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When I started beekeeping in August 2013, I was giving the bees frames with foundation, however they were reluctant in drawing new frames. Thus, in order to encourage them, I've used to place a foundation frame in the middle of the colony. That helped, however sometimes were reluctant to build new comb, and when that happened this foundation frame acted like a separator and consequently, I had a queen balling problems that had ultimately killed my queen.

After reading about foundationless - I wanted to try it. At first I have tried it by putting a layer of wax on the top of frame, I thought it would direct the bees, however, after reading further, I learned that that there is not need to put this layer of wax. I've tried it and indeed it worked just fine - actually the comb holds even better to the wooden frame.

Now when I add new frames i dont longer have the fear of separating the colony in case the bees are reluctant to build more comb. Foundationless frames do not act as a barrier. I am noticing that they start drawing comb much faster and the queen start laying in it immediately. Every 5 days, I put a new frame in the middle and in just few days it is full drawn.

This is also saving me money.

Is foundation just a marketing brain-washing idea?

Read more: http://beekeeping.freeforums.net/thread/42/miracle-foundationless#ixzz2x02v1Rtt
 

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I started beekeeping in Spring 2012 with all frames with foundation. Last year, I replaced about 1/4 of my frames with foundationless. I'll continue this until I am totally foundationless in my brood chambers.
 

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That's pretty much how I got foundationless. I couldn't get them to draw foundation unless they needed it bad. Drop in an empty frame and it often would be drawn in a day.

Give them a box of foundationless though and your liable to have a mess. Not always, some hives will just draw nice comb no matter what. Some have no sense of direction.

I drop a frame between two drawn frames and when it's ready I move another or two out and do it again.
I try to always have an empty between two drawn frames.

I lined the face of my extractor with chicken wire to extract these when their still fresh. Cuts way down on the blowouts.
 

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We are starting to run a lot of foundationless natural cell combs... Works great when you remember one good comb leads to another. You will see a lot more drone comb, which is an asset for us since we have so many queens to mate. Kinda funny; many hate drones but want well mated queens. Sort of a hilarious contradiction. So far the hives with the extra drone comb seem as productive as ever.
 

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>Is foundation just a marketing brain-washing idea?

Pretty much. One that started in the late 1800s and had convinced a significant number of people by the 1940s. The main selling point was promising less drones...
 

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This is my first year beekeeping. I was going to use all foundation and I ordered some. But in the process I decided to go without foundation. I did use some rite cell as a flat surface for them to direction themselves off of.

So far 4 days they have pulled most of the right cell and have started to pull lots of comb on the foundation. I think the reason they started on the rite cell was because I had the queen cage directly beside it.

So far so good!
 

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>Is foundation just a marketing brain-washing idea?

Pretty much. One that started in the late 1800s and had convinced a significant number of people by the 1940s. The main selling point was promising less drones...
Is there any data out there that shows less drones= more productivity? I have never seen it. Well mated queens with good genetics are the most important factor in productivity in my opinion.

The boys are just as important as the girls! Hives rear good drones when they are healthy and optimistic... I often see drone production increase as a function of ample protein income for the hive. A hive will not rear drones well when there is a dearth or no pollen flow. A healthy hive with plenty of protein will make drones for sure.
 

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You hear a lot of people trash talk those of us who go foundationless. I don't get it. Seems like beeks are pretty "thrifty" individuals all around. It saves money, and time, which is money. I can bang out a bunch of frames, and I don't have to fiddle with adding foundation, nor the cost. And them drawing it out fast?... Faster than foundation. They were meant to hang and daisy chain together in nature. We've (humans) got to control everything, non?

I use Mann Lake frames meant for foundation. Pop out the little piece of wood meant to jam the foundation in, stuff it in the slot with a little wood glue, a few taps of the hammer, and I'm done with that part of it. Mucho easy. I think using all mediums is best for foundationless. I've done it in deeps, but I've had more issues with getting straight comb + having it blow out.
 

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I use one frame of foundationless in my production hives. Bees draw mostly drone foundation and I cut it out periodically to help with mites. I use a special frame which is more stable and drawn easier and easier to cut pieces out of it.
foundationless frame 2.jpg
 

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They will maker worker cells on it if it is in the right position in the brood nest at the right time of the year.

I use one frame of foundationless in my production hives. Bees draw mostly drone foundation and I cut it out periodically to help with mites. I use a special frame which is more stable and drawn easier and easier to cut pieces out of it.
View attachment 9786
 

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>Is there any data out there that shows less drones= more productivity? I have never seen it.

There are some studies that prove you'll get more drones if you have more drone comb and some that proves no difference.

>Well mated queens with good genetics are the most important factor in productivity in my opinion.

Agreed. And good weather. And good pastures...

>The boys are just as important as the girls!

