Saturday, April 14, 2012

Experimenting with Fixing Foundationless

I decided that this weekend was going to be the weekend that I preformed a much needed fix on one of my hives. As many people know, pretty much the only flaw with foundationless is that sometimes it is drawn incorrectly and it needs to be fixed. I was fortunate that in both my hives the comb was just drawn off center (but otherwise perfect). If I had to guess, I would say they built the comb using the queen cage that was suspended in each hive as a guide instead of the comb guides that I have installed. So I prepared everything last night and went to work.

I used frames I just built that did NOT have comb guides in them instead of breaking the comb guides on the already existing frames. I then cut the sheet of comb out of each frame that was in use and then set it in the empty frame on a table. Using five rubber bands, I created a " | \ | / | " pattern with the rubber bands and rested the bottom of the sheets of comb on the bottom bar of the frame. I am hoping that the way I have it, they will reattach the sides and fill in the stuff on the top of the sheet of comb and connect it to the top as well. I didn't take pictures or a video sadly, but next weekend I will probably take pictures of the success/failure of the experiment when I go to inspect the results and possibly try it with the other hive.

While I was about it I did a full inspection on both hives. It occurs to me today especially that it is very important to keep records and use a good hive inspection checklist while you are out there to remind you to check everything. While I was able to find the queen in Hive #2, I wasn't able to find her in Hive #1 (which was the hive I pretty much chopped apart and put back together). It is worrisome and (due to the rough nature of rubberbanding comb to frames) there is a good chance that Hive #1's queen might not have survived the process. fortunately I knew going in that they would have plenty of capped brood and before I committed to fixing the hive I made sure there was plenty of eggs and brood in all stages of development so that if necessary they can create a new queen. I am pretty sure she is ok because I didn't see any clusters forming around what would be pretty much a corpse.

I did a full inspection two weeks ago, but at that time they weren't nearly as far along so it wasn't nearly as fulfilling. Seeing all these small details (like being able to clearly see the difference between capped brood of both sizes, honey, and pollen) really made me feel like I was gaining valuable experience. All in all, it was a very eventful day. Next week's inspection really will be interesting.

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