Last time we did the hive check we decided to add a second “super”, which is bee lingo for another box. We did this because we noticed there was a lot of activity and normally at this time of year the colony expands rapidly.
This week when we did our inspection we were very disappointed to find that not all that much had transpired in one month time. What’s up? Either the Birdhouse Bees are laid back or they don’t like the cardboard starter strips. Thus, we took out all the frames the girls were not using and replaced them with the new ones which have beeswax coated wood starter strips, instead of cardboard.
The reason Backwards Beekeepers use starter strips is so that the bees will “draw” their own comb. Most beekeepers, especially the industrial beekeepers, use what is termed “foundation” for the bees to build upon. Most foundation is made from beeswax, but, there is also plastic foundation. True organic honey and beeswax is from beehives which do not use foundation, a secret I learned recently from John Lingle.
This is how we went about making our starter strips. First we picked up some balsa wood strips at a craft store (paint stirrers from the hardware store also work well.) Greg cut the wood to fit the width of our frames, we then used a waterproof wood glue to glue the wood in place. Once the glue was dry I melted down some of the beeswax I use for my solid natural perfumes and painted the wood. Although the photo is of cardboard not wood, I recommend wood.
I gently melt my wax in a small ceramic pot over a very low flame so as not the overheat the delicate matter. I have a dedicated paint brush which I only use for the starter strips. I make sure to cover the entire piece of wood as will as any cracks and holes in the frames. This can help prevent moth and beetle larvae.
Here is my mentor, Kirk, making them in this video below.