The bees seem to think so. The reason that the AHB have a reproductive advantage is that we bred bees to have less drones for a couple of hundred years...
 

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Do any of you wire the frames before putting them in. I put in two empty frames last year with no wire and it took about nine months before I could turn those frames over during inspections without the comb almost breaking off. Those foundation less frames were drawn beautifully with all worker cells and always had a perfect laying pattern. I'm hoping to get the brood nests to be all foundation less or close to it by the end of the season.
 

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Do any of you wire the frames before putting them in. I put in two empty frames last year with no wire and it took about nine months before I could turn those frames over during inspections without the comb almost breaking off. Those foundation less frames were drawn beautifully with all worker cells and always had a perfect laying pattern. I'm hoping to get the brood nests to be all foundation less or close to it by the end of the season.

This is why if you are foundationless it's best if you just stop with the habit of turning the frame where the comb is horizontal. It's a habit you can break it. You can look at all you need to look at keeping the frame vertical. I've wired a couple, I don't like how the bees incorporate the wires...
 

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I put a loop thru the two middle holes on most of mine for stability. I don't seem to get it on all though.

I write ( wired ) on top with a sharpie if it has it. If I pick up a frame that's not marked I handle it accordingly.

After the first year or so it doesn't matter, they will attach it to the sides and bottom.
 

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"I write ( wired ) on top with a sharpie if it has it. If I pick up a frame that's not marked I handle it accordingly."

"You can look at all you need to look at keeping the frame vertical."

The frames that I've put in without foundation are marked and I learned real quick as well to handle them accordingly. The particular hive that has any foundation less builds around any wiring on the foundation so I figure if I put foundation less in wired I would end up with something funky.
 

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My experience is different. The bees draw worker-cell comb in the core brood area, and giant "honey storage - drone" comb in all other areas, including a crown on the top and sides of the brood area.

This results in a brood oval that is cramped and fragile. You cannot checkerboard and open the brood unless you have the right sized comb. This results in the requirement to individual grade all frames -- a huge investment. Despite the claim that going all-medium, foundationless results in broadly interchangeable equipment, the frames are actually less interchangeable than in other systems.

Foundationless is often equivalent to the "all medium" credo, and an all-medium brood nest is awkward due to the crown constructed across the top of the comb. Foundation yields more interchangeable and usable brood comb -- as it avoids the multi-size issue of self constructed brood comb. For honey storage, it doesn't matter. I look with interest at the "trophy" pix of comb enthusiasts post -- and this is invariably capped honey comb with perfectly formed and large storage cells.
 

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My experience is different. The bees draw worker-cell comb in the core brood area, and giant "honey storage - drone" comb in all other areas, including a crown on the top and sides of the brood area.

This results in a brood oval that is cramped and fragile. You cannot checkerboard and open the brood unless you have the right sized comb. This results in the requirement to individual grade all frames -- a huge investment. Despite the claim that going all-medium, foundationless results in broadly interchangeable equipment, the frames are actually less interchangeable than in other systems.

Foundationless is often equivalent to the "all medium" credo, and an all-medium brood nest is awkward due to the crown constructed across the top of the comb. Foundation yields more interchangeable and usable brood comb -- as it avoids the multi-size issue of self constructed brood comb. For honey storage, it doesn't matter. I look with interest at the "trophy" pix of comb enthusiasts post -- and this is invariably capped honey comb with perfectly formed and large storage cells.
I haven't found this to be the case at all. When I pop in an empty frame in the brood nest, I get perfect worker cell comb on the entire frame. They do crown, which can make it crowded. That said, the crown of honey and pollen is smaller in relation to the frame size. But I have also seen the bees also crown in the 2nd medium and not the first in the core of the brood nest. They are extending the brood nest without a break all the way to the 2nd. I will say I am jealous of a solid brood pattern in full deeps when I see a money shot. My god that's a sweet looking sight.

I suppose if I built up using deeps + mediums I would have the extra comb needed to make changes, swap, add extra comb, etc... But I would rather deal in the medium format. Interesting.
 

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I look with interest at the "trophy" pix of comb enthusiasts post -- and this is invariably capped honey comb with perfectly formed and large storage cells.
Invariably?

prettybrood.jpg

nicebrood.jpg

I make no claims about the size of these cells, other than that they are all worker cells of approximately the same size. The pattern that I observed in my all-foundationless hives last year was that a new colony rapidly drew out 6 to 8 perfect worker brood combs. Once the colony reached a good healthy size, they would begin to mix some drone comb into many of the frames-- usually about a third or so per frame. Eventually they made all honey comb, and I can't really say what size that was, because I harvested by means of cut and crush. But here's one of those trophy pics:

newcomb2.jpg

This year they're following the same pattern, modified somewhat by the fact that there's more used brood comb for them to use.
 
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