Beautiful Beekeeping – If It Isn’t Broken…

About a decade ago I started beekeeping.  I followed the instructions in Beekeeping for Dummies and used wired wax foundation. Everything worked beautifully.

Wired Wax Foundation

Wired Wax Foundation

My bees loved the wax foundation. The colony built up quickly. It was easy to extract the honey.  So why didn’t I leave well enough alone?

The answer is I’m kind of lazy. Wax frames are very labor intensive. I have to assemble the wooden frames (using a hammer and nails!) and carefully fit the delicate wax inside it without tearing it. Pre-assembled plastic frames are much easier to use.

Pre-assembled Plastic Foundation

Pre-assembled Plastic Foundation

Last year I noticed that my hive with plastic frames wasn’t building up as quickly as my old hive had. Of course, I blamed it on my bees.

This year was worse!  My new bees completely refused to build comb on the plastic frames and built inside the roof top feeders instead!!   I spent Tuesday afternoon cleaning burr comb out of the feeders and replacing plastic frames with wax ones…

Feeders full of burr comb...

Feeders full of burr comb…

The good news is that I’m pretty sure my bees are okay, no thanks to me.

I’ve heard that some bees prefer the plastic frames, but not mine. From now on, I’m going to stick with what works. If it isn’t broken, I’m not going to try to fix it!

19 thoughts on “Beautiful Beekeeping – If It Isn’t Broken…

  1. Simon says:

    “Those damned bees” =]

    That’s great-looking comb in your feeder nevertheless. I use plastic and so far so good. My bees are Italians, but who knows whether that may matter.
    Glad you have changed course and are going with what you know to work. I’d be interested to know whether starting a hive with your bees would have any more success.

    • They had definitely been busy! Those combs were full of brood and honey. That’s why the feeders are still out by the hives.
      It may be something about Buckfast bees and plastic frames. I was surprised at such an extreme reaction!!

  2. Emily Heath says:

    From reading different people’s blogs, it does seem like the bees prefer wax foundation. I haven’t come across any beekeepers using plastic frames in England.

    It took me ages to get the hang of making frames, and I’m still not very good. Some people even wire their own wax, but I’m definitely not up to that! You might find it easier to put the wax in on cold days.

  3. I would strongly advise people not to use plastic frames. Avoiding the extra work is not worth losing a hive.
    I’m actually not too bad at making wired wax frames, although I wouldn’t attempt to wire my own.
    I’ve learned my lesson. There aren’t any short cuts!! 🙂

  4. I do use plastic frames exclusively! I found that my wooden frames fell apart.

  5. Gary says:

    Hi Deborah,

    Yes we prefer wax foundation and have never tried plastic for the reasons you talked about.

    Were the frames you used painted or covered with wax, I have heard this makes them more attractive to the bees.

    But good on for going back to using wax, I think these days people fall into the trap of making the bees do things for our convenience.

    At the end of the day we are just there to help the bees survive. Things that make it harder for the bees shouldn’t be used.

    See ya…Gary

    • Hi Gary!
      Yes, the frames I used were coated with wax. It didn’t seem to make much difference!
      I actually kind of missed making my wax frames. It isn’t really that hard, and it’s definitely worth the extra effort. I just ordered 100 wax frame “parts” so I’m in for the long haul!!

  6. We always use was, but I agree, putting together those frames is a bit of a drag!

  7. willowbatel says:

    I have three ‘frame types’; plastic foundation, just wired without wax or plastic, and the Warre top bar system. The bees have drawn out the foundationless stuff days faster than the plastic foundation stuff, consistently. And I like the wired frames because its studier than just the top bar method, but is more flexible (you can cut things out easier if the bees mess things up) than foundation. If I knew how to make frames I would probably switch all of my frames to just wires.

  8. […] Beautiful Beekeeping – If It Isn’t Broken… ( […]

  9. Thank you for this post. Being a new keeper and having a mix of extracted wax and plastic second-hand frames I noticed too that my girls weren’t too keen on the plastic. So much so that even the cells they have put down look a bit like burr comb. With my new hive and supers I purchased from a local carpenter and keeper are all wax. I’m thinking that my next purchase will be an extractor to save me from having to rebuild those gorgeous frames.

  10. […] My Buckfast bees refuse to build on easy-to-use, pre-assembled cheap plastic frames. I can’t say that I blame them. […]

  11. […] Beautiful Beekeeping – If It Isn’t Broken… ( […]

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