I’ve been doing beekeeping for a year and have always been amazed by foundationless frames in a beehive. They are thick, beautiful, and completely built by the bees the way they decide to build the comb. Recently I bought some boxes from a guy in Salt Lake City, UT who builds beehives in his garage and told me foundationless frames for the deeps are a great way to go.

beekeeping
Beautiful comb that is built on traditional wax frames.

I think I’m sold on the idea. Here’s why.

Foundationless Frames Definition and Methodology

Foundationless frames are where you allow the bees to create honeycomb to the size that they prefer. Instead of giving them wax to build off you allow them to fill the entire frame of comb as they see fit, not as you see fit.

It’s a more natural way of beekeeping and the benefits that beekeepers believe you have are:

  • Mite resistant
  • Decrease in bacteria spreading in the hive
  • Doesn’t require treatments to keep a healthy hive

Some beekeepers aren’t happy with:

  • Amount of drone comb that is built in foundationless.
  • Wonky or weird comb that creates a mess in the hive.

My Plan

There is quite a bit of discussion on the topic. Since I’m running foundationless in deeps my plan is to checkerboard FL and traditional frames to encourage the comb to be built in a non-messy way.

Checkerboard: alternate old and new frames when you add boxes. This is normally done when adding a second deep to a hive in hopes new and old honeycomb side by side will encourage bees to continue to build.

This has been done for many years and honestly if it resists mites and bacteria I think it could be a great option for us this year going into our second year of beekeeping.

How To Build Foundationless Frames with Starter Strips

What you’ll need:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Wax foundation
  • Empty frame
  • Scissors
  • Diet coke (optional)
foundationaless frames
Supplies: wax foundation, popsicle sticks, empty frame, scissors

Step 1: Cut the strips of foundation into 1/4-1/2 inch strips. Too large and the bees will rely too much on the wax strip and it screws up the process.

beekeeping, foundationless frames
Step 2: Place the wax strip in place, add popsicle stick to steady the wax strip.

Step 2: Slide the wax strips into the top of the frame and then add the popsicle sticks to keep the wax foundation in place.

foundationless frames, beehives, beekeeping
Step 3: Repeat and install. I suggest checkerboarding to keep the new comb in place.

Step 3: Repeat and install in the hive. I’ll be checkerboarding FL and traditional wax frames so we’ll see how that goes. You’ll do two strips and popsicle strips per frame. The back of a truck works amazing for this process! And diet coke is a great beverage to enjoy as well. Water is also a good beverage for you healthy folks.

Your Turn!

Have you thought about foundationless frames? Hows your beekeeping coming along? Let me know your thoughts (right, wrong, or indifferent) in the comments. Would love to connect.