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Hexacell or BetterComb Drawn Synthetic Wax Comb

So I will be picking up 2 Nuc’s on or around April 10, 2020. Installing into two Flow Hive 2 Araucaria 7 Frame hives. While my nuc’s should be either 4 or 5 frame’s, I will be installing into 10 frame brood boxes.

I’m curious has anyone in AU or EU used Hexacell, or BetterComb from Better Bee in the US in there brood boxes. I live in South Carolina, US and we have high heat and humidity in the Summer into Fall. I purchased 10 Wired Frames and 10 BetterComb. The suggest adding 3 on one side and 2 on the other mixed in with frames of drawn comb for packages or frames of brood, pollen, and honey from nuc’s.

As these will be new colonies in new equipment. I feel that using them will free up the bees from using their resources to build and draw comb, and allow the Queen to get busy laying and the foragers start bringing in pollen and nectar. In hopes of being able to build up the colony faster so I can add the Flow Super’s sooner and possibly take honey in the 1st year. While my local Beek Assoc says it’s doubtful a 1st year Beek will produce any honey for the taking… In my mind I see it playing out differently as I am giving my girls what they need for a head start.

So my question then is, have any of you ever used the product, if so what kind of results did you have or problems you encountered in using Hexacell or BetterComb?

Tim Oliver
South Carolina, US

Over the years I have inherited some unknown brands of plastic comb with some varying results but what I do myself is to use wired frames and bees wax foundation. A natural way of doing it and it is a natural thing that bees produce wax,
A very common mistake in Australia at least is the number of beginners with Flow Hives is that they put the super on far to early which actually knocks the colony backwards laying the hive wide open to attack from SHB for example.
My advice is to accept that the bees will be doing their best for the colony and if by chance at the end of the season there is enough honey left over for you to sample so much the better, a lot of beginners don’t get a good harvest in their 1st season. It is up to you to accept the bees pace at whatever speed it is and be happy with that. Let the bees and nature do its thing, do your regular inspections for any issues but let them get on with doing what they do best too.
Cheers

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Thanks for the reply @Peter48. I get so wrapped up in trying to get my point across that my reason for questioning gets muddled… I agree with you that the bees will go at their pace and I don’t want to rush them along. Also understand importance of natural comb and wax foundation.

I think the Hexacell or BetterComb may have been confusing. This product is fully drawn out comb made of virgin synthetic wax. It’s property’s mimic Beeswax closely. This drawn comb fills the frames completely. When I pickup my nuc’s they should bursting at the seams as April 1-20 is our Peak brood buildup for our region. And a Heavy Nectar Flow will be on.

Using the BetterComb should allow my bees to use their time and resources in a more productive way rather than exerting themselves building and drawing comb for the Queen to be able to lay. And depending on my feeding them for sustenance to build said comb.

As for SHB and Ants, here’s a few pics of my hive stand design. Wrapping bottom with 4" Survey tape and putting Tanglefoot on the tape. For ease of reapplying



The link didn’t open Tim but no worries, I prefer to let my bees make their own wax as nature intended and when the comb has done a couple of seasons I render and clean it for sale.
It seems that neither of those products your asking about are available in Australia.
Cheers

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Sorry about the link. 1st attempt. On Youtube it’s Hexacells. I will only be installing in the brood box. If I need room I will add a Medium Super in later using foundationless frames for comb honey or to leave for my bees if needed to overwinter.

I see it as a new innovation of technology similar to that of the Flow Frames. This may be a flop for me, but I have plenty of foundationless frames on hand as a precautionary backup.

This is very interesting. Thanks for showing us. Essentially this is pre-drawn comb…(like a sticky… but unsticky) even the embedding into wired frame looks cool:

I’ll be keeping an eye out on your progress.

More info can be found here: http://hexacells.com/

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You have a good theory, however I find that during the spring buildup, when there’s lots of pollen & nectar around, bees will draw wax foundation out in just one night. The bees will actually get the comb partly drawn while the queen is laying eggs. Then they work around the eggs to finish drawing the comb to the correct depth. Based on personal experience, I doubt if Hexacell or BetterComb Drawn “Synthetic” Wax Comb would make all that much difference, despite what they tell you.

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Hiya Tim, I’ve not used the Bettercomb but have seen it discussed on other forums. Here’s a quote from bettercomb.

“The synthetic wax consists of Hydrocarbons, as does beeswax. Molecular structure of hydrocarbons is diverse, depending on the number of carbon and hydrogen, and their connections. Paraffin is one of many hydrocarbons. All paraffins are hydrocarbons, but not all hydrocarbons are paraffin. Betterbee states this is a product without the specific molecular arrangement of paraffin, but in the same chemical family.”

From what I’ve read its primarily used for packages and although food safe not for extracting purposes.
Like the others here, if you are getting a nuc colony, normal wax foundation would likely be more natural. And cheaper…
Having said this im not sure about what chemicals would be in wax in your area though…

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The synthetic bit is the bit I do not like.

Bees are quite efficient in drawing out comb the way they like it. Sometime they amaze me by the speed they build it. I personally do not see a need for a synthetic product when the bees can do the perfect product for free.

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I’d rather take my chances on the wax in his/her area than use “synthetic” wax.

