Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jacksonville, FL, USA
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    5

    Default Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    I'm a newbie who just got started with his first two nucs. @michaelbush sold me on the whole medium boxes full of foundationless frames idea, so I'm in the process of converting from the plastic deeps the bees came on to natural mediums. Alright, so there's the setup, here's the problem: One of the hives is drawing like gangbusters and seems fully willing to cooperate, the other refuses to draw any comb at all.

    I've tried different things on the reluctant hive.... I've staggered some empty foundationless frames in between the drawn out plastic frames they came with....nothing. They've had syrup (1.3 to 1) available, but they are slow to use it. They are on a flow (10 acre blueberry field). These jokers actually pile up on each other and make little bee-ladders like ants would do to bridge the gaps made by the empty frames instead of drawing them out.

    I only have one more piece of info that may or may not be relevant. The lazy hive was seemed the stronger of the two when i first put them in the boxes. All frames in that nuc were drawn out and it had much more capped brood than the other nuc (which had only drawn maybe 4.25 of the five frames available anyway). The lazy hive still seems a little stronger by population, but certainly not by real estate. Also, the cooperative hive is slurping down syrup faster than i can get it to them.

    Any ideas, suggestions, or criticisms are welcome. Fire away.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Hanover, PA
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    235

    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    What kind of feeder are you using? Are you using any feeding stimulants in your syrup? Sounds like you are doing what you can as far as frame manipulation goes. Some bees are just difficult to get to draw comb if they don't feel as if they need it. Keep at it, maybe throw a different ratio of syrup at 'em, with some stimulant in it or a different feeder type. Before too long, they will notice the violation of bee space and draw comb.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    What I did to get my bees to draw my second box was to pull a brood frame from the middle of the brood chamber into the next box. I put an empty in the space where I removed the brood comb. Michael is a big proponate of placing the second empty box on bottom. I did not do it that way but bet it works but you would probly still have to bait it with the brood comb. If the bees have empty comb, they may not start building more though if you make a space right in the middle of the brood nest, they usually do not like that and will start filling it. Your hive sounds like it might be weak for some reason. If you are making spaces in the brood nest and pulling brood comb up by its self, you need to be sure that you have enough bees to cover the comb well and keep it warm. It helps if it is warm out side. I am a first year guy and not that experianced but what I am telling you is what did work for me and I am foundationless.

    What do you see when you inspect the lazy hive? Are you seeing eggs larva and capped brood? Something sounds a little weird to me with them not taking serup.
    Good luck
    gww
    zone 5b

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jacksonville, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    I drilled a hole in the top (plywood) and put a mason jar with 3 small holes in the lid (smallest drill bit i had). I'm actually using top board underneath the plywood top at the moment just so I can use the reduced top entrance that it makes. That's not part the longterm plan, but serves my purposes at the moment. I haven't used any stimulants. (I didn't know there was such a thing.)

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    Jds
    Switch jars and see if something might be stopping up on you feeder. Maby dribble just a tiny bit on the frames under the hole to get them started. I tried feeding with plastic lids once and it seemed like the jar itself would stop up.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    5,486

    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    The bees pile up and cling to each other to measure and draw comb. Perhaps they didn't have the correct population dynamics to do it yet.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    I did the same thing last year with the mediums and foundationless. I have 2 hives I'll be converting back to deeps this year after the flow. I found the foundationless to be alot of work as some of them I've had to cut and rubber band back straight. I also don't like having to deal with 3 brood boxes and 30 frames instead of 2 brood boxes and 20.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Murphy, TX
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    446

    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    Do you have some guide on the foundationless frames? Use popsicle sticks dipped in wax or just plain popsicle sticks glued inside the groove in the top bar.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    If they have one box of drawn comb, I would add the second box to the bottom and continue to feed.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jacksonville, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    The current set up is two medium boxes with the deep frames from the nuc dangling from the top with medium frames filling in the rest (top and bottom). The plan is to get enough medium frames drawn that I can leave the queen on them and pull the deep frames above a queen excluder until the brood all hatches. After that I can get the deeps out of the hive.

    The plan is working like a boss in one hive....the lazy hive won't cooperate though. I don't think it's a feeder issue because they DO drink it, just not nearly as quickly as the other hive. Presumably, because they aren't bothering to build comb and don't need as much. I haven't been inside the hive since last weekend, but judging by the syrup consumption since then, I doubt much has changed inside. (By comparison, I'm sure the other hive has pulled 2 or 3 more by now.)

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Verde Valley Arizona
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    51

    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    I would try to find some drawn comb. Ask any experienced beekeeper for some. Drawing comb is a huge task for a new hive. Some of the festooning you see may be the bees trying to get started drawing comb. They will need lot's of syrup. you might try making Fat Beeman's hive top feeder. You can get a lot of syrup in them with that. Good luck.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jacksonville, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    Thank you, everyone, for your quick responses. I was hoping they'd be built up enough to get the deep frames out of the bottom two boxes within the next 2 or 3 weeks, so the hives will be easier to move. (I'm a berry farmer, and I'll have to pull the hives off the current field before I start spraying for blueberry maggots.) The feedback I'm getting seems indicate a need for more patience. (On some level, I knew that, but it didn't keep me from hoping for some beek secrets to "motivate" my critters to play ball. Lol).

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Wise county,Texas
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    339

    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    The bees pile up and cling to each other to measure and draw comb. Perhaps they didn't have the correct population dynamics to do it yet.
    Could be a lot to this, one nuc may have had a much higher number of young bee's and the ability to produce more comb. Other nuc may have more "older" bee's that may not be as inclined to mas produce comb, may change after a couple brood cycles.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jacksonville, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Bees won't draw comb (foundationless)

    Yeah, I don't know. I checked yesterday, and the lazy hive still hasn't drawn comb. I found the queen, and she was laying. The hive is now pretty weak compared to the other one.

    Speaking of the "other one", they are drawing nicely and have lots of brood. I'm not great at spotting eggs yet, so I really couldn't tell if there were any. I couldn't find the queen. What I did find was a bunch of empty queen cells. I'm not sure what I should do about that. Like I said, they seem to be doing okay and I'm no pro at spotting Queens or eggs, so I figured I'd give it a week and see if I can find one or the other then. I was thinking there may have been a supercedure. I don't think they swarmed.

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