Bees have a real need to make drones. Beekeepers don't like to have too many drones because they take up resources. Commercial foundation is sized so that the bees are forced to produce worker-sized cells, not larger drone cells. When bees are not allowed to choose and are given only worker sized foundation to build on, the bees will then try to build some drone cells elsewhere- wherever they can fit some in. This might be in the corners of frames, or hanging below the frames, or as burr comb.
So one reason to have a drone frame is to satisfy the bees' strong need to raise some drones (especially in Spring/mating season)- if they can raise drones on a nice big drone frame they will build less drone burr comb- at least I have found this to be true.
But another very awesome use for a dedicated drone frame is in mite monitoring and control without using miticides and other mite killing substances. If you use foundation, and give the bees one drone frame in each brood box or in each hive, that drone frame will be jam packed with drone brood. Varroa mites love to breed in drone pupae cells more than any place else- the drone cells have more room for mites, and the drones take a little longer to mature than workers do, thus giving the mites more time to reproduce and mature inside the capped cell.
So, a frame of all drones is a great varroa mite 'trap'. Once the drone brood is capped, you can pull the drone frame out and A) pull out a few drone pupae and see how many mites are on them, thus evaluating your current mite situation...and B) you can kill all the mites on that whole frame by killing the drone brood. The frame of capped drones can be killed by: either sticking the whole frame in a freezer for a few hours, or by using a de-capping fork or scraper to scrape across the tops of the capped cells which will kill the developing drones and foil the mites inside. The dead drones on the frame will quickly be cleaned out by the bees and hauled out of the hive (along with the developing mites on the dead pupae). The bees will clean and polish the empty cells and the queen will lay more drones there.
Doing this 'drone culling' whenever you happen to be in the hive can actually go a long way towards controlling mites, since mites favor breeding on drone brood.
Thus, putting a frame or two of dedicated drone foundation in your hive can cut down on burr comb and on varroa mites.
What Omie said. :thumbsup:
A poor man's method is to simply put a medium frame into a deep box. The bees often draw out the bottom of the medium to match the depth of the deeps around it and often do so building drone comb. When it is capped, simply scrape it off and let them rebuild it. More work for the bees but less so for the keep. Besides, I think it's important to allow bees to draw comb anyways, it's a natural function for them, somewhat stymied by us providng boxes of drawn comb as often as we can.
If I were of sharper mind, I would do what PerryBee suggested. Medium frame, shallow even better in deep brood box.
Being not very bright (I'm not always like that:lol I built these (picture from Scientific Beekeeping)
Nah, bees prefer smarter keepers.:lol:
Shallow frame in deep box is really better solution than frames I built. You get full shallow frame of honey for bees to feed the brood, and all drone comb bellow the frame to control varoa and feed the chickens:razz:
Are you providing a comb guide along the bottom of the short frame? Or just depending on the adjacent drawn frames to provide 'guidance' to the bees when drawing the drone comb?
Incidentally, I have official drone frames in which I carefully provided, but nowadays I merely let the bees build whatever comb they want, since I now usually give the bees foundationless frames. When I see large patches of capped drone cells, I sometimes scrape them, just to get a few mites eliminated while I'm there. I did scrape a whole frame of drone pupae a couple weeks ago. I'ts an icky job but I do it quickly and I avoid looking too close... bleeeaaahhh.....
equipment purchase decisions can be overwhelming when we are new to keeping bees. i don't use drone comb, other's do. this is what i said in another thread regarding equipment:
"All beekeeping is local, and many things vary with every beekeeper. Some who have been keeping bees for many seasons, do not purchase or are not so quick to purchase new â€˜fangledâ€™ equipment in keeping bees, because we learned from other keeps before us, and the beeâ€™s managed to survive. We learn to manage bees in our own individual way over time, and have developed opinions based on that experience. With time you will develop and adjust your learning to experience and I would suggest you purchase any equipment accordingly. Do you really need that item and why? Think of the purpose you wish to accomplish. Donâ€™t purchase something just because someone tells you that you need it, or it is "recommended".
You will adjust your style of keeping equal to your learning and experience and what works for you in your environment."
so perhaps i would say to you is don't invest in something you may find you will not use in the future, or don't purchase alot. get a year behind you or so, and then you can make a more informed decision for yourself about your style and management.
practice what omie said, about scraping the capped drone cells, or practice other methods of mite control. or order some of marbee's frames :grin: !
hope this helps you, because i see you 'wrangling' with decisions about equipment choices, and not knowing.
heinleinfan:marbees, I love those frames! How did you build them? I might have to steal that idea.
Omie:Are you providing a comb guide along the bottom of the short frame? Or just depending on the adjacent drawn frames to provide 'guidance' to the bees when drawing the drone comb?
These are easy to make, just install second bar 2" bellow the main top bar. Second bar has one kerf cut on both sides 1/4" deep. Upper cut holds foundation strip, and in lower cut you install a bead of Titebond II and craft stick (popsicle stick) to "guide" bees in drawing the drone comb.
I followed Randy Oliver's suggestion and marked tops of these frames with green paint. (convenient for keepers using wood frames only)