In relation to traces of chemicals in local wax foundation: The bees add to wax foundation. They don’t chew it up before reworking it. Therefore any traces of chemicals found in wax foundation stays locked in the foundation, therefore doing no harm to the bees or the honey.

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I was able to look at the site with @fffffred adding the video, interesting to see and listen to the hype marketing but it’s not for me and my bee keeping. I’m happy to use bees wax foundation and have the bees build the comb out in 24 hours if they need to, but I’m also happy to wait and for the bees to prioritize the jobs to be done in the hive. After a bees wax frame is due to be cycled out it can be rendered down and has value, but but I’m not sure about a piece of dirty plastics value. But that’s just my opinion.
Cheers

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@skeggley I agree that wax foundation sheets would definitely be more affordable But I bought two Flow Hive 2’s Araucaria 7 Frame’s. As deep as I am already $$$, seemed like a small price for a head start. But I’ve never kept bees before so what do I know.

I’m a futurist. Just as Langstroth, Quinby, Charlie Moraz, as well as Stu and Cedar. When all of these people came up with their ideas there was purists who said that will never work, or the bees will never go for that. Or why would I raise bees to kill for venom. Or how and why would you use Plastic sliding frames to collect and gather honey. Thankfully the innovators were correct. It only took 150 years to improve extraction, think what tomorrow will bring.

I’ll try it see how it goes and update along the way.

I guess then use them and tell us what’s the future’s like… :woozy_face:

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@Zzz Do you use the Flow Frames?

It’s like the saying goes, ask 2 Bee Keepers 1 question and get 3 answers. I only asked if anyone had used the product and any results they encountered. I appreciate the vast knowledge of the Vet Beeks here. As a beginner I hope to keep gaining knowledge each and every year for as long as I’m able to keep these wonderful creatures. So please excuse me if I offend anyone.:roll_eyes:

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Not to hijack the thread, but I wanted to point out that there’s well-documented and very reasonable concern about commercially produced wax foundation here in the US:
https://www.beeculture.com/ditch-the-foundation/

Just the same, I share your desire to promote more bee-friendly setups for our kept colonies, especially in brood boxes.

@NuBeeFlow2 welcome! You have a great-looking apiary so far and you’re doing a great job preparing yourself for this wonderful and challenging adventure. I see your point about giving the bees a head start, but I encourage you to consider the higher priorities that the bees will have of communication, temperature regulation and ease of access in their brood areas. As similar as the material in Hexcomb may be to natural beeswax, I doubt the bees can chew through it. Therefore, it will also alter how heat/cold and vibrations move through the combs. Bees need to be in control of their hive temperature, and communicate in part by using vibrations on comb.

Every beekeeper needs to decide what’s the best balance for bee health and their own goals/reasons for beekeeping, in their situation. So for me, using a Flow super makes sense because I only ever have two or three colonies at a time, so buying and keeping extraction equipment is less attractive, and the plastic frames are only for honey storage that I harvest, rather than constituting a living and breeding area for the bees.

My solution for having natural comb in the brood area without using potentially toxic foundation is to fix the deep frames with vertical supports made of bamboo skewers. The bees build more consistently straight combs on these and can still chew a central hole through for a shortcut. New comb is also supported better for inspections in hot weather, as opposed to having such a large area of soft comb made softer and then dislodging under its own unmitigated weight when a frame is lifted out.

Anyway, let us know how you get along when your nucs arrive!

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Here is a video of the Hexacells properties.

Here @FrederickDunn does FAQ 32 about Better Comb from Better Bee
https://youtu.be/74Ajg1chRqQ

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Here it’s being used for Swarm Management.

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I was just coming back on to offer my apology for jumping to the conclusion that these were made of a soft plastic. My fault for skimming as I read the previous posts, seeing it is used in food wrapping. Just had a better look - and also looked at @FrederickDunn’s video, thanks for posting it! He certainly lends cred to this product. The subtitle errors were entertaining too :laughing:

I now see this product as a viable and in some instances preferable alternative to wax foundation, and a perfectly acceptable tool many beeks will find useful. I hope all the cautionary advice does not turn you off to our forum - it might be best to sum it up as a kind of buyer-beware reaction due to so many scams and greedy shortcuts taken in the beekeeping world.

Very interested to hear how you like it when you do get started, Tim!

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@Eva No worries. I’ve been a member of several types of forums over the years. You kinda expect that some feathers will get ruffled along the way. As I said above I do not want to offend anyone by asking questions or expressing opinions. How else am I supposed to learn…lol. I actually found the product through following @FrederickDunn on Youtube. His vast knowledge has been a tremendous help to me as a beginner.

While I am new, I’m trying to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible. I have taken classes through my local Beekeeping Assoc, the Pee Dee Beekeepers Assoc in Florence, SC. Actually I take the Written test tonight for SC Certified Beekeeper. Unfortunately, since I have not had bees of my own for 1 year, I cannot take the Practical Field Test until April 2021. As they didn’t offer a Beginning Beekeeper class.

Once I receive my nuc’s and install them I’ll post updates about my experience with the BetterComb. I hope I have success with them, as they are a lil pricey as noted above to @skeggley.

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Good luck on your cert test :raised_hands:

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