I’ve mentioned in previous posts that we have added new frames into our hive this year and the bees haven’t used them. I know that it takes a lot of effort to build out a frame into honeycomb so it doesn’t always happen. In the bee club meeting this week, different folks talked about putting wax onto new frames as a way to get bees to use the new frames. So it seems that other beekeepers have this same problem and there is a solution.
Wanting to learn more, I did some internet research on the topic. I have learned that some beekeepers use wax frames which are molded wax and some use plastic frames that have a light coating of wax. The frames we’ve purchased are the plastic frames with a light coating of wax. Many beekeepers add wax to these frames to help with bee adoption of the frame. Here are the ways of adding wax to the plastic frames that I found on YouTube:
Dipping into wax: Georgia Beekeeper, John Pluta, dips the plastic frames into wax, which gives them a thick coating. This looks like the fastest and easiest way to do it, but you have to have a lot of melted wax for this to work. He had 30 pounds of wax that he heated to 175 degrees Fahrenheit with special equipment sized to accommodate that volume of wax. So, if you have a lot of frames to coat and a lot of wax, this method would be the fastest.
Paint Roller method: BeekeeperDevon shows how he uses a paint roller to coat his
frames with a bucket full of melted wax. This looks more viable to me as it wouldn’t require as much melted wax as the previous method. The roller, however, looks like it would cool down quickly, rolling out cooled wax that doesn’t stick very well. Though you can see that he did get quite a bit of wax on the frames. This looks like a method I will try.
Paint Brush method: David Burns of honeybeesonline.com uses a paint brush to put the wax on the frames. In this video, the wax was too hot and didn’t lay a very thick coat on the frame. David mentioned that the wax needed to cool down a bit for best application. I will try this one too.
Both the paint roller and paint brush methods required much less wax to start with so I’ll try both and see which one works best for us.
Other things I learned from my research:
- Use bees wax.
- Be careful to make sure the wax isn’t too hot when you put it on the frame as you can warp the frame if the wax is too hot.
- Use a dedicated pan or electric skillet to heat the wax. That way, when you are done, the wax can just cool in the pan and the next time you need to do this again, you just heat up the same pan.
- It takes 8 pounds of honey to make 1 pound of wax. This means you save honey and bee effort by adding more wax to these frames.
- Be a wax miser, save all your wax for reuse including the cappings from your honey comb as you are harvesting the honey.
- Use your lighter colored wax for candles and your darker wax for coating your plastic frames.
Dave and I are ready to harvest our honey and will get wax back from that exercise. We will be cleaning this wax and using some of this wax to coat the new frames that we have added to our hive that the bees haven’t yet started using. There are so many things to learn about beekeeping, this is a journey with lots of learnings along the way.
Best to all, Sheri