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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am now officially a 2nd year beekeeper - both of my hives survived the winter here in New England!

I did my first full frame-by-frame inspection yesterday, and in each brood box I still have 2 or 3 undrawn frames (at the outer positions). They are wooden frames with plastic embossed foundation. I suspect the bees may have salvaged the wax off of those frames, so if they are bare plastic I understand why they won't draw it out. I am getting some beeswax so I can re-coat the foundation to see what happens then.

Last year I was told to move in the outer undrawn frames one at a time in between already-drawn frames; all that did was cause the bees to draw the adjacent frames even more, where the tops of the comb got into the next frame's space and mad it a mess to remove the frame.

Any suggestions how I can get a nice 10-frame drawn brood box like those I see in other hives? :) Right now I put on some 1:1 syrup to feed the bees and hopefully that will help them draw wax.

Thanks,

Steven
 

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I doubt if your bees scavenged the wax coating off of the foundation. For the most part bees will not draw foundation of any sort unless there's a natural nectar flow. Feed 'em all the sugar syrup you want...it won't drive them into wax production. Once you get a nectar flow going, if you feed them sugar syrup it'll help them draw comb faster.
 

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"Last year I was told to move in the outer undrawn frames one at a time in between already-drawn frames; all that did was cause the bees to draw the adjacent frames even more, where the tops of the comb got into the next frame's space and mad it a mess to remove the frame."

From the time of package install, it could be 3-4 weeks [until good nectar flow] before the bees draw out those outer frames. Therefore, you have plenty of time to keep moving them inward; once or twice. This should be done before adjacent frames are getting fully [or even half] drawn. If you wait too long, they will draw out the frames they are working on more so, into that empty space of the undrawn frames.

If the plastic embossed foundation is Duraguilt, you may have to discard that and replace with new. Just wondering.

>>> By the way, congratulations on having your bees survive the winter and getting into your second season! This should be a major goal of beginning beekeepers and shouldn't be all that difficult. I have heard of a few [to many] losing all their hives in their first year, which must be discouraging/disappointing. The second season with successfully overwintered colonies is to some extent, "another level" of experience and learning about beekeeping.
 

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My opinion. Put another coat of wax applied with a brush on them and move them closer to the middle. Or spray them with some sugar water and move them closer to the middle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Use wax foundation, it's a little more trouble to install but i've never had trouble with the bees not drawing it out unless there was nothing coming in.
Yea, that's the impression I am getting. Once they do draw it out, there is no problem with them using it. Also, as an experiment last year, I put in an empty frame with just a popsicle stick ridge, and they drew that extremely fast.

I doubt if your bees scavenged the wax coating off of the foundation.
It has happened on multiple frames, last year. I took out the frame in question, and it is definitely just bare plastic now. I couldn't feel or scrape up any wax (I have a new frame to compare with, and it definitely has a wx coating). On another frame, I can see where the bees drew out comb in a crescent shape starting at the top, and then stopped when they reached bare plastic a little lower. That's the only conclusion I can come to.

By the way, congratulations on having your bees survive the winter and getting into your second season! This should be a major goal of beginning beekeepers and shouldn't be all that difficult.
Thanks! I was worried - one of the hives (my brown hive) I thought was a gonner, since I didn't hear anything, and never saw bees at the top of the box. It turns out that was because they had plenty of honey down below, and they were sitting fat and happy. My green hive had evidence of some starvation (dead bees head-in), but came through OK.

Hope to get some honey this year...
 

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I've seen a wide variation in wax coatings on plastic frames right out of the box....even from the same box. Some seemed to have an even complete coat, some partially coated and some with only splotches. Having said that, I've intentionally bought uncoated plastic foundation and used it 'as is'. The bees will still draw comb on it, do a good job of it but it'll take a good nectar flow to get them interested.
Best to ya.
 

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When I used plastic, I had the same results. A frame or two was almost ignored. I ended up spraying sugar water more than a few times before they "fixed" them. Keep in mind that they won't draw if they don't need the space. I'd keep trying. Waxing and spraying won't hurt!
 

