As the hustle and bustle of the initial start up winds down and the new hives reach a size that allow them to have a good chance for the winter, I feel it is time to start experimenting with new equipment and methods. I love HTK and plan to remain loyal but lets be real - no store will have EVERY product you might want to try. One of these products I wanted to try was the beveled frames that are made by some companies and are designed for foundationless use.
As many of you may know (if not browse some of my older posts) I chose to use jumbo popsicle sticks as comb guides. Unfortunately, my bees seem to ignore that comb guide and only use it when they would have built in that spot anyway because of the frame spacing. That left me with the choice of buying plastic foundation to cut into strip, beveling my own bars, buying the wedge type bars, or buying the beveled bars if I wanted to try a new type of foundationless frames. So I went ahead and bought 20 beveled top bar frames and I plan to try them out this weekend when I add a new hive super (bring my two hives to 4 hive bodies each!) to each of my hives. Stay tuned for the results of this experiment!
Another experiment I am currently working on is spacing my frames. As you may know from my earlier posts and/or videos, HTK's hive bodies leave a little extra room inside. This is an intentional part of their hive body design and is there for when the wood on the frames expand with propolis. Since my frames are new though, there is about 3/4ths of a frame worth of space left. I wanted to see if spacing them would work to resolve this issue (since I am using foundationless it causes one of my end frames to develop all kinds of burr and bridge comb issues with the side of the hive bodies). I did this spacing the saturday before last so this saturday I will see how the results are. If the spacing doesn't cause too many problems I will make a "spacer", but if not I will probably try to make an insert that fills in the extra space and change that out as the frames expand. It is a bit more work with either method but I really feel that a little extra effort for the first two years of a set of frames is worth it for a little less effort for the final eight or so years of a set of frames.
These two experiments are going to be the main thing I work on before the fall and winter. I plan to expand to eight hives next year so I really want to do as much experimenting as I can in the summer so I can devote my fall to research and my winter to expansion.