Wax or Plastic

Wax or plastic? The recurring question regarding foundations that I use when assembling my frames for the upcoming season. For those who have no idea what foundations or frames are. Every super (box) in a beehive holds removable frames that the bees build their combs on. Common practice is to insert a foundation into the frames to guide the bees were to make the comb and help keep the combs uniform and add strength. I have always been partial to wood frames and beeswax foundations. Most of the beeswax foundations in the U.S. are made from two manufacturers that source their wax from the domestic market. Making my own foundations with my own beeswax leaves me with a piece of mind. I know where my own beeswax has been compared to the alternative where it is hard to determine where it came from or what’s in it. All that being said. Last winter I went off the deep end and bought a foundation mill to make my own foundations. Most commercial apiaries shy away from this effort due to the reality that it is very labor-intensive, and time-consuming compared to the alternatives. Mainly being plastic frames, that for the most part are ready to use when they are taken out of the box. I typically make 1500 to 2000 frames every winter, this means I need an equal number of foundations. During the coldest parts of the winter, I can take a few weeks in my warm shop to make these foundations. This is something I now look forward to, for it is a lot of fun. And isn’t that part of the package one should seek while working for yourself? To find the nuggets here and there that solidify the idea that I am unemployable if I have enough bees to play with.

Above: My homemade beeswax foundations in a wooden frame. Below: plastic foundation in a wooden frame

My foundation mill. The simple tool embosses the hexagonal cell pattern on the sheets of beeswax.

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