View Full Version : All plastic frames vs wood frames with plastic foundation

03-21-2012, 07:05 AM
If you're using plastic foundation with wood frames, you not just use the all plastic frame? Is not the one piece plastic frame stronger than the combined strength of the several wooden parts supporting plastic foundation in a wood/plastic frame?

Inquiring mind wants to know...........

03-21-2012, 07:29 AM
The thicker top bar of wooden frames seems to avoid bridge comb between boxes.

03-21-2012, 08:21 AM
I have also heard that those plastic all in one frames can make it easier for Hive Beetles to get established. I remember when I was first getting into it the bee supplier I was dealing with told me that they have too many nooks and crannies for the Hive Beetles to hide in. Whether that is true or not seems to be a matter of opinion though - if there was such a glaring flaw I would assume it would be fixed by the manufacturers by now. Then again you can never tell with some suppliers what they will bother to fix . . .

03-21-2012, 08:57 AM
My experience with plastic of any kind is poor. I installed waxed ritecell in two hives, spring of 2011, four frames each in the upper deep. I also added four frames each of foundationless frames. As it turned out for me the foundationless frames were drawn out in less than three weeks while the plastic was not even touched.This spring, 2012, Actually March 17, I did my first inspection for the year and guess what, the plastic has only one third of one frame started to draw comb. What a waste of time using plastic! The bees just don't like it. My observation is that they will only draw on it if they absolutely have too. I will not waste my money on plastic any more. Good luck!

03-21-2012, 09:07 AM
Last year I needed around a thousand new frames so after running the numbers I found it was cheaper to purchase all plastic frames, so I purchased mostly all plastic and a few wooden frames with plastic foundation.

After a year of using them here are my conclusions….

The wooden frames with plastic foundation are the best way to go, they are much stronger that the plastic frames and you don’t have to worry about wax moth as much as wax foundation (however this is the most expensive way to go).

The all plastic frames are much more fragile, in fact I often break them when lifting a frame with a hive tool but they are the cheapest way to go.

The wooden frame with wax foundation draws out fast, is stronger that the all plastic frames, but after assembling and adding foundation it’s for expensive than all plastic frames.

The plus side about the wooden frames with plastic foundation is that you can pull the frames out and scrap off the wax every few years if you believe that clean wax keeps a hive healthier.

This year I put together 20 more hives that needed frames and foundation and used wooden frames and wax foundation, but I had more free time this year.
If your part of a bee keeping group its worthwhile to place an order together as the large orders get major discounts.

03-21-2012, 09:10 AM
Also I have to say I leaned through trial and error that if you decide to go with plastic make all the hive plastic, otherwise the bees tend to be very reluctant to draw out the plastic foundation.

Vance G
03-21-2012, 09:12 AM
I do not have shb to deal with YET, but the mann lake plastic frames are working fine for me. They are indeed more flexible, but when the wooden frame next to them blows up in the extractor, it doesn't destroy the plastic. As far as burr comb, that is a function of getting any foundation or foundationless system drawn. It is all manageable but it does require attention. I just scrape it off with the hive tool and they rebuild. If I rearrange so a good drawn comb is on the other side, they don't rebuild bridge comb. The plastic frames are cheaper and no assembly time. I get unwaxed because they are even cheaper and apply my own chemical free wax.

03-21-2012, 10:50 AM
Have used all 3 methods. Bees will draw out all plastic if there is a good flow. For brood nest order of preference 1. Foundationless - will be drawn out the fastest, east to cut out and reuse frame. 2. Wood with plastic 3. All plastic. I have them intermixed in the hives after being drawn out and the bees don't seem to care. Plastic can be scraped and cleaned but depending on how much free time you have after working on it for awhile a buck or so for a new piece of plastic looks pretty cheap.

03-23-2012, 01:15 AM
I have all three types too. I have had any combination in the few hives that I have. Some of bees like the plastic and wont touch the wood with wax foundation till last. Some bees, exactly the opposite. I do like the wooden frames with plastic foundation the best. Easy to assemble, sturdy and they seem to build out on it good. If the wax moths make a mess, easy to scrape it off without tearing the foundation out.


03-23-2012, 07:02 AM
I've got lots of both in my operation. Over the past few years I've been migrating away from the all plastic frames. I find them a lot more fragile that the wooden ones. The real defining moment was when I had a full medium super that I was loading into my truck and it slipped out of my hands and dropped about seven inches. Many of the ears of the top bars sheared right off. Also, I've buckled several all plastic frames in my extractor. Of course then there's the SHB issues....

For me its wooden frames with plastic foundation. Yes, wooden with wax is better accepted, but I find the plastic foundation works well enough and is great once drawn out.