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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All,

I'm posting this in the 101 section in the hope it will prevent getting my head ripped off in the small cell debate


a little background:
I'm a rookie
started 1 hive with beeginer kit from Brushy Mountain
2 deeps full of peirco
put in package beee's, they draw foundation beautifully, no problem
I read all this talk about SC and mites
I think "In my position as a rookie, this doesn't cost me anything, I just use SC foundation rather than peirco", worth a try
I get some SC foundation and make up a frame and put it in hive
it buckles because of my incompetence at wiring it and the bee's draw very "confused" comb, odd shaped cells
it looks bad sitting next to those perfectly straight uniform peirco frames
read a little more
take a sheet of SC foundation and cut it into 10 starter strips
make up a medium box with these
take the first frame of SC foundation that didn't go so well and cut it down to a medium frame and put it with 9 frames of starter strips in between the 2 deeps of peirco I originally started with
the bee's draw it out great

it is NOT as perfect as the peirco, but then I didn't really expect it to be
there is a little wavyness in the comb and the cell size varies gradually over the frame, but this is kinda what I expect, they did draw it well within the plane of the frame
make up another medium box of starter strip
they draw it out the same way

So, after to much background, time for a question:

forget the whole mite squabble for a second
let's talk about money
given that the bee's appear to draw out the starter strips just fine, why would I put foundation in the brood nest of my hives?
in the quantities I buy, peirco cost $7.80 + shipping to make up a medium box
doing it with starter strips cost me a buck (less if I don't use SC foundation)

ok, a seconds up, back to the mite squabble:

maybe it helps with the mites
maybe it cures the problem
if it does, it's the "holy grail" of beekeeping

maybe it doesn't do any good at all
rat's, then I'm stuck walking around with $6/box in my pocket
let's see, I'm gonna start 6 or 7 hives next spring
3 boxes per hive (I'm using all mediums)
supers (I'm thinking of using starter strips there since I'm gonna do crush and strain)
man I hope these ain't all singles or it will be a wad of cash


sorry, didn't mean to get sarcastic there
but back to the question:

given the fact, that in my EXTREMELY LIMITED experience, the bee's seem to draw comb within the plane of the frame when given starter strips instead of foundation, why would I spend money on foundation???

Dave

[ October 25, 2005, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: drobbins ]
 

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Hello Drobbins sounds like you are doing okay to me. Starter strips works for me. I am not one to "rip anyones head off", not even over mites.
Keep up the momentum of using starter strips and next you will be blank frames with a rib or "popsicle strip" waxed with bees wax.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>forget the whole mite squabble for a second
let's talk about money given that the bee's appear to draw out the starter strips just fine, why would I put foundation in the brood nest of my hives?

The argument for years was that the bees will rear more drones than with foundation. I think they will rear the same number no matter what you do. Some studies have come to the same conclusion.

>maybe it doesn't do any good at all
rat's, then I'm stuck walking around with $6/box in my pocket
let's see, I'm gonna start 6 or 7 hives next spring
3 boxes per hive (I'm using all mediums)
supers (I'm thinking of using starter strips there since I'm gonna do crush and strain)
man I hope these ain't all singles or it will be a wad of cash

Or you can take some used popscicle sticks and put them in the grooves or cut some triangles out of wood and nail them on the bottom of the top bar and not even bother to buy the foundation.

>given the fact, that in my EXTREMELY LIMITED experience, the bee's seem to draw comb within the plane of the frame when given starter strips instead of foundation, why would I spend money on foundation???

Good question.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
>The argument for years was that the bees will rear more drones than with foundation. I think they will rear the same number no matter what you do. Some studies have come to the same conclusion.

a bit more background:

first I put a frame of SC foundation in the hive and it didn't go particularly well
then I put in 1 frame with a starter strip
the bee's drew it out ~ 50% drone comb
it looked freaky to a rookie
I posted a question here and the suggestion was that the foundation was suppressing the bee's need to build drone comb, and when I gave em a free hand they made up for it
after I gave em a whole box of starter strips I didn't see this any more
of course by this time it was getting later in the season and maybe they just didn't have a need for drones
I understand that the mites prefer drone comb, but is the philosophy for fighting the mites to prevent the bee's from having sex (no drones)?
that doesn't sound to good for the future of the bee's


Dave
 

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Just curious dave, did you start with a package of smaller bees with the small cell foundation? I am starting in the spring with small cell in an eight frame medium hive. I am new to this and can't wait to get started..
 

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Just curious dave, did you start with a package of smaller bees with the small cell foundation? I am starting in the spring with small cell in an eight frame medium hive. I am new to this and can't wait to get started..
 

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You can put any bees on starter strips or comb guides or full sheets of small cell. The small cell bees will draw it better and smaller, but both will draw smaller than they will with standard foundation.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
nope
just run of the mill itallians
and I actually didn't start with small cell
I started with the plastic stuff that came in my beeginer kit
it was fine, the bee's drew it out beautifully
then it was time to add boxes
decided I may as well try SC
ended up using starter strips (long explanation in original post)
I must say the bee's aren't really drawing "small cell" comb.
some is 5.0 - 5.1 mm
some is as big as the plastic (5.25 mm)
but I started this experiment after the prime brood comb drawing season (early spring)
I'm hoping when I open up the brood nest in early spring by introducing some new frames od starter strips to discourage swarming, they draw it out < 4.9 mm
I also hope it helps with the mites
I don't have enough experience to know what will happen
I will paraphrase from MB here

"if you don't check for mites, you won't know if what you're doing is working"

you're way ahead of me
I started learning about bee's last february

six weeks before I got bee's

these forums are great
read a lot
learn to use the search button at the top
you can get long running discussion of any topic

Have Funn

Dave
 

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My understanding of the matter is that people used starter strips or there equivalent for many years following the introduction of the Langstroth hive. Foundation was introduced to speed the drawing of comb honey or so that wires could be used to strengthen extracted combs. If your not trying to produce oceans of honey, starter strips should do just fine (I've even had Italians draw out empty frames). Feral and skep and TBH bees do just fine without foundation. You also have a third option: buy plain wax foundation (SC, drone, whatever) and wire it yourself. Even commercial beekeepers will often invest the time/effort into doing this. Heck, some folks even make their own sheets of flat wax and use that as foundation.
 
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