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I've read threads by Michael Bush detailing his hot wax dipping of Permacomb frames to reduce the cell size from 5.1mm to 4.9mm.

Question: If one forgoes/omits this process, will the bees add their own thin wax layer to accomplish the same result? Or do they work, lay eggs and store honey directly on the plastic surfaces?
 

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Kelbee,

Hot waxing encourages/stimulates the bees to draw out the comb. Some will just not do it on bare plastic, some will. Most plastic foundation comes with a wax coating because of this. The bees may do it themselves, but coating it gives them a jump start. The cell size depends on what is imprinted on the plastic, not the wax applicaton. If standard cell size is imprinted, that is what will happen. The same for small cell size.
 

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I think Kelbee is referring to waxing Permacomb not foundation, Ron. I too have been reading posts about wax dipping and plan to try it this winter. From what I've read, waxing PC does reduce the 5.1 PC to just about 4.9mm or close to it. Plus, the bees take to it right away instead of waiting until they HAVE to use it because there is no other foundation or room to draw comb out on anything else. PC that isn't prewaxed doesn't get that cell size reduction, or at least not for a long time.
 

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>Question: If one forgoes/omits this process, will the bees add their own thin wax layer to accomplish the same result? Or do they work, lay eggs and store honey directly on the plastic surfaces?

No. The bees will not coat the walls with wax. They will add very little wax to the mouth and cap. The do polish everything with propolis, so there is probably some kind of "polish" on the cells, but nothing of any thickness.
 

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>Plus, the bees take to it right away instead of waiting until they HAVE to use it because there is no other foundation or room to draw comb out on anything else.

It is much simpler to just install them into a hive that is 100% PC. I don't wax or even spray it with syrup anymore. I will put one or two used frames into a nuc for a swarm, but for the most part bees in a hive of PC don't wait for anything, they just start using it.

>PC that isn't prewaxed doesn't get that cell size reduction, or at least not for a long time.

If your goal is varroa reduction, waxing is not necessary. My hives of 100% PC have lower mite counts (many none and that's without treatments) than hives with wood and wax (natural cell from cut outs) mixed in with PC. And yes, it could have something to do with the larva cocoons making the cells smaller yet.
 

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>My hives of 100% PC have lower mite counts (many none and that's without treatments) than hives with wood and wax (natural cell from cut outs) mixed in with PC.

hmmm, that's interesting for sure Bill. Now if there was only some way that could be proven by an experiment. ;)
 

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I also have a question about waxing PC. Can anyone give me an estimate of how much wax you will need per 6 5/8 super?
 

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PermaComb is 5.1 equvilent at the cell mouth and the cell tapers to smaller at the bottom. So it's about the equevelant of 5.05mm cell size as is. After wax coating at the cell mouth it comes to 4.95mm equvelent (discounting the thicker wall) and with the taper that's actually about 4.9mm.

You should see some help with the Varroa with straight PermaComb. You'd get more if you wax coated it.
 
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