Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen...

If this picture from last year is bearding, what is the pic below? Werewolfing? I have noticed that my second hive beards like crazy, with bees covering the entire front of the hive bodies (the white supers are just concealing a feeder jar). I wonder if this is common among Italian bees?

This hive was started with four frames and a caged queen. They are on plastic foundation, and were not drawing it out very quickly or very well when they had only one box. Before I added the second hive body, I coated the plastic frames with beeswax and they drew that box out in no time flat. They got so strong that I took off the hive top feeder and am just using a feeder jar. My other hive, although healthy, is much weaker than these guys. Of course, I am not feeding the other hive, but I have not removed my only honey super yet either. I fear that this hive may swarm early next year.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Plastic frames

Earlier this year, I purchased a whole bunch of Pierco plastic frames. I bought 40 black deep frames for the brood chamber and 40 white medium sized frames for my honey supers. I was very much attracted to the "no assembly required" benefit of plastic frames. These frames also have a slightly lower price and the bees do not seem to propolize them as much as wooden frames. Furthermore, they resist wax moth damage to the frame itself.

The only draw back of plastic frames is that bees just don't seem to want to draw comb on them as readily as bees wax frames. Last year my hive drew a medium super of plastic frames pretty easily, but I was feeding them very heavily with a hive top feeder when they were drawing comb on these frames. This year, my second hive is all on plastic frames, but they did not seem to want to draw them out. When they did draw comb, it was shallow and not what I consider to be quality drawn comb.

Although plastic frames are advertised as "beeswax coated", I could sneeze more beeswax on them then what they come from the factory with. I had read in various bee magazines and heard from other beekeepers that coating plastic frames with beeswax will entice the bees to draw them out much better. I tried this, and boy did it work. The frames I had coated in beeswax were drawn out quickly, and the comb looks like the kind of high quality comb you see drawn on frames with bees wax foundation.

Below is a pic of a deep frame before and after being coated with beeswax. Keep in mind that the frame on top was advertised as "beeswax coated". I like Pierco frames, but I criticize them for the scant amount of bees wax in which they put on these frames. I would even be willing to pay for these frames if they came with a decent amount of beeswax on them.

If you are having trouble with plastic frames, purchase some beeswax that you know is disease free, melt it down, and spread it on your plastic frames with a paint brush. Your bees will draw it out much better.