How to Get Bees to Draw Out Plastic Foundation

Title: How to Get Bees to Draw Out Plastic Foundation: A Comprehensive Guide

Plastic foundation has gained popularity among beekeepers for its durability and ease of use. However, getting bees to draw out comb on plastic foundation can be challenging. In this article, we will explore effective strategies to encourage bees to draw out plastic foundation, along with five interesting facts about bees. Additionally, we will address thirteen common questions to provide a comprehensive understanding of this topic.

Getting Bees to Draw Out Plastic Foundation:
1. Ensure Proper Placement: Place plastic foundation frames between drawn-out frames or frames with beeswax foundation. This encourages bees to extend comb from the existing structure.

2. Using a Nectar Flow: Introduce plastic foundation frames during a nectar flow when bees are highly motivated to build comb. The abundance of nectar encourages bees to draw out comb quickly.

3. Apply Beeswax Coating: To attract bees to plastic foundation, consider applying a thin layer of beeswax using a heat gun or dipping the foundation in melted beeswax. This provides a familiar scent, enticing bees to accept the plastic foundation.

4. Essential Oil Stimulus: Apply a few drops of essential oils like lemongrass or spearmint on the plastic foundation. These oils mimic the pheromones released the queen, attracting bees to the foundation.

5. Reverse the Hive: In late spring or early summer, reverse the hive moving the brood chamber above the honey supers. This stimulates bees to build comb and encourages them to draw out plastic foundation.

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Interesting Facts about Bees:
1. Bees are Hard Workers: A single honeybee can visit up to 2,000 flowers in a day, contributing to the vital process of pollination.

2. The Bee Dance: Bees communicate the location of nectar sources through a unique dance known as the waggle dance. This dance provides precise information about the direction and distance to the food source.

3. Beehive Air Conditioning: Bees have an efficient cooling system in their hives. They fan their wings to create air circulation, ensuring the hive maintains an optimal temperature.

4. The Queen Bee: The queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day, ensuring the colony’s growth and survival.

5. Busy Bees: Bees maintain a strict work schedule. They start their day early and work until late afternoon, with some foragers collecting nectar even after sunset.

Common Questions about Bees Drawing Out Plastic Foundation:

1. Why do bees sometimes avoid drawing out comb on plastic foundation?
Bees may avoid plastic foundation due to its lack of natural texture and scent, making it less appealing for comb-building.

2. Can bees draw out comb on all types of plastic foundation?
Bees can draw out comb on most types of plastic foundation, including wax-coated or textured versions.

3. How long does it usually take for bees to draw out comb on plastic foundation?
The time required for bees to draw out comb on plastic foundation varies depending on factors like the nectar flow, colony strength, and environmental conditions. It can take a few weeks to a couple of months.

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4. Is there any specific temperature range required for bees to draw out comb on plastic foundation?
Bees are most active and productive in temperatures between 60-100°F (15-38°C). However, they can still draw out comb on plastic foundation outside this range, albeit at a slower pace.

5. How often should I replace plastic foundation frames?
Plastic foundation frames generally last for several years. However, regular inspection for signs of damage or wear is crucial. Replace frames if they become warped, cracked, or brittle.

6. Can I reuse plastic foundation frames?
Yes, plastic foundation frames can be reused, but they should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected before reinserting them into the hive to prevent disease transmission.

7. Should I provide extra support for plastic foundation frames?
Plastic foundation frames are usually sturdy enough and do not require additional support. However, using wire or support pins can provide extra stability if needed.

8. How can I encourage bees to build straight comb on plastic foundation?
Proper spacing between frames and maintaining a level hive help ensure bees build straight comb. Regular inspections will allow you to correct any deviations early on.

9. Can I mix plastic and beeswax foundation in the same hive?
Yes, it is possible to mix plastic and beeswax foundation frames in the same hive. This allows bees to draw out comb on both types of foundation, offering versatility and ease of management.

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10. Can I use plastic foundation exclusively in my hives?
Yes, plastic foundation can be used exclusively. However, it is essential to monitor comb development regularly and provide proper guidance to ensure straight and well-drawn comb.

11. Are there any disadvantages to using plastic foundation?
Some beekeepers argue that plastic foundation lacks the natural scent and texture of beeswax, potentially affecting bees’ acceptance and comb-building behavior.

12. Can I encourage bees to draw out plastic foundation in a top-bar hive?
While it is possible for bees to draw out plastic foundation in a top-bar hive, beeswax foundation or starter strips are generally more commonly used.

13. How can I prevent bees from attaching the plastic foundation to the sides of the hive?
To prevent bees from attaching plastic foundation to the hive walls, ensure proper spacing between the frames and scrape off any unwanted attachments during regular inspections.

Encouraging bees to draw out plastic foundation requires careful planning and consideration. By following the strategies mentioned above and understanding the unique characteristics of bees, beekeepers can successfully utilize plastic foundation in their hives. Remember to monitor comb development regularly and adapt your approach as needed to maintain healthy and productive colonies.

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