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  1. #41
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,341

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Foundationless frame beekeeping has been around from Huber's time (late 1700's) until the present with no actual gap. There has been much propaganda from the late 1800s until now on how much energy was wasted by not giving them foundation and how many less drones there would be. But it never really caught on big time until about the 1940s. All the people I know who were keeping bees in the 30's (depression times) were not buying foundation and most were not buying it before that. I would say there are more doing foundationless now than 40 years ago... but less than 100 years ago when everyone was foundationless.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Vernonia Or
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    87

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    There has been much propaganda from the late 1800s until now on how much energy was wasted by not giving them foundation and how many less drones there would be. But it never really caught on big time until about the 1940s. All the people I know who were keeping bees in the 30's (depression times) were not buying foundation and most were not buying it before that. I would say there are more doing foundationless now than 40 years ago... but less than 100 years ago when everyone was foundationless.
    What energy was claimed to be wasted? I keep reading that honeybees work up comb slower on foundation than without. Have the merits of foundation been reduced to easing extraction problems and less wild comb or are there other merits for foundation?

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Pinal, AZ, USA
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    34

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    This question always seems to make for a great read. Its kinda like asking what pen is best; Blue, black, or red. Gel or Ink. Ballpoint or felt. Why not a pencil, wooden or mechanical?
    Read through this thread again replacing frames with pen and the different choices of each.

    My answer is simple to both frames and pen type. What ever you like as long as it works. Personally I prefer foundationless, but start a hive with plastic and rotate to foundationless and a green gel pen with a comfort grip.

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Vernonia Or
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    87

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by sergie View Post
    What ever you like as long as it works.
    You qualified your answer though with "as long as it works." I think everyone knows everything works - I just like squeezing out details of the whys and what fors of what seems to work "best."
    Last edited by Joel_T; 03-28-2013 at 12:02 PM.

  5. #45
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    >What energy was claimed to be wasted?

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesharvest.htm#expenseofwax

    "The opinion of experts once was that the production of beeswax in a colony required great quantities of nectar which, since it was turned into wax, would never be turned into honey. Until quite recently it was thought that bees could store seven pounds of honey for every pound of beeswax that they needed to manufacture for the construction of their combs--a figure which seems never to have been given any scientific basis, and which is in any case quite certainly wrong. The widespread view that if the combs were used over and over, through the use of the honey extractor, then the bees would be saved the trouble of building them and could convert the nectar thus saved into honey, was only minimally correct. A strong colony of bees will make almost as much comb honey as extracted honey on a strong honey flow. The advantage of the extractor, in increasing harvests, is that honey stored from minor flows, or gathered by the bees over many weeks of the summer, can easily be extracted, but comb honey cannot be easily produced under those conditions." --Richard Taylor, The Comb Honey Book.

    The argument was that every pound of wax you provided the bees in the form of foundation would make another seven pounds (or sometimes 12 pounds) of honey.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #46
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    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,256

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Foundationless frame beekeeping has been around from Huber's time (late 1700's) until the present with no actual gap. There has been much propaganda from the late 1800s until now on how much energy was wasted by not giving them foundation
    I've wondered about this. Is there really enough wax in a sheet of wax foundation to save the bees from making a major part of the wax needed to draw out a comb? And there's hardly any wax at all in a sheet of plastic foundation.

    Another thing I've wondered about is the variability of bees from hive to hive in drawing straight comb. According to many experts, some bees will draw cross comb even on foundation. My bees are drawing comb on my foundationless frames straight as an arrow, right down the center of my triangular guides. Is the ability to draw straight comb a genetic factor that hasn't been selected for since the general acceptance of foundation by most beekeepers?

  7. #47
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    Feb 2012
    Location
    Pinal, AZ, USA
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    34

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Yes I intentionally left my answer very open. Thats because the pro's and cons of each are still very open. For every study I've read supporting small cell I have seen just as many not supporting it. Same for plastic frames, foundation, etc. To my knowledge, no one has come up with any thing close to a definitive answer supported by tried and tested facts on this subject. Thus I cannot and will not tell anyone what I think the right or wrong choice is. I am willing to say my opinion but it is just that an opinion.

