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Thread: 100% beeswax?

  1. #1
    BUNSONSR Guest

    Question

    My book (Bonney, practical guide) says use 100% beeswax but the catalogs praise their plastic based foundations and they do sound easier to use. I am about to order supplies for my first hive and I would appreciate some advice on whether it's worth it to use wired 100% beeswax foundation with hooks as Bonney recommends.

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    GABE

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    Thousand Oaks, CA USA
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    I ordered Rite Cell from Mann Lake and the Bees seem to be working it.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2003
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    fall city Wa USA
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    I use duraguilt but for some reason the bees are stripping the wax off the edges down to the plastic on about 20% of the frames.

  4. #4
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    I will always advocate foundationless hives, whether they bee foundationless frames or top bar hives. Bee like it a LOT more.

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    Scot Mc Pherson
    Foundationless Small Cell Top Bar Hives
    BeeWiki: http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/beewiki/

  5. #5
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    "It all depends"

    It is, of course, a tradeoff. If it wasn't there would only be one kind of foundation.

    You will have less problems with the bees accepting it and they will build it quicker if you use wax.

    You will have less problems with the foundation warping if you use the plastic.

    I would use small cell or no foundation or starter strips myself. You will have the least problems with the bees being willing to draw their own comb without any foundation.

    If you buy small cell (4.9mm) foundation and you are using it in deeps, you will have to wire it as it is not available without wires and it will sag and warp without them.

    Things I have used:

    Angled top bars and nothing:

    Pros: The bees draw comb quite quickly and it's natural sized.

    Cons: You have to bait them up with a fully drawn comb or they may start buidling from the bottom up and they may not end up centered in the frames.

    Starter strips (foundation cut into 3/4" wide strips and put in the groove or with a cleat) I would do these with small cell because it's a more natural size.

    Pros: The bees draw comb quite quickly and it's natural sized. You have less problems with sagging than foundation.

    Cons: You have to bait them up with a fully drawn comb or they may start buidling from the bottom up and they may not end up centered in the frames. You still have to be careful not to bend up the starter strip when handling the frames.

    Full sheets of wax:

    Pros: Better acceptance than plastic. If you get 4.9mm you have natural sized cells.

    Cons: You have to wire it or buy it wired (4.9mm is not available wired). If you buy regular foundation it is unaturally enlarged and you will have more mite problems.

    Duracomb/Duragilt

    Pros: It gets accepted as well as wax.

    Cons: The size of the cells is artificially enlarged and you will have more mite problems. When the wax gets chewed off of the plastic core the bees never rebuild there.

    Plasticell/Ritecell/Pierco sheets

    Pros: The wax moths can't bore down the center. They never sag. They don't have to be wired.

    Cons: Sometimes the bees accept them well and sometimes they try to build odd combs out from the face or cross combs because they don't like the cell size or the plastic and can't easily rework it. All of the plastic except the plastic 4.9mm is artificually enlarged. The plastic 4.9mm since it can't be reworked is too small for enlarged bees to draw and they will reject it. The 4.9mm plastic is really only useful for natral sized regressed bees. Also, plastic is heavier than wax so the boxes weigh more.

    Pierco frames

    Pros: You have all the advantages and of plastic but you don't have to build frames.

    Cons: You have all the disadvantages of plastic and since the top bar is skinny you also have a lot of burr between the boxes.

    PermaComb

    Pros: You have all the advantages and of plastic but you don't have to build frames and the bees don't have to draw the comb.

    Cons: All the disadvantages of the Pierco frames including the burr between the boxes.

    I have tried all of them to some extent or another.

    Right now I'm mostly using foundationless frames and wax coated (by me) PermaComb. The wax coated PermaComb is small cell sized and saves me a lot of work in regression. The foundationless frames never sag, don't need wiring and simplify my life considerably.

  6. #6
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    I really only do two things differently with foundationless frames (angled top bars) or starter strips. One is to bait up a new box with a fully drawn comb (brood is nice) and the other is to handle the frame carefully until it's attached on the botom or sides. This is a simple matter of not trying to turn the comb flatways but letting it naturally suspend down from the top bar at all times.

    Other than that, it frees you from wires, sagging foundation, that you have with wax, and the poor acceptance you have with plastic. So I would say it is simpler. If you use foundationless or small cell starter strips, it also solves the whole cell size problem without overcomplicating it.

    On the other hand if the beginner throws an empty box on top of a hive (without baiting up) and the bees decide to cross comb it all, it is a real mess for a beginner to deal with. If the beginner turns the comb sideways and it falls off or, worse, it collapses later in the hive because of being abused, then that is another mess.

    But as long as they follow those two rules (bait up a new box with a fully drawn comb and don't turn a comb sideways), and they aren't that hard to follow, then I would say it is simpler.

  7. #7
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    Top bar hives need less skill to work in my opinion. I really have to work to keep up with my Langs but my KTBH is a dream. No problems with burr comb or agressive bees. Very light to move each frame. The ONLY thing I am worried about is how it will winter.

