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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    941

    Default foundation starter comb

    Has anyone tried using foundation attached to some top bars to try to get your bees to build straight comb right out of the gate? What would be the best way to attach it if so?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,429

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    This is what Wyatt Mangum does. He puts a groove in the bar and then uses melted wax to attach it. He has made a jig to setup a series of bars and pour the melted wax down 8 or 10 or so at a time.

    I have considered making a bar with a split wedge. There would be a fixed wedge on the bar and then you would attach the other half with nails or staples. Then you could just wedge the strip in place. You could do this by using a router to route away half of the wedge.

    The thing I don't like about using a starter strip is that as soon as you attach the starter strip you have to be careful with the bars. And if you drop them you can pretty much bet the strip will be knocked off.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    237

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    There is a tool called a Wax Tube Fastener that some will use to attach a foundation starter strip to a grooved top bar. You can see a demo of it on Linda Tillman's blog:

    http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2...stener_26.html

    What I have done, and like, is to glue in a wooden strip into the top groove. I don't even add any wax, the bees take right too it and build off the strip. Adding in new foundationless frames in between brood comb works well, or between capped honey frames. Don't add them between uncapped honey frames or the bees will just keep extending the comb to each side instead of working on the new frame.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,429

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Yes, I don't think that starter strips are necessary if you give them an idea of were to pull the comb by using a stick or a wedged bar. Some folks say don't use wax on your bars as it will actually make the contact with the bar weaker.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    My top bars are made with a plastic strip. I ripped down a bunch of foundation from my Lang stuff.
    They end up ridged and permanent when glued in. They look like this.http://s1066.photobucket.com/albums/...3DIMAG0044.jpg

    I had NO issues with cross-combing with the hives that I used these in this year.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    941

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Thanks for the replies I have wedges made from cove molding in one hive and wood strips in grooves in another just to see which I like better. I have seen alot of videos where the comb curves at the ends and ends up off the bars, and wondered if one or two straight ones would help get them on the right track. Steven that is exactly what I was thinking but more foundation than just a strip. Thought about trimming some plastic foundation in the shape of a top bar comb and hot gluing it into place and then painting with wax to encourage comb building on the plastic cell. One established straight I would phase out the top bars with foundation

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,429

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    I think it was Michael Bush that said straight comb makes straight comb. If you can get your comb to start straight and correct as necessary you should be able to keep it straight by placing empty bars between straight comb.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,328

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    I used to wax a strip of foundation in with a wax tube fastener. But wood works as well and is more permanent. Now I just glue in wood strips or put a bevel on the top bar.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    Thanks for the replies I have wedges made from cove molding in one hive and wood strips in grooves in another just to see which I like better. I have seen alot of videos where the comb curves at the ends and ends up off the bars, and wondered if one or two straight ones would help get them on the right track. Steven that is exactly what I was thinking but more foundation than just a strip. Thought about trimming some plastic foundation in the shape of a top bar comb and hot gluing it into place and then painting with wax to encourage comb building on the plastic cell. One established straight I would phase out the top bars with foundation
    That's what I did when that first hive messed up. I took whole sheets of plastic foundation and made some baffle type top bars from them. Then I used these to block their path, so to speak, until I could get in and fix it. On the plastic foundation will be the last place they'll build comb. They'll build in front of it, behind it, around it, then when mine run out of room they'll start working on the plastic.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    This is what Wyatt Mangum does. He puts a groove in the bar and then uses melted wax to attach it. He has made a jig to setup a series of bars and pour the melted wax down 8 or 10 or so at a time.

    I have considered making a bar with a split wedge. There would be a fixed wedge on the bar and then you would attach the other half with nails or staples. Then you could just wedge the strip in place. You could do this by using a router to route away half of the wedge.

