Adding Wax To Plasticell Frames

I've noticed that when I give a frame of plastic/wax coated foundation (plasticell) to a hive, if they do not drawn it out the first time it's given to them, they seem to ignore it thereafter.

For example, I gave a new undrawn super of plasticell foundation to a hive at the middle of last summer.

The nectar flow was on heavily and they were filling up all my drawn supers so quickly I thought I might get them to draw out a new one before the flow stopped.

As it turned out, the flow stopped and they did not draw out the frames. They walked on the frames, dirtied the frames and maybe even removed small amounts of wax for use elsewhere in the hive.

Here's an example frame. If held just right, you can see they are a dull white (lack of wax) or maybe a tinge brown (from the dirt on the bees feet).

If I were to give them back these frames this year, they most likely would not draw them out, in my humble experience.

In the video below, I've melted some bees wax from last year's harvest and used a foam brush to apply a light coat of new wax to the frames.

Here's what the same frame looks like with new wax applied.

In a couple of areas, I allowed too much wax to drip from the brush and it filled in the bottom of the cells. I'm sure the bees won't mind to move the wax around to where it's needed.

Have you noticed the same thing with your plasticell (if you're using plasticell) if they don't draw out the frame the first time you give it to the bees? Am I just crazy or have ultra-lazy bees?

Update: On 7/7/2014 I posted an update which showed the bees did draw out the frames and use them, which is great news!

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Comments For This Post: (4) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Rick says...
Date:   April 6, 2014, 1:20 pm

I've had the same experience, so I always wax my new plasticell foundation, even though I purchase it pre-waxed (has a nice base coat that way). I do it exactly like you show. I use an inexpensive mini crockpot dedicated for this purpose and it's ready to go once the wax melts. I recently talked with a more experienced beekeeper in my local association who also does it this way except that he adds one more step which I will try this year. He adds 1 tsp of Honey Bee Healthy to a quart of 1:1 cane sugar syrup in a spray bottle and lightly coats the wax. Perhaps the bees like the minty smell, but at any rate my friend swears by this. He also says this is great for introducing package bees or a swarm to a new hive. I have no problem with these steps since I'm not commercial, and enjoy working with my small number of hives.

John says...
Date:   April 21, 2015, 2:49 pm

What if you don't have any wax from the previous year?

shawn says...
Date:   May 15, 2015, 10:35 pm

I found my bees would use the plasticell as a starting point of a bridge. They would start on the frame, build the comb off into bee space and then either back to the frame, or connected to the next frame. Sort of forced me to have comb honey last year.

Wayne says...
Date:   March 21, 2016, 2:19 pm

I use wax in cake form and just rub it all over the foundation both sides before I snap it in the frames. It is a little thicker than putting it on melted. 

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