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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Thought you might like to see the results.
I used 1/3 sheet-1/2 sheet or 2/3 sheet of rite cell foundation and partial foundationless sides.

-Clean & reliably well drawn partially foundationless frames on a large scale.
-Absolute stability in deep frames, for inspections, extracting, transportation and even cold weather when cold comb is brittle.
-Control over the amount and location of both worker sized cells and drone cells. Drones for queen rearing early spring and cut comb honey late summer.

Here are some photos.

When starting out, alternate solid sheets with partial sheets.



Glue in a wood skewer to keep foundation centered and to serve as a guide for bees to start comb. Just roll the skewer through a bead of wood glue and into the grove on your top bar.



Here are all three sizes:



And the finished product:

1/3 sheet:



1/2 sheet:



2/3 sheet. (I use the other 1/3 in my mini frames for mating nucs)



2/3 sheet early spring in brood nest location:



I encourgage drone production for not only queen rearing, but for healthy well balanced colonies. But I want drone cells neat and orderly and reliable worker sized cells in the center of the frame. I get just what I want. You'll notice ther are no messy drone cells on the top or bottom of my frames.

It's easy to hack out drone comb with my hive tool. If I'm making up nucs and don't want the drone brood -out it comes. Check for mites of course! Or use for mite control as well:





Here are a few more photos. Heres a mid summer pic where as the drones hatch, they refill with honey. Look at all that feed right next to the brood. How do you think these bees will overwinter?



Below is a frame drawn in a hive with a newly mated 2014 queen. You'll notice the foundationless area is drawn in about 5.4 size. An colony with an overwintered queen would be drawing drone sized cells here. So keep in mind, it's not only the location and time of year that dictates your cell size, it is also the age of the queen.



Here's one with a 2012 queen heading the hive. Worker cells on the right, drone size on the left. Drone conb was near the entrances/front of the hive.




I did hundreds of these this year and only had a handfull that were not drawn perfectly.

This experiment not only gave me more organized and custom cell building with reliable worker sized cells in the center of the frames, it saved me a ton on foundation costs. It also allowed me to have partially foundationless comb in deep frames with total stability. Don't forget the nice neat piece of honeycomb on each side. A snap to cut out and perfectly uniform in size.

I notice I have no problems with backfilling this year in the broodcells. Yet the 2 bottom deeps are far heavier than usual and the bottom deep is not being abandoned. Why would they backfill brood cells when they have all this area available close by for honey storage? That's just exactly the way they've worked it. I've had not one swarm this year. Not one. I've got over 200 colonies.

My foundationless guides are food grade corn dog & caramel apple sticks from a restaurant supply.



I use the 2/3 sheet size in the bottom two deeps-brood nest area. 1/2 sheet above those and 1/3 sheet in the fourth deep on up if I'm looking for honeycomb production. If I want more drawn frames for next years broodnest area/checkerboarding/nuc production I use the 2/3 sheet for more worker sized cells.

This is how I package my honeycomb. Don't let your foodsaver crush it though. Seal it just before there is too much suction pressure.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Don't forget to make a frame holder/display case for your work!
Someone recently posted a photo of case like this on Beesource, that was made totally out of plexiglass. I got into beekeeping because I like wood working, so this was right up my alley. I'll be making some of these for Christmas gifts this year. It was a nice change from sweating in my bee jacket in 90+ degree sun all day.

Still a prototype and not yet finished..but you get the idea.



 

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Do you always alternate with full sheets before the partials are fully drawn? As you acquire more fully drawn partial sheets are you culling out the full foundation frames.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Right now I end up using 2:1 partials to solid frames. You can tuck in a partial anywhere you have a spot when other frames are drawn.
The solid and partial alternation is for a new box with new frames. They'll move up from the bottom center and draw out the foundation first.







Here you can see a partial on the left.



Something else I notice. When I have solid and partial frames next to each other, I get a 'mirror image' from the partial on to the solid frame. Which means, I see a similar feed storage pattern & similar brood pattern on both frames. What is different about that is, there is a larger proportion of feed on the solid frame than I usually see.



