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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Rockford, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Starting a package foundationless.

    IMG_2139.jpgIMG_2159.jpgIMG_2161.jpg

    Hi,
    I'm a new beekeeper that has been lurking and absorbing all of the relevant info I can. I decided to start two hives (one Italians, one Carniolans) with medium supers and nine frames (shaved them down to fit in the 8 frame super per M. Bush's recommendations).

    I also decided to go foundationless. I had a little trepidation as it seemed unusual dumping the packages into an empty box with just frames. However I went for it - including releasing the queens directly (no candy plug option on the supplied cages - so the decision was easy). I opened the end of the queen cage, put my finger over the opening and set it on the bottom of the hive, released and then replaced the frames above.
    I don't believe the queens have flown away (I did retrieve the cages three days later). After two weeks the frames are largely filled with comb, honey, pollen, and I believe brood (I haven't pulled out every frame for inspection).

    When I was considering all this, I was eager for any information about starting packages foundationless and didn't find too much. So if anyone else is considering doing the same - so far it's worked well for me.

    Bill in Rockford, MI

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    1,377

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Glad your having a good time with it. I would straighten out the comb in the second photo while its still soft. I have learned the hard way that the longer you let them go a little crooked the worse it gets. As Michael Bush says, one good comb leads to another.

    Best of luck,
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Rockford, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Quote Originally Posted by zhiv9 View Post
    Glad your having a good time with it. I would straighten out the comb in the second photo while its still soft. I have learned the hard way that the longer you let them go a little crooked the worse it gets. As Michael Bush says, one good comb leads to another.

    Best of luck,
    Thanks Adam.
    I was a little torn about straightening the comb. It is still malleable enough for me to shape - but when I press the one side in to straighten - the opposing side then also protrudes too much. It seems like I have to crush both sides for better alignment (across all of the frames - since the wave carries through the super). My rationalization for leaving it was this is the brood box - I don't plan on extracting honey from here - does it need to be straight? I can still pull the frames - it would just be more difficult to swap out a different frame.

    Wishful thinking?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sullivan, MO
    Posts
    917

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    I would recommend doing what you can to get it straightened out early on. Even though it's in the brood nest you still want those combs as near to centered on the frame as you can get them. Take a look at my video on youtube about foundationless frames you might see a thing or 2 that might help (link to my channel in my signature). As you get a little further along and the bees start having capped brood that looks as though it's about to emerge, that's where I would put another foundationless frame (between 2 frames of capped brood). Feel free to PM with any questions or thru this thread I've been foundationless for 9 years.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Rockford, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    I would recommend doing what you can to get it straightened out early on. Even though it's in the brood nest you still want those combs as near to centered on the frame as you can get them. Take a look at my video on youtube about foundationless frames you might see a thing or 2 that might help (link to my channel in my signature). As you get a little further along and the bees start having capped brood that looks as though it's about to emerge, that's where I would put another foundationless frame (between 2 frames of capped brood). Feel free to PM with any questions or thru this thread I've been foundationless for 9 years.
    Thanks for the advice. I'll take a look at your videos.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    7

    Thumbs Up Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Quote Originally Posted by urbanrocket View Post
    IMG_2139.jpgIMG_2159.jpgIMG_2161.jpg

    Hi,
    I'm a new beekeeper that has been lurking and absorbing all of the relevant info I can. I decided to start two hives (one Italians, one Carniolans) with medium supers and nine frames (shaved them down to fit in the 8 frame super per M. Bush's recommendations).

    I also decided to go foundationless. I had a little trepidation as it seemed unusual dumping the packages into an empty box with just frames. However I went for it - including releasing the queens directly (no candy plug option on the supplied cages - so the decision was easy). I opened the end of the queen cage, put my finger over the opening and set it on the bottom of the hive, released and then replaced the frames above.
    I don't believe the queens have flown away (I did retrieve the cages three days later). After two weeks the frames are largely filled with comb, honey, pollen, and I believe brood (I haven't pulled out every frame for inspection).

    When I was considering all this, I was eager for any information about starting packages foundationless and didn't find too much. So if anyone else is considering doing the same - so far it's worked well for me.

    Bill in Rockford, MI
    Old thread, I know but THANK YOU! I'm starting my two hives this spring and I'm really wanting to go foundationless given M. Bush's findings on cell size and mite control. I was terrified of just dumping a package of bees in a box of empty frames and freely releasing the queen...seems like everything I've read tells you to do exactly the opposite! I'm still terrified they'll abscond from the hive as I've given them little incentive to stay?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    51,077

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    In all beekeeping it's best to stack the deck as much as you can. Bees, in the end, do whatever they want, but they tend to follow certain behaviors. If you are concerned about absconding, four drops of lemongrass oil in a new hive will help. In an old used box it won't matter but with new wood it will improve your odds. Anytime you can get a drawn comb it's a good idea to use it. One drawn comb in the middle of box ups the odds of them not absconding and the odds of straight comb. But if you can't get one, the bees usually follow the guides. Keep an eye on a newly installed package (even if they are not foundationless) and fix things that get off right away. If the frame isn't in the frame or spans two frames, cut it and rubber band it straight. One good comb leads to another.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Rockford, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycollett View Post
    Old thread, I know but THANK YOU! I'm starting my two hives this spring and I'm really wanting to go foundationless given M. Bush's findings on cell size and mite control. I was terrified of just dumping a package of bees in a box of empty frames and freely releasing the queen...seems like everything I've read tells you to do exactly the opposite! I'm still terrified they'll abscond from the hive as I've given them little incentive to stay?
    I've had a couple years experience since writing the first post. Foundationless was pretty trying initially. I did need to cut crazy comb and rubber band it back together. At times I was cutting/disrupting brood (which made me feel terrible). Now when adding a new super, I use some small cell foundation on frames interspersed with the foundationless to reduce the wide open areas (and limit the chaos if bees want to build differently). My collection of straight comb is increasing which will reduce the need for foundation in the future. Good Luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
    Posts
    956

