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Wet Caps vs Dry Caps

Wet caps vs dry caps. For nearly 30 years I only knew of one kind, “caps”. The honey frames were either capped or uncapped. I learned through this forum the difference between wet caps & dry caps.

Clearly this 1st photo is dry caps.

This second photo is nearly all wet caps. The dark color is only because it was previously used for brood.

This 3rd photo is a mixture of wet & dry caps. Plus this gives me an excuse to show off some of this week’s honey frames.



Nice examples Jeff.
Why do you think they do this? Do you find the honeys to be the same water content?

Thanks Skeggley, I have no idea to either question.

I do remember reading how a lot of American beekeepers that target cut comb prefer to use Italian bees because they mostly do dry caps, which looks more attractive. So it could be genetic. My bees are a mixture of everything.

I day dreamed this thread the moment I saw that white frame. A had some equally white, much fatter frames, however they got slightly bruised which spoilt the effect.

Hi mate, yeah mine are supposed to be Italian however like you I get a mix of both wet and dry also. I always think the wet capped frames feel heavier but have assumed it’s more a colour thing.:nerd_face: Maybe it’s because they also seem to bulge like yours in the picture which I assume is a weight thing.
Still, it all tastes the same. Curious though.

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This is an old argument and there is a consensus too that wet and dry capping is a genetical trait. It is based on the fact that there are strains of bees that produce only one type of capping. And mixed type of capping produced by crossbreds working together sits well with this idea:

But then, those who are sceptical about genetical explanation are asking a very reasonable question. If this is a genetical trait, how the heck did this happen?

Same frame - two sides.

There is also an interesting experiment described by Vasilyeva and Halifman in their book Bees. There were two strains of bees involved. Caucasian that produces wet capping and Middle Russian which uses dry capping. Freshly built frame was given to Caucasian colony to fill it with eggs. On day three frame was moved to Middle Russian colony and brood was fed by them until it was capped. After that frame was put into incubator to exclude further influence of the foster colony. Enough frames were produced by this method to create a viable colony. After that, a frame of capped honey was taken from Caucasian colony (wet capping), caps were removed from a part of the frame and it was given to the new colony to repair removed caps. Result: Caucasian bees fed by Middle Russians consistently used dry caps to repair honey frames.

So-o-o… I hope you are still confused about the reasons behind wet/dry capping as I am :rofl:


Great photos! Thanks for taking the time to post them.

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FWIW my theory on “wet versus dry capping” is based on the bees having a defensive behavior to prevent ambient moisture from penetrating through the capping throughout prolonged winter wet periods. Anyone who has uncapped both types of frames…wet or dry…has noticed how much more effort is required to uncap the wet capping frames…the wet wax cappings are much thicker…to the extent that we swap out our scratcher to a more heavy duty scratcher to uncap these tough frames.

I was just doing research on winter humidity levels in countries around the Mediteranean (the homeland of apis mellifera)…I always thought this was a dry climate…it isn’t in winter. As a matter of fact, humidity levels are around 80% for most of the winter months. Combined with this fact and the experience of checking moisture levels under dry cappings during our summers and finding the honey moisture levels up to 20% (during extended wet times) makes me think the thicker wet capping are for cell moisture rejection. Now to prove this I just have to start checking wet capping cells honey moisture levels versus dry capping cells in the same hive.

This has been my thoughts too Skeg…moisture levels could play a part in this.


Are the wet vs dry capped cells filled to the same extent or are maybe the dry-capped cells not as full to the brim and so there isn’t honey contacting the underside of the capping? Maybe why can be on one side and not the other or maybe has to do with the slight undulations of the cell depth?

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Jeff found another frame that had almost all wet caps


This frame was one of 14 frames out of 2 hives at a different location. The whole 14 frames were mostly wet caps. The 2 colonies share some genes. Now I have to figure out if it’s a genetic trait of if it’s a result of the honey they’re producing. I’ll see what comes out of those 2 hives in the coming months.

Could it maybe be dependent on the flow coming in?

As in if there is that much nectar coming in and running out of room they will store it rught the the end of the cell and then wet cap it as there is no air.

maybe with a slightly smaller flow they arent as room hungry and dry cap it as they have the space to leave an air pocket?

or scrap that it could be genetics :joy:

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Hi John, on reflection, that honey was easy to spin out. Maybe it’s less viscous, so therefore the bees wet cap it. I know when bees are on paper barks, they produce all beautiful looking dry caps. That could be because that honey has a higher viscosity & will not flow onto the caps, which would give them a wet appearance on the bottom of the cells.

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