I also see the foundationless portion farthest from the entrances drawn and filled at different times than the front portion. Front is drawn first and will generally be filled with drone brood. Back portion will be drawn later and filled with feed. Eventually they are both filled with honey. I don't have a photo of that, but you can see in this photo they drew out the foundationless area differently. Front side is large cell with drone brood. Back side is worker sized cell with brood and feed.



I run both upper and lower entrances.
 

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Why do it this way rather then a starter strip across the top? What advantage are you seeing?

The first year I did bees I did, starter strips, full sheets and combinations of the two. I basically found that a full sheet ended up as a barrier if it was used in a hive with starter strips and in many cases they simply ate holes thru it. I found no significant difference in burr comb, messed up draws etc etc between any of them.

From then on I ran 100% starter strips.

~Matt
 

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Wow, you are full of great ideas! Thanks for sharing, gives me a lot of food for thought.
 

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Amazing!
 

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Matt, pretty sure that the advantage with this method is that each frame will have worker comb in the center of each frame. With a starter strip they will pull worker at the top, but they will probably fill that will honey in a growing hive. What is below that starter could be worker but it could also be drone or honey stores. Having frames that you know all have a portion of worker comb makes a lot of sense if you are making and selling bees. Drone comb and honey storage comb doesn't help you much when making bees (I assume). Plus she can easily cull the drone comb to reduce varroa without having to worry about the whole thing coming apart. Having that plastic foundation in there makes the setup very sturdy, since you don't have to worry about them securing the comb on the sides of the frame like you do with foundationless with starter strips.
 

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I don't see any advantage or savings in doing this. Time is money, unless of course it is your own free time. Any foundation savings cost is lost in all that special work cutting up foundation and making and mounting special comb guides on the side. I sure don't want 50% plus drone comb in my brood chambers. And comb honey made in a brood chamber? Travel stain? And the time spent to sort through the brood chambers and cut out the comb honey and drone comb? And the disturbance to the brood chamber and queen doing all that chopping up of the brood chamber? The waste of the queens energy laying all that drone comb and then chopping it out? And doing what with it? Feeding it to chickens? That is some time consuming chicken feed.
I will continue to use full sheets of wax worker foundation throughout my hives, limit the amount of drone comb in my brood chambers and raise my comb honey up in the honey supers.
 

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Speaking of how/where bees draw comb...I find in my hives outside is drawn last and on south facing hives west is drawn before east. Worker brood is a "ball" in the center, then nectar and pollen then capped honey up in the corners. Drone brood is usually taked on at top and bottom of the frame. In the spring some frames have more drone than worker brood but that seems to change as the season progresses.
Having said that my oldest hives are only in their second year:)
 

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Lauri;

Those frames sure do have eye appeal and set the mind on a trip with endless possibilities! I know you will probably not sell the idea to commercial folks where standardization is king. Hired help might not deal well with more decisions. It sure seems like a low budget way to have some fun in their hives for someone who is in it mainly for the fun factor.

Keep us posted here on the forum since many of us do not do the Facebook thing!
 

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odfrank, I'm not sure I follow you on the extra time. Wouldn't you just rip them on a chop saw? Seems like you could do the cutting very quickly. I would probably use a piece of coraplast for the starter strip, but that is just because I have that crap coming out of the gills. I rip that stuff on the table saw. Use a nailer to put the thing together. I guess having three pieces to go into a frame takes longer than a single piece, but not considerably. Or am I missing something else on the time versus money side of this?
 

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Lauri
Great photos! Thank you for sharing. I admire your skill with wood, and can tell you are having a good time at this endeavour. We all will benefit from your efforts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks everyone. The facebook page just works better for me. No negative comments, just friendly debate and discussion. I post a lot about queen rearing there. Nutrition, methods, results.

Heres a couple virgins just hatched out of the incubator today.







But these frames have been so successful for me, I thought I'd share some of the info for those interested.
 
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