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Mann Lake tried to sell me some plastic foundations last week when I went to buy 50 frames. I had such bad luck with plastic, I don't think I will ever go back. I would like to try and experiment though. 10 undrawn frames, 9 wax, 1 plastic right in the middle. Last year I had 10 wood frames with plastic foundation, they were drawing out the plastic, but slowly. I put a wax foundation frame in and they drew it out in less than 2 days. It was like they stopped on the plastic and went straight to the wax one. I want to see if they will skip the plastic one in the middle and focus on the 9 wax ones only.
 

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What's the deal with the plastic? That's what they make cars out of. Why are you so cheep that you wont give you bees the best way to survive. Our car manufacturs use plastic so we will have to rebuy. I'm not that way. If you want to be cheep and not provide good foundation for your bees you don't need to be keeping bees. For that matter you don't even have to provide foundation. Get off of ten bucks and help your bees. The car manufacturs are not. Puy plastic in cars not bee hives.
 

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Many people like plastic as they think it lasts longer. Whether or not it does, I do not know. I do know that you need a good coating of wax over the plastic because the bees do not seem to like it.
 

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The merits of plastic vs. wood/wax are often debated here. I personally do not like plastic. For anything. But lots of people are comfortable with it and even prefer it. I know beekeepers who use nothing but plastic..for lots of reasons....and wouldn't think of going back. I believe that whatever you do will work so long as you address deficiencies and weaknesses of your chosen approach. For plastic, it appears that a re-coating of wax or an enticement of syrup may help.
 

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I have heard about people recoating the frames with wax, even brand new ones and they work better. I wonder if the manufacture is skimping and just giving it a slight glazing before kicking them out of the plant? Sounds like a little better QUALITY control would fix the problem. When I was at Mann Lake last week, they gave me 3 of their plastic foundation frames for free to try, swearing that they are just as good as wax, if not better because they are stronger. So far they are still sitting in my garage. I'll try them on my next swarm, but I've been tainted by plastic and someday plan to weed out all my plastic frames.

Craig
 

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I think that plastic was produced for commercial beekeepers more than the hobbist. They are easy and quicker to install and the wax moths can't destroy them. I bought 100 deep wax coated plastic deep foundation 3yrs. ago, two hives drew them out with no trouble, but the rest drew a few in the middle out fine and the rest were drawn out in spots and not completely drawn out. I moved them in a couple of frames and two years later they still haven't drawn them out.I put a swarm in one hive (with plastic foundation) they worked on it for two days and abscond. So i've decided if i have to go back in, take the frames out, add more wax or spray sugar water on them and hope they draw it out, why not use the wax foundation that i've not had problems with. Besides i like the smell of the wood and wax when i'm working with it and evidently the bees do too. :thumbsup:.Jack
 

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As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I had an assortment of various plastic frame/foundations that were very old, some appeared to have once been drawn into combs, others were discolored from exposure to sunlight, dirt, and weather. Some seemed to have no beeswax on them at all. For two or three years I used them to keep space in my brood nests, hoping that the bees would someday take an interest in cleaning them up and rebuilding them into nice combs. The bees would cluster on them, but it seemed that their interest stopped there.

So near the end of the season, one year, a little more than ten years ago, my new bride and I (married in 1999), together purchased a new home. This was eighteen miles from my old apiary site and we moved there in November 1999. After I relocated my apiary to my new home, the next Spring we had a Mesquite flow which began on 15 April and continued until the first week of July. Early in this Mesquite flow, I realized, as I examined my colonies in their new locations, that I was having difficulty locating the several dozen frames (scattered throughout the hives), that earlier had gone unmended (virtually untouched by the bees), were now completely transformed, they were all now drawn into bright, new, comb; all those that were contaminated with dirt, gravel, and pieces of brush, and had their beeswax melted down into lumps, were also completely transformed into nice new combs and they were being filled with pollen, brood, and nectar/honey.

After that experience I discovered the bees, with the proper circumstances (strong populations of young bees - plus - a nice, Strong honeyflow), would build nice honeycomb virtually anywhere, ugly damaged frames of wood or plastic; foundationless frames; warped, twisted, and dirty plastic frame/foundations; and even empty spaces where the beekeeper had forgotten to replace frames.
 
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