Foundationless question

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Eddy Honey, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I want to experiment with going foundatinless in one of my hives this spring.
    I'm taking some foundationless frames I have with grooved top and bottom bars and glueing/nailing something equally as thick (about 3/16") in the groove as a guide for the bees.

    Since I will be converting my hives from 1 deep and 2 mediums to just 2 deeps, should I just put the box of foundationless frames on top of the current deep with the mediums on top of that or should I move a few frames of drawn foundation up from the bottom box and have the foundationless frames staggered between 2 deeps?

    I'm just going to try this with one hive for now and compare.

    Thanks,
    Ed
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Move at least a couple frames up, so they will have a ladder to get to the top of the frames.
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    If you put a whole box of foundationless frames on top with just one or two 'ladder' frames mixed in, you'll still have to watch the box in the beginning to make sure they dont start building wacky cross comb at first. This would have to be cut out immediately and let them try again. Check every few days at first until you see them building nice straight down combs. Make sure the hive is very level from side to side.

    The easier way (which is what i did with my deeps) is simply to start putting in a foundationless frame (with guide of course) every time you find a good spot to put one in and replace an older foundation frame. If you put a foundationless frame (with guide ridge) in between two fully drawn comb frames and snug them up tight, you'll be pretty certain to get straight comb built.
    If you slowly rotate out the old frames and stick new empties in between with regularity, you'll eventually wind up with no more foundation in that hive. Be careful to not split up the brood nest if you can help it. When adding a foundationless frame, i like to place it second or third position in from the outermost frames. you can use the old phased out frames in swarm traps or in nucs to sell.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Omie, how do you start a new box of foundationless frames?
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    As you know I have only got a couple years experience so far, and I am a hobbyist with a mere 2-6 hives at any given time. But since you asked, here's what worked for me successfully so far, given my modest goals:

    In the DEEP brood boxes, I have simply continued to add in empty frames with popsicle stick guides in between fully drawn established frames of comb. That works really well. The bees build straight down. But the deep frame new-made combs seemed to need a little more stability when the weather was hot (90F+) so from now on I will string a "X" of fishing line through the frame holes and let them build right over that- it should be fine then. I learned this trick from examining/deconstructing some deep frames I received from Don FatBeeMan in the nucs he sent me over the past 2 years.

    Though others certainly do this successfully, I myself have never given any hives an entire deep of new empty foundationless frames at once (yet). Rather, I'm slowly phasing out the deep foundation frames as I go along, adding only foundationless frames for the brood chambers. I was able to do this last year even when expanding/splitting from 1 (20 frame) survivor hive into 5 colonies... I had the benefit of the other deadout that provided two deeps of drawn comb to use.
    When I started over the year before that from zero survivors, I started basically with 4 deeps of wax/wired deep foundation for the first two full hives. Now I have about 7 drawn deeps total in my 5-6 colonies- with all the frames after the first 4 deeps having been added as new foundationless frames. So I think about 40% of my deep brood frames are now foundationless, and that will wind up being 100% within a few more years. I won't be buying any more deep foundation now that I have enough drawn frames to juggle around.
    The 3 nucs I made last Spring and Summer made about 5 beautiful new deep foundationless drawn comb frames each for me during last year- I now view Spring nucs as veritable comb-making machines! Every week I put a new deep foundationless frame into each nuc and took a drawn one out to use elsewhere. They never skipped a beat and just kept drawing new frames of comb until mid Summer...this kept the (5 frame) nucs from swarming too. They drew about 12 extra foundationless deep brood frames for me last year. :Dancing:

    In the MEDIUM honey supers it's a different story. I eat from the frames there, so it's especially nice to have clean wax in the honey supers. I do give a whole super box of foundationless frames (with popsicle or wedge guides). I do however place ONE frame with either wax foundation or preferably previously drawn comb in the middle of the super of 10 empty frames, to give the bees a 'ladder' way to climb up and begin work on the top bars.
    Last year I had a couple of medium supers on two hives that I had put on in summer, one super of 10 on each of two hives. (most of my goals last year were in the form of splitting and making nucs, not getting honey) From those 20 med foundationless frames, I did wind up with 5 complete capped honey med frames by the Fall, and about 5-8 other frames with partially drawn comb. I crush and strained the 5 honey frames, which meant I cut out all the capped comb except for leaving 1/2" along the top so they would use it as a guide the following year. This year I have enough partially drawn medium foundationless frames so that I can use those partly-drawn frames as 'ladder frames' for this year's supers.

    I know it sounds kind of confusing, but I hope this answers some of your question?
     
  6. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Omie,

    Great post!

    Could you post a picture of your popcicle stick frame before it went in the hive? If you have it of course.
     
