Very new newbie here. Was reading this site today for the first time and have learned alot already. OK, never heard of the crush and strain method though it seems clear and easy to do (I have access to lots of 5-gal plastic buckets). My questions are these: (1) My new foundations are the pressed bees wax type. Can you crush and strain this type? (2) I thought that with the extractor method, you still have the drawn comb left to be used next year and the bees are just that much further ahead of the game next year. True or does the extraction method also destroy your supers comb? (3) I guess the crush method means I would have to buy new supers foundation and rewire and re-press the foundations. True? Thanks and cheers. OldScout.
>(1) My new foundations are the pressed bees wax type. Can you crush and strain this type?
It's easiest if it doesn't have wires in it. But yes.
>(2) I thought that with the extractor method, you still have the drawn comb left to be used next year and the bees are just that much further ahead of the game next year.
Yes they are. It's nice to have extracted drawn comb. But it's not worth the $600 to buy an extractor.
>True or does the extraction method also destroy your supers comb?
It totaly destroys the combs. You just have a bunch of sticky wax left to render and empty frames.
>(3) I guess the crush method means I would have to buy new supers foundation and rewire and re-press the foundations. True?
I would NOT use wires. I don't use them in mediums when I extract. I certainly don't use them when I do crush and strain. They will only get in the way. I usually use foundationless frames, starter strips or thin surplus foundation for this method, then you can do cut comb or mash it and strain it, either one. Or sometimes I use surplus foundation and extract it because I have a need for the liquid honey at the time.
Thanks for the response. What are "starter strips" and "surplus foundation"? Does it change the analysis if I told you that I'm using deeps as honey supers this year? (I was willing to risk the extra weight this year with only two starter hives.) I had purchased new assembled frames with the foundations already imbedded in three wires per frame.)
>What are "starter strips"
You cut about 3/4" wide strips of foundation and put that in the top bar and cleat it or wax it in.
Very thin, very white wax made to do comb honey.
>Does it change the analysis if I told you that I'm using deeps as honey supers this year?
If I could lift them, I would use deeps for everything. Since I can't I'm using mediums for everything. Deeps, mediums, whatever it will be the same work.
>(I was willing to risk the extra weight this year with only two starter hives.) I had purchased new assembled frames with the foundations already imbedded in three wires per frame.)
The wires make it a lot more work. If you can find someone with an extractor, the nice thing is you'll have some drawn BROOD comb for the next swarm or package you get. That's an even more wonderful asset than drawn comb for the supers.
I still don't think the advantage of the drawn comb is enough to be worth buying a NEW extractor. If you can find a used one cheap, that's another matter.
You can cut the comb AROUND the wires and leave the wires in. Leave the top row of cells on the top bar and you can just put the frames back in next year and skip the foundation. They will follow the old comb.
I run a lot of foundationless frames with a triagular comb guide on the bottom of the top bar. I also put a lot of regular frames between two drawn combs and they draw them out fine. If you leave the top row of cells you'll get that same advantage. Just give the frames back to the bees to clean up when you're done cutting the combs out.
You can use a strip of foundation as mentioned above (instead of a whole sheet). Another tip: You can just set the strip in the top bar groove and secure it with bits of cardboard.
I cut a piece of regular corrugated cardboard about 1" square, and fold it in half. Insert the fold in the top bar groove, against the foundation, and shove the piece of cardboard down in, wedging the strip in place. The flat end of a hive tool works well for this. Three or four of these cardboard wedges will hold the strip while the bees attach it to the top bar properly with wax. Easier than using hot wax or nailing in the frame wedge.
Crush and strain requires the bees to build new comb each season, greatly reducing their honey production. This is of no concern in some cases but critical to the pro honey producer. In a poor year bees without drawn comb may produce no surplus, or so little that it is pointless to take it from them.
The wires in a frame greatly strengthen the comb. My deeps have four wires across the frame and the wax foundation has ten wires running vertically. When assembled such a frame has great strength and can be used for years. Mediums are much the same, but only two wires across the frame.
I wire everything. I have five supers on some hives this year, but my TBH's, having had to build all their own comb, will have to make fall honey to survive. (But of course I'll feed the little suckers.)
Here's another view on this subject. I just checked my 9 hives, 2 weeks after using the crush and strain method. Many of the drawn honey supers were returned to the hive complete with frames with cut out comb, and they have rebuilt almost half of it already. In all cases, they followed the old comb alignment despite not placing foundation or comb in between to align them properly. Built beautiful, well aligned cells. They also drew out most of the brand new foundationless frames in which we simply melted some beeswax into the top groove as a starter. In those boxes I did use a drawn comb between every other new frame to be sure they worked straight. But I WANT it this way. I figure I may get less honey overall, but so what, this is a hobby, and I have over twice as many hives as I started with last fall without even half trying. Am getting lots of honey this year. I want the beeswax for candles. I suspect it is healthier for the bees if they make new comb each year also. I could be wrong though, since the brood comb isn't removed. I have an extractor but it is a small 2-frame unit that would be time consuming to use. Crush and strain is the way to go for me, anyway!
Hey OldScout, you can buy an extractor for $110 at Rossmans or just make your own (not hard). It's really worth it in the long run. Drawn comb frames are a beekeepers most valuable commodity. Plus that's just more honey for you. -Tim