Lots of commercial beekeepers are using plastic foundation instead of wax foundation. Because plastic foundation is stronger and less likely to break during honey extraction. Bees will generally only draw or build comb on pre-waxed plastic foundation when there is a honey flow on or if they are being fed sugar. This is because bees prefer to build comb on natural beeswax and will only draw comb on plastic as a last resort.
In beekeeping, there are two types of foundation commonly used which are plastic foundations and wax foundations. Those two foundations have their own pros and cons. Wax foundation can be used with wired frames or without. However, plastic foundations are popular for beekeepers who have a larger scale operation like a honey business. Therefore, plastic foundation is the main topic in this blog.
What is a plastic foundation?
Plastic foundation is made of food grad HIPS. Compared to wax foundation, plastic foundation is a good alternative since they have some similar functions. Plastic foundation has different colors due to every bee supply manufacturer having their own preferred color of the foundation sheet. You may see black, yellow, red or other colors of plastic foundations, but they will not make many differences when used. Before you get plastic foundations, please make sure to get the plastic foundation of your preferred color and cell size.
The advantages of plastic foundation
Plastic foundation has some pros:
- Plastic foundations are stronger than wax foundations.
- Plastic foundations do not melt in warm temperatures or break easily during honey extraction.
- Plastic foundations are rigid and can maintain their shape for a long time.
- Plastic foundations are resistant to pests.
- Plastic foundations make it easier to manage a cross comb.
- Plastic foundation sheets available in different colors. For example, the black foundation can help beekeepers see eggs and larvae of honeybees easily. White plastic foundation can help to make stored honey easily seen.
- As plastic foundation sheets are bought from the various sellers, they are usually brand new. It means that new plastic foundation sheets have not been used in other beehives. This ensures that they have not been contaminated.
Do we need to Pre wax plastic foundation sheet and why?
Different beekeepers may have different perspectives on whether to wax plastic foundation sheets or not. But most of the time, it is better to know wax plastic foundation sheets ahead in case you need to do it the other day.
Coating plastic foundation with beeswax has several benefits in beekeeping:
- Encourages natural comb building: Bees are more likely to build natural-looking comb on a wax-coated plastic foundation, which can help to improve the health of the colony.
- Facilitates scent marking: Bees use scent marking to communicate and orient themselves within the hive, and wax-coated plastic foundations can help to facilitate this process.
- Increases acceptance by the colony: Bees are more likely to accept and use a wax-coated plastic foundation, as it more closely resembles the natural wax they would use to build comb.
- Improves insulation: The wax coating can help to insulate the comb and regulate the temperature within the hive, which is essential for the health and survival of the colony.
Overall, coating plastic foundation with beeswax can help to improve the health and productivity of a bee colony, making it a valuable addition to any beekeeper’s toolkit.
How to wax plastic foundation sheets?
You can melt the beeswax in a skillet and apply the wax on a plastic foundation using a paint roller.
Another way is to boil the wax and water in a deep stainless steel bucket. Then quickly insert the plastic foundation into the liquid and quickly withdraw. In this way, the surface of the plastic foundation will be coated with a layer of beeswax