Foundation-less frames: my experience
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  1. #1
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    Default Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Last year I rehearsed in about 20 hives put only a small strip about 2 cm wax on top of the frames. My intention was that the bees build the comb with the size that they wanted . I had put these frames in the hive interchangeably with other already pulled . The frames was placed in February, at a time when queens have a good laying and often are prepared to swarm.

    I found the following :
    1 ) pulling the wax faster than the blade into frames with full wax ;
    2 ) The Queen began to lay eggs almost simultaneously with the pull wax ;
    3 ) pulled in too many cases drone cells .

    If point 1 ) and 2 ) I quite liked the point 3 ) led me to stop the experiment .

    I wonder if point 3 ) is normal in these conditions? What did I do wrong ? What should be done to that point 3 ) had not happened ?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    If I am understanding you correctly, the part that you found unacceptable was too much drone comb?

    JC

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Yes, exactly.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Dr. Clarence Collison researched the production of 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.

    I saw a presentation of his conclusions which basically were that the bees will find a way to raise the same number of drones no matter how much or how little drone comb there is. They will find a way to make enough drone comb and will use is until they have what they sense as the threshold for drones. They will also expend a lot of energy in the process. I let them make all the drone comb they want and all the drones they want.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Will drone comb will be forever drone comb, or after several cocoons becomes workers comb?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    >Will drone comb will be forever drone comb

    Yes.

    > or after several cocoons becomes workers comb?

    No. But if you put it on the outside edges it often becomes honey comb...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    I'd say not to over think it and let the bees do what the bees do. Hey! Dont put the male drones down too much! At least they dont sting you.
    3 hives/2 nucs

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    As I do not count those drones should not be very definitive in stating that, but I'm 99.9 % convinced those had more drones than in other hives where I did not this experience .

    This year one of these frames was on a hive with 6-7 frames of bees, and last week I noticed that this frame was full of drone comb and the other hives , strongest, hardly see drone comb.

    I think I may have placed these frames too early. Perhaps one month after the result had been different . Maybe this year try again a month later . In fact I would like that my bees were ever they decide, but not always the decisions they make are the best , from my point of view .

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    I have just recently switched to foundationless myself, the bees will AT FIRST draw a lot of drone comb. They are driven to have drones, and will jump at the chance to finally raise them. Once they have the numbers they want, they will slow down on the drone comb. Since I was in the process of switching, I had hives with foundation, and hives without. Didn't see any difference in final honey production. If you put the new frames in the very center of the brood nest to start them, they will draw less drone comb, but they will still draw some drone comb until they have enough drones. Once you have enough frames, you can start rotating the drone comb frames out if you wish, but the bees will just fill them with honey stores once they have enough drones for the year.

    JC

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    What's the case against drones anyway? I just don't understand.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    >What's the case against drones anyway? I just don't understand.

    They don't make honey. Of course they help insure you get the kind of bees you want in the future (assuming you keep the kind of bees you want). We bred bees to make less drones for 150 years or more and now the AHB have the reproductive advantage...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Quote Originally Posted by green2btree View Post
    Once you have enough frames, you can start rotating the drone comb frames out if you wish, but the bees will just fill them with honey stores once they have enough drones for the year.
    In fact there are many way to do beekeeping. One reason is that while some of us have 4 hives , others 40 , others have 400 and others 4000 .

    When you have 4 hives or even 40 we have time to take that frames from the nest boxes. If not that became an obstacle and that block egg laying of the queen .

    When you have 400 hives I can say that time is too precious and there are other priorities. For those who have 4000 hives just thinking about it I'm tired

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Quote Originally Posted by jcolon View Post
    What's the case against drones anyway? I just don't understand.
    Block of the nest (if is not a correct word I can tried explain with others words. My english is too rubiginous) and varroa.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >What's the case against drones anyway? I just don't understand.

    They don't make honey. Of course they help insure you get the kind of bees you want in the future (assuming you keep the kind of bees you want). We bred bees to make less drones for 150 years or more and now the AHB have the reproductive advantage...
    But, dont the bees know what amount or % of drones they need to maintain for a healthy survival of the specie and if they are too "worried" because they cant produce them, wont they produce less honey being to busy trying to find ways to produce them? Did I make sense?
    Last edited by jcolon; 11-13-2014 at 02:53 PM. Reason: typo

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Is this drone cells?
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    Серёжа, Sergey

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    hi I use two skewers and no foundation or starter strip, when the bees make drone cells they are normaly but not always on one section, then I cut out as part of my varroa control.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I let them make all the drone comb they want and all the drones they want.
    On natural comb you have to. I don't find it too offensive, the bees know better than I do, but when another beekeeper looks at my frames they always tell me how the comb is ruined by the drone cells. I have some really nicely drawn natural cell frames now and I am honestly happy that I have mastered getting them drawn straight in the plane of the frame with gravity. And it only took me 3 years to get there :P
    Zone 5 @ 4700 ft. High Desert

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    This past weekend Jim Tew gave a talk at the annual fall meeting of the Indiana Bee Keepers Association and he says the natural amount of drones in a colony is 17% to 25%. I see where commercial guys look at drones as taking up space for a worker and getting less of a honey crop. But for me I think that I would just as soon let the bee's manage the amount of drones they produce. I plan to try my hand at queen rearing this coming year and I want plenty of drones around.

    Greg

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    In early Spring, I inserted foundationless frames into the center of the brood nest to reduce crowding without splitting the brood nest as a method of swarm control. The bees turned almost all of it into drone cells. Right when I want to stimulate a build-up of workers, I am inducing them to make drones.

    The hives I did this to had a huge number of drones by the end of Spring. The drone population was close to 50% of the hive population. The hives had so many drones it was impossible for me to find the queen. Just too many big bees running around for my beginner's eye.

    I like the idea of letting the bees determine cell size for themselves by using foundationless, but the method I used above produced too many drones and I won't do it again. Not saying this would happen to everyone who did what I did, but this is what happened to me.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Foundation-less frames: my experience

    "Colonies with drone comb gained only 25.2 16.0 kg whereas those without drone comb gained 48.8 14.8 kg." in The effect of drone comb on a honey bee colony’s production of honey*Thomas D. SEELEY, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

    The bees know better than me that the drones have to do? Maybe yes maybe no. Although I understand that they also have to pay me the rent of the house I bought them.

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