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Thread: Saving Money

  1. #1
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    Jun 2012
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    Default Saving Money

    Been thinking about going to frames with out foundation, just a starter strip. Did some reading on the subject, so the bees will draw out comb on it ,without any problems? Also thinking about making the frames too. How long does it take the comb to harden up so you can extract? Thanks

  2. #2
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    May 2011
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    Nashville, TN
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    I mix foundationless with small cell. If you just give them a box of starter strips they will probably draw comb every which way. Better to use a foundationless frame between 2 frames of foundation in the middle of the box, then they are more likely to keep them straight as they move toward the outside.
    I've had a couple of minor problems with extracting foundationless. They tend not to fully attach the comb to the bottom and sides of the frames--actually they tend to attach it in only one or two places, so it is very fragile for extracting. Also, the warmer the comb, the more liquid the honey and easier to extract. But the comb is also softer and easier to damage. The first month or two seems to be when the comb is most fragile. By fall it seems to have firmed up a lot.

    I don't know if you are talking about strips of foundation as starter strips, but that is how I did it first and they had a big tendency to melt before the bees started drawing them. I much prefer the wooden versions, as Michael Bush recommends:

    ". . . a simple clue like a beveled top bar or a strip of wax or wood or even a drawn comb on each side of an empty frame will work most of the time. You can just break out the wedge on a top bar, turn it sideways and glue and nail it on to make a guide. Or put Popsicle sticks or paint sticks in the groove. Or just cut out the old comb in a drawn wax comb and leave a row at the top or all the way around. The main thing is that there is an edge that protrudes, preferably at least 1/4". Waxing wood guides is not only not necessary but I don't recommend it. The wax you put on won't be attached as well as the bees will attach it.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2013
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    Midland, MI
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    I won't know how it works until the end of the year, but I used plastic foundation as a starter strip on my homemade frames. I bought a bunch of deep plastic foundation from ML and used as is in the deeps, but cut it down to fit my medium frames. This left me with a bunch of strips of "junk" foundation leftover. I just cut a kerf in the top bars of the frames and wedges the plastic foundation in as a starter strip. i secured it with 4 staples running across the top bar and through the foundation. I'm debating about running some monofilament in an "X" pattern in an attempt to stiffen these up for extracting. Since these foundationless frames are primarily in my swarm traps, i suspect that i'll not get a chance to test them this year, but i might sneak a few of these hybrid "foundationless" frames into the regular hives just to see what happens. It would be ncie to have the versatility to extract, or do cut comb, or crush/strain. Placed between regular frames with foundation, I'm sure the bees will draw them out fine, but I am curious about how well it will work in a swarm trap that i may not make it to until the bees have been in residence for a few months. If I'm lucky, it will work, and if not, I'll have a mess to cut out

  4. #4
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    Jun 2010
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    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    I do mostly PF's in my deeps and mostly foundationless in my mediums. No need for a starter strip. I just turn the wedge sideways and that is generally enough. I do run a bead of melted wax along the edge but that is not totally necessary. In the foundationless, you do want to pre-wire the frames for stablity during extracting. The bees will build around the wire just fine. I do cutouts so I do have some foundationless without wiring as a result of rubber-banding comb into frames.

    I enjoy the woodworking but not enough to even think about making my own frames, but that is just me. I know others like to do that to save the 75 cents or so.

    -js

  5. #5
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    Jun 2012
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    Thanks all for the input ,I just try it and see what happens.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    KC, MO, USA
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    I have found that if the bees don't start on the starter strips right away, they end up chewing then out.
    If your going to use them treat them like foundationless frames and put them between two nice drawn out frames. And between brood is even better, if you put the frames between uncapped honey frames they may decide to make the uncapped honey frames wider and not touch the new frame.

