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Author Topic: Foundationless Hive  (Read 1194 times)

Offline ME0505

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Foundationless Hive
« on: February 12, 2016, 07:28:42 PM »
Hello from Ohio, USA!

I am a "one year newbie" so please forgive me if anything I say is off base, crazy, etc....  I'm still learning. 

Having said that I am a newbie, I started last year with two hives (two deeps each) and two packages of bees.  One hive swarmed mid-summer, and limped by the rest of the year.  The other hive seemed pretty good all year.  Being new, I was afraid to open the hives up when it got cold, so I haven't been in the hives in a while.  I talked to a local beekeeper and he said it was okay to open.  As soon as we get a decent day, I'm going in.

With all that, I am pretty sure the swarmed hive is gone, just need to confirm.

I want to keep learning and trying, so I have ordered more packages for this spring.  I also have been reading "The Practical Beekeeper" and want to try Mr. Bush's approach.  I am looking at 10 frame Supers with a top entrance.  I also want to try foundationless frames so as to have natural size comb/bees.  One thing I noticed in my hives was Varroa, want to work on eliminating this occurrence...like everyone else

Going foundationless, is there anything "special" I need to know/do before I install the bees?  I know I need to put strips or some starter to keep the comb aligned in the frame.  Is there anything else, or do I just "dump them in" and let them do their thing?

Thanks for any help!
Eric


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Offline cao

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2016, 09:28:34 PM »
Welcome.  The main advise that I have for people wanting to go foundationless is the bees need a guide to build straight comb.  Starter strips are good but not foolproof.  I've had them build at a 45 degree angle across 5 foundationless frames before I caught them.  What a mess.  If you have at least one frame of drawn comb for them to use as a guide, that would be ideal.  Even one frame with foundation would help.  I would put it in the center when you install your packages.  Good luck.

Offline KPF

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2016, 09:51:56 AM »
Hello from Ohio, USA!

I am a "one year newbie" so please forgive me if anything I say is off base, crazy, etc....  I'm still learning. 

Having said that I am a newbie, I started last year with two hives (two deeps each) and two packages of bees.  One hive swarmed mid-summer, and limped by the rest of the year.  The other hive seemed pretty good all year.  Being new, I was afraid to open the hives up when it got cold, so I haven't been in the hives in a while.  I talked to a local beekeeper and he said it was okay to open.  As soon as we get a decent day, I'm going in.

With all that, I am pretty sure the swarmed hive is gone, just need to confirm.

I want to keep learning and trying, so I have ordered more packages for this spring.  I also have been reading "The Practical Beekeeper" and want to try Mr. Bush's approach.  I am looking at 10 frame Supers with a top entrance.  I also want to try foundationless frames so as to have natural size comb/bees.  One thing I noticed in my hives was Varroa, want to work on eliminating this occurrence...like everyone else

Going foundationless, is there anything "special" I need to know/do before I install the bees?  I know I need to put strips or some starter to keep the comb aligned in the frame.  Is there anything else, or do I just "dump them in" and let them do their thing?

Thanks for any help!
Eric


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Eric, I'm the last person in the world to give you advice on this, since I have no experience with foundationless frames, but like you I am a 1-year newbie and I also have 50 Kelley Foundationless Frames in my garage that have yet to be used (though they will be eventually).  I also had two hives, one of which swarmed and peetered out and 1 of which absconded in early winter.  All I can tell you is reports I've heard from other members in my club, and some members find they have one hot mess in their hands when they first try foundationless. Now this may be largely due to beekeeper inexperience, and maybe you have to dive in and experience a few hot messes before you get it right, but if I were you, I'd hedge my bets. Maybe go partly foundationless (ie, put a few foundationless frames in between foundation frames) and maybe see if a local beek with experience in this area can be your mentor. You've already got Michael Bush's book, so that's a great place to start. In my opinion, which I reiterate, is an uninformed opinion of a 1-year beek, is that there is so much to learn about good beekeeping that going foundationless might be something you defer til a little later in your beekeeping career.  Then again, life is for the bold. The worst that can happen is you learn something, and that ain't so bad. Good luck!
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Offline iddee

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2016, 10:15:34 AM »
It's just my opinion, but when I hear a new beek saying "I want to go foundationless in 8 frame mediums, I hear:


""I want to learn to fly. I want to start as a fighter jet test pilot. Don't bother me with a Piper.""

I suggest learning the basics first, then try the peripherals.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

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Online gww

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2016, 01:57:43 PM »
iddee
To your point, I have seen it pointed out that starting with foundationless is easier then having a long term foundation user go foundationless due to the habit formed while working with foundation forming habits that are hard to break after doing for so long.

I plan on going foundationless first but my motivation is that I can build everthing without buying stuff.  I don't have enough experiance to say I am smart for doing this as I still haven't got bees and have had the equipment for 2 years.  I tried trapping and am still trying though I do have a nuc supposed to come in spring.

