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Making your own wax foundation


#1

I just lost a hive to SHB so have several boxes of comb that needs to be recycled. I have done a lot of reading and looking on the net about making my own foundation. Lots of benefits, especially the lack of pesticide residue when I use my own wax.

As a backyard beekeeper the mills are not cost effective and are strictly out of budget. Has anyone tried to make one of the silicone mould presses? Any success with it? Problems? Too brittle to be practical? The good? The bad? the ugly (couldn’t resist)

What about using plain wax sheets and allowing the bees to draw out whatever comb they want on it? Is there a down side to doing this?

Oh, and I don’t plan on harvesting any honey from any of these frames–that’s what my flow frames are for. This will be mostly for brood and maybe a super for just the bees.

I have only been a beekeeper since May but have a good local club. However, I don’t know of anyone who is making their own foundation and would appreciate any advice from someone who has given it a try.

Bee happy! --Pam


#2

Hi Pam,

There are many solutions to this, but most are either extremely expensive (commercial grade) or extremely tedious/time consuming (silicone moulds and presses etc.).

The simplest way to use your wax in new frames is to buy plastic foundation and then melt your wax down to coat the plastic to assist the bees in getting started.


#3

I just lost a hive to SHB so have several boxes of comb that needs to be recycled. I have done a lot of reading and looking on the net about making my own foundation. Lots of benefits, especially the lack of pesticide residue when I use my own wax.

But you can get all of those by NOT using foundation.

What about using plain wax sheets and allowing the bees to draw out whatever comb they want on it? Is there a down side to doing this?

I have done that. It slows them down a lot. They will draw foundationless a lot faster.

I have only been a beekeeper since May but have a good local club. However, I don’t know of anyone who is making their own foundation and would appreciate any advice from someone who has given it a try.

I don’t have the press, but I have watched it done and I have made wax sheets. I think it’s definitely not worth the effort. If you want clean wax, just let the bees build foundationless combs.


#4

Thank you all for the words of wisdom. Nothing can replace advice from those who have walked the talk.

But you can get all of those by NOT using foundation.

I am a little afraid of foundationless frames. I am still a bit clumsy and I understand how very fragile this type of comb is—especially in our southern summer heat. Would the bees take to it if I criss crossed the area (a single large X) with some fine fishing line to help reinforce the comb?

I have done that. It slows them down a lot. They will draw foundationless a lot faster.

I have only been a beekeeper since May but have a good local club. However, I don’t know of anyone who is making their own foundation and would appreciate any advice from someone who has given it a try.

Interesting. I had no idea. Michael, do you have your bees draw fresh brood comb every year or is it just for the honey supers? Even though I attended mentoring sessions for a year before I got my bees, I still feel very new at this


#5

Yes. Simplest is to just thread left to right and back, through the holes already in the frame. Secure the line with thumb tacks - easy peasy. Supports the comb well too. @Dee has been doing this, if I read her posts correctly.


#6

Yes. Simplest is to just thread left to right and back, through the holes already in the frame. Secure the line with thumb tacks - easy peasy. Supports the comb well too. @Dee has been doing this, if I read her posts correctly.
[/quote]

Great!! I now have a plan of attack come spring.

I have a truly deep appreciation for this group of wonderful beeks! Thank you.


#7

The bees will neither follow nor not follow the fishing line. If it runs through where they want their comb they will incorporate it into the comb. If it does not, the will ignore it. You can reinforce it if you like. Wires (or fishing line) always seem to be in my way.

Neither. I extract the foundationless frames and give the combs back to them to clean up and then pull them for winter and then give them back in the spring or summer. But that’s only because I have an extractor now. I used to do crush and strain. But back when I did crush and strain I was also using foundation… but it could also be done on foundationless if you don’t want to buy an extractor.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm


#8

I use wired frames as I bought them ready to go. I did see the building brigades hanging from the top bar down, holding on to the wires. They won’t follow the wires if your hive is not level, they always follow gravitation. But they do make use of the wires, if the hive is level and there’s a guiding comb on both sides to make sure they draw straight comb. I have never had problems with breaking comb, foundation or not, but I am a newbee too, started in April. I use starter strips made from foundation sheets, just wide enough to be melted onto the first wire. I’m thinking about other methods of guiding, maybe try one or another of those Michael mentions in his article over winter.