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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Amador County, California, USA
    Posts
    139

    Default How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    Mine seem to absolutely hate plastic frames. They always go for wood, and hardly build anything on plastic frames, despite being fed regularly.

    Is it just slower w/ plastic compared to wood? Or maybe it's just nectar flow?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,252

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    So are you talking all plastic frames vs wood with plastic foundation?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    597

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    Mine build find on Pierco. One hive has drawn out almost 4 frames in a week.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seven Hills, Ohio USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    Mine are doing great. I have only had experience with all plastic frames though.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Grand Junction, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    Plastic works great but then I never feed my bees. I do make sure they have wax on them before introduction.
    Jack Moore ~ Sticky Bear Apiary
    Zone 7a ~ Elev: 4840ft. ~ https://www.facebook.com/StickyBearApiary

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,584

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    I've tried just about everything including wax, all plastic, and plastic in wood - in the same box even. All of the plastic I have used came from Kelley or Mann lake, and was wax coated. I think that the strength of the hive and flow are way bigger factors than anything else. They can draw wax wacky too - the difference is you can't just scrape it off and give it back.

    Wax foundation is obsolete technology as far as I am concerned.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,670

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    When I used plastic I had trouble compared to wood / wax as well. They'll eventually build it out. Make sure it has a decent coat of wax on the frames before you put them into use. I found that storing frames sometimes gave me trouble so I used to brush a coat of wax on the frames just before I used them. It seemed to help. I never mixed wood and plastic since they always built the wood out first and seemed to make it a point to avoid the plastic. You kind of have to give them no alternatives before they start working it.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
    Posts
    467

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    What method do you guys use to put wax on plastic? Two long time large beeks in my area HATE plastic and have me convinced not to try it. They both showed me several examples of poorly built comb from plastic foundation.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Auburn, NY
    Posts
    422

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    My experience has been mixed. Last spring was new frames and was slow. This spring I put on new frames with already drawn plastic. That in addition to what looks like a great flow, has made them draw out the plastic quite well so far. I think strength of flow and hive is right on. When I buy more frames though I dont think I will get plastic again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    1,777

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sticky Bear View Post
    Plastic works great....make sure they have wax on them before introduction.
    Ditto

    The only caveat / negative now is that plastic has many places for SHB to hide (esp in the nooks & crannies of the sidebars) and lay eggs that the bees can't get to.........I'm thinking of going to wood with plastic foundation.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,490

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    If the colony needs room for expansion or a honey flow they will draw it out just fine. It is best to draw it a full box at a time or place it a frame at a time in the brood nest between capped brood. I shook bees off of dark diseased combs on unwaxed ML frames and they drew them out fine as long as the feed was available. I got those frames substantially cheaper than buying and assembling wood and any other foundation at the time. I like ritecell and plastic better but for price and time savings plastic is fine for me.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    My bees hate them even if I coat them with wax. They typically draw comb on the edge between the frames and make a huge mess. I use PF-105's. I am phasing them out. No problems with stuff like Rite-cell though.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Amador County, California, USA
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    Correct, and wood with wire (I have a few of those).

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,584

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    The OP was how do your BEES like plastic frames - identically to plastic foundation in wood frames as far as I can tell. If the subject is now how does the bee keeper like them - I don't because of how badly they get stuck together between boxes. You can certainly get them apart, but it's a pain.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    My bees glue them to the inner cover and they invariably come out of the hive stuck to it when I pry the cover off. Another reason why I am phasing them out. I am going with all wood wired frames and wax starter strips.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    My bees glue them to the inner cover and they invariably come out of the hive stuck to it when I pry the cover off.
    This happened to me, too, in a new hive, before the frames got heavy. Someone here on beesource gave me this advice: First, break the boxes apart with a hive tool, like normal. Then, make a twisting motion as you start to lift the upper box (or cover). If any frames would be stuck, this breaks them free without having them lift up and then fall back in...

    As far as wood/plastic, my bees work PF-120's just fine. In fact, I tried to alternate empty foundationless frames with undrawn pf-120's, and the started working the plastic before they started the FL frames...

    Good luck
    wanderyr

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    I started using feedbags for inner covers and they stopped gluing them to innappropriate places.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  18. #18

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    When I was first starting, a guy said, get a hive setup, get plastic frames, bring it over, and I'll give you five frames of bees and brood, and you give me five empty frames to replace them with.

    So my bees have never used any wood frames. They do ok, I guess.

    2012-06-02_16-21-06_554.jpg frame.jpg

    They have drawn out wanky comb on occasion, but I just scraped it off and they did better the next time.

    I can't get the picture of that to post right. It's on the blog.
    Greg Whitehead, Ten Mile, TN
    Blog - http://gregsbees.blogspot.com/

  19. #19

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    I've used Pierco plastic frames since I started four years ago. I found that they draw the comb best if I brush them with old wax -- if I just throw frames in the hive, they cross-comb it to death.

    I save my scrapings and dirty wax cappings, melt them and brush the melted wax on the frames with a paintbrush dedicated to this job. I don't lay on the was too thick, just enough to make the foundation ridges really stand out to the bees. It can be somewhat of a sloppy paint job -- you don't have to get every corner perfect, but do try to get the center decently painted. If I do this, I have almost no trouble with them drawing it out correctly.

    If I don't have enough wax to do all of my new frames, then I have to manage how I place the frames in the hive. Don't checkerboard clean with painted frames. Put the painted frames in the center, clean frames on the outside. Once the bees start building up the center comb, THEN you can think about checkerboarding with the clean frames. This works best if you checkerboard the new frames with completely drawn comb. Not 100% foolproof, but it seems to work well if you don't have wax or time to coat the frames.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,020

    Default Re: How do your bees build on plastic frames?

    My bees build fine on plastic frames and plastic foundation when there's a flow on or I feed. If there isn't a flow and I'm not feeding they build almost no comb, not even on foundationless or beeswax foundation. I like to add plenty of extra beeswax to plastic foundation, and then the bees will often draw it out even without flow or feed. Without the added beeswax, the bees will sometimes do a poor job drawing comb on plastic, but the remedy is quick and easy (scrape it off, add extra beeswax, return it to the hive). Almost always, those done poorly were lacking extra beeswax. They do add burr comb to the top bars and bottom bars, but it scrapes off easily and is a nice source of beeswax for reuse.

    I don't use inner covers, just one piece covers of my own design. They are like migratory covers, but have a rim that creates a space, similar to an inner cover. The bees have only occasionally fastened a frame or two to these covers. I simply poke my hive tool in, between the frame and cover, and with a little twist, they're no longer attached.

    Many years ago, before I tried PF frames, there were a few old Pierco frames in my hives and many Pierco frames that did have nice comb built on them, these few were dirty (desert sand had gotten into the little beeswax that was on these frames) and they had no remaining remnants of comb (if they even ever had comb on them). I kept them in my hives (at the time I had more limited equipment), primarily as space keepers. Then for several years, the bees clustered on these frames, but no matter where I placed them in the hives, no comb of any kind was ever built on them, not even poorly misshapen comb. Then, one year, during our main honey flow (mesquite), I was expecting to see these, "spacer frames" (there were about seven of them). But, I discovered that, surprise, all the frames in the hives were drawn into perfect comb, some now filled with brood, others with honey. That year must have been the, "perfect storm" for drawing comb.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 06-07-2013 at 07:56 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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