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Greetings all, wondering about the issues surrounding extracting foundationless frames, from a financial point of view. Are you further ahead in extracting the honey and reusing the comb or harvesting both wax and honey and letting them rebuild the comb next season? Of course I am working on the assumption that you have a market for your wax as well as honey. Guess this will vary by region for prices, just curious what experiences you might have. I do know that they can draw foundationless frames really quickly, and before I switched (to foundationless brood frames, still using old honey supers with foundation plus comb honey) I would have assumed that letting them rebuild the wax year after year would be a waste of resources. Not so sure now, but I don't even know how much wax an average medium or deep would yield by weight. Okay I guess that would help answer this question! Anyone know?
 

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From Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products, Coggshall and Morse pg 41

"A pound (0.4536 kg.) of beeswax, when made into comb, will hold 22 pounds (10 kg.) of honey. In an unsupported comb the stress on the topmost cells is the greatest; a comb one foot (30 cm.) deep supports 1320 times its own weight in honey."

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesharvest.htm#expenseofwax
 

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I would have assumed that letting them rebuild the wax year after year would be a waste of resources. Not so sure now, but I don't even know how much wax an average medium or deep would yield by weight. Okay I guess that would help answer this question! Anyone know?
That's one of the beauties of drawn comb in frames. You can use them over and over again for decades. I'm certain that some of my combs are 50 years old or older.

An average medium, 30 to 45 lbs of honey.
An average deep, 45 to 60 lbs of honey.

If I remember correctly, uncapping frames of honey yields a ratio of one lb of wax per one can of honey. Meaning one lb of wax per 60 lbs of honey. It varies on how fully capped frames are to begin w/. What kind of uncapper one uses and how deep the uncapping goes into the comb.

Acorse now, if you crush and strain you are going to get alot more wax for every lb of honey.

Generally speaking, it takes a consumption of 8 lbs of honey to produce a lb of wax, by the bees. So, if a pound of bees wax will hold 22 lbs of honey you have cut your potential crop roughly 1/3.
 

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Generally speaking, it takes a consumption of 8 lbs of honey to produce a lb of wax, by the bees. So, if a pound of bees wax will hold 22 lbs of honey you have cut your potential crop roughly 1/3.
Can you please point me to the actual study that proved this oft-repeated 8 to 1 (sometimes 7 to 1) formula?
Or is it simply folklore?
 

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the real savings i find are that drawn comb, put back on, lets 'em work the small summer flows that only last a week after a good summer rain. that nectar would be wasted if they had no comb.
good luck,mike
 

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Can you please point me to the actual study that proved this oft-repeated 8 to 1 (sometimes 7 to 1) formula?
Or is it simply folklore?
No I can't.
Does it really matter? maybe it is 7.5 lbs or maybe it is 9.5lbs. Whatever. If bees have to make comb they have to eat honey or nectar and you don't have that honey in your combs. Well, maybe you do, but in the form of wax.
Some things one learns and remembers and forgets where the learning took place.
And what is wrong w/ folk lore? Newbies are making it up all of the time.

Alright. Looked it up. I was wrong. I'll eat my hat now. If anyone can tell me what the hat is in that old saying. When I find the person who put that number in my head I am going to give him you know what.

Anyway, according to "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Beekeeping" Edited by Roger A. Morse and Ted Hooper, both deceased, first edition copywrite 1985 and signed by Dr. Mosre, I quote from page 46 where it says: "Figures for the amount of honey required to produce a pound of beeswax are very wide in range, but 2-4 pounds (0.8-1.6kg) is probably right for the natural production of wax during a time of plenty."

I stand corrected and ask forgiveness. Howe much did you think it was?
 

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Thanks Mark, and thanks for investigating that. :)
Hey, I love folklore! I use it all the time in my music. But since that 8-1 wax saying seems to be so often used to discourage newbies from considering foundationless and/or crush & strain, I figure it would be good to know if it's actually a proven science fact or not.
I'm sure that it takes 'some' amount of extra energy/calories for bees to replace a frame of comb, but that formula just seems so kooky to me. Makes a good saying though. Like "a stitch in time saves nine"...."an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"...."snow on the roof means...."- oh, never mind! :cool:

Anyway...
Beepuncher- I imagine a frame full of fresh wax comb full of honey might logically weigh the same as a frame of old wax comb with honey. However...the old wax would contain a certain percentage of waste material (cocoon remnant and larvae poop etc) that builds up in the cells over time, and I'm guessing that stuff would get filtered out of the comb if you render the wax. So would a frame of old wax comb yield less final sellable wax product than a frame of new wax comb? My guess would be yes. Anyone know for sure?

My own related question would be- where does the wax come from that is used to make commercial wax foundation? Are the big US apiaries harvesting US wax, or are they importing wax cheap from China to make foundation with? Knowing this might help shed some light on whether harvesting/selling wax by the pound is a worthwhile endeavor. Not talking about candles etc here, which would be more of a craft item.
 

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Thanks for doing the research and finding the actual number, sqkcrk. I've always found the 7/1 statement to be annoying, and I'd heard that it was an exaggeration, but I didn't have the 2-4 number you found. So your information and Michael Bush's combined would mean the following:

It takes 2-4lbs of honey to produce 1lb of wax, or 2-4lbs of honey to produce enough comb to hold 22lbs of honey!

Cheers,
Matt
 

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It's slowly coming to the answer, I think, BeePuncher was seeking.
Assume an average of 3lb of honey not produced because the bees produced 1 lb of bees wax. If you sell your honey at $5/lb you need to sell the beeswax @ $15/ lb. to make up for it. I think it's possible. 1oz blocks sold @ $1./ea ???
Adjust the numbers for the honey price in your area.
 

