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Opinion on Plastic Frames & Foundation

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BDaddy 

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Hi All,
I'm toying with the idea of trying out the use of plastic frames & foundation. I've got no experience with these so would really appreciate any comments from members who have, positive or negative. I must admit that I'm rather reluctant to start messing about with these but then to be quite honest I had the same opinion about using poly hives......until I tried a couple. Now I've transferred totally to them and haven't looked back!

:cheers2:
 
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There is not a lot of experience of this type of frame in the UK but they are popular and becoming more so in other countries. Ignoring size difference there are only two types of one piece plastic frame, those which come waxed and those which are un-waxed.

The waxed ones tend to come from the US and the wax is sprayed on. All the reports I have heard suggest the wax is not thick enough and you need to add more. These frames gave rise to the comment that the bees need a good flow to accept them, which is true if used how they arrive.

Unwaxed frames need to be waxed by the beekeeper. The best way, if you have the equipment, is to dip the frame in wax. This gives a complete covering and to the bees is indistinguishable from normal wax foundation. Alternatively, the wax should be applied with a sponge roller or brush, again putting plenty on.

The latest plastic frames will withstand 100C so can be steam cleaned. Most only manage 80C. I am planning to transfer all my colonies to plastic frames this year.
 

Poly Hive 

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There are also Langstrong plastic foundations of which I have a hundred, which are NON waxed.

They need to have wax sprayed on them or dipped or painted before us and they need a VERY good flow to get drawn out.

I think that plastic in general needs powerful flows to be successful.

Worth messing with? I think not myself.

PH
 

BDaddy 

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Thanks RT thats very helpful. :) I did wonder whether the lack of info in the uk reflected the lack of use. There doesnt seem to be many outlets selling them. Are the frames in one piece? ie frame & foundation in one unit or are separate?? Would be interested in knowing what your reasons were for transferring your colonies onto them?
Regards
 
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You can fit sheet plastic foundation into wooden frames, which is the only way to go if you are on National, or get one piece frames which are both foundation and frame molded together, these are more or less exclusively Langstroth plus a few other odd sizes.

I'm trying them in a spirit of experimentation, I have read good reports of them and want to give them a try.
 

BDaddy 

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I have a 100. They need to have wax sprayed on them or dipped or painted before us and they need a VERY good flow to get drawn out.

I think that plastic in general needs powerful flows to be successful.

Worth messing with? I think not myself.PH
Thanks PH. Making the assumption that there is a sufficient flow to get them drawn, in your experience how do they stand up in general use?


You can fit sheet plastic foundation into wooden frames, which is the only way to go if you are on National, or get one piece frames which are both foundation and frame molded together, these are more or less exclusively Langstroth plus a few other odd sizes.

I'm trying them in a spirit of experimentation, I have read good reports of them and want to give them a try.
Thanks RT. I think thats the point I'm at. I like the idea of greater strength and (I'm guessing here) the ease of sterilizing them which seems to me to give a greater return for investment and better disease control. I'm also thinking that because the actual foundation is rigid that would be likely to cause the bees to draw better comb without kinks etc. Decisions, decisions!
 

Brosville 

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This rather worries me - it's all a continuation of our arrogance in thinking that "we know better than bees" in imposing upon them a size and regularity of structure that actually has little to do with what they'd choose to build naturally
Add to that the leechates from plastic, and the likelihood of it ending up in landfill for hundreds of years...........
Surely there must be a better way - that allows them to build what they need, to a size and design that suits them!
 

BDaddy 

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This rather worries me - it's all a continuation of our arrogance in thinking that "we know better than bees" in imposing upon them a size and regularity of structure that actually has little to do with what they'd choose to build naturally.

Surely there must be a better way - that allows them to build what they need, to a size and design that suits them!
Thats an interesting point. The counter argument with respect to "size" has to be that providing the foundation is moulded with an accurate base cell size there isnt an issue with imposition because the bees start with the size they would build naturally. In fact, given that using old comb has been proved to result in reduced adult bee size seems to me to be an argument for using plastic.
 

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You can fit sheet plastic foundation into wooden frames, which is the only way to go if you are on National.
I have a box of unused plastic foundation for national supers,maybe this year I should try some..
 

