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Foundationless Frames - Comb EVERYWHERE

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New Bee

Joined: 10 Jun 2015
Posts: 2
Location: USA, Columbus, OH

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:53 pm    Post subject: Foundationless Frames - Comb EVERYWHERE Reply with quote

I'm new to this forum but it seems like a GREAT resource and I've been having trouble finding information on natural beekeeping.... particularly on foudationless frames. I just started my hive this spring and the bees seem to be doing very well. They are building comb quickly. The problem is that they are building comb everywhere and I'm not sure of what to do about it. When I put the frames in I put a popsicle stick in the groove at the top of the frames so that the bees would have a guide, as directed. This doesn't seem to be working. I want to fix this asap so that the bees have time to rebuild before cold weather hits.
Any guidance is appreciated!

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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee

Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you need to put some painted wax on those sticks, as the bees didn't read the book that said those sticks were a guide,
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome.

Did you start your hive from a nuc or a package. If a nuc, I'm assuming you have some straight combs??? If it is a whole box of cross comb then I would leave it and make sure you have better comb guides in the next box. The bees really don't care which direction they build in and they will over winter fine on those cross combs, but obviously you will be unable to inspect them.

At this time of year they will be heavy and soft and full of brood and nectar which will make rectifying it a total and sticky disaster. If you leave it till early next spring, the comb will be more mature and stable (having had several generations of brood in it), most of the honey will have been eaten out and brood will be minimal. That is the best time to fix it.

To do so, it will probably be easiest to screw a bar across the top of all the frames, cut around the outside edges of the comb to release any comb attachment and then gently prise the whole lot out of the box and place it on a flat surface. Have a large cardboard box handy so that you can keep it covered in between cutting out each comb and removing it. Use large elastic bands around the frame to hold the comb you cut out into the frames in the correct orientation. Having someone help you will make the job a whole lot easier. I'm sure there are plenty of videos on you tube showing "cut outs" where they remove honey bee nests from unwanted locations and you will see how they fix the comb into the frames on those. It should not be necessary to use a bee vac (which you may see on the cut out videos) in your instance. Once you have a couple of combs removed and fixed in new frames, shake the bees onto them and that will make sorting the remaining comb that much easier.

I hope that makes sense and gives you some ideas of how to go about it.

Of course you could just leave them that way as a conservation hive and hope to catch any swarms from them but be aware that state regulations may require hives to be inspectable in your area. And if you live in an urban area, swarm management will be very difficult and multiple swarms each summer may aggravate neighbours.

If it is only half the frames in the brood box that is cross combed, you could use foundation in the other frames to try to straighten them up. Unfortunately bees don't always do as we wish. I used to use a 1" strip of foundation or I now make my own 1" plain wax strips to put in frames to give them a guide, but even that isn't an absolute guarantee that they will build the comb straight.

You might also consider re-orientating the hive so that the frames follow the bees preferred direction of comb, but you will still need to fix the other combs next spring.

Good luck with it and if you don't understand anything I've written shout up

Best wishes

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Silver Bee

Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could try putting a dummy board in to restrict their horizontal movement and add a box underneath with some comb ladders or frames alternating with foundation. Once they move down and start building you can swap out the frames with the foundation in for empty ones. These you can keep help get straight comb on the next hive. Once the queen moves down into the bottom box you put a queen excluder between the two and just harvest the top box when it is full of honey. It may already be too late in the season to convince them down so you might have to wait for next year.
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