Beekeepers Friend

Peaches' Beekeeping Blog

January 6, 2010

No Foundation? Why!???

Some of you might have read something about chemicals in the wax of bee hives. What about the wax we send in to the Supply houses? Do they take the chemicals out before making foundation to sell back to the beekeepers?

Unfortunately the answer is no. The wax is like a sponge. It sucks in the chemicals like water. Unlike a sponge, the wax cannot be squeezed to get the chemicals out. Sorta like a bee escape. One way in and no way out. This is one of the reasons to rotate the combs out of the hive. Not only because the comb darkens with age, but because it keeps collecting the chemicals year after year.

The only way to really have a chemical free apiary, is to have an area of over 6 miles surrounded with another radius of one mile thick around your apiary and you can control the non use of chemicals in the total area. That ain’t gonna happen! So the only way to cut down on the chemicals in your hives is to not use chemicals and to place your bees in an area that has no use for chemicals or at least very little use of chemicals.

I have used the word chemicals 10 times in all four of these  paragraphs. All the writings I have studied says to change the wording around so as to not be too repetitious. The illustration I am trying to impart is there is chemicals all over the place and in abundance.

Now that we have established that we cannot get free from poisons either man made or naturally occurring around us, we need to take pains in not using them unless it is the last resort. Do you take medicine to keep you from being sick, or do you take medicine after you get sick? The bees are living animals just like you, so why do you make them take medicine if you don’t?

Somehow I got to chasing rabbits and wondered away from the subject.  Bees need wax comb to store their babies in as well as pollen and nectar/honey. In order for them to build wax the direction we want them to, we must give them something to guide on. So here are some suggestions.

If you are a little strapped for money, but you have some empty frames, you can get some typing paper and cut a 1-1 1/2 inch strip long ways and glue to the top bar with some melted wax. the bees will follow it and build a honeycomb. Some beekeepers just fill up the groove in the top bar with wax and let it pooch up about a quarter inch and the bees will use the wax as a guideline. If you have comb and place them alternately with empty frames, the bees seem to work the empty frames correctly.

I have heard of some beekeepers using plastic foundation and cutting long strips about 2 inches wide and putting that in the frame and letting the bees build on that.

Now you understand that the bees will draw comb more readily when there is a honey flow going on, especially in the Spring. Otherwise, the bees will eat or use the wax for other things, so the frames with comb will be at risk if the bees are not using the comb. So the conclusion that you should come to is: Do not put more supers with wax on the hives than the bees can cover.

If you haven’t cleaned your boxes and frames and replaced the foundation, now is the time. In a month or 2 you will be too busy with splits, swarms, and broken boxes to be fixing the things you should have already done.

Be sure to repair or replace your veil, sharpen your hive tools, and make any repairs to your smoker now. You will need these things to work you bees this Spring. Enjoy your time off while you can. The bees will start to work before you know it and you will too busy to think of these things until you need something and it is not working right. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Enjoy your bees and be prosperous.

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