Foundationless Frame in The Brood Nest = Less Messy Drone Comb

Two weeks ago I wrote a post on Swarm Prevention. I talked about knowing when to stop feeding to prevent swarming and all kinds of good stuff. I also said something like this:

In a standard Langstroth hive with foundation, all the foundation usually has worker-sized cells imprinted on it, so the bees tend to build worker brood comb on it, not drone comb. That leaves the queen with nowhere to lay drone comb, so she’s forced to fill the space between the boxes with drone comb — drone comb that is a big ugly mess to clean up in the spring.

Destroyed drone comb between the brood boxes after inspection. (May 05, 2012.)

Destroyed drone comb between the brood boxes after an inspection. (May 05, 2012.)

That’s why I insert at least one foundationless frame into the brood nest of every colony. Given the choice to build comb however they like it, if they’re short on drones (and they usually are in a Langstroth hive full of plastic foundation), the bees will (usually) fill the foundationless frame with drone comb instead of gunking up the space between the brood boxes with it.

I added such a foundationless frame to my one colony that’s in pretty good shape two weeks ago. Today I took a look at that foundationless frame and found this…

Natural drone comb made from dandelion nectar. (June 05, 2016, Flatrock, Newfoundland.)

…naturally drawn out drone comb with freshly laid eggs inside most of the cells.

Close up of natural drone comb made from dandelion nectar. (June 05, 2016, Flatrock, Newfoundland.)

Close up of natural drone comb made from dandelion nectar. (June 05, 2016, Flatrock, Newfoundland.)

The wax is yellow probably because the bees have been collecting dandelion nectar and pollen for the past few weeks.

Click the image to see a much sharper close up view of the comb.

7 thoughts on “Foundationless Frame in The Brood Nest = Less Messy Drone Comb

  1. If I had to deal with Varroa mites on top of the cold, damp, windy, weather-induced frustrations of beekeeping in Newfoundland, I’d quit.

  2. Foundation with drone-sized cells imprinted on them is available at many beekeeping supply retailers, though I don’t see the point when a blank frame achieves the same effect.

  3. This is my first year with Langs after keeping top bars. In top bar hives, I’m used to them building nice comb – whichever type they want to build. Today, I put an empty comb in my Lang and am interested to see what they do. They’ve been stuffing drone comb here and there otherwise.

  4. I’m curious to see what they do, too, Don. I add the blank frame before they begin making drone comb. I wonder if it makes any difference after they’re already caught on that they can fill the spaces between the boxes with drone comb.

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