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Wired Frames

Last year, I made a decision that I would not extract from Deep frames. Based on my strategy and set-up, Deep frames would always be for my bees. From that point forth, I stopped wiring my frames. It is important to note that I still used ‘wired foundation’, so they still had some fortification. Through hundreds of expections since then, I have not had one single incident where the drawn wax in a Deep frame fell out or otherwise came ‘unglued’ from the frame.

Towards the end of last year, I stopped wiring all of my frames. I wondered (on more than one occasion) if I was making a mistake. Perhaps I should do it on only one super and test it (in a honey extraction) first? But, removing the ‘wire step’ from my frame creation process increased the throughput so much that I took the risk. I have now extracted around 120 gallons of honey and no wax has blown out of any of my unwired frames. So, for this year, it is clear to me that I do not need to wire my honey super frames either. Again, all of these frames did have ‘wired foundation’, so perhaps (I thought) this was the real key.

Towards the end of last Winter (maybe Feb or so), I began to put simple strips of wax (unwired) foundation (maybe an inch deep) in my Deep frames. The benefit most folks talk about is ‘natural comb’. Without a sheet of foundation, they build purely natural comb with no chance of any foreign substances making it into the wax from the foundation (even foundation cannot be pure – it’s from beeswax, afterall.) The benefit for me was cost – foundation can be expensive. Using these little strips reduced the cost to a fraction of  the original and was pretty quick to do. The main cost was that I would need to be extra careful with these frames during the initial draw (before the wax was drawn across the frame.) It would easily ‘plop’ out. So, I marked each one. Although I did have a ‘near miss’ when I was inspecting and not paying attention to the frames, it all ended ok. The wax turned out of the frame like a page in a book and I uttered a curse word as I corrected it quickly. The wax hung nicely and I carefully put it back into the super. In the end, I was happy. This is working out well.

Finally, I had one last test. Michael Palmer, a beekeeper I really respect in the Northeast, frequently says he actually extracts from frames that never had foundation. No wiring, no wired foundation – nothing. I was skeptical, but this was the next logical test in my experiment. I put simple, 1 inch deep, strips of wax in a handful (maybe 30) of honey super frames (all Mediums, as I am no longer really building many Shallow frames.) This last weekend, I extracted from nearly all 30 of them. Not ONE SINGLE blow out! No wire at all! It could be my extractor (I have a simple 6 frame, radial extractor that I picked up from Dadant), but it doesn’t matter to me! I probably have a couple of hundred pounds of wired foundation in my basement, but once I get through that, I am unlikely to purchase much more of it (until or unless I have a negative experience with it, of course.)

The conclusion here is that you do not always have to use wired foundation and wire your frames. I think there are some kinds of extractors that are tougher on the frames (the ones that you have to turn the frames after a spin), but my frames are placed in the extractor with the top bar on the outside and the bottom bar on the inside. I do not have to turn them. Clearly, in this kind of setup, wiring is not a good use of time.

2 comments to Wired Frames

  • That’s good to hear. I use foundation less frames for my honey supers and have heard that they can be extracted.

  • They can certainly be extracted using my radial extractor, without a single problem.

    Of course, I’ve only run a bit less than 3 dozen such frames of this sort so far. Next year, I will be able to confirm this finding for sure (I should be running many more frames of this nature then.)

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