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Regular frames for foundationless?

1707 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Michael Bush
Hey all,

I have decided to go foundationless and to just let the bees be bees and do their thing.

What I would like to know is whether or not I can just use plain old regular frames, but without the foundation. I plan on installing guides, but I just need to know if regular frames will work.

Also, for a new hive, would it be a good idea to have all ten frames foundationless or to install one or two frames with some kind of foundation and have the rest foundationless.

Thanks guys!
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I'm replacing foundation with empty frames to let them do it on their own, but I've found they do a much better job if I rotate foundationless frames into the brood frames after they've drawn out foundation. They really don't like having the empty frames or frames in the center of the hive and draw it out very quickly. When I let them do it their own way, they would start everything straight, but when they got to the outside frames, they would draw comb too far to get the frames out without cutting the comb and leaking honey all over everything. The bees would clean it up, but it took all summer to get that hive to have uniform comb from side to side. I also cross wired the deep frames as everyone seems to agree that freshly drawn comb is very fragile and it breaks off easily when you are doing hive checks , especially if the weather is hot. Wiring the frames seems to have taken care of this for me. If you are using all medium equipment, this may not be an issue and I'm not wiring my supers because I may be doing crush and strain and/or comb honey to harvest.

I don't know how many hive you will have. I only have two and a nuc. If I had 10 or more hives, I think keeping them drawing straight foundation from the get go would require a LOT of work and be very messy. You can always use the foundation comb to bait swarm traps or just have on hand if you need it. You can't have too much drawn comb when you are starting!

As for using regular frame, I do and glue the wide Popsicle sticks in the groove. Works fine.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck and have fun!

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I'm turning all my old foundation and "old" comb into other things. Leaving a bit of space, as was mentioned above, seems to be all the encouragement they need to build more. "My opinion" is that "they like building their own comb."


"None of us is free if one of us is chained."
Short answer is yes, if you use a guide they will build comb in plain old frames.
Welcome, and good luck to you!
To answer your question, if you have frames with a wedge, turn the wedge and nail it in as a guide. If you don't have a wedge, but a groove, the popsicle sticks work.

If you don't have frames, Kelley's is now making frames with the guide already provided.
If you currently have comb, install foundationless next to your existing comb, and that will help them build their new comb.. gives them a ladder to get to the top of the frames... and a parallel guide. If you don't have comb, as is my case in some instances, I'll put one or two frames of foundation in, to give them a "ladder" to get to the top of the frames to start working.
Hope this helps.
Thank you everyone! This is exactly what I was looking for.. So from what it sounds like, I should start at least a frame or two of foundation, at the very least so the bees have a ladder, although I assume it also helps them to draw a straight comb.. Cool! Thanks guys!:)
If you use grooved top bars, put a strip of wood in them. If you use wedge top bars, turn the wedge on edge and nail it back in.
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