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Hello

Finally we are coming out of our winter here in the Brunswick Maine coastal area. My bees seem to have survived. I have been regressing and headed toward Michael Bush's program of natural beekeeping. I did suffer one hive loss late last year due to mites and may have to FMGO the other colonies this spring. I will post here what I find for mite count etc.

My current question:
I purchased package bees raised on small cell to install in one new medium hive body this spring as I thought all this regressing is tiresome and I wanted to indulge :) and present myself with yet another fascinating experiment. Bee keeping is never boring. I am curious if people here suggest starting these new small cell raised bees on foundationless medium Langstoth box with a Popsicle stick as a guide or if opinions say it is best to start these bees out o purchased small cell foundation.

As always all advice appreciated.

Happy Spring
Marcy
 

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If it were me, I would buy enough pf-style frames from Mann Lake for the brood nest, and do whatever you feel like in the supers.
 

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Look at this in terms of advantages and disadvantages.

If you are treatment free, natural comb permits you to avoid chemicals in the wax. No foundation means you won't start with the levels of mite treatment residue typically found in wax foundation.

Letting bees build natural comb can be a problem because they typically build at least 25% drone cells. There will often be multiple zip lines in natural comb where bees build an initial comb, then join it to another partial comb built on the same frame. These zip lines often have a range of cell sizes. They can make frame manipulation more difficult.

All things considered, I would be very tempted to use starter strips of small cell wax foundation and let the bees do the rest.

Feeding should be continuous until the brood chamber is full of built out combs. With foundation, this is not as critical, the bees will often finish foundation as they are able during nectar flows. When you start with empty frames and a purchased package, it is important to give them the feed to get the brood nest fully built.
 

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Is the FMGO same as the OAV? Which one is more natural for them?

I have use the purchased small cell foundation before. It is better than the
one they draw on their own using the starter strip or the popsicle stick. On a flow they
drawn out the entire frame toward the bottom. All small cell bees on their first hatch now.
 

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If you start with small cell bees most any experiment will work fine. PF120s (or PF100s if you have deeps) or small cell wax or natural comb. The pros and cons were pretty much covered above, which are the wax foundation will be contaminated at least somewhat. The plastic is, well, plastic and if that bothers you, I would skip it. If it doesn't, then try it and see what they do. With regressed bees I think the most appealing choice is natural comb on foundationless frames.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If it were me, I would buy enough pf-style frames from Mann Lake for the brood nest, and do whatever you feel like in the supers.
Thanks Gunter.. I am curious what others think but getting started on the small size template could be helpful. Any reson to use PF instead of small cell wax?

Best
Marcy
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Look at this in terms of advantages and disadvantages.

If you are treatment free, natural comb permits you to avoid chemicals in the wax. No foundation means you won't start with the levels of mite treatment residue typically found in wax foundation.

Letting bees build natural comb can be a problem because they typically build at least 25% drone cells. There will often be multiple zip lines in natural comb where bees build an initial comb, then join it to another partial comb built on the same frame. These zip lines often have a range of cell sizes. They can make frame manipulation more difficult.

All things considered, I would be very tempted to use starter strips of small cell wax foundation and let the bees do the rest.

Feeding should be continuous until the brood chamber is full of built out combs. With foundation, this is not as critical, the bees will often finish foundation as they are able during nectar flows. When you start with empty frames and a purchased package, it is important to give them the feed to get the brood nest fully built.
Thanks Fusion

All good input. And thank you also for the feeding reminder!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If you start with small cell bees most any experiment will work fine. PF120s (or PF100s if you have deeps) or small cell wax or natural comb. The pros and cons were pretty much covered above, which are the wax foundation will be contaminated at least somewhat. The plastic is, well, plastic and if that bothers you, I would skip it. If it doesn't, then try it and see what they do. With regressed bees I think the most appealing choice is natural comb on foundationless frames.
Thank you Michael

I have had great luck with natural comb on foundationless frames encouraged by Popsicle sticks. Although I sometime have trouble seeing and understanding the stages of regression. I care deeply about this but also see the bees as self correcting my poor decisions. So far so good and the deep colonies that are regressing seem to be doing ok.

I guess I am not to terribly opposed to the plastic. I have noticed (before my natural bee keeping experiments) that when there is a choice of plastic in the hive vs. wax foundation they seem to draw comb on the wax and appear to be avoiding the plastic.

Michael, is it your opinion that once the brood box is set up on plastic or natural wax foundation that you would simply go to foundationless (encouraged with Popsicle sticks) for the upper boxes and suppers?

Thank you
Marcy
 

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>Michael, is it your opinion that once the brood box is set up on plastic or natural wax foundation that you would simply go to foundationless (encouraged with Popsicle sticks) for the upper boxes and suppers?

There is nothing wrong with that plan. But any box will be a better bet if you put one drawn comb in it. You can pull it up from below if you need to...
 

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A frame with foundation in it does work best. I use wired small cell (it gets hot here). You can then rotate it out if you feel the need. I like to use 4 or 5 frames of small cell for the brood chambers and go foundationless on the outside frames of the hive. Nothing beats having your first frame drawn nicely to entice the bees to draw successive foundationless frames out in the same manner. At the end of the day though, most of my frames are natural cell (foundationless).
 

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Michael,

if I tend to put empty frame in spring menagment time, what position should I choose? You suggest centar of the brood nest. Is it right to the frame with eggs, colder or hoter side of hive etc... is there some rules for other time of the year? Should i feed, how much... Bees did some great job until now and hope they will continue that way.

