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From the perspective of managing varroa mites, are there any advantages going with the drone foundation (I've seen the green foundation in bee catalogs) versus just the frame with the popisicle sticks as a starting point for the bees to draw comb?

Thanks,
Chris
 

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I started out with the green drone frames, used them for about two years. They work fine, but I eventually ran out of space in my freezer. Plus the freezer routine requires more drone frames so you can rotate a second one into the hive while the first one freezes.

Two years ago I switched to the drone frame set-up that Randy Oliver wrote about in the beekeeping magazines. He took a regular deep frame and added a second frame bottom about 2 inches from the top of the frame. The bees draw the lower larger section of the frame in nice drone brood, while the upper part of the frame they mostly store honey in it and cap that. The truly cool part about this frame is that you take it out of the hive for inspection, and when the drone brood is mostly capped you simply cut it out with your hive tool and put the frame right back in. Takes about 30 seconds and you use the same frame right back in your hive. I also tried it with just a regular undivided frame (I was in a hurry and didn't have a "specially" constructed drone frame) and it worked just fine, just more drone comb to cut out each time. Towards the end of the summer the bees slow down with raising drone brood and they will just use that frame for honey storage, at which point I move it to the very outside position. Here is a link to Randy's website for more information http://www.scientificbeekeeping.com/

Oh, and I don't add any popsicle stick or any other guide to those frames. Just being between two drawn brood frames makes the bees draw it out just fine. I think you will like this method better than the green plastic drone frames. Good luck!
 

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The only problem with that is that by freezing, the bees don't have to rebuild comb every time. Otherwise you are using up resources every time they have to rebuild the drone comb if you are cutting it out.
 

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Another method which works very well is to put a drawn medium frame in your deep brood boxes. They'll build drone comb on the bottom of the medium frame, then you just cut it off and throw it in the wax melter. Doesn't take them long to draw out burr comb!
 

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The only problem with that is that by freezing, the bees don't have to rebuild comb every time. Otherwise you are using up resources every time they have to rebuild the drone comb if you are cutting it out.
I don't find that it slows them down much, if at all. When the time comes to do your drone comb cutting they typically they have a large number of young bees that want to draw comb anyway, a large number of foragers, and they have plenty of food coming in, so no real drain on existing honey stores either. They really draw the bottom third of that deep frame out quickly. That's another reason I like Randy's split drone frame so much, lets you cut out about two thirds of a frame, not the entire frame of comb. You are right that it seems somewhat wasteful, but I see it as a trade off to get rid of a lot of trapped Varroa mites. I just find it more convenient than competing for freezer space with my better half... :)
 

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Its not so much slowing them down, but the resources they have to use to rebuild the comb.
 

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Daknoodle, that's what I meant when I said "slowing them down". Yes, they will use resources to replace the cutout drone comb. Has it made a difference to the bottom line of honey harvest for me? I don't know...if it has it wasn't significant enough for me to notice.
 

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I've used the green frames for 3 years now. I've got 15 frames for 10 hives. What I do is every 3 weeks I remove 5 of the hives Drone frames. I put them in a carboard nuc and slide it in the freezer overnight. The next day I repeat the process for the remaining 5 hives. I cycle through the Drone frames such that I don't have more than 5 drone frames in the freezer at one time. I don't worry about transporting diseases from on hive the the next as I'm already working them all with the same tools and equipment anyway. I find the older/more seasoned the drone frame is the more it draws the Varoa. I do this from the spring until flow begins in late May to early June. I start it back up after the last harvest in mid August. To store the frames in the hive but to keep the queen from laying in them I put them in the 1 or 10 position. When I want her to start again I drop it in the 3 or 7 position.
 
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