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Comb honey/Foundationless frames

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fizzle 

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I would like to get a couple of frames of comb honey this coming season and was thinking to add a few frames without foundation to the supers. I use a standard commercial super. Looking at some videos on top bar hives they seem to use a frame with a V shape on the bottom of the bar. I'm guessing this is to encourage the bees to build down centrally.

I seen the post earlier on the forum about Wax fastening the Van Deusen way and got me thinking that it may be useful to add a V shape block of wood under the top bar of frame and dip in wax to encourage the bees to build off this. Is this a standard way to go for foundationless frames or is there a better alternative?
 

StephenT 

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I made a couple last season following The Apiarist blog and using tongue depressors as the ‘starter strip’ and bamboo skewers as supports. Worked well and plan to do a load more this year for comb honey. Was really cool how the bees made one segment drone comb and the other two segments as worker.
 

pargyle 

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There's a few on here who are foundationless or are, at least, in part foundationless. All the above work .. but I'm fully foundationless and always have been and I use a triangular strip of wood fastened to the underside of the frame top bar and painted with beeswax. If your bees are not accustomed to being without foundation it is a good idea to start foundationless frames off between two drawn frames .. during a flow they will draw it out in no time at all. You don't really need any supports in super frames if you are using them for comb honey. If you are spinning them out you need to be fairly gentle with them in the first season .. slow and gentle.
 

sean-a 

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Make sure that you put the foundationless frame between two straight drawn frames and you will be fine.
Otherwise you will have a sticky mess and crushed angry bees to contend with because they will build the comb between frames in all sorts of ways to defeat you.
 

dickndoris 

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I have been foundationless for maybe 8 years now and one tip I would give is make sure your hive is set square. Bees use gravity as in they are the plumb Bob👍
 

fizzle 

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I have been foundationless for maybe 8 years now and one tip I would give is make sure your hive is set square. Bees use gravity as in they are the plumb Bob👍
Why you say square, do you mean level, i.e. not tilted forward?
 

pargyle 

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They will tolerate a small degree of tilt - more so if you wire the frames - but if the hive is tilted too much fore and aft and the frames are warm way then gravity trumps frames and they can create some interesting deviations in the comb they produce. It's not really a problem, if you see it happenimg it is easy to just bend it bacl into line with the frames. As long as they have drawn frames or foundation either side of the foundationless frames they tend to follow the line of the existing frames with just the bee spaces between the comb, as long as you keep the frames pushed together of course, Give them more space and they will get creative !
 

dickndoris 

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Why you say square, do you mean level, i.e. not tilted forward?
Yes, level. As has been said already they cope with a bit of tilt fore n aft. Think of a bit of string hanging in the frame. If it's hanging out of the frame this is what the bees will do. I usually put a 0.4mm stainless wire across the frame which gives them an anchor point. Works really well. There is always the exception with bees. Had some crazy comb in the past🤪
 

Boston Bees 

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There's a few on here who are foundationless or are, at least, in part foundationless. All the above work .. but I'm fully foundationless and always have been and I use a triangular strip of wood fastened to the underside of the frame top bar and painted with beeswax. If your bees are not accustomed to being without foundation it is a good idea to start foundationless frames off between two drawn frames .. during a flow they will draw it out in no time at all. You don't really need any supports in super frames if you are using them for comb honey. If you are spinning them out you need to be fairly gentle with them in the first season .. slow and gentle.
Sorry for dredging this subject up again, but can I ask if anyone has tried triangular strips of wood without adding wax? If so, do they still work OK?

I just fancied trying the below frames from Thornes

D.N.5 FOUNDATIONLESS (Brood) Frames - 10, flat (thorne.co.uk)

and note that they recommend not putting wax on (which would make my life easier ....)

Another question - DN5 and DN4 can be used in the same box without issue, right? Can't see why not, but just checking.
 

pargyle 

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Sorry for dredging this subject up again, but can I ask if anyone has tried triangular strips of wood without adding wax? If so, do they still work OK?

I just fancied trying the below frames from Thornes

D.N.5 FOUNDATIONLESS (Brood) Frames - 10, flat (thorne.co.uk)

and note that they recommend not putting wax on (which would make my life easier ....)

Another question - DN5 and DN4 can be used in the same box without issue, right? Can't see why not, but just checking.
Yes ... I've occasionally missed waxing one and they do draw them out - although I suspect they are more inclined to start if you are able to wax them. I just melt a bit of wax and dip a brush in it and run the brush over the triangular bit of wood. It's not rocket science and hardly takes any wax.

There's no real problem mixing DN4's and DN5's ... they are both Hoffmans and the only difference is the top bar is a bit wider. It looks a bit odd in the box but unless you have OCD ... no big deal.

I'm not sure I agree with Thorns comment that a dribble of wax is less secure than the bee's own waxing ... I've not noticed any deficiency and I've been doing it this way for a good few years.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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When I arrived out in Lesotho, I fould that they had put out their gifted hives (Langstroths) with just the nare frames - the foundation was still sat safely in a box in the orphanage office. most of the swarms that had colonised some of the hives had drawn perfect straight comb in the channel cut for the foundation in the top bars - even more surprising as the Hofffman frames were built for European bees not the narrower spacing needed for Adansonii
 

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