  7. #7
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    Apr 2003
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    Greenville, TX, USA
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    You absolutely can use all foundationless frames, it just requires you to keep on top of them and correct mistakes before they go too far. With a starter like the wedge, you won't generally have many problems. An occasional hive will get creative. My foundationless frames are now just wedge top frames with the wedge broken out and discarded. The resulting step on the top bar is sufficient to guide them.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2011
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    Foundation will result in full frames with very little unattached comb, and the comb will be more consistent and usually flatter.

    Bees given a box of empty frames may and may not build comb the way you want, and you MUST have the hive dead level side to side -- without foundation the bees hang in "festoons" to build comb and will completely ignore every part of the frame except the top bar while doing so. Needless to say, comb that connects the top of oen frame and the bottom of another is hard to deal with!

    If you do not have drawn comb, I recommend at least two sheets of foundation to start with. Once those are drawn, you can start putting empty frames between drawn ones and get good comb pretty quickly. Do, however, watch late in the season, as they will often draw out the comb on the drawn frames if they have honey in them and stop working the foundationless frame. I have a couple spots that need fixing from this -- easy enough to do, just cut off the part that sticks out. They don't do this in brood comb, just honey storage.

    They will draw comb much faster and "better" in the spring when the nectar flow is high and the hive is growing. Later in the year they will leave foundationless frames only partially drawn, which makes them fragile in comparison to wired foundation.

    Don't wait to fix bad comb, it will only get worse, not better!

    Peter

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    As mentioned you can start with all foundationless but you must stay on top of them, I hived a swarm in a nuc last year and they built beautiful straight comb about 3/4 the way down several frames then took a hard right for some reason. Ended up accidentally killing the queen during the clean up effort. So I usually do not get foundationless drawn this way but use the afore mentioned technique of placeing empty frames between either drawn ones or foundation.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  10. #10
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    Apr 2012
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    Arlee MT USA
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    I jumped right in with all foundation less last year and had very few problems. I used the wedge type frames with the wedge broken off and stapled on for a starter. In a couple of my hives some of the first comb they built was doubled up, two combs to one frame but it was easily fixed. If you don't have much time or are worried you can start with a couple of frames of foundation but if you like to play with your bees a little you can go all foundation less and just fix any problems as you encounter them. By the end of the summer most of my combs where fully attached on all four sides. Its highly advised that you use mediums instead of deeps when going foundationless.

    I also found that if you take a pocket knife and carve off the sharp edges on bottom corners of the top bar they seem less likely to use those as guides and more likely to use your center strip.

  11. #11
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    May 2012
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    Rockford, MI
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    I use plastic foundation for my honey supers and a mix for brood chambers.
    Honey extraction does not work well with foundationless. Just blows apart.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Granby, CT
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    The frame is the heart of the hive, it is not the place to save money.
    My experience with foundationless is limited to matting nucs,

    Gilman

  13. #13
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    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    I have found that if the bees don't start on the starter strips right away, they end up chewing then out.
    If your going to use them treat them like foundationless frames and put them between two nice drawn out frames. And between brood is even better, if you put the frames between uncapped honey frames they may decide to make the uncapped honey frames wider and not touch the new frame.

  14. #14
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    Apr 2003
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    Quote Originally Posted by thenance007 View Post
    If you just give them a box of starter strips they will probably draw comb every which way.
    Not in my experience. I usually give them a full box of foundationless frames with just a V on the top bar. I pull up one frame from below and they draw them just fine.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    I use plastic foundation for my honey supers and a mix for brood chambers.
    Honey extraction does not work well with foundationless. Just blows apart.
    Again, not in my experience. I extract medium foundationless all the time. Start slow and build up the RPMs. Michael Bush also extracts medium foundationless.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Saving Money

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    I use plastic foundation for my honey supers and a mix for brood chambers.
    Honey extraction does not work well with foundationless. Just blows apart.
    Did you wire those foundationless frames? That has helped me, especially with the deeps, though I don't do many foundationless deeps. (Most of my deeps are PF's or rubber-banded-in comb from cutouts.) -james

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