Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips
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  1. #1
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    Default Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    As some of you may know, I'm currently investigating the possibly of using all-round starter-strips with foundationless frames - with the aim of improving side adhesion and (hopefully) encouraging adhesion to the bottom bar as well - with a long-term view towards dispensing with comb support altogether.

    But - I don't have any full-sized frames needing to be drawn-out right now, and so I'm running some initial trials using much smaller mating-nuc frames.

    So, this a 'before' shot:




    And this is after the bees have 'done their thing':






    Those combs are not completely finished yet (obviously), but already I can see that the strips are being treated as if it they were part of the woodwork itself - perhaps they're still too thick despite my best attempts to produce the thinnest strip possible, so on the next batch I'll try cutting the existing strip heights down (to reduce them to a short stub) and see if that improves acceptance.

    But - so far, so good - I'm not entirely displeased with the above for a first run - but there's still plenty of room there for improvement ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    Try placing a couple of pieces of burr comb in the unattached areas, it gives them the idea about attaching.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    LJ,
    Your approach should work, but consider few modifications.
    This is exactly what I have been practicing with my plastic frame cut-outs (makes for perfect all-way-around starter strip).
    See attached pic and study it a bit. This is a typical use-case.
    DSCN2461.jpg
    I also do a mid-frame bridge (visible on the pic).
    Sometimes, the bridge works as another starter-strip - this is nice (visible on the pic).
    Sometimes, the bridge works as rather obstacle and stops the comb building - this is not nice (but, I think that is a function of the colony strength rather; a strong colony will fill the entire space bridge or no bridge).

    An observation - they will never (disclaimer - based my experience so far) attach to the bottom starter strip.
    Depending on a specific hive, they will either (1)only attach on the top and ignore the side strips or (2)attach on the three sides, but not the bottom. Conveniently, they always leave passes around/through the comb (a useful, natural trend).

    Proposed mod - drop that bottom starter strip and save yourself that extra work/resource.
    I feel this is unnatural for the bees to ever attach to the bottom of the cavity.
    They will only (kind of) do it when foundation is used and only IF they are really, really tight in space.
    But if you closely inspect the foundation frame cases, you will see - they don't attach to the bottom anyway.
    It is an illusion caused by the foundation that is touching the bottom of the frame. Bees don't want it that way.

    1/4-1/2 inch (5-10mm) is a sufficient and optimal starter strip width.
    This is what I aim for.
    Wider starter strips eat into the useful comb area - not good.
    Also, wider starter strips mean they do NOT attach the comb to the frame itself (only the strip) - not good either; weaker comb.
    You want to minimize the "throw away" comb area by keeping the starter strip just only sufficient as a direction hint.
    Last edited by GregV; 05-16-2018 at 09:49 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    I tried some bottom strips and the bees won't build to attach unless they are storing honey in the comb and the frame is higher in the stack. But not in the brood nest typically. The extra starter strips (I use just use one on top) will just make it a pain to cut out damaged comb (ie mouse damage). I extract my foundationless and when it does fail, its not along the sides of the frame where it is attached. This seems quite sturdy.

    BTW, one of the benefits of foundationless is the ease of cutting out old damaged comb and putting the frame back into use.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    Now that Larry (I believe) brought this up..

    Thinking back - indeed, there are cases when they might attach the comb to the bottom terminator (be it a strip or a bar or a wire - some bottom comb terminator).

    The conditions for these cases are:
    1)very high bee density for the volume
    2)the bottom terminator should be positioned relatively high within the cavity (within top 1/2 of the height of entire the cavity)
    3)the cavity is abnormally shallow for a normal colony development

    But a general, safe assumption still is - they will not attach to the bottom terminator.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    They will build the comb down close to the bottom strip in the brood nest as usual. We have the strip sticking out of the bottom groove not more than 3/8 of an inch. To make them attach and then only in a few places we pinch the bottom of the comb onto the bottom strip and as they repair it they almost always attach it in a couple of places. We dont use side strips and they generally attach the sides at some point. Again a little pinch that brings the wax close or contacting the sides and they usually attach it.
    Hope this helps.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    I suppose, I failed to think that the beekeeper himself can attach the comb to where-ever is desired.
    Sure.
    I just don't go that far; not usually.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #8
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    Default

    Interesting but I too have not had them willingly connect to the bottom and most the time not to the side either, but then again I have lots of frames with foundation they have opened up the bottom and sides on as well.....they like it that way...better internal communications.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    I've just been out to the shed to find some examples in response to Greg's earlier 'they never attach' comment - but I see the thread's now moved on a bit ...

