Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm new to beekeeping. I recently attended a beekeeping class where one of the vendors was selling blocks of bee's wax to feed on top of the frames the way you would pollen patties or candy. It makes sense that the bees would use much less energy and resources to re-use wax than to create it from scratch. My only porblem is that I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else - not in any forum, video, article, or class. I'm concerned that by feeding wax I could introduce some disease or pest into my new hive. Since I'm a newbie any wax would have to be purchased from who knows where . . .

Any thoughts? Has anyone ever fed wax?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
A. Bees don't eat wax.
B. They don't need to have wax provided to them.
C. Sounds like a snakeoil salesperson to me. Someone hoping to take advantage of others.
D. Your instinct to be suspicious was a correct one. If something smells fishy, it is probably fish. Rotting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
He wasn't suggesting that they actually eat the wax, or that they HAVE to have wax provide to them. He was saying that if you want to help a new hive build up faster, you can provide some wax, and that the bees can chew bits off and carry it down into the hive and use it to make comb, and that this is much faster than producing it themselves.

Are you still not buying it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Though their are many on beesource who believe that bees reuse beeswax, my mind is not made up about that. I will say that I know no one who does provide wax for bees in any way. It isn't nercassary and wax already harvested is worth more than what bees will do w/ it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Does anyone think it would be a really, really bad idea to provide some wax? If not, I may try it on one of my two new colonies and see if there's any noticible difference in comb production.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,646 Posts
If you use wax then later check on it what you will see bees chewing on it and find is that it is getting smaller and smaller.
Might even make you think they are using it. You might add some more.

Untill you check your screened bottom board and find most of it there, and watch bees carry it out as trash.

If they reused wax they would save all their winter capping and make comb instead of leave it every where.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
575 Posts
I finally wised up and let the women clean up the gear for me. The bees, not the wife. Set out my tools, crush & strain gooey leftovers, buckets, you name it. The girls take everything, except the wax. Works out great. We melt & strain the wax and make candles.

One year her highness droned my comb super real good. I left the frames out for the girls to salvage. They took the honey, the song birds took the drone lava and both left the wax.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,691 Posts
I seem to be in the extreme minority on this subject. I would agree that providing wax from an unknown source would not be a good plan because of possible contamination, but I take care not to take away their wax.

Maintaining a wax reserve is important to the colony. We might ask sqkcrk where the wax comes from that the colony uses in late winter to cap brood. It's dark colored and is obviously not new wax. The established colony in temperate areas does not have wax making capability in late winter when brood-rearing starts. They are dependent on the stored wax of the reserve. That's what burr comb is all about.

The first year colony does not get much wax reserve built up. Building comb is a top level priority in establishment. About as much as they can produce is needed for brood and stores. Those clean/neat frames won't be so pretty at the end of the second season when the wax reserve is fully established.

If you happen to be one of those neatness freaks who scrapes all the burr comb off, any place it is seen, You are wasting colony energy. It's there delliberately for a purpose. They need it in periods when they do not have wax-making capability. We use an inner cover that has a 3/4 strip added, top and bottom, to make a slightly larger space. Provides more space to keep out other varmints and provides a holding area for scrapings. The scrapings disappear over time, and we have little doubt they are used below. (No way to prove it.)

It is true that they are reluctant to retrieve wax from a remote location. On occasion, we have given them cappings wax in the inner cover well. Some used it and some didn't. All colonies have some differences in needs at any given time, and we have only done this on 2 nd year colonies that appeared to be short on wax to work with.

Walt
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,199 Posts
Wax encapsulates AFB spores well. I wouldn't worry about that, but they won't use any significant amount anyway. I have tried feeding back cappings, blocks, etc. and they have never taken enough that you could see any difference in the amount. They are more interested in gather propolis, in my experience. They are all over my empty equipment in the fall pulling propolis off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
I have never heard of a wax resevoir before. I don't seem to have noticed wax that wasn't comb in a hive. Maybe I am not seeing fully what www refers to.

Good question about winter cappings. I don't know. Can someone tell me the composition of brood caps? They seem pretty papery to me. How much wax is in them? Are they wax at all?

"(No way to prove it.)" Well, someone aught to be able to figure out a way to do so.

I may be just stuck in my own bubble and I do have a lack of imagination at times, but it seemed as though the OP was describing putting a block of beeswax inside a beehive so bees could use it as a resevoir. My personal opinion is that it isn't necassary. Probably couldn't hurt. But a waste of time and money. imo
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Ya got me curious www, so I looked for some info in my copy of "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Beekeeping" by Roger Morse and Ted Hooper. Here is what I found which sheds some light on brood comb cappings and honeycomb capping which may explain differences in color between the two and maybe on to winter time caps of brood cells.

"The bees are very economical in their use of wax and cappings are constructed from the wax of the thickening, or coping, on the top of the cell wall. Practically no new wax is added, and thus the cappings are the same color as the comb: dark cappings on old comb, light cappings on new, young comb. Cappings contain an amount of general detritus, bits of cocoon, pollen grains and propolis being the most usual inclusions."

I think that explains pretty well where cappings come from during the winter, and all other times of year also.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,691 Posts
Mark, I think you know better. I personally have never seen black cappings, even from the oldest and blackest of brood comb.
Good book. One of the first I acquired.

Mr. Bush and I have offered our difference of opinion before here on the forums, on the subject. He's sticking to his, and I'm sticking to mine. May be a regionality thing. We both use feral stock.
Walt
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Maybe the wax isn't really as dark as it appears. It only appears to be black becasue of its' density. I'm pseculating, not maintaining.

And I don't know better. But I do enjoy hearing plausible alternative theories such as your and Michaels, so I can choose which seems the most likely to me. I tend towards Michaels' and the explaination found in the Encyclopedia. Probably primarily because I have faith in those who I regard as more experienced and intelligent than I. Not that you aren't either of those things. I'm not making personal comments about you or what you know.

Thanks for the feedback.

What I do know better about is that things are not always as they appear. Black looking wax isn't actually black at all, it's dirty. Mostly from bees walking across it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,691 Posts
I suspect that both you and MB have seen colonies pilfer wax from foundation or even drawn comb when they had a need of it for other purposes. It should be fairly obvious that at times, they WILL move wax from place to place within the hive.
Walt
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top