Thanks
 

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>if I tend to put empty frame in spring menagment time, what position should I choose?

Later spring management, I would put it in the center. Early spring management, I would leave them alone...

> You suggest centar of the brood nest.

Yes.

>Is it right to the frame with eggs, colder or hoter side of hive etc...

The bees need to be able to fill that gap quickly with festooning bees. If not, then it's too early. I don't really think about the colder or hotter side...

> is there some rules for other time of the year?

No point in opening the brood nest after prime swarm season unless they seem to be building up very quickly and you think they might swarm. But this is unlikely after prime swarm season if you keep empty supers on.

>Should i feed, how much...

The only reason I feed in the spring is if they are short on stores. If you leave them plenty of stores they tend to build up quickly in the spring. If they don't have stores they will not.
 

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>if I tend to put empty frame in spring menagment time, what position should I choose?

Later spring management, I would put it in the center. Early spring management, I would leave them alone...

> You suggest centar of the brood nest.

Yes.

>Is it right to the frame with eggs, colder or hoter side of hive etc...

The bees need to be able to fill that gap quickly with festooning bees. If not, then it's too early. I don't really think about the colder or hotter side...

> is there some rules for other time of the year?

No point in opening the brood nest after prime swarm season unless they seem to be building up very quickly and you think they might swarm. But this is unlikely after prime swarm season if you keep empty supers on.

>Should i feed, how much...

The only reason I feed in the spring is if they are short on stores. If you leave them plenty of stores they tend to build up quickly in the spring. If they don't have stores they will not.

I did not treat bees since I bought two colony in 2013.
First year I have not prepare my self. I got no smoker but I sprinkle with mint/honey tea. I dump empty frame in honey hive body and deep brood chamber put on top of the hive above queen excluder, since I bought bees few days before main and short honey flow (Robinia pseudoacacia). Eventually, i have finded an old grandpa smoker.
I have tried raising queen starter/finisher in the same colony but I did not put the queen excluder in the hive entrance and queen find her way back and destroy queen cells. Marked queen, same who she was in that hive.
Than I split and go to winter with one strong colony and 3 late season splits.
One strong colony that survived got in spring triple winter store and become a monster colony. Dense with bee 6 hive body, two deep and 4 medium before main honey flow.
10 days before a flow I made starter/finisher as Michael Palmer propose. Although I halved the hive in ten days there was no difference.
Last year here was a flood. I did a job as I wish for and go to winter with six colony. They winter successfully. Strongest colony, however, have one frame natural brood comb.

As I don´t treat nor feed and especially if is dearth. I let the bees to deal with varoa but I have one auger hole 1˝ diameter in low hive body in winter/automn/spring management. And two auger holes 1˝ diameter across hive bodies which create brood chamber in honey flow season. That is beekeeping system of Ivan Brndusic from Serbia. There was a screen bottom board but it was closed. Beekeeping as much as possible like feral bees. There was indeed honey and bees and no swarming issue.

All that with old comb. Cell 5.2
I made some concrete mold 5.1 but I am thinking I wouldn´t have so much time.

My goals for this year is:

Produce two dosen queens and do some spliting with 4 medium frame of brood with food but 2 frame in the low hive body and 2 frame up.

Spliting up to 30 nucleus.

Set the standard

32 mm width of frame.

Make all solid bottom board.

Set all colony in vertical alignment. Make 7 frame, 3-4 medium hive body for brood department in next year. That much for honey.

And let the bees to do they part - natural comb.

Sorry, I write to much but I thought it´s just a message.

???

I was wondering should I set two medium height with two medium empty frame between 4 frame of brood and food( 2 above 2) for building natural comb and try to downsize the bees or run single story height.

Is there something important that I am missing?
 

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If you start with small cell bees most any experiment will work fine. PF120s (or PF100s if you have deeps) or small cell wax or natural comb. The pros and cons were pretty much covered above, which are the wax foundation will be contaminated at least somewhat. The plastic is, well, plastic and if that bothers you, I would skip it. If it doesn't, then try it and see what they do. With regressed bees I think the most appealing choice is natural comb on foundationless frames.
The bees know what they want and will build what they want. I am all foundationless. In the 70's I used foundation there were no mites or dope in the wax and the bees lived and did well you would have winter losses but very few. This winter I have lost 4 of 15 last winter 17 of 30, SO maybe this year there will be more swarms,splits and cut outs for local survivor bees to work with lord knows I have plenty of boxes to fill up.
 

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I'd say the wax foundation gets drawn wonky where the bees won't use the impressions as guides and draw it larger. On the other hand wax can get funky lobes attached to it as well but it's easier to work with so I'd say it evens out in the end. I might've tossed the comb, but I should've taken a picture of it, small cell wax foundation, one side drawn perfect, the other side wonky large cell for nectar and pollen.
 

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Is the FMGO same as the OAV? Which one is more natural for them?
I say neither even approaches natural, but if I had to pick one over the other I would go with OA - people I trust report decent Mite drop with it. As for natural: FGMO = Food Grade Mineral Oil = Petrolium and the concentration of OA used by most is way above what occurs naturally.
 

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Thanks, Andrew.

I don't use the petroleum treatment. I put a stationary OVA set up under the hive.
At every new hatch and in between the capped brood cycle I would treat them. So far
95% of the free running mites got knocked off and died. OA is the way to go for me now. No side
effects on the bees and queen so far. Lots of healthy young bees without the mites on them and no
DWV. I'm happy now!
 
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