    Sorry the first one's out of focus ...





    So they will attach ... but it's very unpredictable.

    This last one's interesting:



    In this example of a frame extension I once played with - there seems to be more willingness to draw comb down to a bottom bar, if there is comb attached below it - as if the bottom bar is then seen more as a horizontal spile (perhaps ?), rather than as an 'end' obstruction.

    I'll keep working on this - thanks for the various tips.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    Funny, but since I had a chance to check/expand my lone backyard survivor, I went through few frames selecting some to the expansion. Darn thing, I DID find a case where they actually did attach at the bottom (ever so tentatively, but they did). See pics.
    20180516_134330.jpg20180516_134433.jpg
    Still, see how the deep frame affects the nature of the combs - the combs are almost exclusively free hanging. This tell me that my hives are just about deep enough. This is also a good indication why in my case, I just don't have those dreaded "moisture problems". There is plenty of air to move around since there is no blockage.

    In your case, LJ, I can only say - NOT deep enough.
    Seems to me that IF they attach to the bottom terminator, it may mean they really would like to go down more (but can not).

    PS: notice how they attach to the side bar in the wooden frames anyway; no strips are needed.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    In your case, LJ, I can only say - NOT deep enough.
    Seems to me that IF they attach to the bottom terminator, it may mean they really would like to go down more (but can not).
    Fully agree - those particular combs are from yesteryear - awaiting the melter. But - those are the de facto size combs on which nucs are sold over here, so I'd really like to find an acceptable/ presentable comb construction - without resorting to the use of foundation. It's just a marketing/image thing - personally I couldn't give a tinker's cuss what combs look like, so long as the bees are happy with 'em.

    PS: notice how they attach to the side bar in the wooden frames anyway; no strips are needed.
    Agreed - but it would be handy to have a method which ensures (as far as possible) nice straight combs without any wandering off. (not that this happens very often).

    My plan now is to try the next batch with their starter-strips (which are already in place - dozens of 'em) cut-down to 1/4". I'm optimistic - like - you have to be ...
    LJ

    PS. I'm also playing with a method of removable comb support for much deeper combs (when they're older and become self-supporting) - not important, as these never leave the apiary - but just a fun idea - just to see if it works.
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    ...Agreed - but it would be handy to have a method which ensures (as far as possible) nice straight combs without any wandering off. (not that this happens very often).

    My plan now is to try the next batch with their starter-strips (which are already in place - dozens of 'em) cut-down to 1/4". I'm optimistic - like - you have to be ...
    LJ
    Yep.
    You know, I am being very liberal about so-called "leveling of the hives".
    Who has the time? I don't.
    I also have 4 locations and move hives around as needed (3 of those locations are temps since not owned by me).
    My typical beehive stand - a car tire. I drop the tire off, eyeball it to level the best I can, plop a hive on the top - done .

    So you can only imagine how far OFF the level I often am.
    With the heavy horizontal boxes, I don't care much as they will not flip easily - really nice and stable for ad-hoc remote sites.
    But IT IS also really nice to be able to adjust those free hanging combs as they are hardly ever perfect.
    With that in mind, I do like these plastic frame cut-outs since they provide for built-in starter strips all way around (easy to attach the comb IF have to do it).

    Pics of plastic cut-outs used attached (the web side turning the pics side-ways is really annoying since they discount the picture dimensions taken by the phones).
    Badly need a batch of plastic Lang deeps cut-out for my traps - really holding me back.
    20180516_150122.jpg20180516_134747.jpg20180516_134731.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    John, that is a very interesting frame stand. We are supposed to have rain all weekend, maybe I just found my weekend shop project.

    I think that by making one dowel movable it could work for both my Langstroth frames and my Warre frames.
    Zone 6B

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Foundationless frames: all-round wax starter-strips

    'Movable', or some other kind of adjustment sounds good ...

    The frame-rest you refer to holds 9" deep frames. Then I moved to 12" deep frames, and had to make a taller one. Now I'm contemplating the use of 17" deep frames, and so will most likely be making a third.

    All have the same top bar length - but if only I'd made that original rest with adjustable height ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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