Ask Kirkobeeo: Going foundationless.

Indiana beekeeper James Whitcom (pictured above; photo by Joy Schmoll) writes:

Thanks for the great blog!

I am a 2nd year beekeeper. I have 2 hives - each with 2 deep brood chambers. Both hives have overwintered and survived one of the coldest winters in this area that I can remember. I want to convert the hives to foundationless frames like you suggest. What is the best way to do this with an already established hive? If I make starter strip frames and integrate them into the hive a few at a time, would this work?

Kirk says:

OK if you have two established hives, I assume they are Large Cell (5.4mm). [This is the size of most commercial foundation, and is apparently based on the assumption that bigger bees equals better bees and more honey.]

With bees in the wild, the cell size is smaller--especially in the core or brood part of the hive. So seeing how you have already got established bees you have to regress them. So I would cycle my frames out--that is I would put some frames in with starter strips and remove some old ones and eventually you will have frames with smaller cell size and with clean wax.

You can also go to Michael Bush's site for really detailed info.

Good luck. Small cell, clean wax, no treatments--healthy bees.