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Foundationless frames


I am gaming Foundationless frames in this new season (and expecting drone fest frames in return of a more eco balance and calm Queen in the long term) … So impressed with how my bees drawn out a perfect foundation wax top to toe within a week when I check boarded them between 2 old frames…

Many peoples provide support such as a bar, wired, wax strip, love, etc… I was confused so decided to make a combo of frames with either wooden bar, wax strip, a single wire only on the top, foundation sticking to the top wire, a melt wax only and nothing as of a plain frame only… Guess what? The bees didn’t seem to care, they waxed out a perfect foundation regardless whatever I provided to them as long as the frames were well check boarded without extra spaces…

Do you think the future foundationless frames will be drawn out with less and less big drone cells once the bees have done enough with it?


Hi @Chislen, depending the colony and their propensity to swarm will determine whether they will create lots of drone cells. I don’t think going foundationless will change that. I use use mostly foundation with some foundationless frames and found that if the hive is healthy and strong they create drone cells across the bottom of all the frames and sometimes on top. And occasionally I see a foundation frame where the bees have ignored the cell size embossing in the wax foundation and build 20-50% drone cells across the entire frame. It seems no matter how hard you try to convince your bees to do things your way, they will do the opposite.:grinning:


Hi @Rodderick , interesting when you mention the swarm tendency for excessive drone cells being built and I tend to dismiss that theory when I only use foundationless frames since expanding the brood nest in this season, plus my strictly weekly throughout inspection (8 frames single brood box at the moment, plus a flow super) may put more control on swarm intention.

I did see 2 drone fest frames in the 8 frames brood box during previous inspection 2 days ago, I reminded myself to ensure plenty of laying spaces (by doing frames rotation to the split hive) and 100% quality assurance on no larvae in the queen cups. Hopefully the new Queen will soon hatch and start laying in the split then I will merge back to run a double brood boxes for less stressful of spaces issue and to strengthen the hive population.


I decided to go with all foundation after giving foundationless a try a few years ago. One day I said to myself “that’s it, no more foundationless frames”. I do use them in my observation hive because the colony is always weak, therefore they will always build worker comb.

After weighing up the pros & cons, I think that foundation wins by a mile.


If the colony wants drone cells the bees will certainly build them. Even with foundation of worker sized cells it still happens, drone cells, but I suspect more so with foundationless frames.
I can’t see that bees wax foundation is not eco-friendly and with foundation it saves the bees time in having the comb made and storing honey. But each to their own way.


I started out using foundationless and had good results- but my brother warned me that I would get lots of drone comb, he only used founadion. After a year it was obvious he was quite right- I had many frames with very large patches of drones- and my brother had just a little at the edges. The other day I inspected my mothers have and it was frame after frame of solid worker brood- then we hit a single foundationless and an entire half of one side was pure drones. Drones don’t bother me so much- but I now follow Jeff’s advice and try to set up all of my brood boxes with foundation. For me the benefits are: very even combs, less drone comb, more stable combs. The other advantage of wired foundation frames is in spinning where virgin fondationless combs are very fragile and must be spun carefully or they split.

I now use foundationless only in ideal supers for cut or crush comb- or checkerboarded into swarm Nucs when I don’t have enough wired frames ready. The extra expense of foundation is not that much when it comes to setting up a nice manageable brood box.


Hi Jack, I noticed a foundationless frame today while spinning honey. It was fine, it behaved like all the rest. The thing in it’s favor was the fact that a few generations of leftover bees cocoons added a lot of strength to it. It’s mostly worker comb out of my observation hive, so I’ll keep using it.