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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Andover, KS
    Posts
    51

    Default Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Okay, so I spent too much time reading and listening to podcasts instead of getting with beekeepers in my area with lots of experience. I bought into the whole "natural" beekeeping aspect that spoke poorly of things like permacomb and even plastic foundation. Well, I must say that after visiting a huge apiary that uses permacomb almost exclusively, I must say that I am pretty much sold on plastic. I just installed a package of bees today in a hive that I set up a week ago, complete with wooden frames and wax foundation that was wired in place. When I arrived at my site today, excited to install my package of bees, I ended up spending the first 30 minutes pulling all of the foundations out of the frames and straightening them out and putting them back where they belong. I guess a few days of heat had caused them to sag completely out of their frames.

    So yes folks, I am over my infatuation with wax if this is the norm. While visitin the large apiary, I saw strong bees that were in a deep that had both plastic permacomb frames and wooden/wax frames, and the bees had actually vacated the wax frame and had eggs, larva, and stores in all of the permacomb frames. It gets very hot here in KS, and I don't see this large apiary losing any bees because the plastic is "gassing off" inside of the hives. His success speaks for itself. The only downside that I see to permacomb is the need for an extractor, and a way to clean the comb such as a pressure washer. Any ideas, arguments, or input?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    'Natural" beekeeping doesn't use foundation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,390

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by jwhiteker View Post
    I ended up spending the first 30 minutes pulling all of the foundations out of the frames and straightening them out and putting them back where they belong. I guess a few days of heat had caused them to sag completely out of their frames.
    I use wired wax foundation with cross wires, exclusively. I don't see the issue you are having. If you can remove the foundation, straighten, and re-install, I have to wonder...

    How did you fasten the foundation into the frames, and did you embed the cross wires?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Indianapolis IN 46227
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I bought 80 deeps with fairly new plastic frames this spring. The boxes were worth what I paid, so I thought even if the bees only draw out half the plastic it would be worth using them.

    My bees hate them. They keep drawing out cross comb and building comb in between the plastic frames. I agree that good old wood and wax, even without crosswire, is most agreeable to the bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,770

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I just don't like plastic anything. But I agree sometimes the wax foundation kind of gets wonky. I do cross wire all my foundation (since I often exchange brood and honey comb) and I use only mediums (the deep foundation pieces seemed to get wavy easier). I stack my boxes straight and even in the barn and in the yard and I rarely have a problem. Once the comb gets built out it's all about the same anyway.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Cleveland, OH, USA
    Posts
    475

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    This is the first time I've heard of the "outgassing" complaint; but it should be laboratory-testable if it's true.

    There's a lot of kind of urban legends about plastic. An analogous one goes that you shouldn't re-use plastic water bottles because unspecified "chemicals" from the plastic will supposedly leech into the water, but it's bunkum (in reality, plastic bottles have exactly the opposite problem; they take forever and a day to deteriorate. Very bad news for landfills.)

    So many beekeepers have had so much success with both plastic and natural wax that it's really down to personal preference I think.
    Beeless since 2012; coming back in 2014. Suffering from apicultural withdrawal!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Congratulations on seeing past the garbage..... Funny how its terrible to make honey on plastic but we store it in plastic!
    Yes cross wires and an imbedder.... of course if plastic worked better its your fault for not doing wax right...!!

    Welcome to plastic! works a lot better and faster for those of us in the 21st century and don't have all winter to piddle with wires..

    Don't use permacomb myself.. to heavy and hard to extract. permadent on the other hand is fantastic

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Sorry meant to say uncap, not extract,

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Andover, KS
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Thank you all very much for your input. I believe that you have solved my problem. This is my first season as a beekeeper and what I now realize is the fact that the gentleman who built my hives failed to install any cross wires to hold my foundation in place. My frames only have horizontal wire holding the foundation in place, which allowed it to sag and fall out. Now that I have heard from you folks and went and looked at some examples, I can see that wax would be just fine if the cross wire method was used, and even better if the wire was embedded. Thank you for setting me straight. Lesson learned. You folks are great!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,840

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I kinda believe I am in the 21st Century, HA!! but, I don't like plastic, and I don't cross wire. I use wire with hooks, and place one bobby pin (bobby pins are longer, and will cross over the first wire, and costs 1/7th what support pins cost) in the second hole from the bottom on each of the deep, end bars, That keeps it straight until they draw it out, then shoot a staple in the center of the bottom bars. Wax is straight, stays straight.

    My experience with plastic is that they don't draw all of the frame, or, they drop comb off the top bar, parallel to the plastic sheet. This leaves a void between the comb and the plastic sheet. I know lots of folks that re-wax or add wax to their plastic sheets to get the bees to accept it better.

