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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Hailey, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Hi everyone, I am a total newbee and am feeling overwhelmed at starting beekeeping. I want to go about this as naturally as possible and one place I am not sure how to proceed on is what frames to buy, or really how they might need to be adjusted to work best for me. I want to do foundationless frames with all medium supers, but I read threads saying they need to be adjusted to 1 1/4 wide-and some other opinions. Can someone simplify what the best way for me is to do this?
    Thanks so much for the help!!
    Chrissi Hailey, Idaho

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,694

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Welcome to Beesource!

    There really aren't fixed answers to the "best" choice.

    You will get a bunch of conflicting opinions, and will still have to make the choice among those. If you want to have a foundationless hive, you don't need to have 1.25" frames. You certainly can choose to do that, but it is not required just because you choose no foundation.

    You may find Michael Bush's foundationless page useful:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm

    If you do go foundationless, be sure to consider an appropriate comb guide.
    Graham
    --- Victor Hugo - "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Hailey, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    15

    Smile Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Thanks for your reply! I figured it couldn't be that simple right? I saw that Kellybees.com has foudationless frames-can I just leave them at the width that they are and be successful? If I get a comb guide what comb guide will be natural cell size, 4.9? Then of course there are regular frames with the 4.9 cell size in it? Oh I just don't know enough to know how to decide! Ugh.
    Chrissi

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,694

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Read the page I linked above, and especially the part about comb guides. If you choose foundationless, that is not quite the same thing as using 4.9 foundation.

    Get some bees, using whatever choices of foundation/or not, in a box. Then, as you gain experience, that choice is relatively east to adjust over time. The more difficult choice to change after the fact is box size.
    Graham
    --- Victor Hugo - "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Hailey, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    OK thanks-you know I have actually read that page several times and I am guessing that because I am inexperienced I don't quite understand it fully. I will give it a go again!
    Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Auburntown, TN USA
    Posts
    227

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    If you're interested in going small cell or natural cell, I would recommend buying 10 of Mann Lake's PF series all in one frames. They are 4.9 and bees draw them out readily. Also buy some wedge top bar frames and use the wedge as a comb guide.

    Fill your first brood box with the PF frames.

    After your bees have drawn out the PF frames, add your second box with the foundationless frames. Pull 2 drawn frames and put them in the middle of the new box with a foundationless frame between. Put 2 foundationless frames in the bottom box where you pulled the drawn frames. Try to keep foundationless frames between or next to drawn frames. Correct problems with comb quickly. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Hailey, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Thanks for this idea! Sounds good!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    940

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Since you have not made a purchase, maybe you should also look int top bar/Kenyan hives? Might work well for your thoughts on foundationless comb. Personally I use eleven 1 1/4" frames in a standard Langstroth hive. I like the black plastic wax coated foundation. It makes it easier to see eggs in the bottom of the cells. Just another ropinion.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Hailey, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    I was told those are better for warmer climates? I am in zone 4 which can get down to -10 in the Winter, will they work here?
    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    940

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    I dunno. I was looking at the top bar forum and they have them in north dakota, wyoming and michigan. If you think you would be interested youcould check out their specific forum. Top bar claims to be one of the most natural ways to go.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    940

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    I use the langstroth hives. Was just offering another option for you to explore while waiting for your new bees.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Quote Originally Posted by cbird View Post
    I was told those are better for warmer climates? I am in zone 4 which can get down to -10 in the Winter, will they work here?
    Thanks!
    Ive used the black PF frames, as well as foundationless and it gets awfully cold here in Ontario. Havent had a problem yet.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    North Berwick, Maine, USA
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    I'm going into my 3rd season with bees. I started off strictly foundationless (regular frames with flipped wedges). The comb was strong and straight. My only issue was they were only drawing out two thirds of the frame. They drew an arch much like you would see in a top bar hive. Last year I added some small cell foundation. They drew that out corner to corner. When placing a foundationless frame next to a frame that was drawn out corner to corner, they matched it and drew it beautifully. They use the comb next door as a guide. That being said, I don't like foundation and wont be using it again. Long story endless, having to do it all over again, I would get a handful of foundation and alternate that with foundationless for my first box or two and go foundationless from there. I would also read Michael Bush's website and get a local mentor pronto.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    705

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    I would start on foundation.

