Adding foundationless frames to existing brood super

So… my Flow will be arriving in December (so looking forward to it!) but I was told I should get started early so the bees have built up a bit of a hive before it gets cold.

So I started with an ordinary Langstroth super with frames with foundation, and now I have several frames of comb with brood as of last week’s inspection.

and… from what I’ve seen, the Flow ships with foundationless frames.

I’m still fairly new, so apologies if my fragments of knowledge are incorrect, but I recall that you’re supposed to put foundationless frames in between frames with foundation (or pre-built comb) so that the new comb is build straight?

If so… and I have an existing super with reasonably well built brood-frames, how do I best incorporate the new Flow super?

Should I just:

  1. ignore it for now - keep one brood super and just add the Flow super on top for honey for now?
  2. add the foundationless super on top, then wait til that is full before adding the Flow super (probably next year)
  3. intermingle the foundationless frames with the pre-existing ones? (and if so, what’s the best way to do that without breaking up the ball-o-brood)?
  4. something else?

Many thanks :smile:

@taryneast Taryn it depends on what you want from your Bees.

  1. If you are after Honey - you need to fill the brood box with Comb/Foundation and let the girls get on with it
    2 If you want to look after the bees health, go foundation-less or starter strips, the bees will build the comb - and keep healthy but at the cost of 6-8 lb of honey for each lb of comb built
  2. Half way house place starter strips between rows of comb or foundation if you have no comb

If you have good frames of brood you can swap some up and create a second brood level (double brood) - the more bees the more workers for foraging

When the frames are full to bursting with bees, nectar and Bee Bread/Pollen then put the Flow super on.

You want good head of bees to forage to fill the supers efficiently

@Rodderick where is that nice article you had for creating double brood??

Found it! Checkerboarding the brood to increase the population of the hive to double brood

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Could I counsel you not to try this in the UK.
A few people have and it works well if you have fine warm weather but you know how our summers can turn on a sixpence :frowning:

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Dee these peeps are in Australia - I can’t see it working here unless we have an exceptionally hot spring - which can happen occasionally and we are over due one

@taryneast, the frames come with starter strips and holes for wire. Although It was my understanding that having a foundation was a good idea in the brood box as it makes the frames more rigid when inspecting especially for some of us who are still on our L plates.

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I know.
I was replying to you…like “Valli don’t try it here in the UK”…in the nicest possible way, and aiming it at any people looking into the forum from the UK
Talking of weather. … A lot of beekeepers who have practised the craft for many years and kept bees pre varroa said, “last year was their best ever and this year their worst”
We have had good springs here in Wales since I moved here a few years ago, the problem has been rubbish summers…apart from 2014 :smile:

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question about foundationless, can you have foundationless but with a wire? to help strengthen the natural comb? I am in Dallas TX, US and being new to this I would like to keep it as natural as possible but I understand that being new and in Dallas where it can be hot. I could accidentally lose some comb by turning it wrong. Thinking the wire my give some added support.

I have looked on YouTube and have not found any that have done this, well not yet. Hoping someone can fill me in/ education me.

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I was reading in BBKA news today it was the worst year in 40 years - Wales average was 16lbs per hive, West Midlands - my area was - 18,2lb and London was 27lbs Rest of the country were between yours and mine. East coast did slightly better than London at 27.3lb.

Bring on the summer - we need a good year.

My first ever Spring/Summer was 1987 and I had to go buy shorts about 10 years ago at the Scout Family Camp we all got sun tans it was so hot - just found a brilliant tool from 1910 to 2015

2007 and 2010 were the last good April Temperatures even my 1986 is a peak

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In Dallas, TX I would suggest wire or very strong fishing line as re-enforcement for the wax comb. The heat and weight of the combs will cause them to collapse without it. You could just do plastic foundation instead. All the Flow Frames are plastic. If plastic is supposed to be unhealthy for the bees as Valli suggests, how it is not unhealthy for humans to consume honey out of it?

ok, thank you but I not sure if I asked the right question by your responce. I am wanting the bee’s to draw out the comb themselves with wire support so they can build against. This maybe such a stupid question is why I can not write it correctly. I am not wanting to use wax foundation or plastic foundation. Just wood frames with the wood starter strip and wire to add support? Am I making since? for is this just stupidly foolish?

