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Author Topic: Drawing foundationless honey frames  (Read 7714 times)

Offline Culley

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Drawing foundationless honey frames
« on: November 05, 2014, 08:15:00 pm »
Hi,

I have been using all foundationless frames for a few years now. It has been a steep learning curve. I started by taking over dad's hives when he couldn't lift the supers. Small Hive Beetles had just arrived in our area and decimated the hives. Around the same time I did a cutout from a swarm that had landed in our equipment stack, rubber banded the comb into frames and started foundationless from there. I made a lot of mistakes as I was learning.

I'm interested in what people who are using foundationless do in the honey boxes (no queen excluder). How do you position the frames so that the foundationless frames get drawn nicely? I have been adding foundationless frames and empty frames into the brood area as the hive can take it, and moving frames up. This means quite a few visits just to get the frames in one super sorted out. I have tried checkerboarding the honey frames but the bees draw the honey frames wider and left the empty foundationless ones alone  :shock: Should I put the honey frames all together on one side and the empty foundationless frames together on the other side? Or should I put a whole box of foundationless on for a super, so they draw it all down and not sideways? Am I missing something?  :)

Culley

Offline OldMech

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2014, 08:53:05 pm »

   Your not missing anything Culley. If you put ALL foundation in your super, the bees will STILL draw some frames wider.
   Putting new frames in between drawn frames can help, but sometimes the bees will just expand the drawn frames further. The best I have found to do is to shave the comb back where it belongs before they fill it. If they ARE filling it I wait until I harvest and the hot knife fixes it.  I'd be interested in hearing others methods as well here.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline Joe D

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2014, 09:00:53 pm »
When I started with foundationless frames, I took half of the frames with foundation out and replaced every other one with foundationless frames.  When those were drawn, I replaced the other foundation frames with foundationless.  Maybe this and what old mech has said will help.  Good luck to you and your bees.




Joe

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2014, 04:08:09 pm »
The best way to get foundationless drawn is between two brood combs.  Next would be in a box with at least one drawn comb.
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Offline Culley

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2014, 09:25:16 pm »
Thanks for the replies. It sounds like I am on the right track.

Putting the frames in the brood box and moving frames from the brood boxes up seems like the best way. This is working great at home but I'm trying to work out how to manage colonies I can't visit so often - and the flipside of that - how often I have to visit them to manage them well.

I don't mind if some honey frames are wider than others - just if they go wonky.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2014, 08:46:11 am »
As already pointed out, they will draw some fatter even when you use foundation.
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Offline sterling

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2014, 07:44:42 pm »
I use foundationless medium frames in my honey supers. the way I do it is. I move a couple frames that they are working on up to the middle of the super and put the empty frames on each side. as they finish the middle frames they usually will move to  the next one work it then to the next one. The frames you move up will be a guide so make sure they are almost complete and good and straight. And just put one undrawn box at a time. If they get a little bit off you can straighten them after you extract.

Offline Duane

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2015, 07:47:20 pm »
A older thread, but still a question I always had, and even though I lost my only hive, is what do you do if you had 100 hives and you are putting on supers?  I can't imagine fiddling with 100 hives moving frames up and around.  Even if you have several hives, that can become quite tedious.  One hive is fun, but that can get old, especially if you had several hives start doing things odd.  Would this mean foundationless does not work well for larger operations?  Or is this when you must extract and keep the old combs for putting on for the honey flow?

Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2015, 09:49:17 pm »
Perhaps I am just lucky. The only comb I have had messed up was honey frames that were drawn out to far and joined a couple together. I just had to cut them apart with a hive tool. I don't use foundation. I think foundation is more work. With foundation less I can build frames cheap out of rough cut lumber and when I get done with my stapler the frame is done. I don't have to waste time putting in foundation. I also don't have to pay for foundation. If I calculated correctly it costs about $0.15/frame using hemlock from the local saw mill.
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Offline OldMech

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2015, 10:28:52 pm »
A older thread, but still a question I always had, and even though I lost my only hive, is what do you do if you had 100 hives and you are putting on supers?  I can't imagine fiddling with 100 hives moving frames up and around.  Even if you have several hives, that can become quite tedious.  One hive is fun, but that can get old, especially if you had several hives start doing things odd.  Would this mean foundationless does not work well for larger operations?  Or is this when you must extract and keep the old combs for putting on for the honey flow?

