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I am interested in the idea of using foundation-less frames as part of IPM management for mites. I don't understand why this would make a difference to the mites. Can anyone explain or suggest something for me to read on the subject?

Would the foundation-less frames only have to be used in the hive body and supers that the queen has access to? Do the mites only attack cells with brood in them?

I am interested in any suggestions on prevent mites. Thanks in advance.

Joyce
 

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use the search feature at the top of the pages and search for natural cell, small cell, foundationless

what you are asking has to do with a tendency for bees to build a percentage of small cell in foundationless frames and small cell's role in varroa control

be forewarned its all theoretical/ cutting edge/ controvetial/ researched by individual beekeepers not typical institutional researchers
but worth a try for many
 

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The reason it might have an effect is the possibility of regressing to small cell. Small cell size is reported to have a positive effect on mite management. Yes, mites attack brood. My reasons for foundationless have more to do with less work and faster wax production. Regression is a side benefit for me. Do a search on this site for foundationless.
 

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I don't understand why this would make a difference to the mites.
It all relates to the size of cells built in the foundationless frame. The smaller the cells built, the earlier the brood will emerge basically, which in turn interrupts the mites reproductive cycle.
Can anyone explain or suggest something for me to read on the subject?
Use the "search" feature of this site, and search for small cell, or regression, both of which should give you quite a bit of information to start.
Would the foundation-less frames only have to be used in the hive body and supers that the queen has access to? Do the mites only attack cells with brood in them?
The varroa mites feed on the hemolymph of the brood and bees, and the mites reproduce in the cells of the brood, therefore using foundationless frames or small cell foundation in the brood chamber will make an impact on the mites, using these frames above the honey excluder will have no impact on your fight against mites.
 

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>I am interested in the idea of using foundation-less frames as part of IPM management for mites.

If you use foundationless frames, I believe you'll find, as I did, you don't need to do anything else.

>I don't understand why this would make a difference to the mites.

One day shorter capping time means less mites int he cells. One day shorter postcapping time means less mites reproduce. Other observations by small cell/natural cell advocates is that they seem to act more hygenic when they are raised in small cells.

>Can anyone explain or suggest something for me to read on the subject?

Here's the long detailed version:

http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby/index.htm

>Would the foundation-less frames only have to be used in the hive body and supers that the queen has access to?

Once you realize that you don't have to buy foundation, you don't have to install it. You don't have to wire it. You don't have to embed it. You don't have to worry about the foundation warping and sagging from the heat. I think you'll prefer it everywhere.
But the mite control really only has to do with brood cells.

>Do the mites only attack cells with brood in them?

They only reproduce in the brood cells. They also suck the blood of bees outside of the cells.

>I am interested in any suggestions on prevent mites. Thanks in advance.

Once I got on natural sized cell I have had no Varroa problems. If you monitor (with a tray on a SBB or a sticky board or doing sugar rolls etc.) then you'll know if it's working for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks to all of you who replied. It sounds like foundationless is certainly worth looking into. If it protects against mites and makes for less work! Who can argue with that?

Joyce
 

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If you check out my web site you'll see pictures of foundationless frames. Jus to clarify, foundationless does not mean simply putting a bunch of standard frames in without foundation. The bees need some kind of guide to draw straight combs. This guide can be any one or combination of the following:

Any empty frame between to nicecly drawn and capped combs or nicelydrawn brood combs.

A frame with a wax or wooden starter strip (3/4" or so of foundation or 3/4" wide strip of 1/4" plywood or a piece of one by ripped to between 1/8" and 3/16" or popscicle sticks put in the groove. The wax could be homemade blank sheets of beeswax cut to 3/4" wide. To make these soak a board in brine (salt water) and dip in melted beeswax.

A frame with a comb guide. That would be a triangular piece of wood on the bottom of the top bar.

A frame that still has the imprint of the last comb on the top bar to give the bees a starting point.

I like the comb guides a lot and cut them on all the top bars on my new frames before I assemble them. I like the starter strips on existing frames. I also like to put empty frames between drawn combs. When I do cut comb I like to leave the top row of cells on for a starting point.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Michael,
Thanks for the complete description of foundationless frames. I looked at your web site and that gave me a better understanding; as did your description of the various ways to achieve this. I like the idea of the frames with the starter strips.

I have to admit that I am very new to beekeeping. As in, I am just in the planning/learning stage. I have been interested in starting with bees for many years now and have finally decided to do it. I plan to prepare over the winter start next spring, but then I heard about the problem with mites and wondered if it was worth it to start. Now I am seeing that there are several natural solutions to the problem, so I plan to go ahead and get started.

Thanks again,
Joyce
 

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The reason I do a variety of things is because I have a variety of equipment. I have old frames that already have some comb on them. I have some new frames that I had already put together with starter strips and I was buying new frames that I cut to have a bevel on the top bar before I put them together.

I prefer the beveled top bar, but I do what's convenient with what I have.
 

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I just ordered frames from Browning Cut Stock. Do you know if any mills will bevel the top bar for you??
 

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I'm a bit conflicted about the foundationless idea. It seems that the mites will still preferentially go to the drone cells, which will probably not be much smaller than on foundation.

On the other hand, I can't ignore all the people saying that it works. So, next spring when the wax season gets under way I'll choose a hive or two and start trying it.

I've got frames ready to put together, but I think it may be a bit late to expect them to draw much comb now.
 

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Feed them and they will draw.

Drone cells seem to me to be fairly constant in number regardless of small cell, or commercial cell. Not sure about foundationless (I am switching to starter strips of small cell).
 

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What you will get with foundationless is that the first frame of foundationless you put in a hive will get drawn out almost all drone comb. and HUGE at that. Then the next one will have some smaller cells over most of it with drone and storage at the outter edges. No bees on regular 5.4 foundation will draw 4.9 cells the first go around. But as the bees get smaller from being raised in smaller cells they will draw progressively smaller cells. Just move the larger celled frames towards the outsides of the box and then up for honey storage. it is funny to see the different sized bees now that I am on natural sized cell (foundationless). Good luck
 

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>I just ordered frames from Browning Cut Stock. Do you know if any mills will bevel the top bar for you??

I never asked Browning but I've asked Western Bee, Mann Lake, Brushy Mt, Draper's and Walter T. Kelly. Only Watler T. Kelly was willing to not cut the goove in the top and bottom bar and none were willing to cut the bevel. I bought the ungrooved Kelly frames and cut the bevel myself.

>I'm a bit conflicted about the foundationless idea. It seems that the mites will still preferentially go to the drone cells, which will probably not be much smaller than on foundation.

Once the bees are smaller the drone cells will typically be smaller. But the damage to the hive is not from damaged drones but from damaged workers. All in all the majority of varroa are still reproducing in the worker cells. Also, the smaller bees seem to be more hygenic and chew out the infested cells.

>I've got frames ready to put together, but I think it may be a bit late to expect them to draw much comb now.

It's never too late to start giving them some. Maybe not a lot this time of year.
 

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Rod,

What you will get with foundationless is that the first frame of foundationless you put in a hive will get drawn out almost all drone comb. and HUGE at that.
interesting to hear you say that.
I'm in the process of switching from deeps to mediums and using starter strips in the mediums as I introduce them. The deeps had been started this spring on Pierco foundation. I had also introduced a frame with a starter strip into one of my deeps.
This past weekend I got to the point where I removed one of the deeps from the hive, the one with the frame of starter strip.
It was just like you describe, all drone cells.
I was kinda mystified, do you have any explanation for this behaviour??

Dave
 

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Rod and Dave,

If you lump starter strips into the "foundationless" definition, then that is not my experience. I used 1-3/8" and 4-1/8" starter strips of SC foundation from Brushy Mountain in a medium brood box, alternating them, to see how well my bees drew them. I placed this box between the deep and medium brood boxes.

After the first week of installation, my bees had drawn both types equally well -- you could not tell them apart. None were totally drawn, but on average, I'd say they were 60% drawn. By the second week, most were fully drawn, and my bees were placing nectar in them. There was not a single larvae to be found in any of them. Since I wanted my bees to use this as a brood box, I placed a queen excluder (after ensuring the queen was in the deep) between this box and the medium brood box above.

By the third (this past) week, my bees had begun replacing the nectar in the SC box with brood, so all is well.

In the future, I will only use 1-3/8" ( or possibly smaller) SC starter strips to create more SC frames. I will also attempt Michael Bush's technique of beveled top bars and compare the two.


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Rod,

quote:
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What you will get with foundationless is that the first frame of foundationless you put in a hive will get drawn out almost all drone comb. and HUGE at that.
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interesting to hear you say that.
I'm in the process of switching from deeps to mediums and using starter strips in the mediums as I introduce them. The deeps had been started this spring on Pierco foundation. I had also introduced a frame with a starter strip into one of my deeps.

This past weekend I got to the point where I removed one of the deeps from the hive, the one with the frame of starter strip. It was just like you describe, all drone cells. I was kinda mystified, do you have any explanation for this behaviour??

Dave

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>It was just like you describe, all drone cells.
I was kinda mystified, do you have any explanation for this behaviour??

Bees have an itch to scratch. Their natural inclination is to have between 10 and 15% of the comb be drone comb. When using foundation they have not been able to do that. Now that they have the freedom, the first thing they do is try to get that accomplished so they can then move on to other things. I just put the drone comb on the outside edges so the queen won't be as apt to run into it in her way, but she can find them to lay in if she wants.
 

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Well I was going to say exactly what Mr. Bush said, but that would be because I've seen him say it many times, but it makes total sense to me. The reason I do one foundationless frame at at time is that I tend to get then drawn out better that way, straighter and less problems with them encrouching on their neighbors. Good luck with however you all decide to go about this.
Rod
 
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