I have seen some bad reviews of plastic foundation lately on some other blogs and feel the need to put my two cents in. Earlier this spring I pulled and photographed some frames from some dead-outs to show the building results on different types of foundation as well as on foundation-less frames.
First I will show wax foundation. The bees built well on this. They provided themselves nice worker sized brood comb. They also made pass-throughs on the edges of the comb as well as a hole in the center. I have seen this configuration in several cutouts. They will provide themselves passageways through the comb. I would make the assertion that this must be more natural than using plastic since they have no way of constructing pass-throughs.
Next we will look at a couple of frames that had Duragilt foundation placed within them. One thing that I LIKE about this foundation are the holes in the bottom corners. The bees seem to like to go around and through the combs. These holes allow for this on a limited basis.
I am not sure what cues them to build wacky comb on this stuff but when they do it is a disaster. When they decide to build well on it they make it look beautiful. One problem that has been noticed is that even when they do build “well” they sometimes pull wax out beyond the dimensions of the frame. This causes a problem across the box as one frame will be pulled out quite far and the next will be so shallow that the queen refuses to place eggs within the cells.
I will not rip this foundation apart. I have seen some good results from it, but I have also seen some VERY bad ones LIKE THESE TWO!!!!.
One thing that I DON’T like about this foundation is that sometimes the bees will removed the wax from it. Once the plastic is exposed they will NOT build on it anymore. I have about 200 sheets of this stuff that was given to me for shallow frames. I intend to use it in honey supers at least until I run out.
Lastly I will show a drawn out foundation-less frame. Now I will mention that this frame was not drawn out as completely and as nicely as the Duragilt. The pictured frame was one close to the outside of the box. It seems to have been built with a lot of drone comb. Since I was using combs from dead-outs I am showing what was available.
Perhaps this is a clue to the colonies demise.
One last side note. I have noticed a repeated occurrence with DEEP foundation-less frames. When I have supered in the traditional way I have had trouble getting bees to build well. It appears that they attempt to build up from the bottom. Ultimately they abandon the effort and leave what is displayed in the
accompanying photo. When they are UNDER supered (nadired) bees will build comb in their normal fashion.
I have seen video on The Bee Vlog showing foundation-less MEDIUM frames that were built well using the traditional supering method. I don’t know if something was done to prevent the problems I have experienced or if Bill’s bee are just smarter than mine. Next year I will super a couple of the hives with empty MEDIUM foundation-less frames to see what happens. I have seen multiple posts on bee forums where Michael Bush has stated he has no problem with foundation-less frames. He also advocates the use of all mediums. It would be something to think about if this is in-fact true.
What do you think? What foundation are you currently using? Do you like it or are you thinking of changing to something else? Leave me feedback in the comments section.