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Foundation-less frames are they good to start a hive on

I have got a new flow hive and am waiting to get my bees in easter, I am wondering whether it is a good idea to start of a hive with foundation-less or not? I have installed fishing wire and have added wax to the starter strips, any other really good info tips or tricks on starting up with a flow hive would be greatly appreciated.
Thx Hugo

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It’s all about personal preference Hugo. I use the pre-waxed foundation because the bees form the interior of the hive nicely. I’ve also taken out a frame and put in the foundationless frame and they’ve built it beautifully as well. I find handling the pre fab frames easier though. It’s a live and learn thing. :smiley:

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thank you Martha i can sleep easy now.
Hugo

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Yes the choice is personal however they’re not all wise choices.
There are many good reasons for using foundation especially when starting out and I’ll point out a couple.
Straight drawn comb, more rigid comb and more uniform comb.
Foundationless needs more care and attention as it is being drawn and handled as it can go wonky and is fragile so needs care when inspecting and being handled.
Alternating foundation-foundationless helps with the wonky factor and once the frames are drawn to the bottom they have more structural integrity.
My bees hate plastic foundation and I have given up on that and in my super I will use a starter strip so I can have cut comb honey but I like to use wired wax foundation as brood frames.
Once experienced at frame handling go the foundationless route if you still wish to, having a comb break mid inspection as a beginner can be quite daunting. :wink:
And, welcome to the forum!

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I agree with Martha that it is a personal choice and either way will work in that you will end up with a hive full of comb and bees. The most important thing if you decide against using foundation is the you use a spirit level so that the hive is set up with the frames sitting vertically, guessing it is looking right could end up with comb that is built wonky wasting the bees time and effort in building it. Bee made comb is more prone to fracturing, especially if you don’t secure it with wire or fishing line for the bees to secure it.
Over the years I have tried both and a few variations and I always now use wired wooden frames and use a sheet of foundation as this helps the bees to build the comb out faster with less drone comb and no wonky comb and less honey being used by the bees to produce less wax in making the comb.
In some countries some people won’t use wax foundation because of possible contamination from chemicals, used in farming for example, but my thinking is that if chemical contamination is a real issue then the wax the bees produced in the bee keepers hive is most likely also contaminated so is there really a gain? Don’t get me started on chemical contamination imposed on all of mankind for the profits of a few.
You haven’t brought up the other option of using plastic foundation, higher cost than wax foundation, alien to bees, and already we have enough plastic contamination in the world.
Cheers Hugo

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I agree with what other said- when you are starting out using foundation pays for itself. It ensures you have the best chance to set up a very manageable brood box with even frames that pull out like books on a shelf. You get less drone comb, the frames are stronger and it gives the bees a head-start. In a hive if one frame is out- then it pushes the ones beside it out- and there is a knock on affect. Cross combing, fragile combs, drone comb- these are all potential issues. Foundationless is a bit of an art to master- it certainly has a place in beekeeping- but I think when you are starting out do yourself a favor and buy some sheets of wax and a roll of wire. Later on you will be happy and overall you will have less work to do and happy bees.

if you do go with your fishing line and starter strips: make sure the hive is 100% level lengthways. Otherwise the combs will not attach correctly to the bottoms of each frame…

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I am a beginner and I started using foundationless with wires for the 3 frames that I added to the 5 frames from a nuc. To add to semaphore, I found with foundationless you will need to make sure from right to left is also level if not comb will drift into the next frame. You will need to check it often. I check once a week but being a beginner i was told to check the hive once a week anyways to learn so kill 2 birds with one stone :smile:. I also found the wires helpful when I had a comb being built in the wrong direction and I was able to cut the top and twist it as it was on wire to the correct direction and it held
up. I also have a starter strip made from tongue depressors. That is just my current experience with foundationless. Hope that helps.

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Check out what Michael Bush has to say about foundationless.(cell size). Good info and it makes sense to me. Foundationless is not that hard and it keeps you checking your hive on a regular basis, especially at the beginning… My 2 cents. thank you very much!

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My hive is 100% natural comb

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thanks everyone for all this I am very grateful.
Hugo

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I wish you had added a link to what Michael has said that you are referring to. I’m sure it would be interesting and might apply here Steven.
Cheers

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Here’s the link from M Bush’s site on foundationless frames.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm

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When I was using foundationless frames, I noticed the bees made slightly smaller cells. From memory I counted 2 more cells over the length of a frame. They say that smaller bees do better than big bees. People who promote top bar hives are big on natural comb, while rubbishing foundation comb. I just think that wax foundation frames have too many advantages to be ignored.

They say that bees are happier making their own comb. Do bees possess that emotion? or are they too busy getting on with the job of raising more brood so they can swarm one day when the conditions are right.

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http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm

Hi Jeff, you can have it both ways: use foundation and have small cell. Almost everywhere in the world you can buy foundation with cell size smaller than 5,4 mm, except Australia. Therefore I have been making my own for the last two years with smaller cell size. But I always use one ‘build-frame’ (one without foundation) on the very outside of the brood nest. It keeps the bees happy as you reckon, they always fill it with 100% drone brood (good for the local gen pool) and has also the added advantage that when it comes to swarm cell control that 9 out of ten times they build the swarm cells on that frame or the adjacent next one or two brood frames, so less frames to check meaning less disturbance of the brood nest.

Hi Georgina, I’m pleased that strategy works for you. Personally I wouldn’t allow my bees to make a whole frame of drone brood as part of my hive beetle strategy.

I try to do preemptive swarm splits before the bees decide to build swarm queen cells. That works in the majority of cases.

I caught a tiny swarm this afternoon that issued out of one of my splits. Not even enough bees to completely cover one frame. They must have swarmed with the first queen that emerged. However she looks quite big to be recently emerged.