I hope it works but many times take the long road to learn what I need to know.
Cheers
gww

Offline iddee

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2016, 02:17:10 PM »
gww, there are always pros and cons. In my 40 years of beekeeping, I am convinced the pros outweigh the cons when the basics are learned first.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

*Shel Silverstein*

Online gww

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2016, 04:59:37 PM »
iddee
I believe you.  I also think that my last two years of trying to learn as much as I can doesn't mean much but is better then not trying.  I was lost the very few times I have looked in a hive and reading still had not prepared me for those times.  I am going to jump in and take my lumps and hope to get better. 
But, I do believe you.
gww

Online little john

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2016, 05:14:20 PM »
As I keep trying to tell people on here - we really do need to get away from this Aristotelean EITHER/OR stuff. There are quite often much better alternatives.

There is Foundation - or more correctly: EMBOSSED Foundation.

Then there is NO Foundation: wax starter strips, popsicle sticks, wedge-shaped top bars and so on ...


But there is a third option: Plain, or Unembossed 'foundation'. These are thin, plain wax sheets which can be installed instead of the embossed foundation sold by all the beekeeping suppliers. Bees will draw those wax sheets into whatever they want (in terms of cell size), but will also draw-out those combs as flat as they would with conventional foundation.

And - if you read the following:
http://www.planbee.org.uk/uploads/Low cost Foundation _21_.pdf
you'll see that this type of 'foundation' is actually preferred by bees above either embossed foundation, or the use of starter strips.

However, there IS a downside to this - if you want to use this stuff, you'll have to make it yourself. Here's how one of the FatBeeMan's friends makes it:


 
And here's another good demonstration. These sheets are eventually cut up to make starter strips - BUT - they could just as easily be installed 'as is' as full sheets:



Hope you find this of interest ...

LJ
A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping - http://heretics-guide.site90.com

Online Michael Bush

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2016, 10:03:57 AM »
I've done that.  The bees will draw it, but they hesitate a lot.  I think because it is very tough.  If it was run through a smooth roller I think it would be more workable instead of being tough and almost brittle.  They will drawn foundationless faster in my experience.
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Offline Rurification

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2016, 09:29:17 AM »
Hi, ME0505.   Welcome to the forum.   Please know that there are plenty of other beeks who started foundationless, just like you.   It's a different learning curve - but not a bad one.   The size of the box is less important than whether you are comfortable with it.   I wish I had started with 8 frame mediums.   Or all mediums.     I got sucked into the New Beek Setup Deal and got some deeps, which we are now phasing out.   

It does help to have one frame of straight comb.   You can try starter strips, or insert a thin wood skewer in from top to bottom or wire, etc.   You can even use 1 frame of foundation to get them started - you don't ever have to use it again if you don't want to.   

Enjoy your bees.  Keep asking questions.   There are a lot of us who do foundationless bees.   Usually you will get a lot of interesting opinions and then you can choose from several options what to try next. 
Robin Edmundson
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Offline Oblio13

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2016, 10:09:22 AM »
I try (and fail miserably, but I try) to keep things simple. 8-frame mediums for everything - nucs, brood chambers, supers - and foundationless frames.

The bees will often make a mess with cross-combs, combs that are three-frames-thick, etc.

When they do, I deal with them "by the box" rather than "by the frame".

To split, I'll deal a hive's boxes like a deck of cards: boxes one and three for you, boxes two and four for you.

To harvest, I'll turn a whole box upside down on a cookie sheet, cut around the perimeter, lift it off the frames, then crush-and-strain.




Offline Steampunked

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Re: Foundationless Hive
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2016, 11:30:37 PM »
I started with foundationless.  I've had one frame go wonky in my now three-box-high setup - the bees squeezed an extra half-wall of comb down between two frames somehow.  The orientation is still the same way, so it's probably less of a worry for me.  I cut out the wonky frame and straightened the one under it gently on a warmish day to correct the orientation.  It's probably back to being wonky.

The conditions I am in appear to be forgiving for learning (gentle bees, strong nectar flow, quiet environment, spent a lot of time ensuring base would be perfectly level and oriented correctly), so it's almost certainly got very little to do with me.

I am only using Warre-style boxes, which means that a box is smaller - the advantage there is that if something goes odd, it's less work to correct.

I have considered unprinted sheets, or making them, but so far haven't needed them.  I expect that will probably change at some point, but for now it's been nearly effortless.  I coat popsicle sticks in wax, and affix them into a little run with more wax, so they protrude about 7mm.  The bees do draw comb very, very quickly - I've been told that they'd be even faster with foundation.

It's probably more luck than anything else, for me, but they seem to do their own thing in a fairly orderly fashion.  Because I have half-frames I can lift them easily for inspection, because they're shorter, in a Warre box, the combs don't get so heavy they break off when examined.  I never inspect once the temp gets above 30C, to avoid the wax being too sloppy/fragile, but I have literally no experience to tell me this - it's just a guess.

The wonky frame I went in when slightly warmer, so I could adjust things with my fingers.  It worked quite well, just required internal silent screaming as I'm new and the bees were walking all over my hands.  I don't have heavy gloves, so I just wear the thin latex ones.  My wonky frame had a wonky paddle pop stick  :cry:
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