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Discussion Starter #1
I will be getting my first bees this spring. I have pre ordered a local 5 frame nuc.

I originally was thinking about doing a top bar hive but then started thinking about compatibility with other beekeepers and decided to build a 30 deep frame horizontal Langstroth. I still may use some top bars in it as things progress.

I would like to try to start out foundationless. From what I have gathered, the bees will draw straighter comb if I sandwich empty frames between drawn comb.

I have built a divider, so I have the flexibility to start the bees with however many frames would be best. What would be the optimal configuration to install 3 frames of brood, 2 frames of honey and pollen, and the empty frames? Do I need to leave the existing brood frames together or should I put empties in between?

I was thinking something like this to start out:
Entrance - BBEBEHEH - divider

To pre-emt a bunch of responses, I am aware that foundationless will be more difficult starting out than using foundation. I have read pros and cons exhaustively. I would still like to give it a try. I am pretty hard headed and if there is a way to make it work I will do it.
 

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I wonder why so many people want to reinvent bee keeping before they know how to raise bees in the first place. On the up side I will sell a number of people nucs this year to replace the ones I sold them last year. Maybe next year as well. At some point they either figure it out or more likely they just quit bee keeping.
 

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This isn't really helpful at all. Maybe I fail, maybe I succeed. But foundationless frames are not reinventing anything. Wasn't the original Langstroth patent foundationless.

Why is there so much more hatred and disdain for foundationless frames than there is for top bar hives?

I think you can attribute a lot of the foundationless hype to Micheal Bush. I read a ton on his site and he seems to have a good thing going.
 

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This isn't really helpful at all.
no, it wasn't helpful at all.

welcome to beesource ironclad. your first post was a good one and it's a shame your first response from mbear was filled with snark.

i would suggest keeping the broodnest intact and adding a foundationless frame on both sides of the frames containing brood.

once those added frames are half to three quarters drawn add two more and so on.

you have probably already seen this:

https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?351975-Want-Swarm-Prevention-Try-the-OSBN-Method

best of luck to you with your first bees and please keep us posted on how things are going.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, I appreciate the help. I do realize that there is a path of least resistance, and doing it the common way makes it a lot easier to get support.

However, this is going to be a hobby purely for my enjoyment, and in this as well as my other hobbies I get the most joy out of doing my own thing and experimenting a little.

If I was trying to start something for profit I would follow the formula to a tee, because I do believe that over the years the most efficient way of doing it has come out on top.
 

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sounds good ic.

it's likely that you already know, but it's critical that your hive be perfectly leveled from left to right so that the bottom of the comb hits the bottom bar of the frame.

also, i choose to run a couple of horizontal wires on my deep foundationless frames so i don't have to be as careful with how i handle them during inspections.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Hi there ironclad. I switched from wax foundation to foundationless last year and am having pretty good success. Like Squarepeg suggested, your initial setup should be HEBBBEH-follower board. Be prepared to manipulate the new comb as it is being drawn and remove any that starts to get wonky. You will find that the queen will start laying in the new cells even before they are full depth. Assume any new comb has eggs in it. I use the ML groove top/grooved bottom frames with holes in the end bars. I glue in a 3/4" wide starter strip and paint a little beeswax on it. I also string the frame with 20# monofilament fishing line to support the comb. Good luck with your new hobby and be sure to include your location in your profile
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Got it, thanks. I have grooved frames and I cut out 60 degree triangular bars the length and width of the top bar and glued and nailed them to the top bars. I will definitely look in to adding some wire or fishing line.
 

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Hiya - welcome aboard. As a 'serious' hobbyist unconcerned about profit, I tried Top Bar, then settled on running foundationless frames. I used to add monofilament fishing line to support the combs, but now prefer to use a couple of bamboo skewers instead.

Some good tips given already, to which I'd just add the advantage of supplying sugar syrup during the early weeks when they're drawing-out new combs, as back in 1880 or thereabouts some guys discovered that otherwise it takes 7 lbs of honey to make 1 lb of wax. Mind you, 1 lb of wax will make a helluva lot of combs ... :)

Good luck - have fun (something which is frequently overlooked) - and do keep us posted as to progress.
LJ

PS - I found that gluing popsicle sticks into a groove works as well as triangular section, and is less work (for me, that is). :)
 

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Do you just drill both sides of the frame and glue the skewers in?
Much depends on the distance to be covered. Our (UK) standard frames are 14 inches across, so 16 inch skewers (the next available size) are required for horizontal use, and 16 inch skewers are 4.5 - 5mm diameter, and somewhat expensive.