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...the old wax would contain a certain percentage of waste material (cocoon remnant and larvae poop etc) that builds up in the cells over time, and I'm guessing that stuff would get filtered out of the comb if you render the wax. So would a frame of old wax comb yield less final sellable wax product than a frame of new wax comb? My guess would be yes. Anyone know for sure?

My own related question would be- where does the wax come from that is used to make commercial wax foundation?
It is my understanding, I have no proof, that foundation producers get their wax from as clean a source as is possible. Where that is, I don't know.

As to larvae poop building up in the cells. mmm, i don't think so. Bees polish the insides of the cells and coat them w/ propolis.

I don't know, really, but I would guess that a newly drawn comb, being new, would yield more usable wax than an old comb. Alot of wax is soaked up, in the rendering process, by the cocoons.
 

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Cocoons only build up in brood combs. If your honey combs have only been used for honey storage, the combs will be normal wax. Wax content in brood combs seems to drop off as the comb gets older. When you try to melt them down, it seems like you get a big pile of old cocoons and little wax.

My own related question would be- where does the wax come from that is used to make commercial wax foundation?

I suspect the vast majority of it is cappings wax, but probably contains other wax that got scraped from boxes and frames and tossed in the wax bin.

You're not supposed to use chemicals while the honey supers are on, but it's difficult to find foundation that isn't contaminated. If that foundation is made from cappings wax...
 

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It is my understanding, I have no proof, that foundation producers get their wax from as clean a source as is possible. Where that is, I don't know.
Might be something we all should know, considering how many millions of pounds of foundation we buy and put into our hives every year, used to store the honey we eat, and to raise brood, ...and considering how wax foundation is already known to contain pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Is it being made from beewax imported cheap from China, and being a non-food material is it even required to be tested for toxins and contamination? How do we know it's safe for us or for the bees?

As to larvae poop building up in the cells. mmm, i don't think so. Bees polish the insides of the cells and coat them w/ propolis.
I have read about and seen photos of cross sections of old brood comb cells, showing the heavy black buildup of residue over time- fibrous cocoon remnants, propolis, (not sure about 'larvae poop' or not) and other stuff. Over time it builds up especially in the bottom of the cells, and it was cited as one of the reasons old brood comb should not be used indefinitely. Sorry, I wish I could remember now exactly where i saw this info- anybody? :s

Oh, I just saw that Countryboy answered a few of my thoughts and questions- our posts crossed. thanks for the additional useful clarifications. :)
 

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>Can you please point me to the actual study that proved this oft-repeated 8 to 1 (sometimes 7 to 1) formula?

I already did a few posts ago: http://www.bushfarms.com/beesharvest.htm#expenseofwax//

But if you don't want to go to the link:

From Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products, Coggshall and Morse pg 35

"Their degree of efficiency in wax production, that is how many pounds of honey or sugar syrup are required to produce one pound of wax, is not clear. It is difficult to demonstrate this experimentally because so many variables exist. The experiment most frequently cited is that by Whitcomb (1946). He fed four colonies a thin, dark, strong honey that he called unmarketable. The only fault that might be found with the test was that the bees had free flight, which was probably necessary so they could void fecal matter; it was stated that no honey flow was in progress. The production of a pound of beeswax required a mean of 8.4 pounds of honey (range 6.66 to 8.80). Whitcomb found a tendency for wax production to become more efficient as time progressed. This also emphasizes that a project intended to determine the ratio of sugar to wax, or one designed to produce wax from a cheap source of sugar, requires time for wax glands to develop and perhaps for bees to fall into the routine of both wax secretion and comb production."

>Or is it simply folklore?

Mostly...
 

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You may also want to read some of the stuff that Allen Dick has on his website:

http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/fdnvsdrawn.htm

"Looks here as if using foundation costs about 40 pounds of honey..."

"60 pounds less honey for hives started on foundation, compared to drawn comb! (And all these colonies were given drawn comb when it came time to put on the supers)!"

And thats using foundation. Using foundationless will require slightly more honey to be consumed. Plus, the big factor is the potential loss of production... your bees are busy building comb when they could be:
-caring for brood
-working to reduce the moisture content in the stored honey before capping
-foraging
-building more comb in new boxes.

Your bees could be busy trying to draw comb out while a short nectar flow is on. Even if the get it drawn out and not filled... next season are you going to cut it all out again and let them start over during another flow when you want to harvest??
 

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The advantage of drawn comb, imo, is that they have somewhere to put the nectar so they are more productive. The advantage of foundationless over foundation is that they will draw it more quickly giving them a place to store the nectar. I see no advantage to foundation...
 

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Over time it builds up especially in the bottom of the cells, and it was cited as one of the reasons old brood comb should not be used indefinitely.
Builds up on the bottom. So, instead of becoming small cell bees they become snubbed nosed bees?
 

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I'd always heard that 8 to 1 story myself . What got me doubting it was watching a 4 to 5lb swarm draw out a deep super of frames. Figured someone had got thier math off just a touch.
 

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REALLY - I didn't know that once the size gets too small they'll just chew it out and rebuild it.

I've never seen that happen, but I've only bee beekeeping 6 years, and so very few of my combs are more than 4 years old. And I suppose that is not long enough for this chewout and rebuild to have happened.

Interesting. I will keep an eye out for this.

Have any idea how many brood cycles it takes for it to get too small? Is it 10 or 100?
 
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