how to harvest foundationless frames?

Basic beekeeping, this is beekeeping after the first winter until about the third or fourth year. You are a beekeeper, but you still have a lot to learn. Talk about normal everyday beekeeping here.
BigNotEasyGuy
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:19 pm
Location: Denver, CO

how to harvest foundationless frames?

Postby BigNotEasyGuy » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:06 pm

This is our second year with bees, we didn't harvest last year and have been converting to foundationless frames. Our supers are mediums and I apparently didn't check on them enough at the end of the summer, it appears one of my supers is one solid honey comb through the entire set of frames. How the heck to you harvest something like that? I tried gently pulling a frame out and the comb is so heavy it broke free from the top and started sinking down so I put the frame back in.

My first instinct to do this is to take a knife and cut between each frame, then try to gently pull the frame out, but the heavy comb makes me think that's going to be a mess. I could also put the whole think over a plastic tote and then once I get one frame out, just let the comb fall into the tote. Clearly I won't be using an extractor this year. I think I need to just get a big pile of honey laden comb into my container and then figure out how to do the crush and strain method I guess.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thank!
-jasen

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: how to harvest foundationless frames?

Postby moebees » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:44 pm

Turn the box upside down on a flat surface like a table and then lift box off leaving the frames sitting on their top bars. Then you can begin to separate them and cut free what needs to be. Have a food grade bucket with lid available to cut the comb into after brushing the bees off. This will be a crush and strain job.

For future reference it isn't a good idea to put foundationless frames into a a honey super. Should be already drawn comb or foundation.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

BigNotEasyGuy
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:19 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: how to harvest foundationless frames?

Postby BigNotEasyGuy » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:50 pm

Upside down on a table! Brilliant! I think I have an old table somewhere, fortunately my hives are just at the back of my yard, not out in the middle of our field.

I've read a lot about foundationless frames and hadn't seen anywhere that you can't use them for supers. I have read that you might want to put at least a single drawn comb frame in first. However these were my first mediums, I only had deeps on the bottom before this year so I didn't have drawn comb that would fit. Also most sites that recommend this all warn about cross-comb but make it sound like it's not any more common than in foundation frames. At any rate I'm trying to regress the size of my bees, I really wish I would have started with all mediums and foundationless but I didn't and now I'm trying to muddle my way through to my ultimate goal.

I really think my big flaw was spending too much time trying to fix my tractor and other farm stuff and not setting aside time every 2 weeks to check on the frames. I won't make that mistake again. But it seems like I learn everything the hard way.

Thanks!
-jasen

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: how to harvest foundationless frames?

Postby moebees » Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:57 pm

You can use foundationless in honey supers but bees tend to build honey comb wider than brood comb. So if you put a box of empty frames on top of the hive even if they follow the comb guide on the first one they will grow them out wider and wider until they become hopelessly cross combed. The best way to get perfectly drawn comb is insert them between drawn brood frames.

And yes checking more frequently helps so that you can catch problems and correct them before they get out of control. But it happens to the best of us. At least you got some honey to harvest. That's a good thing.

And welcome to the forum Jasen
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

BigNotEasyGuy
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:19 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: how to harvest foundationless frames?

Postby BigNotEasyGuy » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:34 pm

Ok I'm going to try harvest this morning. One more question, is it ok to leave an empty super on a hive over the winter? I've read some posts that make it sound like that's not good, but I can't find any advice that says not to do it explicitly.

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: how to harvest foundationless frames?

Postby moebees » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:14 pm

Some do it. Be careful if robbing is possible. If robbing might be a problem leave it a couple hundred yards from the hive and let them rob it before putting it back. The other drawback is if you are in a cold climate you probably don't want the empty space on the hive. I think some of the people that leave them on are in warmer climates. Since you are probably going to have to crush and strain if you let them clean up what is left on the frames storage off the hive should be pretty easy.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

BigNotEasyGuy
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:19 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: how to harvest foundationless frames?

Postby BigNotEasyGuy » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:22 pm

Ugh, I just finished, it was scary and awesome at the same time. I'm going to do a new post detailing what I did and asking for people to tell me what I should have done different. Nothing turned out like I planned and I had several surprises. The good news is that we are currently finishing the straining of the super I harvested. We got some really nice honey. But I want to do better next year.

The scariest part was when I heard a buzzing a little too close and I realized I had a bee in my mask in front of my face while my hands were full moving heavy comb. I set things down, backed up and crushed her with the palms of my hands in the mesh of the mask and then smoked the heck out of my face area on the mask. There are no tips on how to handle that in the beginner bee books...


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