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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Campbell, Wyoming USA
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    438

    Default Foundationless woes

    So I'm starting to jump on the natural cell size band wagon and I'm starting to wonder if it was such a good idea or not. Currently I have everything on MannLake rite cell foundation and I'm beginning to regress the bees by putting in foundationless frames in between drawn frames. The frames are being drawn out beautifully straight, however, EVERY single one of them is drone cell sized. I'm really starting to wonder and question whether or not this was a good idea. I have drones everywhere because they are drawing the cells out drone sized. I'm going to be really bummed if I have to buy 50 packages next year to replace the losses due to the regressing. Lesson learned?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,684

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    What lesson did you learn?

    deknow

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    ^Was about to say that.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Bees make drones for a reason. Abnormal numbers/out of balance suggests something to me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    When is the number of drones abnormal? I think natural comb implies that you'll let the hive decide how many drones it needs. Things will go back to normal when they have reached that level. Unless that hive has a drone layer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    438

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Quote Originally Posted by cpm View Post
    When is the number of drones abnormal? I think natural comb implies that you'll let the hive decide how many drones it needs. Things will go back to normal when they have reached that level. Unless that hive has a drone layer.
    It's not from a drone laying queen. Lesson learned was with a question mark. I was trying to infer that going foundationless was a bad idea. I just don't understand why every single hive that I've put empty frames in has drawn drone comb. Also I'm curious what I need to do to rectify the issue. Should I cull the comb? This is an after thought, also will the bees alter the size of the cells once they have been drawn. If they have drawn out to many drone cells and are in need of worker cells will they reconstruct the cells that are already drawn smaller or will they need new frames to redraw?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Haslet, Tx
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    My hives are currently in this same process

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    I think they all draw drone comb because previously they all had artificially low number of drones. If you cull it, they'll just keep building more. Let them produce as many drones as they need - then they'll go back to producing workers.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    JACKSON OHIO
    Posts
    486

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    They will draw what they need and want and only the bees know what they need and want.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    438

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Well thank you everyone for your replies. I feel better about the decision after reading this thread. I guess I'll trudge on and keep feeding the bees empty frames until they start drawing worker comb. Cold weather is going to start setting in here in about 2 months and there's a serious dearth going on right now (although frames are still being dawn out) so we'll see how things progress. I made up 36 Nucs today that have 3 frames of drawn foundation and 2 frames that are foundationless. I'd like to get the nucs on 100% foundationless before the cold weather sets in but that might be a bit ambitious. I'll keep you guys in the loop if you're curious.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,960

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    What lesson did you learn?deknow
    I learned not to jump on and believe in every new bandwagon being proposed to us internet reading beekeepers, only dabble in it experimentally, not listen to the latest up and coming beekeeping website/book authors who have something to sell, and stick with methods time tested for 150 years .

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Quote Originally Posted by Moon View Post
    So I'm starting to jump on the natural cell size band wagon and I'm starting to wonder if it was such a good idea or not. Currently I have everything on MannLake rite cell foundation and I'm beginning to regress the bees by putting in foundationless frames in between drawn frames. The frames are being drawn out beautifully straight, however, EVERY single one of them is drone cell sized. I'm really starting to wonder and question whether or not this was a good idea. I have drones everywhere because they are drawing the cells out drone sized. I'm going to be really bummed if I have to buy 50 packages next year to replace the losses due to the regressing. Lesson learned?
    I had intended to use foundationless, and with my first year under my belt, began adding foundationless to my hives. That I know of, I followed foundationless "best practices," meaning: starter strips, a ladder frame, full supers foundationless on almost perfectly level hives. Read the books of the natural masters. Read the blogs and posts of the rightous.

    Two results: 1. Comb that was poker straight, but just a little bit at an angle because it's impossible to have perfectly level hives. Caused a mess when pulling frames that ripped against each other and soaked lower frames with honey, and (2) drone comb everywhere. I mean everywhere. Huge drone comb I could put my finger in.

    I'm sharing just to add my experience, but it was equally poor, and I studied this from every angle. I kept reading that it was easy, let the bees build what they need, that in the end it will all work out fine, but my hives suffered. The result was very poor, no matter how you measure it. For me and my bees.

    Good luck, I'm still a beek and still learning, enjoying!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Lake County Illinois
    Posts
    261

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    I alternate my frames to keep them straight in the brood area. I also throw some frames with starter strips in the supers to get some cut comb as well.

    As far as the drone comb, take the advice given...the bees will work it out.

