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Thread: Plastic or wax?

  1. #1
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    Default Plastic or wax?

    Do you all recommend plastic or wax foundations? Which retailer do you recommend for the purchase of foundation and other supplies? Also, are plastic frames better than wood? Sorry for all the questions. I have many more!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by wrightstuff View Post
    Do you all recommend plastic or wax foundations
    There is nothing in beekeeping (that I am aware of) that everyone will recommend or agree on. It is a matter of personal preference. And you will find people on both sides of the wax vs. plastic "issue" insisting that their personal choice is best.

    When I use foundation, I use wax. Otherwise I use foundationless. But that is only my preference. Do a quick search & there will be many hundreds of threads about foundation, both wax and plastic. There will also be a great many threads about retailers that people love or hate.

    And welcome to beekeeping and Beesource.

    Wayne

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    I would like to find the guy that came up with the idea of plastic foundation and punch him in the face until I got really tired.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Bees draw both out very well in the proper conditions. The best time to get any foundation drawn is on a strong flow and chances are that opportunity will not come in most parts of the country this year. During a strong flow, young bees are processing lots of nectar and in that process secret lots of wax. So much wax is secreted that sometimes the bees start coating the tops of frames because they feel the need to do something with all that wax. That is when you know there is a serious flow on and the bees need more room

    If the plastic is adequately coated with wax the bees readily draw it. The fall is definitely no time to try to get wax foundation drawn as the bees will eat holes in it and use the wax for building material elsewhere to finish small projects elsewhere. With no nectar coming in, very little wax is being secreted. Learning how to use both wax and plastic wax coated foundation are good for any beekeeper and make their life easier.

    Getting several answers for every question is normal on this forum and you will have to decide what advice to follow. I have been doing this for a while and both types of foundation work and both can be a pain, so take your best shot. Welcome to the forum and winter is a good time to read old posts and ask all the questions you like, that is what this forum is for. Vance

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    >I would like to find the guy that came up with the idea of plastic foundation and punch him in the face until I got really tired.

    I'd save that for the guy who invented the "hover over" and the Java popups that my blocker doesn't catch... Counting fully drawn PermaComb and fully drawn Honey Super Cell and PF120s, I have several thousand plastic frames. I like them a lot. I also have several thousand foundationless frames. I like them a lot too.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
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    Mar 2013
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    Hartford County, Connecticut
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Right now I have both. Wax in one hive and plastic in another so I will let you know if one seems better over the other. I should be going in there in the next day or two to check on them.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingbrass View Post
    I would like to find the guy that came up with the idea of plastic foundation and punch him in the face until I got really tired.
    That how I feel about Johannes Mehring (inventor of wax foundation).

  8. #8
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    Jul 2011
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    Hot Springs, Arkansas
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    4 years I've tried plastic, even during the heavy flow around the soybean crops and sometimes they work with fair results. I'm certain that I can't use plastic. I've tried adding a coating of wax and only adding them during a heavy flow and still it a big problem. The bees just don't like plastic. The ones they do draw out they will skip the corners or something. I give up on plastic! And I've got some foundationless in shallow, medium, and deeps. I've now added a wooden bar across the bottom hole for additional support. Sometimes its needed but usually it is not but you can't tell which time you need the help

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingbrass View Post
    I would like to find the guy that came up with the idea of plastic foundation and punch him in the face until I got really tired.
    I have zero issues with plastic foundation, but the all-in-one plastic frames, now that's a different story. I will never bring another into my operation - not even if given to me. Stick with wooden frames.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  10. #10
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    Aug 2014
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    Scottsbluff, Nebraska
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Thanks evryone. Just to clarify, I have bought some hives, etc and will add bees in the spring. I am trying to get everything in order gradually so I can hit the ground running. It sounds like I should stick with wood frames. I will likely start with wax as opposed to plastic from what I have read. Some wax sheets came with my purchase so I should just use them up. It just seems like wax is more labor intensive with all the wiring. THat being said, I do have all winter to get ready. What is the advantage of foundationless? I assume it allows one to harvest cut comb honey???

  11. #11
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    Dec 2009
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    SNOW SHOE PA USA
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    I use 4.9 cell all plastic foundation and frame in the brood chambers and 5.3 plastic foundation in wooden frames for my honey supers. It's all I know.
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 31 hives==== T{OAV}

  12. #12
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    Feb 2013
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    Quincy, Mass USA
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    During the flow my bees build both plastic and foundationless equally well.....
    Since '12 Zone 7a 3H TF SC 2H OAV SC

  13. #13
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    Aug 2005
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Wax is not shipped during the coldest time of the year (it cracks and breaks) which is when I want to order it. I've gone to using wooden frames with plastic foundation for everything. I paint my own wax onto the foundation so any time savings in assembling frames without wiring is quickly gobbled up! As is the wax which I can't use then for candles. etc.

