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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Norwood, Colorado
    Posts
    20

    Exclamation Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    Hey friends!

    First post so go easy on me. This is the first year for me as a beekeeper. I have two langstroth hives. I use 8 frame mediums exclusively. (I figured it would be easier to not have differing equipment) Since starting I have the pierce black plastic frames in my bottom box, second box has regular frames with bought wired foundation.

    here is my problem:
    my third box has frames with a groove in the top and popsicle sticks glued in the groves. The bees love it, however they are building large comb and putting DRONES in them.

    What should I do? Will the bees keep making drones or will they make only as much as they need? Should I kill off the drone cells?

    Thanks guys and gals!

    As a side note with 8 frame mediums how many boxes would be my brood chamber. THANKS!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Bledsoe County, TN, USA
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    Welcome!
    It sounds like you are doing great! I would leave the drone cells. They are a necessary part of reproduction.
    Let's wait for the experts on the number of boxes question, but I would recommend always keeping some empty space at the top.
    If that means another box then that is great. Let the queen have free run of the place too. No queen excluders.
    Good luck!
    Cumberland Plateau, 2300 Feet, East Central Tennessee

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland, MI
    Posts
    577

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    bees will build drone comb as needed. some folks don't care. I just let the bees do as they see ift. they will end up filling those large cells with honey when they are done raising drones. I have found that my bees prefer foundationless over both wax and plastic foundation, so thats all i use now. Every one in a while they draw some funky combs, but it's fairly easily corrected by pushing on it, or by cutting it out completely.

    A lot of beekeepers have differing ideas on how much space you need in the brood box, and I"m sure they are all correct or their location and climate. I would guess you'd want at least three boxes for the brood nest, possible 4. There really isn't a right answer for you here. I don't use queen excluders in normal hive operation, so the queen can pretty much lay wherever she sees fit to do so. when you keep stacking boxes and you find them filled with nothing but honey, you'll know you have a large enough brood nest

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    852

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    Yup, the lazy bees build big cells on foundationless. This is a chronic problem. After the solstice, the hive numbers will drop substantially, and the bees will begin backfilling the drone cells with honey.

    The issue with these big-cell honey storage frames is you must keep them out of the core brood-nest, and this necessity to grade and sort frames eliminates any advantage to "mediums interchangeability".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
    Posts
    426

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    Leave the drones alone . The bees like a certain population of drones, elimination won't solve the issue they'll just keep building more. Drones aren't the curse most like to think. When using foundationless frames that allows the bees to build what they need, when using foundation it reduces their options as to what they can build. You can use the frames of drone to help monitor for varroa. Once they are satisfied with the drone population they will use it for storage. I'm sure others that don't like drones will chime in. I run all foundationless and that's my experience.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,212

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    As long as there are bees, they will raise drones.

    Levin, C.G. and C.H. Collison. 1991. The production and distribution of drone comb and brood in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies as affected by freedom in comb construction. BeeScience 1: 203-211.

    They have a threshold of what they want for drone comb and depriving them of it leads to all sorts of minor problems like brood in the supers and burr between the boxes. In the end they will raise the number of drones they want regardless of what you do.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    North Salem, IN, USA
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    I am a foundationless beekeeper and this year experienced a problem with drone comb. If you reuse your comb be sure that you don't end up stocking a hive body with too much drone comb (especially in the middle frames). This ends up depriving the queen of worker cells and she will end up leaving or become honey bound if the drone cells get used for honey storage. I ended up taking a sharpie and marking the drone frames with a big "D" to keep better track of them. I didn't pay much attention before this year and had a package swarm on me when they were only in a single deep. The deep on that hive was almost 50% drone sized cells.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,212

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    >The issue with these big-cell honey storage frames is you must keep them out of the core brood-nest, and this necessity to grade and sort frames eliminates any advantage to "mediums interchangeability".

    I have no idea why you say that. I agree that the drone combs should be moved to the outside edges of the box. But I don't go around sorting combs. If I'm in the box or if I'm setting up a box, I put the drone on the outside, but it is never any extra effort whatsoever. It is merely a decision where in the box to put the comb that is in my hand. I have to decide where to put the comb in my hand and if it's drone comb, that is the outside edge. I have never gone through combs merely for the purpose of sorting them and I never go find another box to put it in. I have never culled them unless they had other issues like wavy comb that didn't fit well in the frame or some other issues that have nothing directly to do with it being drone comb.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Bledsoe County, TN, USA
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    I like foundationless because the bees get the privilege of deciding. I do like the idea of a starter strip or Mr. Bushes tip to turn the wedge strip sideways as a starter strip. I learned real quick to level my hives better though. LOL Plus, I strain the honey so that my wife can make candles. Eventually I would like to sell all of the plastic foundation that I still have, but we are not there yet.
    Cumberland Plateau, 2300 Feet, East Central Tennessee

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
    Posts
    142

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    Don't sweat the small stuff. As others have said the bees will raise so many drones then just backfill the comb with honey. They will balance their population and if we play with it too much there will be problems.
    Cheers
    Rob

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    580

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmcpb View Post
    Don't sweat the small stuff. As others have said the bees will raise so many drones then just backfill the comb with honey. They will balance their population and if we play with it too much there will be problems.
    I agree with rmcpb. I started last year with foundationless, and at times am puzzled and disappointed that Drone comb is the bees choice. But leaving them alone is the best course. They work things out eventually.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Missoula, Montana, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Foundationless frames Drone Problem?

    It makes me wonder if the constant desire to not raise drones has contributed to the current bee population problem. I'm sure there are other factors involved, but with everyone using foundation and dictating what the bees make, and then cutting out drone comb, could it be hurting the genetic health of the overall bee population? I don't know much yet, but I would side with everyone else who says that we should let the bees decide what they raise and when. Could letting them raise drones really cause your overall honey crop to suffer enough to notice?

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