Bottomless in the Bee Yard

I went bottomless in the bee yard last season. And I liked it. But first, here’s why. I kept noticing that my foundationless frames were being drawn out nicely on the top (of course), and the sides, but a space was always being left straight across the bottom without attaching to the bottom bar. This didn’t really bother me for any other reason than that it just seemed like a waste of space. The bottom bar just kind of “existed” there serving no real purpose (at least for me). So I decided to leave the bottom bar off of about a dozen frames to see what would happen.

20170325_222550
Kelley F-style bottomless frame (before) Sorry about the finger.

The few people I mentioned my “experiment” to warned me of the impending doom to come in the form of attachments to lower frames, and in one case, possible loss of vision and death. But I soldiered on. This was the result:

20170325_213213
Bottomless frame (after)

I only took a picture of one frame because they all looked virtually identical. Not one attachment to a frame below. I’m not saying they will never attach it, but so far they have not. So here are a few reasons I’ll be going bottomless for the most part from here on out:

  1. On each frame, the bees now have about an extra inch of space to build comb downward. Multiply that by ten frames, and its like an extra frame in every box for brood or honey.
  2. With each bottomless frame, there are now four fewer surfaces for beetles, mites, moths, or yellow jackets to walk around on and for the bees to protect. Again, multiply that by frames in your box.
  3. It takes half the time to put together bottomless frames.

I can’t think of any downsides for the bees, only the beekeeper (if any). Topbar hive beekeepers have been doing it forever. If you’ve already done this in a Langstroth, or can think of any downsides to bottomless frames, please comment below.

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Author: brucelovesbees

I keep honey bees in Reading, Bernville, and Fleetwood, PA without treatments, feed or foundation. I love to garden and observe Wasps, Bumble bees, and ants. I also raise mealworms for my Eastern Spotted turtle and myself.

5 thoughts on “Bottomless in the Bee Yard”

  1. Nice experiment. I dig it. The only time I could see them attaching it is when they’d fill those frames with honey they might attach em…

    I’m gonna put some out this year. I’ve got 50 frames in a box. Might leave the bottom boards off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Now that I posted about it, I’m sure I just jinxed myself and there will be attachments in my future. Just to be safe, I could keep a piece of piano wire handy to pull between the boxes. I’ve seen beekeepers in China do that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have had serious problems with frames in the top box becoming attached to the frame below it in the bottom box. Could that be because they have the bottom to use as a starting point for comb going further down? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I have been using a small machete to cut the wax between upper and lower frames. I like your idea of using wire. I think I will try it.

        Reynold

        Liked by 1 person

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