Sorry to spark up an old debate, but I don't feel like I fully understand purchase options. Next year I hope to be keeping to beehives in april and I live in wisconsin.
There are many advantages in going foundationless, being lazy and not having to pay for foundation are two that appeal greatly to me. From what I have researched, Foundation is only a slightly faster build up than foundationless.
I think that plastic foundation is "catching up" however. Manufacturers such as mann lake recognize the movement among beekeepers of utilization of small cell and how it reduces pest issues. Ultimately, plastic is more expensive because, well, you don't buy foundationless.
I would like to hear the opinions of people who utilize small cell foundation- What advantages does it provide over foundationless?
Side story. I was hunting pheasant up north the other week and noticed three double deep beehives sitting on the edge of the field- next to a small vineyard. I had never been around bee hives or honey bees before, despite reading and already making up my mind about acquiring a hive or two.
I approached cautiously, despite my confidence from what I read, for all I knew honey bees were deadly and disliked people. On approaching the hives I noticed one of the bees floundering on the grass some 15 feet away from the hives. My heart beat faster, and in some part of my mind I wished that I was wearing a veil, the imagined sound of buzzing made me flinch slightly.
When I looked at it however, I simply felt sad. It reminded me of the bumble bees I saw as a child in my mothers garden. The bulbous eyes and non-aggressive look of the struggling insect immediately dispelled any thought in my mind about their aggressive nature. Despite knowing that this bee was likely meant to die I reached out and tried, unsuccessfully, to lift it and bring it closer to the hive. I gave up quickly, however, knowing I shouldn't interfere, and could likely be making matters worse if the bee was out of the hive on purpose, so I left it out to the cold winter elements.
Upon reaching the three hives I was stunned. They simply did not look like anything I had seen on the internet. The first one on the left had a large gash in its middle. I could see some bees trying to guard this entrance unsuccessfully, there was simply too much hole for them to make any successfully attempt. On top of that I knew that the hole would probably be disastrous when the snow came.
The second hive didn't appear much better to me. There were elder beetles and a few other insects crawling on the outside of the hive, and I couldn't see any presence of honey bees, even guards at the entrance. The third beehive didn't seem any better to me. A complete absence of life surrounded it.
After the hunt I returned to the owners and informed them of the large gash in the side of the hive. Hopefully something was done to fix the situation. Despite the odd first impression I had of honey bees, what I saw made me want to keep a few hives even more than before.
All in all an electric experience for me, I'd only read or seen youtube videos about honeybees, finally seeing them was altogether different for me.
Thats my beekeeping experience so far.