -why drone cell sized?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerindel View Post
    Colonies like to have lots of drone. Foundation deliberately inhibits there ability to do this so when you give them a blank frame that they can do whatever they want with the first thing they will try and do is balance out their numbers with drones.

    I haven't any any of my foundationless hives draw full frames of drones though. They seem to start out with drone cells at the top and them shrink down to worker cell as they build down. This works out great because usually they end up filling the top and edges with honey anyway.
    Very interesting...thanks.

    I also put a green plastic drone cell frame in each of my hives for IPM mite control -in the second deep. Another experiment. Two hives have totally ignored those frames for 2 weeks. The third hive went right at it, to the exclusion of all the other frames in that box, but they have filled it up with honey! I have seen no mites on my sticky boards anyway - yet. Hope that continues.

    Rob

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,513

    Default Re: foundationless -why drone cell sized?

    I noticed also, that when bees start a new comb on the bar - it is always a huge cells! Huge! But later on, the size is somehow adjusted. I never was able to make a direct connection between these large empty cells and drones - I never saw in my hives the whole frame full of cupped drones. I normally have a few drone cells here and there. So, to me these cells are just large cells bees made for some purpose. It seems to me that those cells ended up being filled up with honey. We need to remember that drones are important element of bee-family. It is not bad, to have a healthy colony with drones. Sergey

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