    I am starting to mix in some foundationless brood frames - the bees seem to draw them just fine. I'm adding them in part for curiosity on my part and in part to have the bees draw the size cells they want to.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  14. #14
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    Tyler, TX
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingbrass View Post
    I would like to find the guy that came up with the idea of plastic foundation and punch him in the face until I got really tired.
    Yes this!!!

    Use wax or foundationless. I spent several months this spring ripping plastic foundation out of students hives to get them straightened out. The queen often looks at a piece of plastic foundation as the edge of the hive and will end up just laying on one side of it which greatly limits her brood nest. Bees have to be forced to draw it out and often prefer to swarm instead.
    23 years. Chemical free. 20 hives

  15. #15
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    Mar 2012
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    Tyler, TX
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by wrightstuff View Post
    What is the advantage of foundationless? I assume it allows one to harvest cut comb honey???
    The bees love it! They will draw out foundationless much more quickly than wax foundation. I have faith that the bees know what size cells they need to build. The engineer that came up with the mathmatical model for the stamp in the wax foundation....was not a bee.

    Foundationless is much easier to work with. I can easily cut out queen cells for grafting to a nuc. It is easy to cut drone comb out. I have not noticed a significant difference in the amount of drone comb with foundationless vs with foundation. When I end up having to remove comb due to wax moth or some such it is sooo much easier to remove without having to deal with wires embedded in the comb. Comb honey is just special stuff!

    My queens seem to prefer to lay in the foundationless comb over that with a foundation base.
    23 years. Chemical free. 20 hives

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    My preference is wax coated plastic (ritecell) foundation and wooden frames. Once you've extracted a few frames with no foundation or wax foundation, you come to appreciate the rigidity of the plastic foundation.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  17. #17
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    Jul 2014
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    Rutherford Co. NC
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Its all new to me as well.

    I already have a combination of foundations in my hives. There are different products that will be best for various purposes. Even within the wax products there are different uses intended. I have some very fine pure white wax that is intended for shallow or medium supers where a cut comb honey is the goal.

    I have other wax foundation that is about 3 or 4 times as thick with embedded wires in a deep frame size for the brood chamber. I also have some of this in shallow.

    I have a frame or two with a partial sheet of wax coated plastic foundation. It is my theory that this will give the bees a starter and they can finish the frame/comb with whatever size cells they need. I have placed these in my upper deeps. I have bees that were a little to artistic and am trying to give guidance while allowing some freedom.

    What I have noticed in all cases, is that the bees don't draw much comb on any of the frames or foundations unless there is a flow going on.

    My goal is to manage as many as a dozen or so hives as a hobby that will pay the property taxes on a bit of land I and keep bees on. I might very well exceed these goals financially $) In the mean time I don't seek a one size fits all solution for all hives. I enjoy learning and experimenting with the options. I would like to understand the bees themselves and the husbandry of the hives for health and productivity.

    At the same time I totally understand where a commercial producer might want a one size fits all methodology that minimizes labor and expense. I think that deciding on your goals as a beekeeper will help you decide between products.

  18. #18
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    May 2014
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    I use "wax-rite" in the assembled wooden frames from Mann Lake. Made first honey harvest last month, had wax and plastic. Plastic is more even. No blow-outs, No fallen comb. I will always buy plastic foundation, but sometimes I buy bees on wax. If bees are given one of each, they will draw the wax first, but when there is no choice, they do the plastic fine.
    Last edited by dsegrest; 08-27-2014 at 12:52 PM. Reason: error

  19. #19
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    Aug 2014
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    Scottsbluff, Nebraska
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    Thanks everyone. I think maybe I will try some of both and see which the bees and I prefer. I appreciate this forum as I am sure the same questions come up from newbies like me. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  20. #20
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    Hot Springs, Arkansas
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    Default Re: Plastic or wax?

    I agree with the poster that said bees see plastics as a barrier and will build on one side and then stop thinking it's the end of the cavity. I've had lots of hives with this issue. It's very frustrating. New beekeepers would be much better off not using plastic. It's hard enough to get them to fill all ten frames......no since in making it harder !

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