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I live in SE Michigan and will be starting two hives from packages about May 10. My plan is to use all eight frame medium boxes and PF 120 small cell frames. My question is, should all my frames be the small cell or should I provide other options for the bees. Would it make sense to use standard frames for honey supers and restrict the plastic frames to the brood chambers? Will they make drone cells on the small frames? I expect to use three mediums in each hive as brood chambers, will that be sufficient or is another one needed? PF 120 frames are all plastic, is plastic more difficult to work with as far as maintenance? I am new and am most comfortable starting out with assembled equipment so for now making frames is out.
 

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I used some plastic foundation last year and did a bit of a testwith it. Some of the frames i did nothing to, while others I rolled on some melted beeswax. They drew out the frames with the extra wax faster than the plain ones. My sample was not statistically significant, but it's something to consider if you're sold on the plastic foundation. I'm not sure if others have had similar experience, but my bees seem to prefer no foudnation at all. By prefer, i mean they draw it out faster. I like this simply becasue its cheaper, and they can draw whatever comb they think they need. As a hobby kind of guy, this suits me just fine. It probably wouldn't work out so well for the commercial folks. An additional bonus is that it's one less thing to purchase. If yo think that small cell is the right choice for you, i don't want to try to change your mind. Just letting you know what seems to keep my bees happy.
 

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>My question is, should all my frames be the small cell or should I provide other options for the bees.

Your choice.

>Would it make sense to use standard frames for honey supers and restrict the plastic frames to the brood chambers?

If you are going to have two sizes in the hive, I would use an excluder and drone comb in the supers. But I would use all the same size myself.

>Will they make drone cells on the small frames?

Some. Mostly they will put them between the boxes.

> I expect to use three mediums in each hive as brood chambers, will that be sufficient or is another one needed?

You need four.

> PF 120 frames are all plastic, is plastic more difficult to work with as far as maintenance?

No maintenance. Pull the out of the cardboard box and put them in the bee box... if the wax moths ever eat the comb, scrape it off and give it back to the bees. If they REALLY eat it all, then just shake the webs off and give it back to the bees...

>I am new and am most comfortable starting out with assembled equipment so for now making frames is out.

The PF120s will work fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you Michael Bush. I will plan on seven mediums per hive four of which will be for brood. I will purchase two excluders but do not plan to use them the first year. I will start off with all PF120 frames and see how it goes. As you say everything works if you let it. We will see. I have read everythiing on your site and am honored that you responded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
ARGluck, it is my understanding that they take to these frames well, we will see. I will report in June as to how this works out because this seems to be the most reasonable approach for a newbee to start right out with small cell hives. I understand that purists do not consider this truly small cell but it is close enough for me.
 

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In my experience they draw them out pretty well but you do have to watch. Sometimes they draw out half of it perfectly then get to an injection molded divot in the PF120 and decide to do something funky. So I end up scraping off the bad part. The PF120 is nice though and much less work than the alternative.

>How well do package bees (being larger size) draw out PF 120s?

In my experience they draw them perfectly.
 

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I have bees on PF120 but they were already regressed. I have yet to regress bees straight from a package using PF120 hence the question. I have about 10 drawn extra PF frames I was hoping to give my package but wasn't sure how well they'd accept the size. Good to know it shouldn't be an issue.

I know what you mean, my experiences (w/smaller bees) has been they draw them out pretty well w/the exception that occasionally they'll do something odd w/a spot. Luckily it's an easy fix.
 

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My question is, should all my frames be the small cell or should I provide other options for the bees. Would it make sense to use standard frames for honey supers and restrict the plastic frames to the brood chambers? Will they make drone cells on the small frames? I expect to use three mediums in each hive as brood chambers, will that be sufficient or is another one needed? PF 120 frames are all plastic, is plastic more difficult to work with as far as maintenance? I am new and am most comfortable starting out with assembled equipment so for now making frames is out.
Whatever you decide, put all the same types of frames in each box. For example, if you use the PF120's, run all PF120's in that box. If the bees show a preference for the wooden frames (which they are very likely to do), they will be reluctant to draw the PF120's. And draw the wooden frames out wide and make a comb surprise.

Running all PF120's in the brood chamber is not a bad idea. I don't remember seeing any drone cells on my PF120's. Although I don't run a lot of the PF120s.

I run an "unlimited" broodnest, so I can't comment if three eight frame mediums is enough. I like to overwinter in four eight frame mediums. Most of my eight frame colonies liked four eight frame mediums as a broodnest, some liked five. You can control this somewhat. Once they have a frame of stores, put your supers above that. The queen is not likely to cross honey supers to lay eggs.

All things considered, with medium frames, I like a plain foundationless wood frame the best. You can buy wood frames pre assembled. Keep your hives level, and they will draw the frames in the broodnest just fine.

Shane
 
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