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Yesterday I opened up my two colonies that overwintered. I put one foundationless deep frame in the middle of the broodnest for both of them. I filled the feeders with sugar syrup and closed them back up. I can't wait to see how and what they do with these frames. I neglected to see if both hives are perfectly level but If they go wonky I'll end up doing that. I only have 100 pieces of foundation in my equipment arsenal but I figure that will be plenty to get going with and easy to phase out in the long run. I also put a queen excluder and a box of medium foundation on the stronger of the two and hope that the bees draw this out so I can use those 10 frames to intersperse and draw out all of my future mediums in the foundationless manner. Thank you all for all of your information on beesource that has given me the courage to know that this is all feasible and that other people are doing it and succeeding. :thumbsup:
 

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If using foundationless frames, 'level' really only matters across the 16 1/4" dimension (10 frame box). If the frames are not level in the 19 7/8" direction there really isn't much impact. You should be able to level the hive, without opening it, by just putting a level across the 'short' dimension of the top cover and inserting shims under the hive if necessary.
 

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level is very important side to side, don't worry front to back, you need a little slope to the front. Please go back and fix the level ASAP. I've messed this up too, then check the hive again later in case it shifts
 

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side to side level is very important with foundationless beekeeping, but if you placed only one frame between two old brood frames, most likely they will not mess it up too bad even if it is not level.
 

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Thank you all for all of your information on beesource that has given me the courage to know that this is all feasible and that other people are doing it and succeeding.
I use foundationless ('freecell' from starter strips) throughout the hive. Unless I have drawn comb to hand I just stick a whole box on without any guidance. They know what to do, though you do get some fat and uneven combs in the stores.

Something is working - they mostly seem to thrive without any treatment or manipulation. Part of the success rate probably comes from a high feral bee factor however.

Mike (UK)
 

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Yesterday I opened the hives and checked the foundationless frames. The stronger of the two hives had drawn the whole frame side to side and within one inch of the bottom bar, so cool. The other colony had a good start on a large circular piece of comb right in the center of the frame. I added another foundationless to the strong hive and removed the feeder. I checked the hives for level from side to side and shimmed accordingly. Next time I will bring my camera and share some photos of these natural comb.
 

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Just keep an eye on it, it cold probably be all drone comb.
They won't build drone comb till they have enough ordinary comb.

I leave a slow feeder on while they are building comb, unless there's a good bit of nectar coming in.
 

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They won't build drone comb till they have enough ordinary comb.
Perhaps, but the original poster seems to be using primarily frames with foundation. Putting a foundationless frame in a hive with other frames that have foundation can indeed lead to a lot of drone comb on the foundationless frame. Nothing particularly wrong with that, in my view, but JRG13 is correct. :)
 

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Perhaps, but the original poster seems to be using primarily frames with foundation. Putting a foundationless frame in a hive with other frames that have foundation can indeed lead to a lot of drone comb on the foundationless frame. Nothing particularly wrong with that, in my view, but JRG13 is correct. :)
Good point. Though as you say, it could be there's nothing wrong with that. I let my bees build as much drone comb as they please, on the basis that the more vigourous will tend to raise more drones - and that's exactly what I want.
 

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IMG_1869.jpg IMG_1868.jpg IMG_1860.jpg IMG_1861.jpg Here are four photos of foundationless frames I put in a pretty strong overwintered hive. The first one I put in saturday may 3rd. It is entirely drone comb with many uncapped drone larvae in the top area with some stored nectar near the top and sides. I took a closeup of this comb as well. The second non connected comb I only put in last friday, may 9th. This one has what looks to me like worker comb in the top and center with drone around the bottom and sides. I took a close-up of this as well. I agree with the fact that bees will make what they want and I'm fine with that the more wax the better. I am really excited with how fast they are drawing wax right now. I hope these photos satisfy everyones questions.
 

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Here at Rawbeekeeping we have our hives approximately 90% foundationless in Langstroth hives. Our first year we used foundation on our first 2 hives in Nuc's. As we expanded them to 10 frame deeps we used starter strips in the frames, from some foundation we had left over, and placed them between the frames of already drawn comb. Since then we have put 2 or even 3 frames grouped together that all had either wax or wood starter strips because of needing to expand or make a split without enough drawn comb to go around and the bees really made a mess of it. We have even put frames into a hive without starter strips because we had newly built frames and did not have any starter strips ready, the bees pulled it out very nicely because it was in between 2 fully drawn frames. This year we even tried some homemade top bars with starter strips.
We would love to hear about others experiences with foundationless hives. Feel free to ask us any questions.

Rawbeekeepers
www.rawbeekeeping.com
 
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