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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been working with a local beekeeper to gain some knowledge and confidence. He genuinely loves beekeeping and has been very helpful to me, including selling me some NUCs. I have been asking him about new products, like the full drawn plastic frames (e.g. Pierco® Frames). His comment is simply, “I don’t like to try new things”. Which is okay, he seems to be doing very well with the system that he uses. He employs wax foundation with grooved bars.

I should mention that I plan to extract the honey.

So here are my question:
1)If you could start over from scratch, what frames/foundation would you start with? Fully drawn plastic, plastic foundation in Grooved/split bottom bar, wax foundation with grooved/split bottom bar, ect.

2)How does this fully drawn plastic frames work in the brood box?

3)I have been looking at prices for hive bodies and medium suppers. After doing some cost comparisons, the hive bodies seem to be the best value (strictly from a cost stand point). My question is other than the weight of a hive body when full, are there any other issues that I should be aware of before deciding on using “Deep” Suppers only?
 

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The best advise I can give you is don't use deeps for honey supers, better yet don't use them at all. You never know what life will give you. Lifting 90 pounds with two tiny crimper hand holds may not always be doable. When you have deeps in brood boxes, you can't easily switch out combs with extra drawn comb from honey supers. I tell everyone I kow getting into beekeeping to think about using only Medium Illinois supers for everything. Its difficult to switch to that later on as its hard to make a split from a deep into a medium. There are many other options to lighten the load, but mediums are very common and versitle. I just read an article by Walt Wright where he says two deeps are the worst possible combination for TN beekeepers since it splits the central overwintering brood area to two boxes. Any other combination dosen't do that. I see the logic of that statement. Not sure if it was proven to be detrimental.
I would NOT recomend plastic foundation to a begginer since it has some quirks that you may not be able to easily follow. I would think fully drawn plastic comb would be an easy start, yet expensive. Wax or starter strips seems easiest to get the bees to draw comb. Wired wax foundation is pretty sturdy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just read an article by Walt Wright where he says two deeps are the worst possible combination for TN beekeepers since it splits the central overwintering brood area to two boxes. Any other combination dosen't do that. I see the logic of that statement. Not sure if it was proven to be detrimental.
I read that article to. The guy that is mentoring me, over winters his hives with 2 deeps and a medium. Again not saying it right, just telling you what he does.

I would think fully drawn plastic comb would be an easy start, yet expensive.
Thank you for this response. That is exactly the type of answer that I was looking for. Money is always and issue, at least with me :confused: but, I would rather start out with good stuff and less hives than to jump in head first without a clue.
 

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<<The best advise I can give you is don't use deeps for honey supers, better yet don't use them at all. You never know what life will give you. Lifting 90 pounds with two tiny crimper hand holds may not always be doable. When you have deeps in brood boxes, you can't easily switch out combs with extra drawn comb from honey supers.>>
I bought my first medium after I turned 50. With a two frame extractor, it took just as long to work a medium as it did a deep. With nothing but deeps, I had no trouble intermingling. If you are 50 or older, or female, or just plain lazy, maybe mediums are the way to go. I don't know Walt, but I would say all other combos will split the cluster even more.

Whatever you decide to use, one fact remains. The habit of using the same throughout will always be an advantage. Mixing will always cause you problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I bought my first medium after I turned 50. With a two frame extractor, it took just as long to work a medium as it did a deep. With nothing but deeps, I had no trouble intermingling. If you are 50 or older, or female, or just plain lazy, maybe mediums are the way to go. I don't know Walt, but I would say all other combos will split the cluster even more.
This doesn't sound lazy, it sounds like good common sense. I am about to turn 40, so I can relate. Iddee, what do you think of the full drawn plastic frames?
 

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I tried Duragilt in the early eighties and didn't like it. Never tried plastic after that.
I use wood and wired wax, then crosswire and embed. I'm think I'm going to try the 1 inch strips in the brood chamber next year, for the smaller cell, but plan to stay the same in the supers for extracting. I now go against my own advice and mix deeps for brood and mediums for honey. Hard for an old dog to learn new tricks.
 

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>like the full drawn plastic frames (e.g. Pierco® Frames)

Pierco is NOT fully drwan. It is one piece frame and foundation. So far, the only fully drawn comb, actually available, that I know of, is PermaComb.

>1)If you could start over from scratch, what frames/foundation would you start with? Fully drawn plastic, plastic foundation in Grooved/split bottom bar, wax foundation with grooved/split bottom bar, ect.

Foundationless or small cell wax with wire or wax dipped PermaComb. Everything else is, IMO (and the bees) the wrong cell size.

The cell size issue and the BOX size issue (lifting) are the two things I wish I'd done differently. I wish I'd bought 8 frame mediums (no deeps and no 10 frame boxes) from the start and I wish I'd let the bees build natural comb from the start.

>2)How does this fully drawn plastic frames work in the brood box?

The only "fully drawn" plastic I know of (as mentioned above) is PermaComb. There are many discussions of PermaComb. Do a search. There are a variety of "issues" that I used to think were problems and have learned to like about it. There is only one other company TALKING about fully drawn plastic and, as far as I know, it's not available yet.

>3)I have been looking at prices for hive bodies and medium suppers. After doing some cost comparisons, the hive bodies seem to be the best value (strictly from a cost stand point). My question is other than the weight of a hive body when full, are there any other issues that I should be aware of before deciding on using “Deep” Suppers only?

