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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    New is not always better. Why in the world would one think that changing from the tried and true to the new up-to-date plastic foundations/frames would improve the quality of a beehive? I have recently converted to plastic foundation/frames and much to my dismay, have had a complete failure. I have added them into established brood chambers that had old, damaged comb-none have been drawn out. Then had the wonderful idea to use them in some swarm boxes I have caught this year. Even after coating the frames in syrup (sugar water) and feeding the swarms, they left. That's right. Three caught swarms left my boxes. I have NEVER had this happen with wax foundation. Yes, it would have been ideal for me to put drawn comb in with the new swarms or even some established brood frames, but unfortunately I don't have any to spare at the moment. Needless to say, I will be going back to all wax foundation. Sure, maybe it will be a little more effort on my end, but it beats losing over $300 in swarms - not to mention the quality and health of my existing colonies. Sorry for the venting, but I am absolutely sick over my screw up.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,624

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    Did you get wax coated plastic frames or non wax coated?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bartlett, Illinois
    Posts
    217

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    I have had three hives started with wax coated plastic frames. The bees built out three top deeps, and six medium supers with no problems. Are you sure they were given a good wax coating?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    I have had poor results with plastic frames as well... I bought some peirco frames last year and they haven't touched them... I took them all back out and am not going to use them any longer.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    I used wood frames with plastic foundation last year and all plastic this year - all from Mann Lake - and I don't see ever buying another sheet of wax.

    Why would you treat all brands as if they were the same? No offense, but what you are saying is about like "I had a red car once that was a lemmon, therefore all red cars suck."

    Name names if you are going to condemn a product.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    Through this past Winter and continuing, now, I've been using Mann Lake PF120's, some PF120 foundations cut out and inserted into wood frames, and foundationless wood frames. I've also been using combinations of both, all have rapidly (within two or three days) been turned into working combs, some with pollen/honey, most with nearly all brood and a little pollen/honey. I also use many Rite Cell plastic foundations in wood frames (I use these for the ease of grafting from the larger cells). I give these a little extra beeswax coating and they're drawn into comb, usually overnight.

    The only time I've seen bees balk at plastic, was when it wasn't beeswax coated, when the hives populations were still low, and when there wasn't a honey flow happening.

    When the hives populations were "strong" and there was also a "strong" honey flow, I've had them turn old plastic frames that were waxless (they were so old the wax had worn away), weathered until they were warped and cracking, and even with a layer of dried mud; become, in just a few days, beautiful, honey and brood filled combs. I almost didn't recognize these frames as the ugly, disintegrating old frames that they had been. I was amazed again at what the bees could do.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,929

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    I've had good results with PF-100 frames. I just ordered another batch. Bees build them out well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,758

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    I've had good results with PF-100 frames. I just ordered another batch. Bees build them out well.
    Same here, ordered two more cases of pf-125's...
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,041

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    Should I add wax to new PF-105s? Should I exclude the swarm in that I put on them? If I super with it how do I do it? This coming from a decades old plastic ridiculer trying plastic again for the 2nd time.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    well I guess I get to say it again, since nobody knows what google is, paint wax on em, thick wax gives em more of what they want. The only precaution is DO NOT get so much wax on there the comb pattern is smooth over, they have no idea what to do with that. Plastic is great. As the moth finds some wax we tear it out, and rewax the frames with plastic. And they dont blow out in the extractor, how awesome is that!?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    odfrank,
    I would recommend adding some additional beeswax to the PF105's, I've tried various other techniques, but find that adding more beeswax as recommended by Grant, see Beeswax on Plastic has been the most beneficial technique for getting nice comb drawn on plastic foundation as quickly as possible.

    As Skinner Apiaries has said, add the extra beeswax to the cell walls, only, and it appears, you can't go wrong with that.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,789

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    I had all plastic last year, and the bees drew it out nicely once I started feeding. This year I am trying foundationless wood alternated with wax coated plasticell, and I am scared to look in the box. We've had a good flow on, I was delirious with fever from a flu yesterday and not brave enough to open the boxes. Unfortunately my wood frames that are in the mediums didn't have the wedge dropped down. I was kind of busy with my cutout. So this morning I am dropping the wedges and getting ready to swap whatever frames I need to.

