Sale/Quality of foundation

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Bluebell1985 

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Very keen to begin my beekeeping journey next year I have acquired, what I believe, are all of the essentials with the exception of foundation.

When it comes to foundation I have a few questions (apologies if they have been answered a million times already).

1) are there vast or noticeable differences in quality? I see a few marked premium and it had me wondering.

2) does this item feature in the sales? The few sales I've looked at this far didn't include foundation. If so are there particular retailers that I should hold out for?

3) should I purchase more than required, does it carry a shelf life?

Many thanks and replies are much appreciated.
 

Swarm 

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Foundation doesn't feature in sales, unfortunately. You can store it but I find it's not around for long so yes, get enough to cover any eventualities.
 

Boston Bees 

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Very keen to begin my beekeeping journey next year I have acquired, what I believe, are all of the essentials with the exception of foundation.

When it comes to foundation I have a few questions (apologies if they have been answered a million times already).

1) are there vast or noticeable differences in quality? I see a few marked premium and it had me wondering.

2) does this item feature in the sales? The few sales I've looked at this far didn't include foundation. If so are there particular retailers that I should hold out for?

3) should I purchase more than required, does it carry a shelf life?

Many thanks and replies are much appreciated.
Welcome!

Personally, I wouldn't buy foundation now for use next spring/summer. It does store OK, but it can dry out a bit if you aren't careful, which makes the bees less keen to use it. There are ways to avoid this of course, but I'd be waiting until early next year to order some personally.

I have seen foundation in some sales, certainly, so there is likely to be an opportunity to buy some over the winter.
 

Erichalfbee 

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There is an advantage to buying in bulk. Maisemore and I’m sure others do decent discounts. You might think you will never get through a hundred sheets but you will and it keeps wrapped and laid flat. Maybe share a purchase with others?
Don’t buy anything really cheap from China.
 

madasafish 

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I am happily using three year old fondant, wrapped and stored in a cool garage.
 

ericbeaumont 

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vast or noticeable differences in quality?
purchase more than required, does it carry a shelf life?
Beeswax has been recycled endlessy by UK beekeepers and contains traces of every chemical put into hives to combat varroa for the last thirty years.

Beeswax from other parts of the world may be cut with paraffin wax and othe oddities: I bought some UK foundation two years ago and it shattered even when warm in high summer.

KBS is regarded as the best foundation you can buy; the website confirms the use of good quality cappings, which will be free from chemical impurities.

If you wish to avoid the long-term use of commercial foundation, buy enough to produce a box of combs next spring, then alternate those with frames with starter strips or a bead of wax.

The bees will draw comb and eventually you can remove the foundation frames and be reliant on clean wax produced by bees. Initial foundation combs will be drawn flat and will determine the width of the interspersed foundationless frames.

Buy 100 each of brood and super; you'll need them.
 

Beebe 

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Somehow it's escalated to seven.
Buy a small pack of best quality, wired foundation and a couple of packs of best quality, thin, unwired foundation. Use the unwired as starter strips for foundationless frames and place frames with wired foundation between them.

PS. See above for a better explanation. :)
 

hemo 

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Best foundation is none or use a starter strip of 1-2cm (or melt wax along the top) and let the bees draw out natural comb, it is all I do now and for brood frames I use 30lb fishing line to add strength during the comb building.
 

Bluebell1985 

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Beeswax has been recycled endlessy by UK beekeepers and contains traces of every chemical put into hives to combat varroa for the last thirty years.

Beeswax from other parts of the world may be cut with paraffin wax and othe oddities: I bought some UK foundation two years ago and it shattered even when warm in high summer.

KBS is regarded as the best foundation you can buy; the website confirms the use of good quality cappings, which will be free from chemical impurities.

If you wish to avoid the long-term use of commercial foundation, buy enough to produce a box of combs next spring, then alternate those with frames with starter strips or a bead of wax.

