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What has been your experience with them and do you think they are a useful investment?
 

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Since the bees draw out foundationless drone so willingly it is easy to get drone to cull for mite control or let emerge for breeding. It is messy to uncap and blow out and if you freeze the frame then let the bees remove the drones they make a stinking mess because much of the dead merely get dropped off the doorstep.

Lauri has a good system of installing a partial sheet of worker size foundation and leaving empty space both sides of it where they will build drone comb. No special equipment. Later in the season that space gets filled with honey for winter.
 

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What crofter said is true. They are a mess to deal with. I have tried letting them thaw and hitting them with a hose and have tried scraping them with a putty knife while frozen and banging them out. Neither method works great, but the hose method is a bit better. I started using Lauri's method last year for OSB (opening sides of broodnest) and it is easier for sure. So next time I may put the drone combs in for one cycle mid summer after primary swarm season and cull the drone comb from OSB frames before then. J
 

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They require absolute diligence. If you get slack and are late removing them, then they are counterproductive. If you can stay on top of them….they help. I am not conscientious enough.
 

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Thanks, guys. I'll stick with some foundationless. I freeze them, and put them out for the birds and ants to take care of.
 

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2sox: When you get the time look up OSB by Matt Davies and Laurie Miller's method for doing it with plastic foundation. It is an anti-swarming technique, not really for mite control. But it can be used for that too. During swarm season when you are trying to keep the brood nest open, you can cut out the drone cells right there, put them in a can, place frame right back in, and feed it to the birds. No need to freeze. J
 

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If you have chickens, or a friend who does, just give the foundationless drone frames to them to clean out.

But also remember (in addition to getting them out on time), that when the greatest need for mite suppression occurs (after mid-summer) the bees are getting more reluctant to draw out and fill drone cells, so they stop being as useful.

They may be most useful for a round, or two, in late spring and early summer as a means of moving the starting point backwards on the mite numbers at the outset of the season, but then switching to another harm-reduction strategy as time goes by. Good, season-long mite monitoring will give you the guidance you need.

Nancy
 

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I use a drone frame as one of the parts of my mite control system. I own green frames but the bees have not drawn them well. I mostly have frames of damaged wax foundation frames that when the girls fixed them drew drone comb. So i mark the frames DRONE and pull them in the summer when they get capped. I let them raise drones in the spring for good drone population for spring queen mateing as part of queen rearing.

I also agree that as part of a mite management program they HAVE To be removed after being capped otherwise your not doing your hives any help by keeping them around. So its management technique that I generally do not recommend to beginners.
 

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I usually just stick a couple foundationless frames in and let them draw those out and fill with drone and then once they are full of larvae i just put them up in a higher box so that when they emerge they hopefully just backfill with honey and not more drones. If I notice a lot of mites then i just freeze the frame or cut it out to get rid of infected drones.
 
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