  8. #8
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    Oh, one more rule for foundationless/top bar/starter strip managment. Pay attention to the cell size and don't put a bunch of drone comb or honey storage comb (large cells) in the middle of the brood nest.

    >Top bar hives need less skill to work in my opinion. I really have to work to keep up with my Langs but my KTBH is a dream. No problems with burr comb or agressive bees.

    They are certainly calm in a top bar hive. I wish I understood all the reasons why. But sometimes they do build burr and it's harder to resolve in a TBH or at least requires more finesse.

    >Very light to move each frame. The ONLY thing I am worried about is how it will winter.

    I haven't overwintered a TBH but I have overwintered a three box long medium Langstroth hive. It was a very bad winter they come through as well as any of my other standard hives.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
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    I can think of several reasons to not use foundation and I can only think of one reason to use it. That one reason is to "try" and "force" the bees to do something out of the ordinary.

    Bees building their own comb will never result in the stresses caused by being forced to do something you might not want to do, or the stresses of working out how to do what you want anyway.

    Natural comb isn't uniform. Its beautiful, but not perfectly uniform.

    The key to keeping things straight in a new hive without any predrawn combs to train with, is to get them striaght right away. That means check on them quickly and get rid of anything "not right" and keeping only the best combs.

    ------------------
    Scot Mc Pherson
    Foundationless Small Cell Top Bar Hives
    BeeWiki: http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/beewiki/

  10. #10
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    Please elaborate on the term "baiting up a box". I assume that means putting one or more fully drawn frames in the box. How many? What position?

    Also - Can foundationless comb be extracted in a centrifuge or is it too fragile?

    Thanx for all the advice. This forum is worth a dozen books.

    Hayseed

  11. #11
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    Well, you can't just throw any foundationless frame of honey in an extractor. Wax gets stronger and tougher as it ages. So it needs to have "matured" a little and not be the really soft brand new comb that you see in the middle of a honey flow. It also has to be attached most all the way on at least three sides. I kinda like to see SOME attachment on four. But I've extracted mediums. Charles Martin Simon (Unfoundation (tm) and bottomless beekeeping) says he has extracted deeps of foundationless.

    Of course there are degress of "care" to take with foundation. Even plastic can blow out when extracting. Wax with wire blows out more easily than wax and plain wax more easily than wired wax. But I've extracted a lot of medium and shallows with just wax and no wires. Just start off slow (as you should anyway) and be a bit more gradual as you work up the speed. You probably don't need to go full speed ever and without any wires, I probably wouldn't, but you probably would get away with it most of the time.

  12. #12
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    Something that doesn't get noted very often is the fact that the extractor stresses on a frame of honey are quite different in a radial extractor than in a tangenital one. The latter is what most of the 3 frame jobs are that most hobbiests will start with. It also will break combs faster.
    I've tried all of the plastic, including permacomb, and you can keep it. The bees simply don't like it as well as wax. Those people that have only one kind (Plastic or wax) won't know this without that basis for comparison.
    For a beginner, I think it would be a lot of fun to master the techniques of installing wires and wax in a woodenn frame. I enjoy it. Once you get a system going it really isn't that terrible to do. What I really like is the ability to grab a super and throw it on a hive with the confidence tthat they will work it quickly, even if it isn't at the peak of a honey flow.
    Mike,
    I've been reading your posts re: foundationless wax building and am considering trying it, but don't want to baby the comb when it's done. I know I won't know which is which very shortly. If I give them a starter strip in a WIRED frame, will they draw it around the wire? Will that wire afford strength to the same degree?

    Dickm

  13. #13
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    Sorry to be a pest but what about my previous question? I'd like to try but need to know how to start.

    <Please elaborate on the term "baiting up a box". I assume that means putting one or more fully drawn frames in the box. How many? What position?>

  14. #14
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    >Something that doesn't get noted very often is the fact that the extractor stresses on a frame of honey are quite different in a radial extractor than in a tangenital one.

    That's true too. I haven't tried extracting foundationless frames in a tangetal.

    >Mike, I've been reading your posts re: foundationless wax building and am considering trying it, but don't want to baby the comb when it's done.

    As it ages it requires less babying. I think ALL wax requires some babying or you'll have a blowout.

    >I know I won't know which is which very shortly. If I give them a starter strip in a WIRED frame, will they draw it around the wire?

    I have no personal experience with it but most who say they have tried it say it works.

    >Will that wire afford strength to the same degree?

    If they draw the comb around it, yes.

    >Sorry to be a pest but what about my previous question? I'd like to try but need to know how to start.

    >Please elaborate on the term "baiting up a box". I assume that means putting one or more fully drawn frames in the box. How many?

    One will usually do. Since I run all the same size, I can pull a frame of brood up to the next box to get them started and move it back down later when they are started off right. I like brood because it draws more bees up into the box. But any fully drawn comb will help a lot.

    >What position?

    I go for the center.

    >Also - Can foundationless comb be extracted in a centrifuge or is it too fragile?

    I have done mediums. I have not tried anything larger, but have heard that others have.



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