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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Osage County, Kansas
    Posts
    43

    Default Small cell wired or not?

    I do not understand about wiring vs. not wired. Can someone explain this to me?

    My backstory:
    currently have two hives on large cell plastic. I'm hoping to make some splits soon. I want to move to small cell but don't understand what the wires are all about. I thought about ordering wax foundation, as we already have the frames (wooden). But then it talks about wedges and no wedges and I'm not sure what to order. How do I tell?
    Beginning beekeeper here, so feel free to educate me. I'm all ears.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Leominster, MA USA
    Posts
    165

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    The wires are to keep the wax from sagging, warping and getting misshapen as the bees are drawing it out and filling it with honey or brood. You also need an embedding tool of some sort to heat the wires so the wax will gently melt and harden around the wires.

    We like the frames with grooved top bars. Because we do a lot of foundationless frames, we glue popsicle sticks (horizontally) in the grooves. When we use foundation (we do small cell), we trim the foundation so it is just slightly above the top wire and slightly below the bottom wire. This lets the bees draw their own comb above and below the wires and they can attach it as they need to. It gives them space for bigger cells for both honey storage and drone brood and encourages uniform drawing out of the small cells.

    If you haven't regressed your bees to small cell, they may or may not draw the small cell foundation nicely. I would recommend using the Mann Lake PF series (4.95mm) all-in-one frames/foundation as an intermediary step. The bees born out of those smaller cells will be more likely to draw the small cell foundation evenly.

    Once your bees are regressed, you can skip the wax foundation altogether and just let them draw foundationless comb. Again, grooved top bars with something glued in them as a comb guide. The popsicle sticks (sold as Jumbo Craft Sticks at both Michael's Arts and Crafts and Walmart, under $5 for 300 sticks - you'll need slightly less than 3 sticks per frame) do a great job and, again, if you decide later to go with foundation, just trim it so it just clears the wires to the outsides.

    Ramona

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Madison, VA, USA
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    Love the jumbo craft sticks in the big purple box.

    If you try to go small cell with large cell foundation it will be problematic. You either need to use an intermediary size (5.1mm I believe) or go with foundationless and regress that way. Either option has it's pros and cons. You may feel more comfortable going to small cell with foundation but it will cost more to do it right (or even to do it wrong) than going foundationless.
    See my progress at http://bpapiaries.blogspot.com!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Osage County, Kansas
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    Thanks for the replies, I'm starting to "get" it.
    When you go without wires then is there any trouble with the wax foundation when you extract?
    Same question for foundationless?
    Does anyone do wax small cell without wires, or is that problematic?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    Tried it, failed catastrophically.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,292

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    I rarely extract, hardly ever even do liquid honey. But almost every year I lose a comb or two from those that I previously did not cross-wire. Desert heat + beeswax honeycomb are a bad combination.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    I won't wire them here. It doesn't get very hot. I've never even had a comb problem with top bar combs.

    Adam

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Osage County, Kansas
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Tried it, failed catastrophically.
    Which part failed?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    I tried wax without wires and also wax with wires but with a spur embedder rather than an electrical embedder. I installed 20 packages on a mixture of each, I don't remember the ratios. At any rate, it was a disaster. As the bees clustered on the wax, it warmed up and slumped, and tore and folded up. the bees didn't mind terribly, they just went about their business and built new comb in every which direction you can imagine. It was my first big lesson of beekeeping. I got to do what essentially amounted to cutouts on most of my hives, and all this was in the first two months of my beekeeping experience.

    However, your conditions may be a little different. What it took in Oregon was installing the wax on wires electrically embedded, then pouring the topbar groove full of melted wax. Here in Arkansas, it seems to be a bit more forgiving. I have also repainted all my dark colored hives and increased ventilation.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Osage County, Kansas
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    Thanks everybody for the help. I decided to go with Mann Lake PF-100 small cell plastic. I just can't stand the thought of everything melting or not being able to extract without major issues. I appreciate everyone's input.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Small cell wired or not?

    I am wiring my foundationless frames after some mishaps...

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