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Commercial folks only. Plastic or Wax?

20021 Views 68 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  StevenG
I recently spent some time talking to a local commercial beek, he swears by plastic, he does however roll a good layer of beeswax onto the plastic.
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Wax, our bees do not seem to like plastic, so neither do we.

Plastic. Cost, labor, time all factor in and the bees don't have a problem drawing it out. Plus it seems to last longer...especially the current production.
The plastic pf120's from Mann Lake have worked well for me, don't need to put any additional wax on them either...I have some of the hsc plastic frames(not the fully drawn ones) that do need to have extra wax put on, they might work ok for supers as they are all drone comb size cells. I haven't used those enough to say one way or the other on them:lookout:.
Maybe Wisconsin bees are just finicky, ours don't like the plastic either. But we haven't tried them in years, maybe they are much improved. The only ones the bees didn't turn their noses up at were Pierco frames, and then it better be a good flow.
If plastic worked without putting extra wax on it would be one thing, but it seems that by the time you put more wax on, you might as well use wax to begin with.
Alpha, which frames are you using?
This is the last year that I'll be making wood frames and using wax foundation. The frames and foundation are just too labor intensive to put together.

Next year, it'll be Pierco one-piece frames, with a healthy layer of added wax.

I use Pierco (waxed) and order it directly from them. Nick is a great guy and really on the ball. They do a good job of getting great trucking rates if you are not in a hurry. (like need it tomorrow) Use them for both brood and supers. I use black for brood and white for supers. I do try and mix the new between drawn frames if I can. They pull it out quicker and straight this way. The only times I have any trouble is when it is on the end, but I had the same problem with wood, so now I never put new frames on the end.
I use wood frames with plastic foundation. I buy it assembled ready to go. I have used Pierco in the past but when they go thru the automated uncappers they sound like they ill break, and some do. So now it's wood and plastic. No real troubles getting bees to draw it out.

I have over 3,000 of the PF120s now. I don't have to assemble them. I don't have to put foundation in them. They are accepted with no issues. And they are cheap. I paid less than $1 each... they are a bit more fragile than some of the other plastic frames, but that comes with being cheap. Still well worth it, IMO. the PF100s work just as well if you have deeps. :)

I have NOT had the same experience of such good acceptance with other plastic frames and combs.
Pierco one piece(wax coated) my bees didn't like. Pierco plastic foundation (wax coated)with wood frame they didn't like either. Dadant yellow colored plasticell(wax coated) with wood frame they drew out wonderfully. I had the same results with all of these over a 3 yr period.
i have used both and the my bees like the wax better but it is so time consuming to put them together. just wondering here hopefully not hijacking this thread but for those of you who use the wax have you ever tried useing a few support pins instead of wire?
My experience with Mann Lake in purchasing PF's is that the shipping is almost as high as the cost of the frames.

When I start pushing $2 per frame v .63 per wood plus foundation/starter strip and assembly it starts pushing me back to Wood
We put longer staples into the end bars for support, slip the foundation between the staple legs, no need to wire if you handle them carefully the first year. Leave it to John to find a cheap way to skin the cat. :D I think it would probably not work for deeps if you extract them but for brood it's fine, or with mediums for supers, if you spin them easy the first year. We do use extra heavy wax, 5 sheets to the pound for deeps, 9 sheets (I think?) to # for mediums.
Still takes longer than plastic to put together, but no polished foundation to deal with ever.

JPK, yeah, it is that way for anything. You almost need to be reasonably close to whomever you are getting things from. I say the same thing about that wooden ware fabricator up your way.
We prefer wooden frames with plastic foundation.We have tons of Pierco and Mann lake 1 piece frames , but for some reason the bees will stick the boxes together tighter with plastic frames.This is a problem when you are breaking boxes apart to put in pollen sub.
We have been buying lots of Dadant pre-assembled and are happy with it. The bees like it just fine, but it takes a strong hive in a good flow to get it drawn right. If conditions are bad (poor flow) this year, put it on next year. You cant do THAT with wax.
but for some reason the bees will stick the boxes together tighter with plastic frames.

The depth of the frame rest/rabbet on some supers is the reason.
But, when you stay with the wood bound frame the hives can be opened easier.
I read somewhere last month about a company cutting a super to accomodate the plastic frames.
i use wooden frames with pierco and they draw it really good if you coat the plastic with more wax. I built a wax heater so i can dip the peirco and put it in the wooden frame just before it gets cool. it will snap right in and ready to go. you want to do this before the wax gets cool or the wax will crack. you can also dip one that is already in the frame but you will use more wax that way.
I use plastic foundation with wood frames. I also put a extra coat of my wax on it with a paint roller. I timed it and I can build and wax 3 to 1 what it takes me to do wax only frames. If you put your wax on it then they draw it light or heavy flow. But the first year the uncapper can peel the whole thing way from the plastic if you are to tight on the setting.
the uncapper can peel the whole thing way from the plastic if you are to tight on the setting.

What kind of uncapper are you using?
Thanks for all the great responses, I am gonna have to try so plastic and see how bees in Maine feel about it.

I see mann lake has the pf120's at 1.05 in quanity, (180 pieces) but it gives me a shipping price of $94.00, 50 cents each shipping seems quite high. Anyone know of a better deal to get some of these to Maine?
Any commercial beeks going foundationless? maybe that ought to be part of the mix? Just curious as to your success, if so.
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