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Foundationless frames.

2364 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mac
I am a new beekeeper (less than one year). My bees will not build on plasticell no matter what I do. I have checkerboarded, sprayed them with sugar syrup, painted them with more wax, fed the bees as much sugar and syrup as they would eat for weeks at a time. They just hate plasticell. I decided to switch to wax foundation and I bought some wire and some of those metal sleeves that go in the holes in the frame to keep the wire from pulling through the wood.

I have about 20 shallow supers with frames that I got a great deal on. I have read on here that bees build comb most quickly when foundationless frames are used and I am considering doing that instead. I thought I would string the wire onto the frames so that the comb would be stablized and would not fall out when centrifuged. My questions are: Has anyone used fouondation less frames? How did it work for you? Is the wire necessary to keep the comb stable? and will the wire intefere with the bees making comb along the frame? Any information would be appreciated.
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if you have not already fond it, you should check out Michael Bush's website on foundationless frames:

Also ,if you have not seen them yet, Kelley's just introduced a new foundationless frame (that they designed with Michael):

I was in the same boat as you - lot's of difficulty getting my bees to draw on plastic foundation or wax foundation. Since I have gone foundationless, the bees draw out a frame in a matter of a few days.

I had the bees on HSC plastic drawn comb which they like but it limits their freedom especially in makeing drone comb, etc... I have been drawing one frames of foundationless at a time by placing a new frame in the middle of the broodnest sandwiched in between two frames of HSC. I am slowly replacing the HSC with these foundationless frames.

I am not planning to use the foundationless frames in the honey supers (I will use the HSC for that) but as you will see on Michael's website, as long as you let the wax fully harden and it is connected to he frame on all 4 sides, you should be able to successfully extract a foundationless frame without resorting to excessive reinforcement,

Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

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I use foundationless frames. I started using a starter strip of foundation but now I use a thin strip of wood I rip on my table saw. I also use a strip of wood in the bottom bar groove that is flush with the height of the bar. This eliminates one more place SHB can hide. Some one has suggested using popsicle sticks. I don’t use wire supports. All medium frames. Sometimes when extracting comb will crack some, or bulge out some but I just straighten it out and the bees will repair the cracks. As M.B. states older comb is easier to handle. Spin slower if the comb starts to blow out.:)
>My bees will not build on plasticell no matter what I do. They just hate plasticell.

When we force bees to do do something that is unnatural for them, they rebel against it. You are doing the right thing by switching over to foundationless, your results going that route will be more to your liking and the bees.
Thanks MB for all your insight and help. Thanks Barry for this web site. Ciao
I have more than 2000 foundationless frames in use. I do not wire them. I do extract them. And the page for detail is posted above.
...I also use a strip of wood in the bottom bar groove that is flush with the height of the bar. This eliminates one more place SHB can hide. ...
If you use solid bottom bars, you won't have to fill the bottom bar groove to reduce SHB problems. I don't have SHB problems, yet, but I use solid bottom bars, when I buy my own (and don't get them from frame exchanges for nucs). I think it makes these fragile wooden frames just a little bit more solid and stable.
Solid bottom bars have always been available from Walter T. Kelley (at least since the 70s that I know of). And, as mentioned, now, so are foundationless frames...
Next time I need to purchase bottom bars I will be getting solid. Until then ya got to use what ya got and make it work.
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