I have been in the process of making several foundation
moulds for some time, but some othe projects have engaged my
Owing to some other work on foundation cellsize and further
information that I have accrued... I have changed the layout of the
cells in the master sheet. The main difference is that instead
of an eliptical arch of drone cells I have opted for straight lines
at 30 degreees to the vertical. There are two reasons for this:-
- Work that I did to redesign the
cellsize test foundation showed
me that the minimum amount of transition cells ocurred at that angle.
- Some pictures published by Barry Birkey at:-
Some of these pictures showed graphically the shear lines
between well drawn comb and transition cells.
Shown left is a section of one of his pictures that illustrates the
30 degree angle very strongly. (The cells in the top left corner
are 4.9 mm... What size the rest are is anybody's guess.
A further difference is that the cellsize is now to be 4.9
mm for worker cells and 6.3 mm (+ the manufacturing
tolerance) for drones. I am considering using 5.9 mm, 6.0 mm or 6.1
mm for the drone cellsize in the light of information gathered since
the last revision of this page.
My idea was to enable a colony of bees to produce drones
early in the season simply due to drone cells being available in the
combs at the point of expansion beyond the winter clustering fringe.
The original idea (about 1980) was to make several
foundation presses with various amounts of drone cells situated
outside of a basic oval of worker cells.
I did much testing by putting triangles of drone
foundation into the corners of frames that contained worker
foundation or in some cases I spliced drone foundation into the
corners of drawn combs.
What I am about to put into practice (when time allows) is
a system using only one press, but one that will produce oversize
foundation that can be trimmed in many different ways to produce
differing amounts of drone cells in the finished sheets.
Here is a diagram showing the layout of drone and worker
cells on the "master sheet".
If we make our press to produce this pattern, then by
cutting our foundation using a template that can be positioned at
various places on the sheet, we can achieve a set of foundation
patterns that when installed in frames in a nest will produce drone
cells that will be ideally situated for the colony to rear an early
supply of drones.
The coloured rectangles on the next drawing
indicate suitable placing positions for our cutting template.
The red rectangles indicate where sheets of shallow foundation may be
cut so that only drone or worker cells are chosen.
If we position our cutting template as the black rectangle,
we have a high number of drone cells in brood sized sheet as the
following diagram shows.
But if we position the template as per the blue rectangle
then we have two triangular corner patches of drone cells.
Similarly if we cut our desired sheet from a mid portion of
our original large sheet (purple rectangle) then we end up with an
intermediate pattern shape and consequently an intermediate quantity
of drone cells.
This picture indicates what this intermediate type will
The positions shown are arbitrary, many positions could be
used ranging from just a few drone cells in the top corners to huge
amounts with just a small arch of worker cells at bottom centre. As
the master sheet is wider than a standard brood sheet the template
can be positioned off to one side giving unequal amounts of drone
cells on each side.
Early drones of good quality are needed for breeding
projects and instrumental insemination. This method will at least
provide the cells in the right place at the right time and with a
suitably enriched food supply the bees should make a good job of
"their side of the bargain".
This special foundation only incorporates drone/worker
foundation, honey storage sized cells (future link) have not been
addressed at all in the design of this technique.
Written... August 2000
First revision... April 2001
Revised... 21 January 2002