    Colonies started on foundationless tend to raise a lot of drone. This is a drag on a first year colony.

    Bee's will build honey storage cells on foundationless at the top of every frame and on the outer full frames of the brood.
    Unless you have an inventory of honey super boxes (and the knowledge on building honey crowns) to move this big comb into, you end up with an expanded broodnest with cells sized for drones.

    You will need to heavily feed a first year colony in Hailey, Idaho, and fed colonies build big cells to store the (artificial) bounty.

    Many years ago, I kept bees in Hailey and Stanley, but moved them to the Snake River plain in the winter. How will the Beaver Creek fire affect your forage? No rabbit-brush bloom this fall, but do you anticipate fire-following wildflowers.

    I would start on foundation because its simpler management, and your learning curve is going to steep. Easier to master skills when there are not a lot of other moving parts.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Hailey, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    So if I go with foundation what size cell do I want?
    I am starting to chicken out as this seems daunting, there is so much to learn and I don't have a local mentor-eek.
    Yes the fires were terrible and I was assuming they could still do OK here-maybe not??

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Lincoln, NE
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    I'm a newbee too. I decided to go with Kelley's comb guide frames and all medium boxes.

    I will be doing a few extra inspections right after I get my packages to make sure the bees are using the comb guides and to adjust any comb that doesn't line up with the frames.

    I thought about the Mann Lake plastic small cell (pf 140 I think). But when I read that bees sometimes draw plastic unevenly - in the extreme, a double-width comb next to an untouched one - I couldn't see an advantage over foundationless anymore.

    I hope you don't chicken out, I'm glad to hear of another 1st year beek who wants to be treatment free.
    Last edited by seaston; 01-22-2014 at 08:04 PM. Reason: Overstatement

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    cbird let me just say that the bees do not care one whit what equipment we use. Most of it is for our convenience anyway. Go with what you want. If you want natural and easy, just use foundationless. If you want to follow what Michael Bush does and go to 1 1/4 then you can, but you don't have to.

    There are so many options on all of this. Just pick a way. As you learn over the first year then you will start to find your way. The bees will teach you!

    I started with foundationless. If they had more or less drone than they needed, then I didn't know it. Who am I to tell them? They figured it out. What size cells did they make? The size they wanted. Did they put it in the right position? Yep! And I didn't have to figure it out for them. They are amazing like that.
    Last edited by bbrowncods; 01-22-2014 at 08:45 PM.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    705

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    CBird,

    Use google earth to draw a 1.5-2 mile radius about your apiary site. This is the effective foraging range of your hive (bees will fly farther but use up all the energy carrying the nectar).

    Fireweed (Epilobium sp.) should bloom in profusion on the north slopes and damp draws. This is a great summer nectar source. A good spring following fire is a wonder to behold, and next year will be even better. What you will be missing is the late fall rabbit brush to build winter stores.l Talk to keepers about how much winter honey is needed. When I was there (1978-9) we wintered in potato barns on the Snake River Plain. Not a bad approach -- two deeps did fine.

    Bees use Cottonwood (and Aspen) pollen for spring build up. If you are along the Wood River, there should be plenty of cottonwood.

    Find a alfalfa field in Bellevue or Picabo. Late alfalfa (where they let the flowers set for seed) is a great fall forage. Alfalfa cut too early is worthless.
    I ran alfalfa leafcutter bees (these are the long fence boards with hundreds of drilled holes you might see in the ranch land). Get a couple of "bee boards" -- its a great entry to all the alfalfa farmers, they know and love the alfalfa bees -- and they let you set up hives for honeybees as well.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Hailey, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    Thanks for these replies! I guess I just need to lighten up and give it a try...
    If I don't plan on treating my bees I should probably find some natural bees to start with right? So far I haven't found any to order so I will have to give it a try with bees that have been treated-hope they might still be strong enough to make it?
    Also most people say start with 2 hives...this seems like a lot for someone just learning-do most agree?
    Thanks so much for the help!
    Chrissi

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    705

    Default Re: Decisions on frames for a newbee

    The hobbyists I mentor, I insist they start with -three- hives. You **need** two hives -- its simple insurance and lets you learn and compare. Every summer manipulation you can imagine starts with the step: "1) take a frame of capped brood from your stronger hive"

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