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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

This is my third year. After a hard 2009 winter I started with two new packages and caught two swarms in 2010.

This year: three of my four hives would not move up to the first super added. They would not build on the comb and very few bees were even seen crawling on the frames. They eventually swarmed even though they had ample space to expand. First I thought something was wrong with the plastic frames so I coated them with bees wax. No difference. Then I moved several frames from the packed lower box up to the first super. The bees still use the frames I moved up but refuse to draw any comb on the new frames. I have tried two different plastic frames, black and white. Both coated with my own bees wax from the year before. Every crease is packed with propolis but they will not draw comb.

The frames are new this year. Also, this is the first year I have used telescoping covers. And, I tried using only nine frames this year instead of ten. Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks in advance.
 

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I wouldn't blame the plastic foundation. It sounds like you didn't have ample flow for the bees to draw to make wax. How old were your queens?
 

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Try dipping frame in beeswax before putting on bees..does wonders. I use all plastic in wood frames with wax coating. Bees dont draw well unless you have a wax coating then draw ok. If I had the time/and was smaller I would use wax. Also you can reuse the frames if beetles or moths mess up comb.
 

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Are you using a queen excluder? Bees hate to cross an excluder to draw out foundation directly above the excluder. If you have a box of foundation above an excluder, it's not uncommon for bees to swarm instead of drawing the foundation out.

What kind of plastic frames are you using? Bees seem to like the Mann Lake PF frames - I don't have to give them any extra wax coating. With Pierco frames, it helps if I LIGHTLY coat them with wax, but if you have a strong flow they will still draw them out. If you get those heavy black Honey SuperCell frames with the dimple in the center of the cells, bees really hate those if they aren't given an extra wax coating.

If you put a plastic frame in between two frames of brood, the bees start drawing it out if you have a flow. This is probably the quickest way to get bees to draw out a plastic frame.
 

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Plastic, bleccch. I don't believe in making the bees do what I want them to do; I try to help them do what they want to do. Give them wax foundation or foundationless. Saves both you and the bees a lot of aggravation.
 

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We also use the man lake pf frames, don't add any wax to them. Don't have a problem with the bees drawing them out.
For the honey supers we use the yellow plastic frames man lake sells. No problems with these either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all for the responses. I will try feeding them.
Here in Portland we had a very hard spring. Most rain in May/June ever on record so I was feeding them heavily until July. Once July hit and the blossoms were out I thought removing the feeder would encourage foraging so I removed the feeder.......seems to be about the same time they stopped drawing out comb.
I don't know who manufactures my frames. I try to support Ruhl's Bee Supply here in Portland. I have bought some products from Mann Lake and they are always great.
I went plastic because my uncle has used them for over thirty years. He also keeps over 60 hives. When he recommends something I just trust his judgment. Maybe I'll try wax next year. Thanks again.
 
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