    Good luck!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Quote Originally Posted by wadehump View Post
    They will draw what they need and want and only the bees know what they need and want.
    I'm going to respectfully disagree with this thesis and I'll tell you why. This is addressed to no specific person, only the thesis.

    In a truly natural hive, in a tree hollow or under a rock somewhere, all the comb is built largely in one pass. The hive builds the broodnest first and surrounds it with drone and honey comb. Those combs do not get moved. There is no inserting empty frames to be drawn out. That's the fundamental catch with the 'what the bees want' thesis.

    You'll find it works far better for some than others. It works well for Michael Bush for instance. But he rarely moves his comb. He deals with hives by the box, not by the frame.

    The bees don't know 'what they want' because the hive keeps changing. Therefore what they give you and what you want are two different things. Because it's not necessarily what they want either. They are responding to a stimulus the only way they know how. The fact that they're not doing what you think they should is the most obvious evidence that your expectations and theories are incorrect and they need to change.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Unless that hive has a drone layer.
    That was one of my points. Drone layer, laying workers, and if you see a lot of drones all of a sudden you may have a new/virgin queen and visiting drones. Actually, none of which are a result of drone comb amounts. Just an observation.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,684

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I learned not to jump on and believe in every new bandwagon being proposed to us internet reading beekeepers, only dabble in it experimentally, not listen to the latest up and coming beekeeping website/book authors who have something to sell, and stick with methods time tested for 150 years .
    The experience the OP is having is exactly as one would expect. The bees will draw worker comb when they need worker comb. They will draw drone comb when they need drones. They will draw drone sized honeycomb if they need room for incoming nectar (less wax/lb of honey stored). A nuc will probably be more likely to draw worker comb this time of year (it feels the need to raise more workers)...but if your full sized hives are full of worker comb (especially if it isn't all being used), they will likely want to draw a bunch of drone comb, and a bunch of honey comb for incoming stores...why would they make more worker comb?

    This "author" put this information in the book...and posts it here regularly....and I'm curious what you think anyone who promotes standard frames (from any supplier) with Popsicle sticks as comb guides is "trying to sell"? Popsicles?

    deknow

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    438

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick 1456 View Post
    Unless that hive has a drone layer.
    That was one of my points. Drone layer, laying workers, and if you see a lot of drones all of a sudden you may have a new/virgin queen and visiting drones. Actually, none of which are a result of drone comb amounts. Just an observation.
    I don't miraculously have fifty drone laying hives in the matter of a week. All of the hives I've inserted empty frames in have drawn the empty frames out as drone comb. Not trying to be dismissive of your suggestion it just doesn't fit with my scenario. =)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    438

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    The experience the OP is having is exactly as one would expect. The bees will draw worker comb when they need worker comb. They will draw drone comb when they need drones. They will draw drone sized honeycomb if they need room for incoming nectar (less wax/lb of honey stored). A nuc will probably be more likely to draw worker comb this time of year (it feels the need to raise more workers)...but if your full sized hives are full of worker comb (especially if it isn't all being used), they will likely want to draw a bunch of drone comb, and a bunch of honey comb for incoming stores...why would they make more worker comb?

    This "author" put this information in the book...and posts it here regularly....and I'm curious what you think anyone who promotes standard frames (from any supplier) with Popsicle sticks as comb guides is "trying to sell"? Popsicles?

    deknow
    I'm gonna put my stock in deknow's way of thinking because honestly, it makes the most sense to me. We will see here by the end of August if I can rotate in another batch of frames and in the event that I can what they do with them. I'll keep you guys posted.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    As I said, just an observation
    Solomon, along your line of thought, what if we tell the bees what the don't need? We give them all worker foundation and they find a way to make drone cells. We "allow" natural, and they do their plan as long as we do not fool with it. But when we do fool with it, things go askew. Has anyone, or what would be the thoughts, on this: Take a swarm, and add a frame of drone comb. Would that satisfy the drone need?
    Reason I ask. I had a swarm that I put on foundationless frames. I was quite surprised, not at the drone comb itself, but how soon they started making it. It is natural to prepare in the bee world for the worst. Just wondering

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Robesonia, Pa., USofA
    Posts
    439

    Default Re: Foundationless woes

    Moon, I'd like to hear how things go for you.
    We started our bees on frames from Walter T Kelley but did not experience the amount of drone comb that you have.
    Maybe you could pyramid that drone comb up into the above supers so they get filled with honey later on.

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