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wax foundation vs plastic vs foundationless

3347 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Michael Bush
so are plastic foundations not as good as wax?

and is foundationless frames easy to do?

just curious... my new hives that i'm getting packages for came with plastic foundations for the brood box, and i specially ordered wax foundation for a super... so im curious..

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wax is the easiest to start with, plastic works best with a heavy flow or feeding sugar syrup until they start drawing, foundationless is not easy for beginners or anyone impatient, historically foundationless is the oldest (over 150 years ago before we had extractors and smokers), wax foundation is about 150 years old, and plastic has been around several years now
I have bees wax foundation and my nucs are slow to draw it out. I shudder to think how long it would take a nuc or package to draw out the plastic. However, if it is coated in beeswax, it likely may make no difference at all.

Yesterday, I inspected my two week old nuc hives and found two of the nucs were beginning to draw out foundation while the other two hadn't begun yet. This is in addition to five full frames of drawn comb. I inserted the foundation between frames of drawn comb and hope to encourage my girls to draw out that comb. We shall see shortly.

I do have sugar syrup on them in a hive top feeder to help them but they don't seem to be drawing much of it down?
Foundationless isn't necessarily harder than the other 2 there are just different rules (so to speak) to follow. Keep hive level from side to side especially. You should use comb guides (wedge type, with wedge attached sideways 90 degrees), or a piece of foundation cut down to inch or so. Check them periodically in the beginning to make sure they are getting started right. Add frames between drawn brood comb to keep them drawing straight and brood combs. lastly don't turn the frame horozontal until the wax hardens (few weeks). Don't be suprised if you are going from foundation to foundationless if they draw a frame of drone comb, no big deal that is out of their system move it to the 1 or 10 position and carry on. Mike Bush says you can even extract foundationless i it is well attached on 4 sides. I've never extracted (I use crush and strain) so don't have any personal experience with that.
For whatever it is worth from a brand new beek...We have recently installed 3 hives with 3# packages...Two of them with only two frames with foundation at the center and the rest foundationless, vs. one with all plastic foundation.....The foundationless hives have been drawn out 80% while the hive with foundation is at least at 50 % level...No big problems with foundationless....But we have been extra careful with the side to side level...Also we included fish line in our frames for added security...I have to say the foundationless comb is a thing of beauty and to top it all it's free...!
It boils down to what you the beek want to do. is one better then the other? I don't know are there draw backs to all three iam sure. Plastic I use in all my deeps some in my supers Wired wax in 98 percent in my honey supers. and I have tried foundationless. as the years roll by i will be switching to pergo palstic foundation the reason why. For me after three years scrape the comb off the plastic and have them start over clean comb. no blow outs when extracting the honey. using black foundation I can see eggs fast and easy as my arms seam to get shorter as I get older and need to move things farther to see them better. thats for me. for the other thousand beeks will be diffrent not wrong.
Plastic has the advantage of being more durable. Wax has the advantage of more acceptance. Foundationless has the adavantage of being natural sized cells, clean wax, and costing nothing and having the best acceptance.
too bad one can't buy clean wax small-cell foundation.

or can you?
Dadant does the best they can...
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