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Wonky Comb?

Rolling "Extra" Bee's Wax on Plastic Foundation

By: Dodie Stillman

President - Austin Area Beekeepers Association

Master Beekeeper - Texas Beekeepers Association Director

Have you seen your Girls do this?

From these photos, it's apparent that sometimes honey bees do not like building on the plastic foundation that most beekeepers like to use.

If you want to make sure your next frames have honeycomb built ON the foundation and not bridged out OFF of it, take the extra step to melt and add bee’s wax to your plastic foundation.

This is something you want to do close to the time you are putting the frames in the hive. You want them to be covered with soft wax that still smells fresh.

First, some safety tips about melting wax:

-Never leave melting wax on a burner

  • Use electric heat, never an open flame (a used crock pot works great!)
  • Beeswax melts between 144°F to 147°F (62 to 64°C).
  • If beeswax is heated above 185°F (85°C) discoloration occurs.
  • The flash point of beeswax is 400°F (204.4°C).
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  • The wax is hot and can burn if spilled on your skin.

Supplies you will need:

  • An old used crock pot that will only be used for melting wax
  • Water, a couple of cups
  • Foundation to be coated
  • A foam roller
  • Beeswax – approximately 1 pound of wax for 10 frames. The more coats you use, the more wax you’ll need

Notes: Find a used crock pot at a second-hand store. After you use it to melt wax, you can’t use it for food anymore. Spend the extra money to get a foam roller with a plastic insert instead of the cardboard… it won’t soak up extra wax, and it will last longer!

You can use old brood comb or dirty wax, but try not to use wax that has been in a hive that was previously treated. If purchasing your wax, avoid buying “over the Internet” (source unknown). Instead, find a local beekeeper or bee supply store to get pure bees’ wax.

 Steps

  1. Start with your foundation already in the frame so you don’t have to bend it to put it in the frame after it’s been coated with wax.
  2. Add the cup of water and the wax to your Crockpot.
  3. After your wax has melted, turn your crock pot down to the low or warm setting.
  4. Dip your roller.

  1. Carefully roll your roller up and down your foundation.

  1. Let this dry and harden, you will notice the light color of the wax.

  1. Dip and roll on more wax, repeat as needed till you have built up a nice layer of wax. Don’t worry about filling in the pattern in the foundation, the bees can and will move this wax around till it suits them!

  1. Use a straight edge to scrape off any wax that might have ended up on the frame edges.
  1. Place in hives while still fresh ... within a few days or a week for the BEST results!

This is a great project for the family and friends that are interested in beekeeping. Plus, a great way to use old wax cappings!

By: Dodie Stillman

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