Monday, March 29, 2010

Waxing Plasticell Foundation

My first year of beekeeping introduced me to Wax Moth & disintegrating comb in the extractor. Since then all new frames are made up of Plasticell. Well, bees don't really like plastic foundation so the manufacturer coats it in beeswax. Nice but the bees are still somewhat hesitant about using it. They will draw it out but only when they have no choice. That can take all season in some cases.

I want the bees to draw out the frames faster than that so I'm adding some incentive. More beeswax. I have a little West Bend hot pot that works great for directly melting wax. It has a basic temperature set dial. Medium heat gives the best results. Quick to melt but no boiling or spitting.

I use a foam brush for the application. It soaks up enough hot wax to stay liquefied for up to half of one side of a deep frame. Though, 3 brushings are necessary to properly cover one side. It's a simple process, melt the wax, dip the brush, shake off the extra, paint the wax onto the frame, mash it in as it firms up. Also, no mess if you use paper towels or cardboard. I did it in the kitchen without getting a drop on the floor.

Top- Pierco Drone frame / Bottom- Plasticell Deep

This process eats through the wax in a hurry though. I've never worked toward producing wax and I've only been beeking for 2 years. There are 20 Deep frames that need done. I don't have much wax on hand but hopefully there might be enough to finish the job. Otherwise I'll have to drop 10 & punt.

Unfortunately the Pierco Drone Frame did not like the heat. It began to warp as I waxed it. It looked like it might not work but after it cooled off again, much later, the shape went back to normal. The Plasticell Foundation had no reaction to the heat. It never warped at all.

Before Waxing
After Waxing

I wonder if adding some essential oils might induce to bees to draw it out faster yet. Many Beeks use the essential oils. I worry about disturbing the pheromones already in the hive with foreign scents. I'll need to read more on that. This will be the first time I've tried this so I won't know if it works until mid-season. The Packaged bees will start out on the Plasticell so won't have a choice. When Mary gets her second DHB back filled with the double waxed foundation I will get a better idea.


Steven C. said...

I'm going to do the same. I swear the bees stripped off the wax off of a lot of my wax-coated plastic frames. It feels dry as a bone - no wax at all.

Look at the last picture of my blog post from last year to see what I mean -

-- Steven

P.S. previous post deleted so I could make the link clickable...

Hemlock said...

I followed the link. One can really see where the wax is on that dark Plasticell. I, too, have a few frames in the hive that the bees haven't fully drawn out. All the wax I'm using is from these bees so they should like the smell. Hopefully this will work. We'll see.


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