    If plastic works for you, go for it. I would just rather use wired wax foundation. Don't have a problem with it.

    cchoganjr

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Andover, KS
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Yeah Cleo. I have seen the FatBeeMan use the bobby pin trick. I may try that next time if I don't go with plastic. Thanks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I ran out of wire so used the FatBeeMans mono trick. Checking to see if my queens were laying this weekend I found a couple of the frames had foundation that had separated at the center and curled up like a flower in the center. I always see them chew through the edges at different locations but not seen anything like that. We don’t get much heat up here in Portland. I got my order in today so back to wiring them and hitting the wire with my 1 amp battery charger for a second or two per wire.
    I have found the joy of hooked foundation for mediums but have not added the pins or cross wires. Am I missing something?
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I have been using plastic foundation since I started beekeeping, have tried using wax but all of that is long gone, either from dropping it during cold weather and watching it shatter like glass, or being damaged by the extractor or mice or wax moths.
    If wax moths make a mess scrap it off wash it off with a hose and give it back to the bees, if the bees draw it out funny or the comb gets old and needs to be culled out scrape it off and give it back to the bees. I have had little trouble with the bees drawing it out in either the brood boxes or surplus boxes. I am currently managing 37 hives and have not noticed any reluctance of the bees to do what they do best make comb and produce honey.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    902

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I have used plastic at one stage but have gone back to wood frames ( full size) , SS wire and wax foundation.
    It takes some time to wire and put in the foundation but it is a relaxing job.
    If I put a strong swarm onto new frames I fix the foundation to the top bar with a few drops of wax from a beeswax candle. It makes the job a little stronger and it is rare for a frame to sag.
    I have nothing against plastic but simply like the wood and wax smell.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Johnson City, TN
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I have plastic and wax. I never say one is better than the other, they both have advantadges and disadvantages. I never had the problems you are with wax just as M Palmer said. I don't know what you are calling natural beekeeping or who you have been talking with, but if you want to be truely natural, leave the bees in the tree and don't try to keep them. I can't make up my mind which one I like the best? If I was starting out again and knew what I know now I might go with plastic in wood for ease and durability.
    All beekeepers can agree on one thing, and that one thing is, that all beekeepers can't agree on one thing.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,205

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    People's feelings on things are often based on a particular experience under a particular set of circumstances. There is no other way to explain how many people buy PermaComb and love it and others who buy it and hate it. People who love wax foundation, and people who, because it buckled and fell, hate it. People who love or hate plastic foundation because they had issues or didn't have issues.

    With plastic, and especially with PermaComb that is right out of the box, the bees hate it. They will accept the plastic foundation before the PermaComb. Once they are using plastic, it is well accepted and used like any other comb. How well it is accepted has to do with the bees, the time of year, the flow etc.

    If there were a "perfect" answer there would only be one kind of foundation.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,840

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If there were a "perfect" answer there would only be one kind of foundation.
    That answer just about sums up, most of the practices of modern beekeeping.

    cchoganjr

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    I think there is a reason people have been cross-wiring foundation for eons. It works.

    Bare wax foundation should not be installed in boxes outside until you have bees to put on it, the bees control the temperature in the hive. In my neck of the woods, leaving foundation in an unoccupied hive out in the sun could easily result in wax running out the bottom board, we can get 90 degree days in April or May here easily. Keep the boxes inside until you have bees.

    I use wired foundation with hooks and crosswire with tinned carbon steel wire. This stuff will hold up forever, the bees ignore the wire so long as it's embedded in the foundation, and the foundation will NOT sag unless it partially melts (see above comment). Bobby pins, those nasty "foundation pins" and similar replacements for tinned steel wire are useless, you have to put the wire all the way across, and should alternate sides, too (or the foundation can simply soften and fall off the wires!).

    A bit more work initailly, but flat brood comb in strong frames is worth the extra effort. I'm culling all the slotted top frames I got with a swarm from a buddy of mine, he just drops the wired foundation into the frame and doesn't crosswire. What a mess. I'll probably re-use the frames, but only with wiring. My bees are creative enough with comb, I don't want to encourage them, and a warped foundation often results in them refusing to raise brood in it.

    Peter

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,707

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    Assuming plastic and wax are equal in use(our bees vote for the wax), at the end of their life, it is alot easier to recycle the wax than it is the plastic. What if you get AFB? i would not like to burn plastic.

    Crazy Roland

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Brenham, Texas
    Posts
    208

    Default Re: Wax foundation... Arrrrgghhhh!!!

    About 5 years ago I bought 300 medium Plasticell in assembled wooden frames because the dealer had them on sale for $1 each. I STILL have some that the bees have not drawn out. They claim they were "wax coated", but my tongue-in-cheek comment is that they stand about 10 feet away with a spritzer. After one squirt, they claim they are "wax coated".

    So I started "painting" a layer of wax on the plasticell and the bees accepted them like wax foundation. However, it takes a lot of wax and makes the frame pretty heavy.

    So one day I tried an experiment. I painted just a 1 inch strip of wax on the top of both sides of 10 frames. Then, just for grins, I painted the next 10 frames with the same 1 inch stripe across the top and then a 1 inch leg down the center from top to bottom, like a T. I put them in two different hives.

    When I checked the frames two months later, the bees had drawn out EXACTLY where I had painted the wax. They had not drawn out any wax where I did not paint any wax.

    Yes, the bees will use plastic, but they prefer pure wax.

    If you give them ONLY plastic, they will draw it out, but, IN MY OPINION!!!! (I make that statement quite often in my classes) bees prefer pure wax over plastic.

    And I am in Texas. We get 100+ degree days here and I don't have a problem with wax sagging.

    Fuzzybeekeeper

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