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? Drone foundation ipm with pics

Our new hives have completely drawn out multiple foundationless frames. One of the original nuc frames(foundation), they stripped and haven’t drawn out. Also, they have mostly ignored the drone foundation (although one of the foundationless frames they drew out a mix of regular and drone cells). However, the drone foundation, they have drawn a few strange bars and only slightly added on. This being while simultaneously drawing out complete frames of foundationless.
Seems like possible beginnings of a couple of queen cells too.
Here are a few pics - what are your thoughts ?

I am beginning to think they don’t really like foundation.

Weird! Yup, two queen cups and a bunch of drippy castle towers…one has some capped honey?? It’s like they don’t really know what to do with the foundation and are treating it like the side of the box, where I’ll sometimes see formations like that coming out and connecting to the first outside frame face.

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@Eva
Yes, there are several that have some honey at the top. The drippy one, someone stole a bit of comb to eat :rofl:
They have done a fairly good job on the foundationless frames. However, that frame and another frame of foundation, they seem to not want to draw it out. I just removed the drone comb and replaced it with another foundationless. I may try the drone comb again in the future.
The comb pattern on those columns seem really random too. Maybe, that is the practice platform for the new bees :rofl:.

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If you want another way to cull drone comb easily from your hive as part of IPM, you could put medium frames on the ends. The bees will draw comb, which so far has always been drone cells, downward from the bottom bars to fill the extra space. Once it’s capped I break it off and feed to my chickens :cake::rooster:

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@Eva
Sounds great ! I might try that ! We have about 100 chickens and a dozen guineas - they would love that !
Thanks

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Hi Sam, you need to speak to @Doug1 , to find out what he does to plastic foundation because his bees do a beautiful job on it. Your frames look similar to my limited experience with plastic foundation. Only frames that were given to me. I had one success story with a plastic foundation frame. It was a frame that someone gave me during a nuc exchange that apparently was wax coated. I used it in the honey super first. The bees did a beautiful job of drawing it out. I think wax coating them is the key to success.

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@JeffH
I have the same situation. The 5 frame nucs I got were plastic foundation. The bees actually chewed the comb off of some of that and have been really slow at drawing it back out. At the same time, they completely drew out several foundationless that I added to 10 frame hives. As far as the drone foundation, it is wax coated that came from Kelly Beekeeping (Mann Lake). It just seems they don’t like foundation. Maybe, @Doug1 will read this and have something to add.
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If you look closely, you can see how they chewed away a lot of comb on that frame.
I am slowly, but surely, working toward cycling the original nuc frames out and ending with all new frames in. The original nuc frames kind of looked like the supplier was just trying to get rid of old frames anyway :man_facepalming:t2:.
For comparison, the following pics are the drone foundation from the other hive. Given I only get a chance to work the hives on the weekend and it already has capped brood that I don’t want hatching, I already pulled it.
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Hi Sam, I see what you mean. I know wax foundation has a bad reputation in the U.S., however bees take to wax foundation with no problems at all, as long as it’s fitted into the wires properly.

I would also cycle those plastic foundation frames out. I would replace them with wax foundation where I am. However if you want drone brood as an ipm strategy, you can’t go past foundationless frames for that. The bees will build the amount of worker comb to suit their requirements before they start building drone comb. Each colony will have a different threshold of how many workers they want before they start making drones. They DO want to make drones, because drones are the key to each colony passing on it’s genes. The more drones, the bigger the chance that colony has of passing on it’s genes.

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@JeffH
Yes
Both hives have built some % of drone comb in the foundationless frames. In fact, the one with the badly drawn drone foundation, drew out a foundationless frame at about 50-50. Almost as if they were telling me “you want drone comb here you go ! We make goofy stuff on drone foundation - get it out of here” :rofl:
The other hive drew it out nicelyon the drone foundation.
However, the hive of interest, has quite a bit of drone comb built. Seems like tooooo much. I keep wondering if I should cut some of it out in hopes of them rebuilding regular brood comb. Also, given varroa like drone comb, it creates additional breeding ground for varroa. :man_shrugging:t2:

@Eva
It seems interesting the way the bees drew that comb out. With a sense of humor, it looks like some kind of bee hieroglyphics trying to tell me what they think of it ! :rofl:

Hi Sam, I would cut that drone comb out, as you say. If drone comb is part of your ipm strategy, just remove it at the recommended time. The bees will then have the option to replace it with whatever they need at the time. Once you get past the likelihood of any virgin queens being around, they’ll most likely replace it with worker brood. In that case, you may have to revert back to drone foundation, if you still want to use that ipm strategy.

If your other colony is ok with the plastic foundation, you might be able to get them to draw the second frame out.

How do you dispose of the drone brood, when the time comes to do so?

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@JeffH

Are you thinking there may be a virgin queen ?
If so, I’m not sure where she came from. I did see what appeared to be large enough to be a queen, fly up, land and enter the hive. This occurred just as I was putting the hive back together. It happened quick. Didn’t get a great look. But, it seemed queen sized, met no resistance entering hive. If it was a queen, it wasn’t THE queen. The coloring of the abdomen was different. It caught my attention, as it flew up to the hive, due to the loud & deep tone of the wings buzzing.

That sounds like an idea.

Remove the frame, freeze it minimum 2-3 days, return it to the hive for the bees to clean out and start the cycle over.

Currently, I have both of the frames (1 each from both hives) in the freezer. The one with the bizarre draw out, I cleaned off. The other, having capped cells and larvae, left in tact. When re-installing, I may try swapping them between hives, as you suggested.

Hi Sam, definitely NO to your first question. I’m talking about virgin queens from other colonies in the district that might need to get mated. While there is a chance that virgin queens in the district need to get mated, colonies will produce drones. They’ll produce lots of drones.

This is something to read again & digest. “The more drones a colony can produce, the greater the chance that colony has of passing on it’s genes”.

On a daily basis, drones fly to a DCA (drone congregation area) Virgin queens fly to DCAs in order to get mated. The DCA will consist of many drones from different hives from all over the district, all hoping to mate with a virgin queen.

So as you can imagine, as winter approaches, it will be unlikely that any virgin queens will be about, so therefore the colony will stop producing drones.

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@JeffH
Ok
Thanks for clarifying. I kind of thought that might be what you meant. However, I just wanted to be sure you didn’t mean what I asked. It’s an interesting situation. :rofl:

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Great photos Sambees illustrating exactly what I have observed when using the this style of frame…i.e. the complete plastic frame ( rim is solid plastic as well) as opposed to double waxed plastic foundation sheets mounted in a wooden frame. For the novice, perhaps the difference isn’t apparent…but my experience is that bees can be reluctant to build out the solid plastic frames in the first place and it seems that if one season goes by without building out those solid plastic frames, the bees are even less enticed to used them.

Specifically with drone bait combs for a biological varroa control, I have used these frames and the bees build out that foundationless portion flawlessly with drone brood.

Randy Oliver has recently stated that these drone bait combs are ineffective in control of varroa…I suspect he is right.

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Thanks for the info @Doug1