  7. rast

    rast New Member

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    I have used predominantly foundationless in mine for the past couple of years. However, mine are for extraction, not cut comb or crush & strain. All that Omie said applies, level and interspersed with drawn comb. Still going to have the errant daiseychain that gets the comb sideways once in a while. I do prewire my frames for extraction strength. I do use a piece of foundation for a starter strip to get them started straight, this actually started from being frugal (cheap). A box of wireless foundation goes a long ways. Stages of construction in pics.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Hi Eddy, I don't have a pic myself, but here's one from the web that looks similar to what I've done, and it shows a cross of fishing line too:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_718dshVQWL0/S-i2g6S6eFI/AAAAAAAAA9I/28MYA2QoC4g/s1600/IMG_0871.JPG
    I have also used just the wedge top frames and snapped the wedge out and nailed it back in at 90 degrees upright, making a ridge of sorts- that worked too. Winds up looking something like this: https://encrypted-tbn1.google.com/i...s7h4f9PZw2unvk-ZQUUXJHGW5fO5mT-PrwTWHBps8GWBw

    I think Brushy Fork now sells frames with a wedge-shaped top bar that you don't have to do anything with, other than assemble normally.
     
  9. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Nobody mentioned it, so just in case the uninitiated get the wrong idea, I'll add that building foundationless combs requires a good honey flow to be active. If you try it when things are less than optimal, you'll get poorly built and only partially finished combs.
    I'd like to hear of someone trying Tec's off the hand suggestion of using a sheet of cardboard in the frame as a center guide for building some comb. I, for one, think it should really work during a nice flow---but seeing is believing. Who's game for trying?
     
  10. Robo

    Robo New Member

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    The best luck I have had with foundationless is a frame at a time into the middle of the brood chamber. I have never had much luck with whole supers of foundationless. A large portion of the time I end up with over drawn comb issues where comb is drawn into the space of the adjacent frames.

    I use grooved top bars and insert strips of coroplast (retired election signs) held in with a 1/4" crown staple. These are much less fragile than other methods and are quick and easy to install. I also wire my frames as Rast does. Yes it does take a little more effort, but after years of flipping frames to view the other side, it has become a habit and that doesn't fair well for frames without the comb attached to the sides and bottom as is the case with most foundationless.

    I did try fishline one year but have since went back to wire. Had many instances of the line breaking (may have been me installing too tight) but more importantly, the bees resisted building comb around the fishline, where wire is not an issue to them.

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]

    Before/After:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Thank you Robo,

    Something must have gone wrong with your pics as all I see are red x's

    Edit: Thanks for fixing the pics
     
  12. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    Last year made 10 - 3 frame splits, introduced new queens. Those three frames were in the middle, rest of the frames were foundationless, starters made of paint stirring sticks and craft sticks.
    Glued them with Titebond II.
    Gave them 1:1 sugar syrup and girls built perfect comb. Second deep, gave them Mann Lake plastic frames, again perfect comb.
    Hope this year to find time to assemble wooden foundationless frames, so I can save plastic frames for my supers.
    Same results on two locations.
    Those frames were done with the fishing line, next time I'll go with the real wire.
     
  13. 2kooldad

    2kooldad New Member

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    i like this post....i would have liked to have read it before the maple flow an had some frames ready to go...i'll def. Be making some....i like Rast's wired frames with wax starters....this is gonna be a fun year :)
     
  14. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I put 2 foudationless and 2 frames with foundation in the hives. They apparently preferred the foundationless because they are fully drawn and they are starting to work on foundation. Time to make more foundationless!
     
  15. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Awesome!! You are up and running now. I'm hoping to never have to buy any more foundation.

    One word of caution- they may want to make lots of drone brood early in the Spring- it's natural for them to do so during swarm/mating season. By giving them foundationless frames, you enable them to build their choice of drone or worker brood cell sizes. When we give them commercial foundation, the worker cell size is dictated for the bees, so they then have no choice but to try to raise drones anywhere they can build larger drone comb- like the corners of frames, or between the boxes, in burr comb.
    When they build drone comb, you can either let them have their precious drones or you can scrape the caps off the drone pupae (helps in mite control) and see what they do next after they clean out the dead. Later in the season they will make less drones and they can use that nice large cell comb to store their honey in the brood box for the winter, so drone comb can be useful! Hopefully the comb they are building for you is a combo of drone and worker size. They will build what they feel they need more of at the moment. Those pesky bees!
     
  16. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    So true. In all my boxes I've inadvertantley destroyed lots of drone brood because it gets ripped apart as I take boxes off for inspection. I had just bought 60 deep frames with foundation :mad: and am starting to accumulate a pile of the stuff. It'll come in handy I'm sure when I start new hives and want to use a few frames with foundation in between the foundationless.
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    You can also hold them, just in case you find that foundationless is too much headache and extra work and you decide to go back to all foundation. :thumbsup:
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    True! All true! :lol: