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Helen writes:
We have just started beekeeping this year. We inherited a hive that had wired wax foundations on the two deeps and one western [editor's note: I'm guessing this means a medium box]. The deeps are pretty full of brood and honey and the western is full of honey so we thought we’d try putting on a second western for honey. We put one on a couple of weeks ago. Since we are sharing work on the hive with a friend and he wanted to use plastic foundations covered with wax and we wanted to use just starter strips covered with wax, we did half of each. Unfortunately they’ve hardly touched either, only sealed around the edges with propolis. I had read someplace that sometimes spraying sugar water on helps, but it didn’t.

Is it possible to successfully introduce frames with starter strips in a hive that has wax foundation in some supers? If so, any thoughts on why the bees seem to be ignoring them? Or what to do to encourage them to start? They do go up and walk around on the starter strips, but they aren’t drawing any comb. We have another hive with just two deeps with wired wax foundations and the bees in that hive have been drawing comb like crazy, so it’s not a matter of not having sufficient nectar & pollen.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.


PS – My husband and I love your site. His favorite saying now it “Backwards is the new forwards!”

Kirk responds:

Well, it probably isn't the starter strips or the plastic foundation. It is probably the time of year. Bees like to draw comb on starter strips and to draw foundation when there is a flow. Also the bees have to "festoon" or hang on the starter strips to draw comb. This means bees—lots of young bees. So depending on what time of year and where you are located has a lot to do with it.

Also if you are up north or where it gets cold that honey is also INSULATION. So if you take the honey you can set them up to freeze and to starve. I have found bees draw comb if there is a flow.

Plastic: I have seen people use all kinds of tricks to try and get bees to draw out the plastic. If you just are a Backwards Beekeeper you will remove most of the confusion you are now experiencing. One other thing. All bees are Backwards the humans just confuse them.....also All Bees are created equal some just work harder than others.

kirkobeeo your pal