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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Lincoln County, Maine, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    I am in the process of switching my overwintered hive from foundation to foundationless. About three weeks ago, I took the bottom box off the brood chamber and put a new eight frame box on top, with six empty frames (wedge frames with wedge nailed on edge) and two frames of extracted comb from last year's super. I positioned the combs in the box as follows: EECEECEE, with the E's being the empty frames and the C's being the two combs.

    Three days later, I peeked in the hive and found lots of workers in the old super comb (cleaning out leftover honey, presumably) but no drawn comb in the empty frames. A week ago, they had cleaned the old comb, but still hadn't drawn out any comb in the empty frames. At that point, thinking that the nectar flow might still be a bit light, I put a baggie feeder of 2:1 syrup on top of the frames in the top box.

    I just peeked in the hive again, and found that they still haven't started drawing out comb. I am in Maine. The maples have been flowering for a little while, the dandelions just started blooming in earnest in the last day or so, and the bees are definitely bringing in pollen. It is, however, still down in the 30s at night here. But I worry that they are not yet in the upper box.

    So the question is: Am I just being impatient? Should I wait a week and check again, or should I do a proper inspection now? If so, is there anything in particular that I am looking for, in addition to a general inspection?

    Many thanks,
    mainubeek

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,802

    Default Re: Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    me thinks you are being impatient - the bees will move into the box and start to draw comb when they feel a need to - not before. I am a bit North of you but just got into some colonies for the first time in the last week. don't be in too much of a rush.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,325

    Default Re: Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    I use many foundationless frames, medium (with and without horizontal support wires), and some deeps (all with horizontal support wires). When I'm adding another super, especially if using foundationless frames, I first wait until the bees have brooded up and then began to bring in so much nectar/pollen that the combs begin to be rapidly filled. Then I place some of the new frames between combs of brood, moving combs that are full of honey/pollen, up, into the new super. I try to always have new foundationless frames placed between finished combs, or at least where combs are well begun.

    Otherwise the bees will more often build their combs without regard to comb guides, or where we beekeepers would prefer them.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,402

    Default Re: Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    joseph, how many horizontal support wires to you put in your deep foundationless frames?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Lincoln County, Maine, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    Thanks, everyone. Will wait a little while...

    I put the two frames of drawn comb in the upper box to serve as guides. Not enough? I could put two more in, and then the foundationless frames would alternate with comb.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,325

    Default Re: Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    joseph, how many horizontal support wires to you put in your deep foundationless frames?
    Three. I build my own wooden frames with End Bars that have three wire holes. I never liked where the four holes were on commercial frames, and using the center two was a compromise. I like where I have my three.

    I'm not sure the image, below, is small enough for the forum. If it isn't it can be reduced to a link.

    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    Three. I build my own wooden frames with End Bars that have three wire holes. I never liked where the four holes were on commercial frames, and using the center two was a compromise. I like where I have my three.

    I'm not sure the image, below, is small enough for the forum. If it isn't it can be reduced to a link.
    Joseph, that hole placement does look better than using the two center holes of a commercial frame, which is what I'm having to do. I'm curious as to why you don't have your comb guides come to a sharp edge. From what I've read, that sharp edge is optimal. On my foundationless frames, I used comb guides with triangular cross sections, and even the package I installed on empty frames is drawing straight comb.

    I like that you have comb guides on your bottom bar as well. Does this help the bees to attach the comb better at the bottom? I've noticed that mine are not usually attaching comb at the bottom, no matter how nicely they fill the frame.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,264

    Default Re: Bees not moving into foundationless upper brood chamber

    We are new beeks. We built the hives and the frames. In some of the hives the frames have no foundation. We have experimented with various guides...paper, wood, beeswax/foundation strip. The bees use them all

    We have not put any wires across the frames of the deeps. These are not frames we will harvest honey from.
    If we get ample honey we will harvest from medium supers. The mediums have no wires either.

    Is having no wires going to be an issue in the deep brood frames?...in the honey medium supers?

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