    I have decided to go foundationless for many reasons. One of witch is the long long tract record of it. Not only as Mr. Bush stated above but also the countless thousands of years bee's have been drawing their own comb. Is this the "Best" choice, I don't know, but to me it is the safest bet currently.

  8. #48
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    >I've wondered about this. Is there really enough wax in a sheet of wax foundation to save the bees from making a major part of the wax needed to draw out a comb?

    I think the real issue that gives more honey with DRAWN comb is not the wax, but the time. When the flow hits and there is somewhere to store the nectar the bees can make a lot of honey. When there is no where to store it, they have to draw comb first. They draw the foundationless faster, no matter what formula you come up with on the conversion of nectar to wax. I think they will make LESS honey with foundation than with foundationless, but I think it's obvious, to anyone who has done it, that they make more honey on drawn comb than when they have to draw comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #49
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,256

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    That makes sense, but as I understand it, foundationless can be extracted and the comb reused. So, given that, why is foundation such a great advancement over foundationless, as long as the frames are extractable?

    I'm probably totally wrong about this, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe foundation was a fad that got out of hand.

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Vernonia Or
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    So, to sneak a question in....I've got 3 std cell bee packages to install in 8 frame deeps, and a 50/50 mix of small cell wax foundation in wood frames and open wired wood frames for foundationless. What's a good mix for a new hive setup?

  11. #51
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    920

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel_T View Post
    You qualified your answer though with "as long as it works." I think everyone knows everything works - I just like squeezing out details of the whys and what fors of what seems to work "best."
    Ah, but that's the "rub", isn't it? What works "best" for one person doesn't necessarily work "best" for another. We all have different skills and ability levels, so (sadly perhaps) we each need to do our own experimenting to see what works "best" for us. Sometimes we collect new ideas from each other that we would not have thought of on our own. And sometimes those ideas turn out to be wildly helpful for us too--but sometimes not! Sometimes they cause the biggest messes we've ever made!

    JMO

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  12. #52
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia USA
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    99

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    Isn't there an inherent and fairly obvious problem with taking a bunch of unrelated large-cell bees and dumping them on small cell foundation or plastic comb, considering that this must be a stressful situation for the bees, trying to make that adaptation and survive the mites at the same time? I would be far more interested in survival rates after, say, 2 or 3 years.
    I believe that the small cell hives in her study were started with small cell bees. I agree that a year would have been great but I can see how that would be expensive to do.

  13. #53
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    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,256

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Williamson View Post
    I believe that the small cell hives in her study were started with small cell bees. I agree that a year would have been great but I can see how that would be expensive to do.
    Ryan, this is a quote from the article by the scientist who conducted the experiment:

    Bees were collected from a variety of existing colonies (irrespective of rearing history) and combined in large cages to achieve a homogeneous mixture of bees and Varroa mites.
    I can't say I understand the thinking behind this protocol, because they used comb drawn by small cell bees in the small cell hives, but then chose to use "a homogenous mixture" of bees in the study itself. I don't understand how using small cell bees in small cell comb and large cell bees in large cell comb would have invalidated the results.

    The only thing that occurs to me is that perhaps the small cell bees had a lower mite load to begin with, so they didn't think it would be fair to not start with equal mite loads. But I didn't see anything about the initial mite loads of the small cell and large cells bees.

  14. #54
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Miami, FL
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Even if you give them small cell, they are going to have a tendency to draw whatever comb they want to. I have bees that have drawn all size cells. I am about to ditch the whole foundation gig and go with starter strips. Some say this isn't a good idea because you set them back... but my response is two way. 1) I am not in this for honey production 2) I just removed some feral bees today that was about as old as a nuc I purchased a few months ago. The feral hive is 3-4x the size of my current hive. The nuc was provided foundation and feeding. The feral was just a swarm.

  15. #55
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    967

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel_T View Post
    So, to sneak a question in....I've got 3 std cell bee packages to install in 8 frame deeps, and a 50/50 mix of small cell wax foundation in wood frames and open wired wood frames for foundationless. What's a good mix for a new hive setup?
    If it were me, I'd start by putting foundation in all of the frames I give them, That way, all of the comb will be nice and straight, and it will minimize the fat or wavy comb face that often happens with unguided foundationless. (Wavy comb faces will cause you to "roll" bees when they slide against the comb next to it as you pull the first frame).

