Homemade Foundationless Frames for Brood Nest/Chamber

  There are foundations for sale with different cell sizes. And there are many different "theories" that explain why small cell size foundations should be used.

Do not squeeze your bees, because "Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies." More details are here

So, where is the answer? I think with brood chamber foundationless frames every beekeeper can find out the needs of his bees to build a comb with naturally required cell size. You will be surprised to see that the same strain of bees could build combs with DIFERENT cell sizes during different periods of time, different honey flow, different colony size and so on. My bees' natural cell size runs from about 4.9mm to 5.5 mm in the core of the brood nest. But in general, the average cell size is about 5.25 mm to 5.4 mm. Therefore I chose Pierco Deep Frames (foundations) with a cell size of 5.25 mm and Dadant Duragilt foundations with a cell size of 5.4 mm that are very close to the natural sell size for my specific variety of bees. And I recommend that you also follow this method to choose the right foundation for brood nest for your bees.
You can apply the same approach to choose the right foundation used by bees to store honey.


  Usually honey bees make combs with different cell sizes for different purposes: combs with one cell size for worker bees, combs with a different cell size for drones and combs with yet another cell size to store honey and pollen.

But more importantly, bees could build a brood comb for worker bees with different cell sizes in the same frame!

  You can recognize different cell sizes visually or by using hex keys, or

  a tape measure. Measure 10 cells in your comb and then divide by 10 to get the individual cell size

or some precision measuring instruments such as vernier caliper or a digital caliper.

  My deep homemade foundationless frame for brood area with fishing line. Top bar with a beveled edge. - a flat bottom V.
  I would recommend to apply wax for a fishing line too.
  "How to install a fishing line" video posted here

I always apply natural wax to speed up acceptance of new frames by the bees.

For this purpose I use a brush...

  ...to paint the edge of the top bar on the inside of the bar.

You can also use this tip for factory made foundationless frames.

  April 20, 2010

Five day progress

My deep homemade foundationless frame with a beveled edge top bar.

I prefer to use a fishing line to make my frames stronger and as an additional guideline for my bees. Without such a guideline the comb structure could be messy.

  May 01 2010

This colony recently replaced the old queen, therefore the bees decided to build the drone comb first.

  If you prefer to use frames with starter strips I recommend to install starter strips made from carton. For this purpose you can use any carton from a milk or a juice container.

Cut the carton into 3/4" (1") x 16,5" strips.

  You can use any standard wedge/split wooden frames.

To assemble the frames, remove the wedge from the top bar.
Staple carton starter strip to the top bar.
Firmly press the wedge against the starter strip and the top bar, and using several 5/8" nails, nail or staple the wedge to the top bar.

  And finally you have to paint the starter strips with fresh wax.

My bees like carton starter strips waxed with their own fresh wax much better than the starter strips made from comb foundation, because they prefer their own fresh wax instead of foreign (and very often old) foundation.

Another reason not to use a starter strip made from factory comb foundation is because bees can start replicating the cell size on the starter strip.

  April 21 2010

Three day progress. It's still a not main nectar flow for my area.

Standard deep frame with carton starter strip.

  April 29, 2010

Here you can see more progress.

  May 05, 2010

And more progress

  May 11, 2010

Natural size comb,
natural size bees
and natural size Russian-Italian queen

  May 01, 2010

Four day progress, frame from a different hive.

You can see colored carton under top bar.

  May 01, 2010

Eight day progress, frame from a different hive.

  May 01, 2010

Eight day progress, frame from a different hive.

  May 11, 2010

Four day progress, frame without fishing line from a different hive.

  Huge size cells

  Once again my bees confirmed the size of cells they prefer.

  Huge size cells, July 24, 2013

1. Introduce foundationless frames slowly - one frame at the time.
2. Place a foundationless frame between two drawn out brood combs in the middle of the brood nest.
3. Do not feed your bees with any kind of syrup. Syrup is an effluence factor.
4. If you would like to become a good breeder - you have to have ad least 3 to 5 foundationless frames for each hive body with brood.

Link to related info - Homemade Foundationless Frames for Comb Honey Production

Boris Romanov
February 03, 2005
Last Modified: April 30, 2013


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