    Gypsi
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, guess I will teach permaculture in drought. The bees are still alive.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    San Jose, Ca
    Posts
    372

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    Another easy fix I've found is to spray them with a little 1:1 syrup. I didn't spray 3 frames in the center of the box to see and they built out the other frames before touching the 3 I didn't spray.
    Disclaimer: I know enough to know I don't know anything yet.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    I have used the Mann Lake PF100, 120's and 105's for a few years now. In addition I still purchase new wood frames and use rite-cell plastic foundation. Manufacturer's do not apply a great deal of wax to the plastic because it adds to the cost of the product. I for one am glad they don't, because I like to add my own "clean wax" instead. I think its important to add a thin coating of melted wax over the face of the cells. I generally coat at least 3/4 of the frames by using a foam brush run lightly across the plastic. Don't fill the cells with wax. After awhile you'll develop you own technique for apply wax to foundation. Less is better. My bees have no problem drawing plastic coated foundation into nice looking combs. No matter what you use bees will only draw out foundation when there is a flow on or they are being fed heavily. I have had boxes of foundation just sit on a hive and not have them eager to touch it because the weather turned, or the flow stopped. When conditions are right they will draw it out. Personally I still prefer wood frames with plastic coated foundation.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    One anti-plastic note that I feel responsible for putting in here (and then I'll shut up with my "plastic bashing," promise):
    According to countless studies, plastics leach toxins, especially toxins that POWERFULLY emulate the effects of estrogen in the human body; according to a new study, paid for by a plastics manufacturer, not only do SOME plastics do this, pretty much ALL plastics (even and especially "BPA and PABA free) do it. If you're not concerned about feeding your kids artificial estrogen, ignore me & continue to wonder why all the 14 year old girls keep looking like 17-19 year old girls should....

    All Plastics Are Bad for Your Body, New Study Finds (article by Emily Mann)

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    2,477

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    For swarms I only use foundationless with a 1/4" to 1/2" wood starter strips coated with old melted brood comb. Once they move in, I immediately put a frame of brood in, even if it's drone brood to get them to stay. I also feed syrup regardless if they need it or not. I think it helps them to build comb.

    Once they draw out several frames on foundationless, I stagger in PF 125's as a comb guide so they'll keep it straight. I know it's a little more work but I've never had a swarm leave. They don't like plastic at first. You have to integrate the plastic as the hive grows. Once they draw on it, it's fine.
    President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
    www.habitatforhoneybees.org

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
    Posts
    650

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    "plastics leach toxins"

    They seal the plastic with wax! The honey and brood does not come into contact with the plastic, only wax!

    I traded a friend a wood frame with wax coated foundation for one with regular crimp wire. A week later I could not figure out which frame contained the plastic foundation. I have not switched yet but I see no reason not to when I need more foundation. I am really tired of foundation warping, popping out, wiring, etc. For the small cost increase I believe you are much better of when you figure all the time it takes to deal with crimp wire as long as you dont need to brush it but I doubt that takes much time. And now that I believe I seen my first shb grub, I will want to be able to scrape off bad comb and that's another plus. Old comb can simple be scraped off when it gets old. Trying to cut old comb out and insert new foundation is a major pain is the you know what.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, MS, USA
    Posts
    635

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie B View Post
    They don't like plastic at first. You have to integrate the plastic as the hive grows. Once they draw on it, it's fine.
    So far this spring I have hived 3 swarms into deeps with wood frames and plastic Pierco foundation. All three had the frames drawn out in a week and needing a second box. I have great luck with Pierco foundation.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
    Posts
    2,065

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    What brand are they?
    What do you want to sell them for?

    I like plastic, but I really don't have any experience with anything else. I have a bunch of wood that came with some Nucs and truthfully can't throw them out fast enough.
    I coat them with wax sometimes or switch out positions on the ones they don't want to draw out.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Plastic Frames-Biggest Mistake Yet

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-beek View Post
    "plastics leach toxins"
    They seal the plastic with wax! The honey and brood does not come into contact with the plastic, only wax!
    Unfortunately, Wax and plastic are both oil-based solids...100% compatible for leaching purposes; so the wax is pretty "transparent" to any toxins that would leach out of the plastic & into your honey (in the brood, the toxins affect only the bees, so that'd be of SLIGHTLY less concern than poisoned honey).

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