Foundation alternatives

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Sutty

From Glossop, North Derbyshire, UK
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
1,970
Reaction score
1,364
Location
Glossop, North Derbyshire
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
4 to 12!
Carrying on from a current thread on foundation I was wondering about alternatives.
Obviously foundation free frames and starter strips are possibilities.
I read in wartime of beekeepers using sheets of newspaper coated in beeswax.
I wondered if a thin sheet of plywood (1.5-3mm) coated in beeswax in place of foundation would be effective? If drawn out it would be robust for spinning out!
 
1. Make your own (I have a foundation press I bought from Lithuania but you can buy the silicon moulds and make your own).
2. There is nothing to hate about being foundationless - I've been largely foundationless since I started beekeeping.
3. Plastic foundation - some people think it's the best thing since sliced bread.
 
1. No foundation press.
2. Not very strong for extraction.
3. Doesn't cope with solar extractors.

Looking for alternative ideas
For 2, opens up cut comb options and I've found that it copes ok with extraction if you are cautious at first.
 
1. Make your own (I have a foundation press I bought from Lithuania but you can buy the silicon moulds and make your own).
2. There is nothing to hate about being foundationless - I've been largely foundationless since I started beekeeping.
3. Plastic foundation - some people think it's the best thing since sliced bread.
I make my own foundation from my own-make silicon foundation mould. Thicker than bought but it makes wiring a doddle and the bees seem to draw it well. Saves a fortune as I use my own wax and so I know where it comes from.
 
I use both foundation-less and foundation in my frames, some wired some not. National shallows stand up quite well to my extraction methods although I have taken to wiring some frames with a single strand and similarly two strands with brood frames. I use a simple tangential extractor and only blow a frame when I get impatient or spin to vigorously. It works for me with only a few hives and no artificial time constraints; going (almost) foundation-less and using simple self made prewired frames has saved me money and given me the satisfaction of knowing where the wax has comes from. The only downside for me is that it takes away from honey production til the frames are drawn, then again there are ways to 'help' the bees out.
 
Carrying on from a current thread on foundation I was wondering about alternatives.
Obviously foundation free frames and starter strips are possibilities.
I read in wartime of beekeepers using sheets of newspaper coated in beeswax.
I wondered if a thin sheet of plywood (1.5-3mm) coated in beeswax in place of foundation would be effective? If drawn out it would be robust for spinning out!
Plywood tends to have some formaldeheyde in it.

https://famitchell.com.au/formaldeh...t,immediately after the manufacturing process.

Also, heat and humidity have an effect of increasing the release.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/ful...eriments were carried out,a factor of 1.8–2.6.
 
I use foundationless with no supports and have no problems extracting.
I know some who use wire or bamboo supports.
Personally using supports seems like unnecessary extra effort when foundationless works perfectly. I would have the same opinion about your plywood idea.
Also you don't need a mould. A flat sheet of wax can be used instead of foundation. Easy to make a home sheet without buying molds.
 
I do occasionally blow a (wired) frame when extracting, which was one reason for my curiosity. I guess I'm just spinning too fast!
The first year extracting foundationless I was extra cautious and ramped up the speed much slower than normal.
If I have "new" foundationless frame, as in drawn that year, I still go extra slow but established Frames I treat the same as wired.
The only frames I have blown were wired foundation, but that was an uneven loaded extractor pushed too fast too soon.
Treat foundationless right and it shouldn't cause you any problems
 
1. No foundation press.
2. Not very strong for extraction.
3. Doesn't cope with solar extractors.

Looking for alternative ideas
1. Easy to make with a sheet of cell mould silicon (although I've also used flat sheets which are really easy to make and the bees draw them out just as well)
2. Fallacy - just the same as comb built on foundation. If you are blowing combs then it's your extraction technique that is at fault. I never blow combs out - start slow and build up stay gentle until some of the honey is out - reverse the spin and build up speed.
3. What ? Solar extractors ? Not sure what you mean.
 
1. Easy to make with a sheet of cell mould silicon (although I've also used flat sheets which are really easy to make and the bees draw them out just as well)
2. Fallacy - just the same as comb built on foundation. If you are blowing combs then it's your extraction technique that is at fault. I never blow combs out - start slow and build up stay gentle until some of the honey is out - reverse the spin and build up speed.
3. What ? Solar extractors ? Not sure what you mean.
2. Don't you think the wiring makes them stronger? I have had a few blow, extracting radially.
3.My understanding is that plastic foundation deforms in a solar extractor.

Edited to correct tangentially to radially.
 
Last edited:
The only downside for me is that it takes away from honey production til the frames are drawn, then again there are ways to 'help' the bees out.
I draw the bulk of my new frames out when feeding in the winter build up ... so no loss of crop. To be honest I think it's a bit of a fallacy anyway ... the actual 'loss' of honey production even when totally foundationless seems minimal to me, as long as you have good sized colonies there is little reduction in the foraging force - the wax producers and comb builders are the younger, pre foraging. bees. The small start foundation gives them is far outweighed by the benefits I see from them being allowed to build their own comb from their own wax.
 
Don't you think the wiring makes them stronger?
not really, in fact I have a mix of wired and unwired foundation in my shallows but treat both the same during extraction.
Over the years I've had more wired frames blow than unwired.
 
2. Don't you think the wiring makes them stronger? I have had a few blow, extracting tangentially.
3.My understanding is that plastic foundation deforms in a solar extractor.
2. I wire my foundationless brood frames with two horizontal wires, never felt the need in super frames.
3. Ah - I see - I thought that with plastic foundation, when the comb needs replace is to scrape the old comb back to the base sheet rather than sticking it all in a solar extractor. However, if you really wanted them clean of all shreds of wax a hot water bath with washing soda would quickly remove and residue.
 
not really, in fact I have a mix of wired and unwired foundation in my shallows but treat both the same during extraction.
Over the years I've had more wired frames blow than unwired.
That's an interesting observation, it could even be that the differential flexing of wire & wax weakens the comb during extraction....
I'll try some foundationless this season and see what happens 👍
 

Latest posts

Back
Top