Other than? Have you every lifted a 90 pound full deep box by yourself? Now try to set it down gently. It's a pretty big issue for me. I'm done with the 60 pounds 10 frame mediums too. It's all eight frame mediums for me from now on. A 60 pound medium full of honey is painful. A 90 pound deep is VERY painful. A 48 pound eight frame medium full of honey is heavy. I already cut down my deep boxes and frames to mediums. Now I'm going to cut down all my 10 frame medium boxes and convert them to eight frame boxes. It sure would have been easier to do it from the start. Equipment lasts a long time. I have boxes that are 31 years old and I'm still using them. Are you going to want to be lifting 90 pound full deeps 30 years from now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the correction Michael. I was talking about PermaComb. Sorry for the confusion.

Your advice, combined with Iddee's, has definitly convinced me to stick with medium box's. I had never consider 8 frame boxes though. I have to take a look.

Thanks Again!
 

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You don't have to be over 50 to break your back. Took a while to recover to lift the mediums. I probably still shouldn't be lifting the deeps. Like I said, you never know what life will deal you. I like the idea of 8's just haven't worked with or even seen any in person yet.
 
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"I wish I'd bought 8 frame mediums (no deeps and no 10 frame boxes) from the start and I wish I'd let the bees build natural comb from the start."

I did purchase all medium 8 frames for my first year, (photo on the web http://www.blackortholux.com/imgfiles/Honeybees%20by-the-Sea.jpg ) and I am interested in beginning the conversion to small cell. During inspection the lower of my three medium brood boxes is the least congested. Is it feasible to replace every other frame with a foundationless frame? Will they draw smaller cells or will they try to match the larger cells already drawn? Thank you, Donna
 

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MB, In your case, I'll make an exception. With the horses, bees, forum, and all the rest, you may be taking the easy way out with 8 frame mediums, but lazy, I think not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Michael a couple question for you. In wisconsin most people overwinter in two hive bodies (8-10 frames).

If I were to go to a 8 Frame hive (how may frames do you run, 6-7 frames?), would I need to overwinter in 2 deeps and a medium/shallow to compensate for the missing frames?

Finally, in a good year (this is my first so obviously I not speaking from experience) a strong hive can have 2 deeps and 2-4 suppers. With a 8 frame setup, how high does the hive get? Do you have issues with it getting to high to easily get the top supper off?

Sorry for the basic questions, but I am trying to get it right the first time around.
 

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I listened to Michael Bush when I started and went all mediums. It has saved me numerous times being able to move frames where ever they are needed. I didn't do 8 frame because they are harder to find for me. Dadant is nearby and I save shipping on their 10 frame mediums. That said, I am 50 and a full day of working 10 frame mediums will leave me with a sore back, even if they aren't full of honey. I also listened to Michael on foundationless frames and now that's all I do. Bevel the top bars on the table saw and assemble, that's it.
 

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Donna Marie, I saw the photo of your hives on a previous post. I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful couple of hives! They are a real postcard-worthy sight.

Congratulations.
 

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>Is it feasible to replace every other frame with a foundationless frame?

I wouldn't do every other frame, but you could do a couple in each box at a time.

>Will they draw smaller cells

First they will probably build some drone, then they will probably build smaller cells.

> or will they try to match the larger cells already drawn?

They won't try to match the larger cells.

>If I were to go to a 8 Frame hive (how may frames do you run, 6-7 frames?)

In the brood nest I run 9 frames in an 8 frame box. I either shave the end bars down to 1 1/4" or interleave frames with PermaComb which has no spacers. In the supers, I run 8 or 9 frames until they drawn them and then go to 7 when they are drawn combs.

> would I need to overwinter in 2 deeps and a medium/shallow to compensate for the missing frames?

I wouldn't use any deeps. I assume we are talking about eight frame boxes? I'd overwinter in three or four eight frame medium boxes. I'd overwinter in three or four 10 frame medium boxes.

>With a 8 frame setup, how high does the hive get?

That's up to you as far as when you harvest. If you harvest often you can keep it shorter. If you don't harvest often and only harvest once it will get taller. I don't worry about it unless it gets really tall.

> Do you have issues with it getting to high to easily get the top supper off?

Yes. Sometimes it's a stretch. But that's my fault for not being willing to harvest more often.

But I haven't had them too tall to get it done, just too tall to get it up there easily.
 

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>does beveling the top bar with a table saw make it difficult to put the end bars on?

It makes it harder to staple or nail from outside into the top bar through the end bar, but other than that, no.

>Do you rip the whole top bar or just the part where the foundation would have been?

I rip at 45 degrees at exactly the point where it leaves a little bit flat on on the corner of the piece of the groove. Or I buy them without grooves.

This one is cut on a grooved top bar. If you look closely you can see the groove in places:

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/FoundationlessDrawn.JPG

This one is cut on an ungrooved top bar.

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/FoundationlessFrame2.JPG
 

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Michael Bush (or anyone else that has done this)

I like the idea at age 62 of the 8 frame box but like Ross am near enough to the Dadant TX branch to buy boxes from them & pick them up (also quite a lot cheaper than Brushy's 8 frame before shipping)! Anyway, do you have some kind of jig, pattern, etc. that would expedite re-cutting the "teeth" that align the boxes after cutting them down? Sorry, I'm not a woodworker so don't know the terminology. :( I did find a used table saw and a dado head for it but haven't used it much. Most of the 40 boxes I bought in anticipation of a much better season are still unassembled as I haven't needed them yet so I feel now would be the best time to cut them down.

Lew
 

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I have not cut down 10 frame boxes yet, but I have a plan to cut them all down soon. This would be on assembled boxes. My intent is to cut the ends at 13 3/4" and cut the side at 18 3/8" except for a 3/8" ear on each end that fits into the frame rest rabbet. It will be basically a butt joint which I will glue and screw with deck screws.

Now I need a plan for the bottom boards.

Since (as I understand it) Dadant now owns Western Bee Supply and Western Bee supply has said they will gladly produce 8 frame boxes, my guess is you can get the Dadant people to sell you some 8 frame boxes even though they aren't listed in the catalog.
 
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