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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Posts
    92

    Post Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Hello

    Sorry to spark up an old debate, but I don't feel like I fully understand purchase options. Next year I hope to be keeping to beehives in april and I live in wisconsin.

    There are many advantages in going foundationless, being lazy and not having to pay for foundation are two that appeal greatly to me. From what I have researched, Foundation is only a slightly faster build up than foundationless.

    I think that plastic foundation is "catching up" however. Manufacturers such as mann lake recognize the movement among beekeepers of utilization of small cell and how it reduces pest issues. Ultimately, plastic is more expensive because, well, you don't buy foundationless.

    I would like to hear the opinions of people who utilize small cell foundation- What advantages does it provide over foundationless?

    Side story. I was hunting pheasant up north the other week and noticed three double deep beehives sitting on the edge of the field- next to a small vineyard. I had never been around bee hives or honey bees before, despite reading and already making up my mind about acquiring a hive or two.
    I approached cautiously, despite my confidence from what I read, for all I knew honey bees were deadly and disliked people. On approaching the hives I noticed one of the bees floundering on the grass some 15 feet away from the hives. My heart beat faster, and in some part of my mind I wished that I was wearing a veil, the imagined sound of buzzing made me flinch slightly.
    When I looked at it however, I simply felt sad. It reminded me of the bumble bees I saw as a child in my mothers garden. The bulbous eyes and non-aggressive look of the struggling insect immediately dispelled any thought in my mind about their aggressive nature. Despite knowing that this bee was likely meant to die I reached out and tried, unsuccessfully, to lift it and bring it closer to the hive. I gave up quickly, however, knowing I shouldn't interfere, and could likely be making matters worse if the bee was out of the hive on purpose, so I left it out to the cold winter elements.
    Upon reaching the three hives I was stunned. They simply did not look like anything I had seen on the internet. The first one on the left had a large gash in its middle. I could see some bees trying to guard this entrance unsuccessfully, there was simply too much hole for them to make any successfully attempt. On top of that I knew that the hole would probably be disastrous when the snow came.
    The second hive didn't appear much better to me. There were elder beetles and a few other insects crawling on the outside of the hive, and I couldn't see any presence of honey bees, even guards at the entrance. The third beehive didn't seem any better to me. A complete absence of life surrounded it.
    After the hunt I returned to the owners and informed them of the large gash in the side of the hive. Hopefully something was done to fix the situation. Despite the odd first impression I had of honey bees, what I saw made me want to keep a few hives even more than before.

    All in all an electric experience for me, I'd only read or seen youtube videos about honeybees, finally seeing them was altogether different for me.

    Thats my beekeeping experience so far.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Gus979 just because you give bees foundationless frames does not mean that they will draw out small cell combs. If they are large cell bees they will probably draw them at 5.1 as the smallest. They also do not always draw out foundation quicker than foundationless. If you decide to go foundationless, which is a good way to go. You will still need either already drawn out frames, from starting with a nuc, or some empty comb or foundation of some sort, to get the bees started out right. Or else you might get a super of cross comb.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    watertown,wi.,USA
    Posts
    479

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Gus- Fellow Cheesehead here from Wisconsin. I am not quite sure what small cell foundation is and how it differs from plastic foundation. I started beekeeping this past Spring and chose to use plastic foundation in my 2 hives. I thought about the cost as well, but figured at a buck a piece it was a good choice since I was probably going to fumble a bit while moving my frames and thought that it would hold up a bit more my first year than foundationless. My bees drew it out very well and quickly. I even had sheets of white and yellow foundation, I was curious if color would matter. It didn't. Living where I do(Watertown), I am able to go to Dadant's(Watertown) and Lapp's(Reeseville) to ask some questions and actually look at the products before deciding which to purchase, which as a Newbee, was really to my benefit. juzzerbee

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    600

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    As a newbee I choose plastic because it was less work and you didn't have to add foundation to wooden frames. Also Peirco frames have 10% more surface area then wooden. That being said I don't think my bees really like it and next year will likely mix plastic is with foundationless. It'll be less work to make combed honey out of and I think the bees don't really like plastic.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    seattle, washington
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    As a newbee, first year having bees, I would say go with foundation for extracting ease. I know you can go crush and strain method with foundationless, but with plastic foundation you can spin it for extraction and the bees will have a head start on building new comb when you put the frames back in the hive?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    You can also extract foundationless, it works.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Indianapolis IN 46227
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Quote Originally Posted by Gus979 View Post
    There are many advantages in going foundationless, being lazy and not having to pay for foundation are two that appeal greatly to me.
    I jumped back into beekeeping this past spring. Having kept bees in the past, being aware of time requirements, cost, and issues with foundation, I made a decision to not use it. It is not for the lazy though, it takes effort to build a good foundationless frame that will survive an extractor, and they must be placed in the brood chamber and checked often for good worker cells, or moved up for honey production.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,134

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    The bees will be fine whether you go foundationless, small cell, all plastic, or grooved wooden frames with plastic insert foundation (like Rite-Cell from Mannlake). I chose the latter.

    The all plastic frames are heavy and harbor small hive beetle in their edges (something in abundance here in Texas) -I don't like that. Years ago, I had pure wax foundation droop in the heat and it resulted in a mess so I went away form that in the 1970's. Foundationless frames are not fastened at the bottom & ends of the the frame this time around, that makes it more tricky to inspect -I put up with it because I plan to cut some comb for queen mating NUCs.

    Nailing a frame and inserting the plastic foundation takes a couple minutes per frame -I don't mind that, in fact I enjoy it. If you buy anything plastic, be SURE it is wax coated, the bees won't work it without the coating (in my experience).
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Nicosia, Cyprus
    Posts
    96

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    Where can I buy 5,1mm plastic foundation?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    I believe that the mann lake rite cell are 5.1mm. Source? I asked their online chat rep because oddly enough their plastic frame plastic standard foundation is 4.9 but nothing else seems to be.

    Thanks for all the opinions on this subject everyone!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,901

    Default Re: Why Plastic foundation? Also Foundationless

    I believe Mann Lake Rite Cell is 5.4, not 5.1. As far as I know nobody sells 5.1 in any type of plastic frame or foundation, however I think Dadant sells wax foundation in 4.9 and 5.1. John

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