    Once you've got those, put a foundationless frame on each side of the brood frames, btw it and the honey frames that are on the outside edge fo the brood nest.
    They'll draw the foundationless out very straight this way.

    Every time you've got a the foundationless frames filled, or nearly so, move two frames of sealed brood up to the second box, centered over the brood below it, slide the brood frames together (with you new fndnless with them) and put two more fndnless frames btw the brood frames the the stores frames.

    If there's no flow, feed 1:1 syrup, as they'll need some fuel for wax making, and you're wise to leave them their honey stores to feed on during dearth when things get dry in July and August.

    Good news is with all of the clear cutting around Columbia county, and plenty of rainfall, there should be tons of forage in spring, so as long as there are plenty of flying days when they're not rained in, you should get your combs filled quickly during the flow.

    If your combs get full, be sure they have frames to draw... not only gets you drawn comb, but prevents swarming.

    Speaking of swarms, if are actually in are actually *in* Vernonia and you're putting traps out, a shady spot in a tree near the river where it bends down at the end of Weed Ave is probabaly a good spot.

  16. #56
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Vernonia Or
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Few NewYorkers have ever heard of Vernowhere much less have any idea that the Nehalem wraps close to the end of Weed. You been here? We live about 4 miles south, off 47 in the sticks.

    And, thanks for the reply. We'll probably start 2 hives along those lines and a 3rd with a 50/50 mix from the start.

  17. #57
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    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,256

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    (Wavy comb faces will cause you to "roll" bees when they slide against the comb next to it as you pull the first frame).
    That's one of the reasons I like my new long hive, and why I'm building another this morning. No risk of rolling bees for this beginner. I just move the follower back a bit, then pry the frames apart and move them down to get extra room between them. Of course, so far, my foundationless combs are straighter than the old foundation combs that came with the nuc I installed. But I guess that can't last.

  18. #58
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Porto, Portugal
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    Of course, so far, my foundationless combs are straighter than the old foundation combs that came with the nuc I installed. But I guess that can't last.
    That will probably depend on the bees. I've been transitioning my initial hive to foundationless and so far every empty frame I've put in has been drawn with perfectly straight comb, be it between drawn frames or in an empty box. The initial foundation the hive had has sometimes been poorly drawn because by the time they got to it the foundation was wavy or saggy from getting too much heat in the early summer. That was definitely my fault for not managing space properly. At least for this beginner foundationless removes one source of error.

    From what I've read in this forum not all bees are as good about building straight comb by themselves. I knew these one could since I made a rookie mistake of leaving a super without frames on the top of the hive and when the swarm moved in they ignored the foundation in the bottom boxes (yes I had three boxes in total for a swarm trap...) and just built very straight parallel combs glued to the inner cover. I spent all of last season moving the hive down into frames and fixing that mess but by then I knew they were great about drawing their own comb.

  19. #59
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    967

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Joel T,
    I've been to Vernonia a time or two.
    My Dad's family homesteaded on Elk Creek Rd off old hwy 30 between Rainier and Delena 70 years ago. I spent all my summers there as a kid.
    And I lived in Rainier area for a long time when I got out of the service... worked the Trojan Nuke plant for 10 years.

    So I know Columbia county real well, and am familiar with Vernonia..if i had a buck for every time I drove 47 I'd retire.

  20. #60
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Polk County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    I think this is my 4th year with bees and I am still trying to figure out what works and doesn't work for me. Foundationless is not for me. Entirely too much drone comb to contend with. Some of my hives are all mediums (something else I'm getting away from) and I had moved the majority of drone comb to the top boxes last fall for the bees to backfill for the fall flow. This spring when the bees were clustered in the top and should have been rearing worker brood, I had frames full of drones as that's the cell size she had to lay in. In order to get really good brood cells drawn its absolutely necessary to place the foundation less frame between capped brood frames and even then it's a crap shoot. Personally, I think it's either spend a little time now to insert foundation into a frame, or spend a lot of time later on frame manipulations to monitor drone comb.

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