What size foundation do you buy and what type? Black? Plastic? Wax coated? It seems like the size foundations are sold don’t match up to the interior dimension of frames. What has worked best for you? (I’m in the US)
Hi Beth. The answer is yes, all of the above.
I have wired wax, thin wax, wax-coated black plastic and foundationless.
For durability and ease of spotting eggs, I like the black plastic. I buy the deep size already in frames.
However, my bees use it as an excuse to get creative, especially when it is up against the hive wall. They often build parallel islands of comb on little stalks, using the minimal amount of plastic possible. I don’t mind, as I just tidy it with my hive tool and add the wax to my frozen collection. However, it is a waste of their work. Eventually they get the message and do it right.
Second favorite is wired wax for brood. It can handle inspection on hot days without slumping, and the bees can reshape the edges to leave gaps for ventilation and foot traffic if they want. This is the one I bought last year, and I still have plenty (D style frame, wired with hooks):
I use thin unwired foundation to make 1/2 inch deep comb guides for my medium frames of comb honey. I actually buy medium size sheets, and cut them into strips with a rotary fabric cutter - very quick and easy.
I have played with foundationless frames, but generally find them too high maintenance. I get the benefits, but I don’t like them in my brood boxes (fragile on inspection and seem to get more drones).
Don’t worry about the foundation size too much. If there are small gaps at the side edges or bottom of the frame, the bees will fix it the way they want it. It is rarely too big, as long as you buy the right size for the frame.
Unfortunately there is little standardization in foundation size and frame styles. Walter T. Kelley seemed to be one company that would carefully label its foundation with the frame it was intended for. Mostly I don’t use much foundation. When I do it’s been Mann Lake FP120s which are one piece frame and foundation in 4.95mm cell size.
Thank you both! That’s the information I was looking for!