I bought my first and only colony less than two months ago. Previously I bought a "starter kit with out bees" from Mann Lake.
The colony was very, very strong (even a beginner could see that.) It seems to me that the colony has been neglected for a long time (the man who sold it to me was quitting beekeeping.) There were only 9 frames and the comb was so thick that the first time I opened the hive I couln't remove but the first frame. The other were fused together. I was afraid I will make a mess breaking comb and killing lots of larva and nimphs in the process.
The second time a opened the hive I was able to remove two more frames that I put in a second deep. The situation now is as follow: botton deep has 6 frames full with comb (from the original colony) and 3 empty frames with plastic foundation; upper deep has 3 frames with comb from the original hive and 6 empty frames with plastic foundation.
One of my concerns is that the bees are not drawing comb in the plastic foundation... Yes I had feed them lots of sugar syrup and there are lots of flower and the bees are collecting polen. Could it be that having a mixture of natural wax and plastic foundation keep the bees from accepting the plastics?
That is why I bought wax foundation to see if it is accepted by my bees.
I should mention that my bees are AHB and the frames with comb are so crowded that I am afraid they will swarm soon. Inspection is almost impossible so I can not tell if queen cups are present.
Lately I put a queen excluder between the two boxes. My plan is to have the old comb without brood so I will remove it and force the drawing of new one.
Any suggestions and advice will be greatly appreciated.
Well, I'm a fairly new beekeeper, and certainly no expert, but I had the same thing happen in one of my hives. I eventually replaced the Pierco foundation with wired foundation and have been much happier with it. Some of the older beekeepers I know and have talked with love the plastic, and it does have a good reputation, but my experience has been that the bees much more readily draw out wax than wax-coated plastic.
I have had them do both with plastic foundation, ignore it and draw it. Housel positioning may explain some of the differences (see POV on this board) and it could be the mood the bees are in, the time of year etc.
I prefer the plastic, but it's not available in 4.9mm So I'm back to using wax.
The bees are not drawing comb because there is no honey flow. There can be many plants blooming, and the bees bringing in both nectar and pollen, but if there is not a strong flow, bees will not draw comb.
It is the time of year they would probably quit drawing comb unless you are feeding them a lot. But the previous posts said that after they didn't draw the plastic and it was replaced with wax, they did draw the wax.
I started my hives with the one piece plastic frames with wax coated plastic foundation. I believe it was called "Plasticell".
The bees would build comb between the frames instead of on the frames. I tried removing the "misplaced" comb several times, which helped a little, but they still prefer buiding between. I have started converting to Duragilt and they are drawing comb correctly now.
You state your bees are african stock. This changes things a bit. The foundation sold by Mann Lake has a larger cell size than what AHB use. Most AHB's use 4.8 to 4.9 cell sizing add plastic to this and it compounds the problem. You should check the cell size to see if it is indeed the problem. Try the wax foundation first if they take to it good. If not seriously try to use the 4.9 cell sized foundation from Dadant. Let us know what happens.
I haven't seen Plasticell as whole frames. Pierco makes whole frames. The cell size on them is 5.25mm on the deeps and 5.35mm on the mediums. The Rite Cell is 5.4mm. I haven't had any Plasticell to measure, but I'm guessing it's 5.4mm also. I would think your AHB (and any other bee for that matter) would do better on 4.9mm. Still I would think they would draw it for honey storage. Have you looked at positioning? Housel Positioning is where all of the frames going out from the center are oreinted the same. If you look at a piece of foundation you'll see either a Y or an inverted Y in the bottom of the cell. According the Housel Positioning theory it matters how they are oriented. There is other info on this board about this. Maybe if you oriented them right they'd accept it better.
I haven't seen Plasticell as whole frames. Pierco makes whole frames. The cell size on them is 5.25mm on the deeps and 5.35mm on the mediums. The Rite Cell is 5.4mm. I haven't had any Plasticell to measure, but I'm guessing it's 5.4mm also.
I just measured my plasticell foundation from dadant and it is 5.2mm
Are you sure? I'll have to get a piece of Plasticell to measure. 5.2mm would make a nice intermediate size for regressing.
There is a difference between pierco full frames and the snap in foundation. If I remember correctly the snap in is 5.2 and the frame version is 5.25. My plasticell foundation, not full frames is 5.3mm. Any one know what permadent foundation measures? I do have some somewhere so I could find out with some digging.