But - here are some newly-made 17 inch frames with those skewers inserted horizontally: (Yes, drilled sides, glued in place)



Here are the same size skewers, only vertical: (photograph chosen for skewer visibility - normally the skewers are fully incorporated)



And a shot of the same size frames with bees - hopefully showing that the bees are not troubled by the presence of the skewers:



This is a shot of our 'standard' deep frame (8.5" deep) fitted with thin (3mm) skewers, ex supermarket and cheap :), showing the advantage of the vertical format when raising natural queen cells:



And finally - sorry about the photo gallery ! - here's a shot of my latest experiment with modified 'Gallup Frames' which are fairly narrow at 12", and so I was able to use some 3mm supermarket skewers horizontally. I'll see how those perform before deciding whether to revert to vertical or not.



'best
LJ
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I love show and tell. Here is a picture of a ready to use frame strung with the fishing line and a pboto of a partially drawn frame. I would like to use bamboo skewers horizontally in my lang frames, but the 3mm x 400mm size is almost impossible to find.

View attachment 53297

So much for the drawn frame. Technical difficulties.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Dowel rod does work. It is a lot more expensive than the bamboo skewers. One or two hives, cost is not an issue. 400+ frames and the costs can start to add up. I currently have about 900 frames in play, about 500 of which are deeps. LJ I believe, has even more that he is working with.

Your hive looks nice.
 

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I use bamboo skewers, from Amazon, horizontally in the deep frames. I sharpen both ends in a pencil apsharpener and flex them into the holes already in the frames. The tension keeps them fine.
 

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I have been using 2 vertical skewers per frame and it seems to work. I have been drilling 1/8 (I think) holes in both ends, installing the skewers in the frame, then shooting a staple thru the top and bottom of the frame and hopefully thru the skewer. After stapling I try twisting the skewers, and if they dont twist I know I got atleast one stable thru it. For glue to work you need consistent sized skewers, and the ones that I had were not.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Do you feel like the skewers help the bees draw straighter comb at all or is stability the only benefit?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Stability is the main reason for using any support. The bees will draw straight comb without any skewers or wires provided the hive is level and there is a flat surface next to the comb (like another well drawn comb).for them to reference.

My cut comb medium frames are starter strip only and the few that got drawn out last year were perfect.

Meghues, can you post a link to the skewers you buy?
 

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Do you feel like the skewers help the bees draw straighter comb at all or is stability the only benefit?
Hopefully it will help rather than muddy the waters if I mention that one major difference WILL develop over time within an apiary which is run foundationless, in comparison with one which uses standard commercial foundation - and that is in the physical size of the bees which are kept there.

If a person begins beekeeping with bees which have been raised on standard foundation, then slowly, over a number of generations, and providing that new foundationless comb is being regularly drawn, the average size of the bees will gradually reduce until this stabilises at the bees' natural size.

At this natural size, the bees will draw what has become known (erroneously) as 'small cell' combs. [but they're actually 'natural size'. The standard size should more correctly be termed 'large cell' - but the reality is that we're stuck with current terminology]

Now this becomes relevant when new combs are being drawn-out, as the measurements employed when doing this are always referenced to the bees' own size, as they use their bodies as a template with which to base their constructions. Notably, this method of measurement extends to the inter-comb gap which consists of two 'bee-spaces'. [the bee-space actually being a range of values, rather than a single fixed value as sometimes stated]

I don't know what the situation is in the States, but in the UK regular 'off-the-shelf' commercially-made frames are pre-set with a 35mm spacing. This appears to work well enough with standard foundation, but is too wide a spacing for foundationless use, and there is always a tendency for the combs to 'wander' slightly to one side of the frame in order that the bees preserve their desired spacing.

This tendency can be thwarted by ensuring that bare frames are drawn-out whilst being sandwiched between either pre-drawn combs or a follower board - but a much better solution is to employ some means of frame-spacing adjustment. My girls seem to have levelled-out at around 33-34mm spacing, and I believe Michael Bush's are around 32mm.

A millimetre or two may not sound much to us HUGE humans, but to an organism which is only a handful of millimetres from head to toe, it can become a BIG deal - and such an error is accumulative ...
Just as with the combs of Top Bar Hives, a slight deviation in one comb is (unless suitable preventative steps are taken) transferred across to the next comb, and so on. But when the problem is one of frame-spacing, this error can compound until one new comb no longer lines up with it's intended frame starter-strip, and that's when the bees start to become 'creative'. :) Because they don't really care about Frames and Top Bars and starter-strips - they don't mind too much being 'guided' by them, but they ARE there only for human benefit - all the bees care about is getting their combs drawn in a manner which fits THEIR needs.

I don't want to give the impression that the above represents some kind of major obstacle, but it's just something to be born in mind, especially if things start to go a little awry. Foundationless beekeeping does involve a few more 'issues' which need to be dealt with than when working with standard foundation, and so I do have some sympathy with mbear's earlier comment, although it could perhaps have been worded rather more diplomatically. :)

'best
LJ
 
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