   Why would you not save the old comb anyhow?
  If you WANT honey, then you do not want your bees drawing any more comb than they must.
   ONCE those supers are drawn, you want to keep them in as nice of a shape as you possibly can to re use them every year.
   After that first year of getting them drawn... the next year all you do is drive up, pop the tops and drop two supers on each hive, put the top on and go to the next hive.
   If you have some frames that are undrawn, drop them into multiple supers and spread them out. they will get drawn out faster and each hive will have to work a little less than if you put them all onto one hive.. There is also a better chance that the bees wont start doing things a little odd if they only get a couple supers in each hive to draw out.
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Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2015, 03:38:36 pm »

   Why would you not save the old comb anyhow?

Comb honey perhaps...
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Offline OldMech

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2015, 06:41:37 pm »

   Why would you not save the old comb anyhow?

Comb honey perhaps...

   Good point!
   I get caught up in what "I" do too often..  thanks!
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Offline Duane

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2015, 06:33:23 pm »
And when you only have one or two hives, and don't want to buy an extractor.

Offline MT Bee Girl

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2015, 09:44:31 am »
And when you only have one or two hives, and don't want to buy an extractor.

Exactly. I've been wondering about this. I only have one hive and plan on doing crush and strain to harvest. But from what I read, it's much easier on the bees to not have to draw fresh comb each year. I DO want honey. I know I proably won't get any this year, but does that mean my production will be a lot lower than if I saved the comb?
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Offline OldMech

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2015, 10:08:52 pm »
It takes a lot of nectar/honey to make wax. Usually the reason a first year hive does not make surplus honey is because they had to make the comb they live on.
  So long as your not destroying that they will be able to make SOME extra honey if you have a decent flow, but it will not be as much as if they had the drawn comb to put it in already finished.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline Duane

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2015, 06:31:51 pm »
So what should one do to get halfway decent combs when you either want comb honey or don't have an extractor?

I got two nucs and put in empty frames beside them.  It's important to check often.  I noticed they were starting to draw comb on the edge of the frame instead of on the guide bar.  Then I noticed the frame did not fit close to the nuc frame.  They had run wire for their foundation and the nail was sticking out an eighth of an inch.  So I found this interesting.  An eighth of an inch is halfway or less from the center to the edge.  At the halfway mark, why wouldn't they choose the center?  I'm thinking because instead of center, it was closer to the edge in the bees mind.  That is, the frame widths are not exactly what the bees would want.  I've read brood comb should be more like 1.25 inches.  Maybe even less?

Anyway, mashed the nail in, moved the small beginning comb to the far outside edge, and placed a new frame next to the brood.  Checked in a day or two, and perfect!  The continued drawing it down to where the center line was right on the center of the bottom board.  Now they have filled all the frames most of the way.  The outside frame is slightly bowed in at the bottom, almost cupped shaped like I've seen some photos of natural comb in a cavity.

What I'm wondering, and maybe someone could say why I shouldn't do this, is what if I took a thin divider and placed it between the frames of what they are working on?  I had in mind pegboard/fiberboard with or without the holes.  The bees could go around the top and bottom and sides.  And if I could find pegboard with 3/8 inch holes, the better?  Would a divider tend to impede them?  To me, it would seem like it would be a reset area if they were starting to stray.  Then the next frame would be correct.  Or, if one is not wanting to worry about tedious watching with several hives, just place a couple of dividers three frames apart.  Maybe they would mess up some, but then the next three might be ok.

What are some thoughts on this?

Offline biggraham610

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2015, 02:28:46 am »
And when you only have one or two hives, and don't want to buy an extractor.

