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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, last week I placed a med box with foundationless frames on top of two different hives that were in deeps drawn out to the 10th frame on small cell. The boxes were "pretty" much level when I placed them on top. I figured I would give them a week before I checked on the comb and its been pretty cool here so I didn't know how much would have happened. One hive had cross combed over three frames. One was top to bottom about half full and had already been filled with fresh eggs!

I tried my best to fix the comb by mashing top and bottom back in line with the frames.

Will this re-direct them to fix the comb? And how often is best to check for cross comb? I was thinking every few days to pop the top and double check the placement so I don't mess up as much good comb. Also whats the best way to re-direct the comb?

I also noticed that bees don't always build top to bottom :) but from bottom up the comb was very nice. The bees didn't seem to mind my hand being down inside the hive, it was in the low 60's and cloudy.

My second hive I checked didn't have as much comb drawn and was less cross combed. This hive let me know they didn't like the adjustments as much :)

Neither of the two had any feeding on them during this time and I did feel some nectar in both of the new combs. I also re-checked the level and made sure everything was more level this week.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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Anytime you have combs spanning more than one frame, you'll need to cut them out and rubber band them into frames. New comb is very fragile, so you need to be very careful. If it has nectar in it it's probably going to collapse, but eggs can usually be saved. Once you have some straight comb in the box the rest tends to be straight. If you pull a drawn comb up you solve both the wild comb issue and the "bottom up" issue. A ladder to the top bars is very helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the reply, I didn't have any rubber bands but I did try today to tie them back with some cloth string. I do thank I will try the rubber bands next time as its a little hard to tie with nectar all over my hands lol. You were right, the one large comb that had mostly nectar in it did collapse.
 

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Always put a good drawn comb, I like putting a brood comb, in the center of the box. This will give them a guide to use and help them draw comb from the top bars down.
 

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Endorse what Deepsouth says. You need to provide a guide frame to start the bees off on the right foot. Expecting them to build into an empty box to your specifications is sadly over-confident.

Furthermore, the expense of foundation is immaterial (say $10/box for medium brood) compared to the hours that are going to be spent correcting the mess.

If you have cats in your home treated with "Frontline", you will have a higher level of contamination from cat dander than from any dreaded wax contamination.

The whole obsession with "foundationless" is an irrational, time-consuming side-track. If messing in the hive sets the colony back 3-4 days each time, then foundationless systems are costing essential buildup during the most productive time of the year.
 

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Foundationless vs. foundation debate aside, I run all foundationless. I find that if you add empty frames in between built frames with capped brood, you get nice comb. The key is it being capped brood as the bees seem less likely to draw out the new comb thick or wacky when constrained on both sides with capped brood. Swapping full frames in your lower hive body for empty foundationless frames results in that comb being drawn out pretty quickly in both boxes. It works well!
 

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Splitting the brood oval results in straight comb. Disturbing the brood oval is poor practice however -- it is likely the most disruptive intervention you can make in a hive short of taking brood frames and scattering them willy-nilly all over the nest.
 

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Based on what you described the hive is far enough out of level that the bees are starting at the top of one frame and finishing at the bottom of the one next to it. That's not level enough. If you are going to be foundationless get a little torpedo level and check the hive and shim till the bubble is between the lines. Otherwise you'll probably keep having to fight this battle. Remember festooning bees are like a plumb bob they hang straight down and if the hive's not level you get what you got.
 

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It has been reiterated many times before but let's do it again, just in case. A "foundationless" frame is not just a frame that happens to not have foundation. It is a frame with a comb guide in lieu of foundation.

http://bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#combguide
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Correct. It has a v at the bottom of the top bar.

I have checked the level twice, it is dead on now front and back side to side with a slight lean forward about 1/2in per ft. Its not so much starting on one frame and ending on another its on the tops of the frames going across. I hope the re-level will address some concerns. I am planning on replacing some of the foundationless frames with some small cell frames to help myself out for now.

My bottom box is a deep (small cell frames) and i have a med super on top of them. When I checked them yesterday I did see back filling in the frames in the bottom with nectar and about 6 frames of mixed stage brood. I did notice drone on the bottom of the deeps and one mite when I pulled the frame and larva opened. The bodies I have are handmade by another keeper and look like there is extra bee space at the bottom between the bottom board and the frame. My thought here is possibly transferring to another deep box to correct the bee space issue.

I would have much rather put guide comb in next to these frames but did not have any to work with at the time. I don't plan on honey this year its more less getting the bees stable and past the winter.


Thank you all for your input - I keep reading and learning more every day.
 
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