The thing to watch is the age of the comb. If the comb is less than a month old, the wax is VERY soft and you will have a hard time extracting without the comb falling to pieces. Once the comb is over a month old, the wax begins to harden.
Usually the first foundationless frame you put into the broodnest is drawn out as drone comb. If you get too many frames of drone comb to suit you, you can use those frames in your honey supers. A few cocoons in the combs will help harden the combs too. I have known beekeepers who allow queens to lay a few cycles of brood in a frame before they use that frame in their honey supers just to stiffen the combs.
From what I've read, you pretty much have to "bait" a foundationless super with comb, to provide a ladder from the colony up into the super. Then they'll start drawing it. I've also read that the comb drawn in the center tends to be brood comb (unless they think they need drone comb). Thus to have most worker comb, keep inserting foundationless frames in the center, sliding previoiusly drawn comb to the outside. So, that's what I'm going to do when I switch over this spring.
I wish you much success!
From what I've read, you pretty much have to "bait" a foundationless super with comb, to provide a ladder from the colony up into the super. Then they'll start drawing it.
That is correct for a honey super.
I've also read that the comb drawn in the center tends to be brood comb (unless they think they need drone comb). Thus to have most worker comb, keep inserting foundationless frames in the center, sliding previoiusly drawn comb to the outside. So, that's what I'm going to do when I switch over this spring.
This is NOT for a foundationless honey super. This is in reference to adding foundationless frames into the brood boxes. Bees aren't going to draw worker comb, or drone comb, in the honey super - worker comb and drone comb get drawn out in the broodnest.
Thanks for the clarification Countryboy... I'm using foundationless in my brood boxes, and assumed that was the question. Thus the nature of my answer.
Personally, and I could be wrong here, I would think it better to use foundation in extracting supers, to minimize blowout during extraction. I'm gearing up from 14 to 50 colonies, and am switching to foundationless in the brood boxes.
Is that a correct assumption regarding foundation in extracting supers?
at some point, it might be useful to consolidate all the foundationless threads into a faq (i'm not volunteering...too much going on).
with that said, i'd like to talk about something that i don't think has been discussed in any of these threads.
the common beekeeping wisdom is that the bees, if they can, like to work their way upwards....adding brood boxes and supers is generally done above what is already established, so that the bees can "work up".
think of what a swarm will do when the occupy a cavity. the START at the top, and WORK DOWN. it would take very specific circumstances for a colony to build a bunch of comb, and then build comb ABOVE it.
bees (when working without foundation), cluster at the top and build all the comb down. if you place a box of foundationless above the existing comb (with no bait comb or foundation), the cluster tends to stay on the established combs, and starts to build upwards from the bottom bars of the new box. the results are fairly predictable....a big mess (as far as the beekeeper is concerned).
when i bait the bees up, i try to use 3 frames of bait comb (with brood) so that the bees not only have comb to be on, but beespace between the combs to be in. three combs can hold a goodly number of bees, and can make expanding outwards into the rest of the box much easier (for the beekeeper, and presumably, the bees as well).
it may be that adding the new box on the BOTTOM is a better plan, and might not require bait comb. certainly, it more closely replicates what the bees do, which is to START at the top, and work their way down.
I tried the foundationless super frames. The best luck was taking a ten-frame super of drawn comb (originally wired foundation) adding a second super with foundationless and alternating frames of old drawn with new foundationless frames. Frames were straight as an arrow, no reluctance on the part of the bees.
I wired my foundationless frames, but some of the frames were not drawn all the way down to the bottom bar. In the extractor, that unattached bottom portion was torn away. But I figured the bees would finish it off the next time it went into the super.
Also, to try and maintain the integrity of the drawn comb, I really dug down deep with my uncapping knife, trying to remove as much of that heavy honey as possible. With age, the frames will be finished off and made stronger and I'll likely shift them to a nine-frame super.
All the best,
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