Starting all natural frames
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    29

    Default Starting all natural frames

    Hello,
    I will be picking up my first 2 nucs on the 4th of April. I want to go with natural comb as much as I can. I have been assembling wedge frames were I turn the wedge sideways and glue it in. I picked up some beeswax at a local bee store and a small crock pot to melt it in. The question is, do I have to paint wax on all three sides of the wedge, or just the edge facing down?
    Thanks,

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Bellflower,Montgomery County, Mo
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Welcome LittleJoe,

    The bottom is all that you need and if I am putting them between drawn out frames I don't always use wax. Just the wooden frames ate ok.

    Good luck this year.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    SE Michigan USDA 6a (Macomb Co.)
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    I have been successful with a bunch of foundation-less frames with bare-wood "starter strips", no added wax anywhere. In my case, I just made some thin strips 3/4" wide about like paint stirs, nailed them in place, strung 4 rows of 50# monofilament line across the frames (to reduce chances of blowout during extraction) and bingo! Key note though, it may be helpful to put a "normal" drawn frame in between each empty one, so the bees don't get any crazy ideas to build 45° comb right across your frames and stick them all together with comb. I've never had it happen, but I never tempted fate by filling the whole box with foundation-less either. To keep this method, put drawn frames from last year between the new ones, and you can have the whole box foundation-less. Fortunately the bees are not as critical of my carpentry skills as I am, they tolerate much more imperfection that you might think.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    291

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    You indicate a desire “to go with natural comb as much as (you) can.” The decision to go foundationless (natural comb only) is singular, and totally within your control. Just be prepared for future extraction complications unless you only seek comb honey (or want to use “crush and strain” which requires greater bee effort to replace lost wax cells). This is one of those decisions that has ramifications perhaps six (6) months later, and I merely suggest you be reminded of future implications.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,965

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleJoe View Post
    The question is, do I have to paint wax on all three sides of the wedge, or just the edge facing down?
    The simple answer is that in practice it really doesn't matter all that much whether you apply wax or not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't - without any obvious difference. If you're going to paint the molten wax onto the starter-strip, then most likely wax will run down the sides of the strip anyway.

    For some years now I've used popsicle sticks glued into the top bar groove - which works well - just one of many ways of getting a comb started in the right place.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Braun View Post
    Welcome LittleJoe,

    The bottom is all that you need and if I am putting them between drawn out frames I don't always use wax. Just the wooden frames ate ok.

    Good luck this year.
    Thank you

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    5,006

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Little joe, to avoid the extraction blowout problem, I use plasic foundation in my medium supers and foundationless frames in my deep brood boxes. As hockeyfan stated, always put new foundationless frames next to flat drawn comb. I have put an entire box of foundationless on a hive and it was a mess. At least it was all capped honey and not brood. I wax my starter strips because it makes me feel good. The bees do not care. When I run the monofilament, I use a special knot that works well for me. It is a squareknot that has an extra wrap in the upper loop. It will pull down tight and not back off. I follow that up with a four wrap overhand knot. For me tying works better and is faster than using the little nails.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Thank you all for your advice. I have already added 2 skewers, tightly in each of my frames for support. Tedious, and a bit painful. I hope it works. One of these days I'll figure out how to post pictures from my phone.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    SE Michigan USDA 6a (Macomb Co.)
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Little joe, to avoid the extraction blowout problem, I use plasic foundation in my medium supers and foundationless frames in my deep brood boxes. As hockeyfan stated, always put new foundationless frames next to flat drawn comb. I have put an entire box of foundationless on a hive and it was a mess. At least it was all capped honey and not brood. I wax my starter strips because it makes me feel good. The bees do not care. When I run the monofilament, I use a special knot that works well for me. It is a squareknot that has an extra wrap in the upper loop. It will pull down tight and not back off. I follow that up with a four wrap overhand knot. For me tying works better and is faster than using the little nails.
    Exactly on the knots and eliminating the nails. This is exactly why I use 4 passes of line, since I can go over-up-back-up-over-up-back-down and tie a single knot to hold them all tight. The extra loop knot I think is called a "surgeons knot" and helps resist slipping. I actually have a little "pinch clamp" in the shop to act as a "finger" to help me keep tension while tying, but I've learned not to pull my guts out or it distorts the frames lol.
    USDA 6a, 8 frame equipment

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Warren County, NJ, USA
    Posts
    576

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    i used to think foundationless frames were the way i wanted to move forward. now i use them mostly in drone mother hives and to make a few nucs for people who insist foundationless. some tips that will make you beeking less frustrating:
    1. use mediums. deeps are almost twice as tall and it is hard to keep them straight to the bottom bar. of course hive needs to be level also.
    2. just buy comb guide frames instead of turning wedge or popsicle sticks. https://foresthillbeesupply.com/stor...tegory=8604205
    3. wax on your comb guide doesnt really help all that much. in fact i often found it hurt if my application was not in a straight even line.
    4. inspect often. like 2 or 3 times a week at the beginning. its remarkable how fast they can get the comb off track.
    5. cut out 'wonky' comb without hesitation. it will continue to get worse and worse if you dont. then you find yourself too late in the season to be adjusting.
    6. it can be done, but very time consuming. good luck!
    Saskatraz.jpg

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    272

    Default

    No wax. The bees have been attaching comb to wood for a few years now. They do a fine job. Don't try to get them to build foundationless in honey super. Only in between brood combs or at the side (as in osbn). Keep hive level. Remember they don't draw during or after summer dearth so get your comb drawn early.
    We extract foundationless deeps in 15 frame radial if they are attached on all four combs (like in supers) and do have to sort some out if they are only attached at top (like brood frames) to prevent blow outs, which are super annoying!

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Campbell, Calif.
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Hiya,
    I also like natural comb. I buy the wedge top frames & a box of all natural, wax foundation (no crimp wire, etc) for supers, then cut a 3/4” strip, “wedge it in” and you’re done. No need for any other wax.
    I only use natural comb in the BroodBox, The extractor was constantly blowing out or greatly messing up the comb in the honey supers, I just use plastic foundation & roll on A Lot of extra wax to help them get stsrted fast.
    The bees make as much worker or drone comb they think they need.
    I try to minimize the “help” I give them. Most, (if not ALL) the time, they will do a better job then me.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
    Posts
    1,166

    Default Re: Starting all natural frames

    Welcome little Joe. Something to consider is get 20 or so foundations, once you have hives established insert Foundation less in between brood frames they tend to keep them straight and build what is there at both sides. Starting with nothing is a bit more of a challenge. I concur on the reinforced or Plasticell for Supers, I have had my share of blow outs. IMO it is like priming the pump, a few combs, will help a lot to get more. Else check them a lot at first for the 45 degree item you mentioned. if you see the angle consider turing the hive to be in Parallel with the way the bees draw comb. The Bees at times seem to have a mind of their own, instead of cutting and shifting for ever , just let the bees lead and twist the hive 45 degrees and harness the thing rather than fight it. also Ditto on the level side to side. comb that miss the bottom bar are a PITA.

    GG

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