Do Bees Like Plastic Frames?

Beekeepers can choose between two types of frames for their bees, those made using natural wood and those made using plastic. Wood has been used for making beehive frames for years, but advances in agriculture have led to using plastic frames. However, the real question is, do bees like plastic frames?

Bees do not prefer plastic frames, as they are not natural. Plastic frames are unusable without foundation, and bees will not draw comb on them if they do not have a foundation. Plastic frames cannot be boiled, so they can’t control diseases or pests.

There are many opinions and arguments about whether or not bees will like plastic frames as opposed to wooden ones, and every beekeeper has a different opinion. Let’s look at whether or not bees will like plastic frames and some advantages and disadvantages of these types of frames!

Is Plastic Frames Safe To Use For Bee Colonies?

Plastic frames are manufactured only from the highest quality food-grade materials. However, this would only be the case if you buy them directly from a trustworthy manufacturer.

The clear viewing ends of plastic frames and the honey caps and tubes are made from a virgin food-grade copolyester. Plastic frames are BPA-free and not manufactured with any bisphenol-S, including any of its compounds.

Plastic beekeeping frames have been tested, and it has been found that the frames are completely free of androgenic and estrogenic activity. The parts in the frame’s center are also made from virgin food-grade polypropylene, free of any bisphenol compounds.

They are accepted as one of the safest plastics for food contact, making them safe for bees. These plastics have been used for several years in beehives for both honeycombs and broods, and they do not have a negative impact on bee colonies.

Should You Use Plastic Frames For Your Bees?

Plastic frames are a modern invention, and many beekeepers use them, but bees do not necessarily like them. for your bees to respond positively and use the plastic frames, you will need to brush them with melted beeswax so that the bees can draw from them.

This is also why flow hive frames may not be as successful as wooden ones, as your bees don’t like plastic. They are forced to use the foundation instead of creating it as a natural and pure beeswax foundation.

Your bees are smarter than you think, and it will be difficult to trick them with plastic foundations. When given a choice, they will start working on the real wax 100% of the time. Other than this, plastic frames can be assembled quickly and can’t be damaged or destroyed by wax moths.

Consider The Pros And Cons Of Plastic Frames

When you’re deciding whether or not plastic frames are the right choice for your bees and your style of beekeeping, it will help to take note of the advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

  • Plastic frames are the more cost-effective option.

Plastic frames are generally bought with a light beeswax coating. This results in them being the lower-cost option when compared to buying and building kitset frames or purchasing wooden frames with a wax foundation sheet.

  • Plastic frames are manageable and lightweight.

Plastic frames are much lighter and easier to move around than wooden frames. They are mass-produced to a standard size and will always fit into your hive box easily.

  • Plastic frames are ready to use.

Upon purchase, plastic frames are often fully assembled, with a built-in plastic foundation. Depending on who you buy the frames from, some of them could also come sprayed with wax, encouraging your bees to build on them.

  • Plastic frames are durable.

Unlike wooden frames, plastic frames won’t rot or split and can last for several years when they are correctly maintained and looked after. They don’t have to be replaced or repaired as frequently as wooden frames.

  • Plastic frames lower the risk of pests.

Plastic frames can help to slow down the spread of invasive insects and pests in your hives. These insects might be able to burrow through wood and beeswax, but they won’t make their way through the plastic.

This means that when and if an invasion occurs in your hive, you’ll have enough time to detect and treat I before it harms your bee colony.

Disadvantages:

  • Plastic frames cannot be used without a foundation.

Although you could purchase plastic frames already provided with wax, this isn’t a guarantee. All plastic frames have to be treated with beeswax before you can use them in your hives. Bees will never draw comb on plastic frames without foundation.

  • Consider the environment.

Due to propolis and wax contaminating the plastic frames, you won’t be able to recycle your frames if they become damaged or destroyed.

  • Plastic is a non-traditional material for bees.

Plastic frames aren’t natural, and your bees may take some time to get used to them in their hive, especially if you have always used wooden frames.

  • Plastic frames cannot be repaired.

Although plastic frames are known to be durable and can last for years, when they become damaged, they cannot be repaired. Where most wooden frames can easily be repaired if they break or split, this is not the case with plastic frames.

However, plastic is tough, and if you look after them correctly, the chances of them becoming damaged are small.

  • Plastic frames are not an option for organic beekeeping.

The plastic used for manufacturing frames is not natural, and if you’re a beekeeper practicing natural or organic beekeeping methods, plastic frames are not suited for you.

  • Plastic frames cannot be boiled to harvest beeswax.

When plastic frames come into contact with extremely high temperatures, they will lose their shape and be deemed unusable.

Conclusion

How much your bees will like your plastic frames will depend on how you present it to them! Plastic frames will only entire bees and encourage them to build on it when enough wax foundation is provided. If you’re considering replacing your wooden frames with plastic, you must consider a few factors to determine whether it will be worth it for you and your bees!

Jaco Stander

My name is Jaco Stander. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development in South Africa. Registration number WC808. I live on a small holding where I keep my 16 beehives. Taking care of bees is a very rewarding feeling, contributing to keep our bee colonies growing and thriving, and as a bonus, enjoying that sweet pure raw honey!

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