Going foundationless

Discussion in 'Organic Beekeeping' started by BjornBee, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Here is a few tips for those going foundationless in one form or another. Some of these tips may apply to only one type foundationless system, while other tips may apply across the board.

    * Consider using medium frames or what would be the equivalent of medium comb for frameless foundation system. The deeper frames/comb may have a tendency to "curve" a bit, while the mediums seem to limit this.

    * Start with a starter strip is possible. This gives the basis of a pattern that bees follow better than something such as a Popsicle stick. And if you do use a stick, coat the edge with beeswax. I like to use about 1/2 inch of wax foundation, or a strip of plastic foundation cut on the table saw. I know I get better attachment this way. In cutting out wax (honeycomb), it allows you to leave the half inch to get the bees going again with little problems.

    * Bees love drawing new comb on the most southern exposed side of the box. This is especially true in northern areas. So position the box so the comb will be built parallel to the southern sun. If you place the box facing east southeast, this seems to do the trick. If you place the hive where the bars/frames run north/south, the bees may start cross comb near the front of the box facing south. This is their natural way of taking advantage of the sun's warmth.

    * When first starting out, check your box every few days. Correct IMMEDIATELY any problems with bent/curved comb, by cutting it out. It will only get worse if allowed to continue. Foundationless systems allow you to "start over" if needed.

    *Comb spacing is very important. (Even for those using full foundation sheets), any extra space between the frames may cause burr/cross comb. Always push your frames tight together as the last thing you do before putting on the top. Most cross and bad comb can be directly related to space issues. And if you make your top bars for a TBH system, you must be very specific for bar width.

    * After you have a number of brood combs drawn, rotate in and draw new comb in between them. The bee space between two brood frames is almost always correct. NEVER place foundationless (or foundation) between frames with open cells of nectar. You can however draw new comb between full frames of CAPPED comb.

    * Foundationless does not mean having to give up frames. Although Warre hives, various TBH systems, and other framesless hives are popular, you can acheive the same clean, more natural comb, by simply not using foundation, but still using the frames. It is by far the simplest way of having foundationless comb.

    I hope this helps.
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    :goodpost:

    I would add that wiring the frames horizontally will prevent a few fallouts, which are no fun for beek or bees. A frame turned toward the sun to see it better can easily wind up with the comb and bees on your feet. The wires will give it support.
     

  3. phillybees

    phillybees New Member

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    For nice straight comb - also important to make sure the hive is level.
     
  4. SlickMick

    SlickMick New Member

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    I am using foundationless in the supers and do have an issue with comb being built bridging the shallow frames even though they have all been provided with starter strips of either foundation or timber strips. As you say it can all end up in a heck of a mess and I am reluctant to go poking my nose into the hives continuously to see if I have to do some manipulation.

    I would like to go foundationless in the brood boxes but I am reluctant to do this because of my experience in the shallow supers. Any suggestions for this. I suppose I could rotate out the old frames and place new foundationless frames between a couple of capped brood frames but is there another way?

    Mick
     
  5. Monie

    Monie New Member

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    I'm going foundationless, however, I found that putting a frame of foundation between foundationless, keeps things in order until the new comb is all drawn. That's when I add another foundationless frame for working.
     
  6. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    I have read that, if you do find the bees building comb crosswise to your frames, you should not only cut it out, but re-orient your hive such that the frames are now aligned with the direction they built the comb. This goes along with a lot of what Bjorn said about positioning the hive.
     
  7. JL_COG

    JL_COG New Member

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    "Beekeeping for All"

    Much to be learned from this publication. Available in French and English. A worthwhile read, JL.
     
  8. Fuzzystuff

    Fuzzystuff New Member

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    I just noticed that I am getting some cross comb action going on and that my TBH are north and south. 2 weeks ago they were looking great but yesterday it was looking kind of ugly. I plan to shift them in a southeast direction. I'm in Kansas and southern sun is cookin'.
     
  9. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    We tried to go foundationless last year, but it was a mess even with the wax starter strip.

    How did you get the wax strip to stay? We tried dribbling some heated wax into the groove, but the strip would still fall out. Are the popsicle sticks better?

    Thanks for all these tips.
     
  10. Joe

    Joe New Member

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    Mil,

    You need more than "a dribble" of wax. Watch Linda's video on using a "wax tube fastener":

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 5472500744
     
  11. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    Joe,
    Just watched the video. Linda had a lot of good tips in that video. Many thanks for that info as I've found it very helpful.

    Mil :)
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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  13. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    :goodpost:
    I second that! I gleaned very useful information about comb honey and "poor man's" solar wax melters here.
     
  14. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I like Michael Bush's site too- tons of valuable info and insight.
     
  15. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    If you cross wire an empty Lang wooden frame with a starter strip on top bar will the bees build onto the cross wire and incorporate it in the comb or will they studiously avoid it?
     
  16. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    They will build right down over it and you won't even know you didn't have foundation.
     
  17. Bigwig

    Bigwig New Member

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  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I had a couple of 5 frame nucs going all summer and they kept building deep frames of comb for me about a full frame per week each- I'd just keep feeding them empties and they kept building. End of summer I just let them keep what they had. This had the added advantage of them not outgrowing their nucs and swarming. I plan to try overwintering them as nucs now. They have young queens and are now quite vigorous.
    I used only a line of popsicle sticks nothing more, but next year I'll run a wire or two across in the frames for a little added strength, since in the summertime the wax can be awfully soft and heavy and it's often not much attached along the bottom- like the bees like to build it!
     
  19. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Just wondering if the bees would fasten the sides and bottom of the comb better if we put the same starter strip on sides and bottom as well as the top.

    I like your idea of having some boxes of bees just making bees and drawing comb. Boxes of bees you can tinker with and not worry about affecting honey production. Nice to have those nucs overwinter and not have to spend the $200 that it costs us here to buy a nuc.
     
  20. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    That sounds like too much trouble for me. Since the frame sides come with holes already, I'm just going to run heavy fishing line once or twice horizontally in my next deep foundationless frames (with popsicle sticks glued along the top again). I have a few frames where Don (FatBeeMan) of Georgia had run fishing line in an 'X' -and the nylon line is still in there and just fine after a couple of years now. After a year brood comb tends to get a little more rigid and I'm guessing warm weather 'fallout' is not as much of an issue by then.