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Bad foundation in the Netherlands and Belgium

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ugcheleuce 

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Hello everyone

Those who are interested in what happens across the narrow sea may have heard that the Dutch and Belgian beekeepers suffered quite a blow due to bad foundation in 2016.

This foundation was manufactured by a Belgian company who also sold foundation to the Dutch national beekeepers' association's main store. The foundation was "certified", which meant that it was assumed to be free of bee diseases, but... well...

If you saw this in your good colonies, what would you suspect is the problem?



Most beekeepers who had this problem did not initially consider that the fault may lie with their foundation, especially as it was supplied by the Dutch national beekeepers' association (NBV), along with official documentation that it is free of bee diseases. But thanks to internet forums, Dutch beekeepers began to realise by mid-2016 that the fault lay with the foundation.

In the first week of August 2016, the NBV held an online survey during which close to 100 beekeepers submitted evidence and photos. This enabled the NBV to determine the origin of the bad foundation.

By September, samples of the foundation were sent to the Dutch government's food authority for testing. In the same month, the Belgians did the same. The NBV also did tests in which they used foundation from different origins in strong colonies that showed without any doubt that the fault lay with the foundation.

By mid-October the results were in: the foundation contained 20-30% of a mixture of stearin en palmitic acid. The palmitic acid could possibly be explained away if the manufaturer had used the wrong type of soap to separate the sheets from the moulds, but there can be no reasonable explanation for the stearin. Despite the test results, the manufacturer still blames the weather and bad queens for the bad brood pattern experienced by beekeepers in Belgium and the Netherlands.

For this reason, beekeepers who were affected by this (or suspect that they were affected by this) will now participate in another trial that will run during April 2017. The experiment can be done by anyone who is curious about the quality of their foundation, by the way.

In the Netherlands, May is the month in which shook swarms are made and during which lots of foundation is used. So during April (remembering that this is a Dutch April, so it's the start of the cherry flow), cut two or three holes of 5 cm wide and 5 cm apart into a frame with suspect foundation, and hang it in one of your strongest colonies. Within three weeks you should have the answer: whether the brood in natural comb is significantly different from the brood in the foundation.



I suspect many Dutch beekeepers will be applying this test routinely from now one.

Samuel
 
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ugcheleuce 

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Hivemaker. 

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Using too much Daz as an embossing roller release agent can cause that problem with combs of brood.
 

Briarfield 

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I see that the foundation in the pictures is unwired, certainly in the one with cut outs and I'm sure in the drawn one.

Is that the norm for brood foundation in the Netherlands?

I'm not sure I'd want that in my 14*12, or am I over cautious?
 

ugcheleuce 

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I see that the foundation in the pictures is unwired...
One can't generalise, but...

In the Netherlands, we don't use wired foundation. We wire the frame instead, and melt the foundation into the wire by applying electrical current.

In the first picture (with built comb) you can see the wire sticking out to the left and right near the bottom of the comb. In the second picture, that horizontal line that you see going through the holes is not the table but the wire.

The Dutch wire their frames horizontally and the Belgians wire their frames vertically.

It's up to the beekeeper to decide how many times the wire must go across the frame, but brood frames typically get 3 lines and honey frames usually get 2 lines (although I have had honey frames with three lines). Larger frames (e.g. double honey, which would be equivalent to 14x12, or honey+brood combination frames) obviously get more lines. Often, frames come pre-drilled (even flat-pack frames), so the beekeeper will generally use whatever pattern the frame manufacturer intended.

Using unwired foundation also allows you to cut the foundation to size. In both pictures, you can see that this beekeeper cut the foundation about 1 cm too short, and I'm not sure if that is deliberate, but it could be. If you leave a gap at the bottom, the bees typically don't attach the foundation to the bottom bar (as can be seen in the first image). If you leave a gap at the top, the bees do tend to attach the foundation to the top bar. If you leave a large enough gap at the top, the bees will often fill that gap with drone comb.

When I buy foundation, the sheets are actually larger than my frames, so I cut them to size, and I use the left-over strips for starter strips in frames where I want the bees to build their own comb.
 
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Briarfield 

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Thank you. Every day I learn something. The worry is that I probably forget ten things I knew the day before.

Ars longa, vita brevis
 
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Thanks, I actually did do a search for "foundation" before posting, but this thread did not come up.

Anyway, the NBV is quite positive that this wax did not come from China (also note that the news report says "possibly from China"). The sheets were manufactured in Belgium, and the wax came from certified sources (which, it must be said, does not exclude China).
Name and Shame.....
Who was the manufacturer / supplier ?

I cut some strips from foundation sourced from a company not so far "up~country" from here in Cornwall ( only had a pack of 10 given to me) and the bees drew comb down from it, but queen did not want to lay in the starter strip... did not even get any stores put in it.
Should have taken some photos!... now all in polish wax bucket!

Yeghes da
 

fatshark 

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I suspect many Dutch beekeepers will be applying this test routinely from now one.

Samuel
Do you have a corresponding picture of a test frame with beautiful white drawn comb stuffed wall-to-wall with brood? A sort of before and after shot.
 

Sweet Finger 

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I don't know if anyone uses this technique but if you fasten a 4cm strip of foundation, e.g., by melting it, along the top of the frame, the bees will continue adding on to fill the entire frame. Plus, you can use dammar resin to supplement their need for raw materials.
 
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Anduril 

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Many beekeepers do that, although I haven't heard about using damar resin
 

Hachi 

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Damn! A lot more than I ever thought I'd have
Dammar Resin??

What's this?
 

denise washington 

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it allows the wax to be buffed to a higher translucent surface and helps prevent blooming in the wax and not good for your health
 

Sweet Finger 

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Thanks. I appreciate that. You might be able to find it on line at a vendor that sells art supplies. If you're able to get some perhaps you can just try it out for yourself.

By putting a few grams (10) at the hive entrance, you'll notice after a few days how the bees start to glisten and shine. I'm convinced that this may also help in keeping mites at bay in that the small amount of terpenes in the resin might serve as not only a physical barrier but as a biological one.

As far as human health risks are concerned I have included 2 sources of MSDS sheets for anyone to refer to. I don't know if it's different in the UK and if you could provide a source to support your argument, it would be appreciated.

https://www.schoolartsupplies.com.au/assets/files/MSDS%20Damar%20Resin.pdf

https://www.dharmatrading.com/images/public/pdf/msds/msds_JACDR_Damar-Resin-090911155444.pdf
 

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