Exactly. I've been wondering about this. I only have one hive and plan on doing crush and strain to harvest. But from what I read, it's much easier on the bees to not have to draw fresh comb each year. I DO want honey. I know I proably won't get any this year, but does that mean my production will be a lot lower than if I saved the comb?

Last year I crushed and strained. It was worth it to get my first crop of honey. You will have combs left for them from what you left them for winter. If you are just going to want some honey for yourself, you would be amazed at how much you can get from 3-4 solid frames. I'm buying an extractor this year because I will have too many combs to harvest to waste the wax. I have a feeling you will be expanding to more than one hive over the next couple years. Then, you will likely like me, get an extractor. Good Luck. G
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2015, 01:14:48 pm »
>Exactly. I've been wondering about this. I only have one hive and plan on doing crush and strain to harvest. But from what I read, it's much easier on the bees to not have to draw fresh comb each year. I DO want honey. I know I proably won't get any this year, but does that mean my production will be a lot lower than if I saved the comb?

It's no easier or harder on the bees.  You will make more honey if there is somewhere for them to put the nectar when it's available instead of losing time building the comb first, but the bees make wax whether they use it or not.  You are not torturing your bees by letting them make wax.

"Again, at all times of a heavy yield of honey, the bees secrete wax whether any combs are built or not; and if the sections are all supplied with foundation, and the hive filled with comb, this wax is wasted or else the foundation given is wasted; have it which way you please...To show that I am not alone in this matter regarding the waste of wax, I wish to quote from two or three of our best apiarists; the first is Prof. Cook, and no one will say that he is not good authority. he says on page 166 of the latest edition of his Manual 'But I find upon examination that the bees, even the most aged, while gathering, in the honey season, yield up the wax scales the same as those within the hive. During the active storing of the past season, especially when comb-building was in rapid progress, I found that nearly every bee taken from the flowers contained wax scales of varying size, in the wax pockets.'

"This is my experience during "active storing," and the wax scales are to be found on the bees just the same whether they are furnished with foundation or not; and I can arrive at no other conclusion than that arrived at by Mr. S.J. Youngman, when he says on page 108: 'The bees secrete wax during a honey flow, whether they are building comb or not; and if they are not employed in building comb, this wax is most certainly lost.'
"Once more on page 93, of the American Apiculturist, Mr. G.W. Demaree says: 'Observation has convinced me that swarms leave the parent colony better prepared to build comb than they ever are under other circumstances; and that if they are not allowed to utilize this accumulated force, by reason of having full sheets of foundation at hand to work out, there will necessarily be some loss; and I think that when the matter is computed, to find the loss and gain the result will show that the foundation really costs the apiarist double what he actually pays for it in cash'...Now, I have often noticed, and especially in looking back over the last year, after reading Mr. Mitchell's "Mistaken Economy," that swarms hived in June would fill their hives full of nice straight worker combs, and the combs would be filled with brood during the first two weeks after hiving; while a colony not casting a swarm would not make a gain of a single pound of honey; nor would a swarm having a full set of combs given them, or the frames filled with foundation, be a whit better off at the end of two weeks. Mr. P.H. Elwood has noted the same thing; thus proving that the theory that it takes 20 pounds of honey to produce one pound of comb, will not hold good in cases where bees desire comb and have free access to pollen. As most of my comb is built at this time, the reader will readily see that the combs cost me but little, save the looking after the colony once or twice while building comb, which is far cheaper than buying foundation, or fussing with a foundation mill."--G.M. Doolittle ABJ Vol 20 No 18 pg 276
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Offline MT Bee Girl

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2015, 12:56:54 pm »
Interesting Mr. Bush. Thank you for that. Seems I need to read Doolittle too. The list expands. lol
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Offline Duane

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Re: Drawing foundationless honey frames
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2015, 12:03:30 pm »
I find it interesting to know that there was debate about foundation vs foundationless back then.  One can imagine behind the lines of a great push to buy foundation in those days.

Based upon Doolittle's conclusions, if one uses foundation or drawn combs, at least at certain times, they are wasting resources!   It would be like growing tomatoes and then not picking them.   So conserve resources, don't waste wax, go foundationless! :wink: