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What is the best tool to use to apply bees wax on foundationless frames

what is the best tool to use to apply bees wax on foundationless frames

Ermm, not being facetious here, but the answer is bees! :blush:

Honestly! If you have a comb guide in the frame, it doesn’t need waxing. If you paint wax onto the comb guide, it probably won’t be as solid as if you let the bees do it, so i wouldn’t do that. If you really want to do something, I would just smush a small blob of burr comb in the middle of the top bar of the frame. They will reshape or remove it to their taste, and it will have the pheromones needed to attract them to it as part of the hive.

For my foundation less frames (I used them in a super for comb honey), I just cut a 1cm wide strip of foundation and trapped it in the wedge of the top bar. It worked fine as a comb guide. I alternated these frames with frames of thin foundation to prevent crazy comb. Good result if you like comb honey (I don’t! :wink:)


Are you wanting to create your own frames with wired foundation or just want to give the bees a starter strip?

A starter strip of wax foundation held in the slot of the top bar with some melted wax as a glue to hold it in place is popular with those that don’t want to go for a sheet of wax foundation. But be sure the hive hasn’t got a sideways tilt to it or you will end up with wonky comb being built outside of the limits of the frame.

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hi dawn, how do you hold the blob of comb from falling, the groove width is larger than the wax strip

hi, i just want to give them a starter strip, i just want to know how i hold the wax strip from falling

what is the best way to put the wax as a glue to stop it from falling

If you “smush” in fresh burr comb, it is so sticky it won’t fall.

If you are talking about a starter strip of foundation, I buy frames which have a removable strip of wood on the top bar. That can be used to trap the strip of foundation with nails. They are standard frames for wax foundation in the US and the UK.

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Based on personal experience where I played around with different options when making honey comb a simple starter strip of wood is sufficient/ Alternatively, another way that worked was I bought a wax foundation, cut a 1-2cm strip and just used a flame to lightly melt the wax to the frame - bees took care of the rest.

thanks dawn, unfortunately they dont have these sort of frames here in Australia, bit will try the fresh burr comb, thanks

I melt some wax in a saucepan on a very low heat and used an ultra cheap paint brush for a dollar shop, once you dip it in the wax you have to quickly ‘paint’ the starter strip into place. It doesn’t matter if you are a bit sloppy till your used to it, but remember to duck if you get too messy and the wife sees the mess before you clean it up.
I’m no expert on anything but using wired frames and full sheets of foundation so maybe others can give you a better option. Cheers

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A safer and easier way to do it is to put the wax in an old saucepan (I use an empty tomato sauce can), and place that in a pan of water and get that boiling on low heat.

I’m sure celebrity chefs have a fancy name for that.

Personally I didn’t have much luck with foundation-less frames. The bees ignored the wooden starter strip and ended up with a rather daunting looking mess inside the hive. Mind you, it could have been because of something, I, did wrong.

I now use a quarter strip of foundation, and wedge that with the wooden starter strip. Next time I might try a narrower strip, because personally I prefer if they make their own comb.


found a great video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-oD33LFp7E

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That’s really interesting - he is making his own foundation starter strips.

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I’m thinking along the lines of avoiding the mess of melting wax & cutting some thin strips of corrugated cardboard. Then use little bits of that to wedge the foundation starter strips into the foundation guides.

I can’t disagree with @Peter48 on the use of full sheets of foundation. Unless you want starter strops for comb honey production. In that case after the initial cut out, there’s no need for any further starter strips as long as you leave a tiny bit of wax under the top bar…


Hi Jeff, is there any truth in what they say about more drone cells if you let them build their own comb?

In my limited experience that wasn’t the case.

Another Q. I do understand that commercial beekeepers benefit from using full sheets, as it saves time for the bees and spend their resources making honey. But for the beekeeper with no rush, and is happy with a more natural looking comb rather than a neat rectangle, is there any disadvantage I’m yet to discover with using quarter sheet (or narrower) starter strips?


Yes there is truth in what they say about bees building more drone comb if you don’t use foundation.

Yes there is a disadvantage in not having a neat rectangle, which by the way will hopefully be built with a very high %age of worker comb. The disadvantage lies in the fact that the colony will be down on the population you would have achieved had you used full foundation.

You don’t have hive beetles yet, However if & when they arrive, it will be in your best interest to use full foundation. The reason being that the more drone brood in a hive, the greater the chance the beetles have of laying eggs in unemerged drone brood. It’s because the recently emerged drones will not defend, thus allowing the beetles free access to the unemerged drone brood.

This is all based on personal observations.

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Thanks for your perspective Jeff. I never gave that much thought.

I will be using full sheets from now on.