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This is not what I’m saying - for the bees to build their own comb, it has been proven that the bees are healthier, I suppose it is like saying we are healthier if we are active rather than couch potatoes.

Also Bees that have swarmed are generally left to build the new comb as 1. it leaves a brood break - less varroa or other peskies, and toxins they may have brought with them are in the wax not being stored in the new store areas as nectar and pollen for food. Also masticating the nectar they carry have bodily enzymes added which have antibacterial properties.

I’m not against plastic - I have got Flow hives after all - but catching swarms they need to rid themselves of any old stores from a previous hive and working it into wax and helps to make the problems inert.

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@Martydallas Marty is what you are saying to have starter strips or let the bees build their own wax but you want them to have the support of wire?

When you see wire frames, the queen will often not lay eggs in the cells that are against the wire. If it is on the brood nest there should not be a problem with the frames - firstly you are only lifting them into the heat for a short amount of time and secondly brood frames are not put in the honey spinners so does not need the extra strength.

Old brood combs should not really be used for Honey - Honey combs should be fresh wax, foundation or plastic foundation - old brood comb will have less room in it due to old cocoon casings and more likely to harbour toxins, from various treatments over the years. personally I don’t like wax foundation as all the old wax is recycled and you never know what other beeks have used - For honey I prefer new comb made by the Bees or Plastic

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This is exactly, I think what I’m asking. My understanding is new beekeepers such as myself tend to pull the frames out rotated slightly and the new draw combs will break.

from what I understand becouse of the heat here in Dallas the combs are a bit less stable but not sure if that is correct do the the Brood chamber is always the same temp or at least close.

So if I should do put vertical wire only the queen will lay larvy aound the wire? and be ok with the rest of the frame.

I may try this with one or to frames, if not one has tried this or I get such a overwelling “your Carzy” responce :smile:

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That will probably work so if Queeny doesn’t lay in those areas you will know why.

Don’t forget Marty - no matter how hot out side the bees will keep the hive at a constant temperature. So if it is a hot day consider doing hive checks early in the morning or in the cool of the early evening. If that can’t be helped try to have the hive shaded while you do the checks.

I still recommend the Australian style Koolgardi system to keep hive in hot areas cool.

The Koolgardy works on the principal of evaporation cooling the ambient air. Place a water source with a wicking material - hessian is usually used (burlap to you). Place the material over the hive but able to wick up the water in a trough or container. The action of the wind drying the water causes heat to be exchanged and the water is evaporated causing a cooling effect.


Not stupid at all and makes perfect sense. I was given 100 frames of exactly what you’ve described. I used them all inside my 40 hives and all are drawn out nicely. I prefer them over plastic.

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I have my bee drawn frames reinforced with fishing line. The bees ignore it putting brood and stores over it.
There is no harm spinning brood frames, that is after all what people running excluder-free, same box systems do.
Honey is OK from brood frames, what isn’t OK is spinning frames with brood.


Personally I want Clean Wax or Plastic Frames for Honey, Especially if you want cut comb it needs to be fresh wax


Cut comb is a different matter. That has to be drawn that year and scrupulously clean. I do a lot of that. The most popular squares are those with pollen cells dotted about in them.
Valli, do you plan to do** just** flow honey and cut comb only?
People who spin their honey off use and reuse the same super frames till they fall apart in the extractor.

I will have to see how the season goes - will try to keep some back for my girls - they are the most important - Have had several enquiries from the Christmas Fayre form local people - I have a Honey sign and will put it in my porch and see how it goes