Monday, December 28, 2009
Beekeepers now have available foundation made of beeswax or of plastic. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The honey bees strictly prefer to build comb on natural beeswax foundation. If frames of both types are placed in a hive, the bees will use the beeswax and ignore the plastic. Some colonies build comb on plastic foundation in spotty, erratic patterns. This can be corrected by priming or painting the plastic foundation with melted beeswax. The beeswax can be melted in a double boiler and added to the plastic foundation with a paint brush or roller. The bees will use this layer of beeswax to start drawing out the honey comb cells. The beekeeper’s work doesn’t need to be too neat; the bees will correct it. At Peace Bee Farm we use our own chemical-free beeswax, saved from our honey harvest, as a major part of our integrated pest management program. We prefer the durable plastic foundation because, unlike beeswax foundation, it can easily be cleaned of old comb and reused.