Brosville 

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"In fact, given that using old comb has been proved to result in reduced adult bee size seems to me to be an argument for using plastic" - exactly sums up my point about our arrogance - assuming that we "know better" than bees as to what is their/their comb's optimum size - could it not be that overlarge bees may be one of the reasons why they're suffering so many problems?
(I'm a firm believer in "small is beautiful" in many things)
My observations lead me to believe that given free rein the comb is not perfectly regular, and cell size varies thoughout the hive, according to it's use......
 

jezd 

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There is a thread buried somewhere that talks about a Australian commercial activity taking out all the plastic frames due zero take up be the bees.
 

Poly Hive 

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I have never used them, the plastic, though I know there are advocates.

Bees given foundation of a wax type can in fact and do make the cells what ever size they prefer.

Wax foundation is based literally on many measurements taken from worker comb.

Whether small bees as some so passionately claim can result in less varroa I rather have my doubts. Why? Because so far, as far as I am aware there are no scientifically based tests on this in Europe.

I will stick to my tried and tested wax foundation from KBS

PH
 

jezd 

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Doesnt the term 'draw out foundation' mean a little more than just building foundation, the bees actually take the wax base foundation sheet and draw it out as well as adding too it?

Maybe i got this wrong.

JD
 

BDaddy 

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My observations lead me to believe that given free rein the comb is not perfectly regular, and cell size varies thoughout the hive, according to it's use......
Whilst I take your point regarding leaving it up to the bees to decide how to draw their comb, in a natural enviorment, I'm not so sure that a beekeeper wanting some degree of regularity in drawn comb is arrogance. From a management perspective drawn comb with "lumps and bumps" is a lot less easy to "repurpose". Isn't this flexibility the whole point of movable frame hives?
 

Brosville 

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"wanting some degree of regularity in drawn comb" - well, I always try to put myself "in the other bloke's shoes", and in the case of bees, if I had some blessed human telling me how big he wanted my offspring to be, forced me into a cell size that was uniform throughout (rather than the comfy design and varied size my ancestors had developed over millions of years) I'd get the 'ump (bigtime!) - there he is, ordering us about - "nice straight lines, no variance in cell sizes allowed, and stand by your cells for inspection" - keep on opening the hive (that reeks of toxic placcy fumes) and peering in, having yelled "fire!", puffed burning cardboard fumes about the place and scared the living willies out of everybody - that's enough to put queenie off for life - all that nice essential heat and atmosphere lost every time he wants to satisfy some strange desire to control every aspect of our lives......... why doesn't he bog off and leave us to it?
Dunno what's worse, the wax foundation stuff that tastes of chemicals or the placcy ones that also taste of chemicals.................
Anthropomorphism can be most illuminating!
 
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mbc 

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"wanting some degree of regularity in drawn comb" - well, I always try to put myself "in the other bloke's shoes", and in the case of bees, if I had some blessed human telling me how big he wanted my offspring to be, forced me into a cell size that was uniform throughout (rather than the comfy design and varied size my ancestors had developed over millions of years) I'd get the 'ump (bigtime!) - there he is, ordering us about - "nice straight lines, no variance in cell sizes allowed, and stand by your cells for inspection" - keep on opening the hive (that reeks of toxic placcy fumes) and peering in, having yelled "fire!", puffed burning cardboard fumes about the place and scared the living willies out of everybody - that's enough to put queenie off for life - all that nice essential heat and atmosphere lost every time he wants to satisfy some strange desire to control every aspect of our lives......... why doesn't he bog off and leave us to it?
Dunno what's worse, the wax foundation stuff that tastes of chemicals or the placcy ones that also taste of chemicals.................
Anthropomorphism can be most illuminating!
marvelous post
 

Poly Hive 

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Yes bees can and do use some of the foundation wax to construct the cells.

Esp if the wax is thicker. One of the benefits of home made foundation.

PH
 

BDaddy 

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Thanks for the comments

Just a quick note to say thank you to everyone who took the time to offer an opinion. Given your advice & further research I've decided not to pursue the plastic frame/foundation option.
Cheers
BD
 

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