The bees will draw comb and eventually you can remove the foundation frames and be reliant on clean wax produced by bees. Initial foundation combs will be drawn flat and will determine the width of the interspersed foundationless frames.

Buy 100 each of brood and super; you'll need them.
Thanks very much for this very informed post.
 

Bluebell1985 

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Best foundation is none or use a starter strip of 1-2cm (or melt wax along the top) and let the bees draw out natural comb, it is all I do now and for brood frames I use 30lb fishing line to add strength during the comb building.
Educate me here. In your opinion, what makes foundation-less frames better?
 

Erichalfbee 

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Educate me here. In your opinion, what makes foundation-less frames better?
There is nothing there that the bees haven’t put in themselves.
Must be better for the bees
Ask @pargyle whether he thinks it’s made any difference to his colonies’ varroa levels.
 

gmonag 

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Educate me here. In your opinion, what makes foundation-less frames better?
1. It is cheaper!
2. The bees can draw whatever comb they want.
3. Drawing comb without foundation is more natural - the bees work at the lower edge of the comb, unlike on foundation, where they work on the face.
4. I find the bees usually draw foundationless comb quicker than foundation.
5. No chance of contaminated wax.
 

hemo 

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One will find the bees tend to make more drone cells, but it is what they want so working with the bees. It doesn't mean they want to swarm more, the boys in their own way add harmony to the colony. If you have good bees and good Q genes then one if possible might want to influence the local drone population with your own so more drones can be good.
Other wise it has all been said, but the main thing is lack of residues from other sources in the wax.

If say using a very small starter strip just buy unwired thin shallow foundation.
Slice it in 1.5cm strips with a craft knife.
 

Ian123 

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1. It is cheaper!
2. The bees can draw whatever comb they want.
3. Drawing comb without foundation is more natural - the bees work at the lower edge of the comb, unlike on foundation, where they work on the face.
4. I find the bees usually draw foundationless comb quicker than foundation.
5. No chance of contaminated wax.
1.Yes starter strips/foundation less is cheaper, in regard to cut comb though I find full sheets always produce more finished complete frames so are a benefit
2. Give the bees a sheet of foundation and I’ll guarantee they’ll still draw exactly what they want! They more than happily turn my worker cells into drone when they feel like it. 😂
3. Bees happily produce wax on the face it’s called cappings and yes it’s natural!! Comb or cappings there’s no evidence to suggest any is better.
4. In roughly 40 years of keeping bees if I add a box of starter strips it takes the bees longer to draw than a box of foundation. If nothing else they use wax in the sheet to extend the cells rather than having to produce themselves. Secondly an entire box of strips creates a gap from the bottom box. It takes a well rammed box to make that jump quickly, foundation acts as a bridge and is readily used.
5. As to contaminated wax it’s a food product there’s standards and tests, is there an example of uk contaminated wax that’s proven to be a hazard.

There’s nothing wrong with starter strips/foundationless or even foundation, I’m rather fond of a nice bit of comb honey without a midriff. Let’s not make up storeys though!!
 

Ian123 

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If say using a very small starter strip just buy unwired thin shallow foundation.
Slice it in 1.5cm strips with a craft knife.
You can cut into thin strips but you can also cut on the diagonal top to bottom corner, although only getting 2 sheets from 1 they are readily used and in fairness more complete frames. Just FYI. Ian
 

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It is not a good idea to use all foundationless frames in a box at the same time. They should be placed alternately with drawn frames (or foundation if you are just starting out and don't have any), otherwise the bees will get creative with the comb!
 

ericbeaumont 

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just buy unwired thin shallow foundation.
Purest unwired foundation can be had from National Bee Supplies.

Wax is sourced from rural Ethiopia, to the West of the Great Rift Valley, and the assay results revealed zero contaminants.

Trouble is, sheets are at least twice as thick as necessary, so after going to all that trouble it's far from ideal as edible comb foundation.
 

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