    The thing I don't like about using a starter strip is that as soon as you attach the starter strip you have to be careful with the bars. And if you drop them you can pretty much bet the strip will be knocked off.
    That's why I used the plastic foundation, it's hard. Then I just used Titebond II to glue them in. Now if I can get my lazyself to put a rabbet cut on the ends of my top bars they'll actually fit into a Lang box if needed. Waxing stuff is hard. It took what seemed like forever to just fill the kerfs in my bars last year.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Steven O; Your post fits my plan to move my TBH comb into a Lang deep. Screw an extender to each end of a top bar so it will fit into the lang then move all the frames. Shortly after I will burn and bury all parts of the TBH.
    Also I had planned to try Titebond glue on 2" wax strips as satrter strips, I have been tacking them in. I also use tongue depressors for starter strips. Without alternating comb or foundation filled frames my bees pull wax to wide. Sometimes me and the bees seem to be working at cross purposes!
    After this move to the Lang over time I will work out all the modified TBH frames.
    Also; It will be easy for me to wax dip (my own wax) and dry the depressors before gluing them into a frame!!!
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Falls Church, Va
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Here's the easiest method I've found. Simply melt some wax block into a grove with a torch (be careful) and stick a strip of foundation in there. The wax will drip/pour nicely off of a bottom corner. You can't be timid about this because the wax will cool and harden. Just fill the groove reasonably quickly and it'll stay soft enough to join with the foundation. I've never had cross comb and the only annoyance is if I make them too short (more than an inch from the side) because they'll start to curve the ends.

    Stuart

    melting wax.jpginstalling foundation.jpg
    Last edited by Stuart; 11-12-2012 at 05:12 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    The foundation starter strips as Stuart presents have always giving me a 100% success rated. The curving of comb at the ends can be avoided by using foundation strips with a greater depth running it the full length of the bars with no more than a bee space between the foundation strip ends and hive wall. The curving is caused due to the extension of cell walls for honey storage and having no barrier comb to regulate the extra cell wall length that is built causing the bees to curve the next comb built to curve around it maintaining the bee space. Starting out fresh without a supply of combs I feel this is the way to go especially for beginners with no natural comb experience.
    The top two inches of comb construction is, mostly at the comb ends, where this takes place.
    Once there are several well built straight combs in the hive most any of the guides are suitable.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Columbia, Maryland. U.S.A.
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    I tried many different versions this season. A few observations:
    - grooves in TB's make perfect SHB hiding spot. Make sure they are filled all the way to end.
    - B's seem to like tunnels through comb just under TB. If you use plastic, leave a few spots for them to do this. I assume this facilitates winter migration when comb edges are cold.
    -Comb attachment to waxed TB's was weak, rough cut surface helped.
    -Comb build up from TB's slower than from foundation. Giving SHB, varroa, ect. more time w/ weaker hive.

    Next year I will try needle point backing, stretched canvas, and 1/2" hardware cloth for TB foundation in attempt to speed build up and support larger(3-4')comb.

    Cheers,
    Drew

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,429

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    3-4'? That,s huge!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    I followed Michael Bush's method and have gotten super fast and straight combs this year. I just pop off the wedge with my fingers, clean up the edge if needed, invert it vertically and use a staple gun to drive 3 1/4" staples to affix the wedge to the frame and done. Super fast and the bees take to it wonderfully!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart View Post
    Here's the easiest method I've found. Simply melt some wax block into a grove with a torch (be careful) and stick a strip of foundation in there. The wax will drip/pour nicely off of a bottom corner. You can't be timid about this because the wax will cool and harden. Just fill the groove reasonably quickly and it'll stay soft enough to join with the foundation. I've never had cross comb and the only annoyance is if I make them too short (more than an inch from the side) because they'll start to curve the ends.Stuart

    melting wax.jpginstalling foundation.jpg
    That's what I do but, with plastic and glue.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Quakertown, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: foundation starter comb

    Linda's method is very good, but I just use regular glue in my slot to hold the foundation strip and it does not bother the bees. I have used it for 2 years. I just put a very small bead in the slot and always leave a strip on the top bar when I cut off the honeycomb. Some people may not like my method, but ti works with no side effects.

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