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Years,years,years and more years ago when I was young and a newbee I bought 6 packages of bees and was told by that bee
    keeper to pull the plug and put in the queen cage.I did and when at the last one I noticed a swarm of bees going buy.Then there went another one.Well then I noticed where they were coming from.4 out of 6 of those headed out on their own! Newbees dont direct release or you can be seeing the same things.3 or even 4 days on a slow release hurts nothing plus its good insurance that your bees will stay.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    51,077

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    >...3 or even 4 days on a slow release hurts nothing

    If you are doing foundationless, it hurts everything...

    A few drops of lemongrass essential oil hurts nothing... I have seen no difference in the percentage of bees leaving whether I confine the queen or not. They just leave her behind. But the difference in messed up comb is huge in a foundationless hive.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Funny, I was going to respond to you Michael and ask if you would suggest for someone who was going to start off life as a bee keeper using no foundation if they should direct release the queen. I've been reading and watching your videos online, I know everyone has a different opinion but I wanted to know what yours was. I think you answered my question above. Your experience is no significant difference in bees leaving if you follow your suggestion of lemongrass oil? Do you use the lemongrass essential oil alone or in some mix like honey-bee-healthy spray? I really do respect your opinion and experience which is why I ask, I know you probably get bombarded with new guys asking the same stuff...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    51,077

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    I would not use HBH. It is just lemongrass oil with peppermint (one of those mints) and an emulsifier. Just use the lemongrass oil. I have not had the same luck using HBH as lemongrass oil. Four drops of Lemongrass essential oil is sufficient to keep bees there, if anything is going to work. More may drive them off. If you have an old box that smells like bees, or old comb, the lemongrass oil is completely unnecessary. The problem in recent years is poorly mated queens. Often the bees move in with the newly installed package next door and abandon the queen whether she is or is not in a cage. I don't know how much the lemongrass oil will help with this. Maybe a little, but probably not all that much... but it does help with the smell of new wood as opposed to the smell of a well used hive.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    urbanrocket,

    How do you personally alter the frames to get 9 in an 8 frame? I tried to look around and see if anyone sold them but it seems like it would be fairly easy to alter existing wedge frames?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Liberty Hill, Texas
    Posts
    329

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Back when I was figuring out how to do my first removal of bees, I did a lot of youtube video watching. The only thing that sticks with me is J.T. a guy I talked to on the phone for a few lengthy times is that bees will live in anything. Bees however put in something and making them stay is a complete gamble. J.T. does bee removals here in Central Texas. He told me that locking bees in for 48 hours he's found bees to stay put, where as if you release them under that time they tend to leave. Since doing that he's not had a lost swarm.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
    Posts
    956

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    I have found the same thing.After a quick release and 4 out of 6 leaving right off says a lot for doing a slow release.I have never lost a group of bees after a slow release.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
    Posts
    208

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    You might try installing a queen excluder under the bottom of the brood box in between the brood box and bottom board only long enough to verify the queen is actually laying. Once she is laying, she is likely to stay in that box. Do not leave the queen excluder on for longer than necessary as this will also trap the drones which will die trying to get through the excluder. You can speed this process up by installing one frame of drawn out comb for the queen and nurse bees to get started with.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Vernon, AZ. USA
    Posts
    534

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    You can still wire your frames, the horizontal type, and place a starter strip on your topbars. The bees just build right around the wire, but it is a nice reinforcer. And the starter strip will get them going in the proper direction. When built, it will be as strong as a plain wax foundationed frame. But the bees built it. Any new package should be fed, so if you do that, you can screen the entry for 36-48 hrs. Just like swarms, once they go to work, they stay better.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sullivan, MO
    Posts
    917

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Here's a direct link to my video on making and using foundationless frames: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38SPvuWvVkc

    and Here's a link to a short video on extracting foundationless frames: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL0JHTGuR04

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Kingsport, TN
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    Quote Originally Posted by jadebees View Post
    you can screen the entry for 36-48 hrs. Just like swarms, once they go to work, they stay better.
    This is interesting. You're saying to install the package and seal the bees in with wire to eliminate all flying for 36 to 48 hours? I'll be installing 4 packages into factory fresh hives in about 6 weeks (I'm new at this, last week I couldn't even spell bee) and I'm worried about them absconding. In fact, all of my equipment is on the back porch right now "airing out" hoping it will smell more like the backyard and less lumber-ish.

    I think I like the idea of installing the packages, loading the feeders up and locking the door for a couple days while they settle in. I don't like the idea of watching $420 worth of bees head for the hills...

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Joliet, il
    Posts
    1,192

    Default Re: Starting a package foundationless.

    A couple drops of lemongrass oil in the hive is a big helper to make them stay. Chances they will leave are slim. You really don't need to lock them up for days, they will start gathering pollen within a hr if you just let them be.

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