Foundationless Frames – How to use them

Foundationless Frames
Foundation Less Frame in Hive

We get a lot of questions about Foundationless Frames and do we use them?

Well the answer is “yes” and “no”, for a few years we have been using foundation-less frames in our honey supers, all of ours are 3/4 sized. We find these are lighter to carry in the hot New Zealand summer.

We still use full wax foundation in the brood boxes, which are all full sized in our apiaries.

Crazy Comb

We found that we were getting too much crazy comb, when we used foundationless frames in the brood boxes. We heard a trick the other day, that if you put a foundationless frame between two frames already built out. The bees won’t make crazy comb, so we have been trying that this season.

More Crazy Comb

Last season most of our hives came from swarms, so we didn’t have enough built out frames to try this. But these colonies are going into their seconds season now, so they have been busy building lots of foundation. Perhaps we may even get some honey this season…hint…hint girls. Not that our bees read our blog, every since I took away their laptop :).

How do we setup our foundationless frames?

Drawing Pin

We still wire the frames as per normal, but only use a strip of foundation in the slot in top bar of the frame. We also run some melted wax down the join to help the strip stay in place.

This saves on our beekeeping supply bills, as we get three frames out of a full sized sheet of wax. It also reduces the amount of possible contaminates introduced into the hive from commercial bees wax.

Bead of wax of Edge on foundationless frames

Further Reading

Check out Rusty’s article form the Honey Bee Suite blog on Converting Langstroth frames to foundationless frames.

Have your ever tried foundationless frames?, Please comment below…

6 thoughts on “Foundationless Frames – How to use them

  1. Avatar photo
    Tyson says:

    I do use foundationless, although I have had some crossed comb which may or may not be a result of using that technique. I’m going to start “checkerboarding”- alternating storage comb in the supers with fully drawn comb and empty foundationless frames. Serves the same as foundation, without the foundation.

  2. Avatar photo
    Joseph says:

    I have a question about using the foundationless frames.
    What about extracting honey ?
    Can I do it with normal extractor designed for frames with foundation ?
    It would be appreciated if you answer it.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Avatar photo
      Margaret Groot says:

      Hi Joseph,

      This is a tough one. Usually honey collected on foundationless frames will be destroyed with centrifugal-extraction so most folk will use a ‘crush and strain’ method but that takes all the wax away from the girls. You could try gentle capping piercing or de-capping then place the honey-frame, upside down, in a collection-tray which will allow the honey to drip down but this does take patience. Honey must not be crystallised for this method to work.
      All the best Joseph. Regards, Margaret

      • Avatar photo
        Joseph says:

        Dear Margaret
        Thank you for your kind response.
        Then it can be concluded that foundationless frames wouldn’t be suitable for large scale commercial beekeeping,can’t it?
        Best regards

        • Avatar photo
          Margaret Groot says:

          ….yep. Probably not viable – a lot of commercial guys use plastic foundation sheets and avoid any wax foundation sheets, they scrape off all the comb, leave honey to drip through sieves or they have a decapping machine to cut off the cappings then use centrifugal extraction – cappings/wax waste, then sold to wax foundation sheet producers – bit of income from that. Regards, Margaret

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