Risks of using wax foundation

Hi there,

I’m a new beekeeper and i started this spring with 4 hives. 3 of them i started with wax foundation and the bees took to them really well. however I have been reading allot about bee and colony health and one thins that is mentioned allot is to avoid wax foundation due to the chemicals that it comes with from previous treatment that it may had.

allot of what i’m watching/reading is from beekeepers in the U.S and was wondering if anyone in Australia has had any bad experience from using contaminated wax sheets.

I guess what i would like to know is “ how good is the wax foundation quality in general” and has anyone found any to be contaminated ?

I have had absolutely 0 issues with wax foundation sheets sourced in Australia. Not only that, I haven’t heard of any issues directly from other beekeepers in Australia either.

If you want good quality wax foundation, source it from Tobin and Sons (or someone that does).

You still aren’t treating for Varroa in Australia. If your wax is coming from Australia, then I would assume it’s clean of the chemicals being used to treat for Varroa.

Some of the wax foundation over here in the West is from NZ who do have varroa so there’s a chance of chemicals in them then I suppose.

Agree with @RBK, foundation in Australia is excellent. The Australian Pesticides Veterinary Medicines Authority perform regular testing of honey for pesticide and antibiotic residue, the results according to a report from Doug Somerville of the NSW DPI is that there are no residues in Australian honey, so you can be sure that the wax is also free from this residue… in my opinion, Australian made wax foundation is good enough to eat.


Appreciate your reply … this makes feel better knowing that I’m putting the health of the bees at risk by using foundation and not letting them build their own comb. Having said that, I will totally let them build the comb on the supers though…

Foundation less rocks. It’s from your own locale and no thoughts of contamination if you know your forage environment is clean and natural.
As a commercial beekeeper I would use foundation, as a hobbyist, I believe I should let the bees do their comb as they please.
It’s half the fun of beekeeping to watch the bees do what they think is best. With a little guidance initially so they build straight, so I can check for pests and diseases.
I quite dislike all this advice of breaking off queen cups, supersedure cells and cutting out drone comb. Unless for some very good reason, like to rid of disease.
If people like to tinker and thread wax sheets onto wires into wooden frames, ok. I don’t think it’s worth the effort. Bees like to do their own thing and will be more productive when they have a chance to create their own environment as far as we can allow them while providing them with a good box in a secure place.
I am just a beginner beek and resisted all the wax foundation advice and jumped into the deep end dealing with rogue comb. Fix it once, from then it’s straight. No big deal. Strong and fresh and healthy. Just more fragile in the beginning, but stronger later.

You just never know what you import with bought wax. Not yet.

You did read the post from @Rodderick above about the NSW DPI testing?

I think the ‘tinkering’ is worthwhile to avoid running a drone hostel.

Each to their own.

I mean we may import something we don’t know about yet. Personally I do prefer my bees creating their own foundation, it’s entirely without risk.
And it offsets the introduction of the flow frame material. Well, it makes me feel better. Just me, and hopefully the bees.
Most beeks I know use foundation, in fact nobody around me uses foundation less.
It’s great that we all use different methods according to our experiences. I am majorly impressed by how fast and perfectly the bees build comb and fascinated by how they decide what to store where when.

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Interested to know how much drone comb you have ended up with? Are all the frames fully drawn?

My nuc came with foundation, so only have the experience of 4 foundationless frames. Everybody is surprised at the small amount of drone cells. Just some small patches on the outside frames, and other small patches here and there. I would say less than 5 %.
My commercial supplier asked me for drones too. Seems to be a common belief that the bees build too much drone space. That’s not my experience so far in my 11 weeks beek career.
Let’s see what my new nuc is going to build, they are carniolans. My first queen is Italian.
I suppose drone building relates to seasons too.
Yes, all frames are fully drawn, just took them a couple of weeks, and another week after my ‘correction’.