Natural Foundationless Comb (2 Weeks Old)

Thirteen days ago, I added a second deep to one of my young honey bee hives and inserted four foundationless frames as an experiment. Six days later, I took a quick peek at one of those foundationless frames and found this:

Today, I took another look at that same foundationless frame — and look at it now:

1 of 4 founationless combs in Hive #1 after two weeks. (August 28, 2010.)

But that’s nothing. Check this out:

Beautiful foundationless honeycomb in Hive #1. Two weeks ago it was an empty frame. (August 28, 2010.)

That’s pretty much a fully-drawn comb of honey — on a foundationless frame made in thirteen days by Newfoundland honey bees in our backyard. Incredible. Had I known foundationless frames would turn out this well, I would have gone foundationless from the start. Here’s another foundationless frame of honey:

Another full-drawn honeycomb in Hive #1. (August 28, 2010.)

Notice the comb is gradually being connected to the sides of the frame. I still wouldn’t flip the frame to inspect it, but it’s sturdy enough that I’m not worried about the comb breaking off.

This is the one foundationless frame that had barely been touched since it was installed thirteen days ago — but they’re working on it.

Another shot of the first foundationless frame.

Update: I didn’t notice all the brood in this comb before. Can you see the little grubs curled up in the cells near the bottom half of the frame?

January 4th, 2011: Those larvae were drone larvae. Most, if not all, of the larvae laid on the foundationless frames were drones. See Foundationless Frames Can Mean Lots of Drones for more info.

We did a full inspection of Hive #1, pulling out and inspecting every frame. Here are the rest of the pics from the inspection:

Hive #1 with frame feeder. (August 28, 2010.)

This is after removing one frame from the top box. The frame feeder, installed only a few days ago, is half empty. (It can hold 7 litres of syrup but was filled with 6 litres to avoid spillage.)

Bees drinking loads from frame feeder in Hive #1. (August 28, 2010.)

The bees inside one of the “bee ladders” (a mesh tube that reaches down to the bottom of the feeder). Both ladders were full of bees. I like the frame feeder, but it doesn’t leave much room for the rest of the frames (it’s a tight fit). And of course I’m worried I squished the queen.

Brood comb in Hive #1. (August 28, 2010.)

The larvae (tiny curled up white grubs) aren’t always easy to spot against a naturally translucent background, compared to black plastic foundation.

Brood comb with mostly broken-through comb (bees that have hatched).

Capped honey (up top) in Hive #1.

Mostly capped honey on a frame. The majority of the frames are well on their way to being fully-drawn. The colony in Hive #1 is thriving, as far as I can tell. I just wish we had more foundationless frames to give them. I might remove all the foundation frames from the hive down the road, but for now they’ll have to make due with only four foundationless frames.

Here’s the video of all this.