The Role of Bee Foundation

Start with a strong foundation! Find out why beekeepers and bees prefer bee foundation products by Mann Lake. Sheets of beeswax or plastic foundation embossed with a honeycomb pattern are placed in each frame to serve as a base for the bees to make honeycomb. We recommend using our best-selling waxed Rite-Cell foundation.

Before you choose a bee foundation, it’s important to understand what this product does and how it can benefit your hive.

As a beekeeper, fostering a safe, happy place is the most important step in honey creation. This post will lay the foundation (no pun intended!) for how you can set up your brood for success as the bees build their comb.

What is Bee Foundation?

Simply put, the foundation is made from either pressed wax, plastic, or both. They’re created in a hexagonal shape and installed within the frames for your bees to build on.

Most people use plastic or wood frames. Wood frames are a more natural option, while plastic frames have beneficial properties that make them desirable for beekeepers. Research shows that plastic frames won’t rot and have the foundation already inserted in the frame.

The plastic foundation typically comes with a layer of beeswax to encourage the bees to start creating their honeycomb. Wax foundations are the more natural option in this regard, but in our experience, honey bees have no issue starting their work on either one of these options.

Benefits of Using Plastic or Beeswax Foundation

Some beekeepers prefer to let their honey bees build their comb naturally without any interference or support.

Here are a few of the benefits of using bee foundation for your hives:

  • Combs are sturdy, durable, and can hold a large brood to make honey.
  • Provides a guided template for each bee to do their work.
  • It can be much easier for a beekeeper to extract the honey from the foundation.

Do you Need Bee Foundation?

Every beekeeper is different; some opt to let the bees do their work the way nature intended, without interference from anyone or anything, including foundations and frames.

Going foundationless means you won’t install any - you guessed it - foundations, so the hive can build its comb any way they like. This allows the brood to choose the cell size they want for their honeycomb, rather than following the size and shape of the templated foundations.

Research shows that plastic foundations layered in beeswax coming from larger commercial bee operations often contain pesticides and other chemicals that can be harmful to each bee, particularly early on in the process. This is one reason some believe that installing only frames is the best choice.

It’s important to remember that beekeeping is a personal experience; you learn as you go. You’ll make mistakes and learn from your experiences, so be open to the possibility of changing your strategy as time passes, and you gain knowledge from your own research.

What is the Best Foundation for Bees?

Traditional foundation is made from beeswax, but plastic foundation is becoming popular among beekeepers of all skill levels.

We recommend using our best-selling waxed Rite-Cell foundation. This type of foundation is plastic and has a deeper acceptance rate than other brands. It is easily inserted into an assembled frame and offers defined, structured cells for honey production.

Once the honey is extracted, the plastic foundation is easy to re-install and use repeatedly, making it a cost-effective and more sustainable choice for beekeeping.

Shop Bee Foundation Frames & More with Mann Lake

At Mann Lake, we strive to offer the best quality products for the beekeeping community, along with the resources and education to empower you to build a happy hive.

We carry waxed and unwaxed foundations, assembled frames, embedding tools, and all the accessories you’ll need to create a stable environment for your bees to build their comb and thrive as a hive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rite-Cell® foundation is a plastic foundation with the cell structure embedded into the plastic. It requires no pinning or reinforcement of any kind and can be easily inserted into an assembled frame with grooved top and bottom bars. The cell structure is deeper and has better acceptance rates than other brands do. The cells of our plastic foundations are more defined and textured, which we have found to be more appealing to the bees. A pure beeswax foundation requires time-consuming reinforcement and is often prone to wax-moth damage and chew-down by the bees. With Rite-Cell®, if wax moths enter and damage your hive, one would only need to scrape off the damage and reinsert the frames into the hive.

The bees are attracted to the scent of the beeswax that is sprayed on the waxed Rite-Cell®, and they tend to draw it out quicker than the unwaxed does. Unwaxed is generally purchased by commercial beekeepers because of the cost savings associated with buying in larger volumes. Bees will draw out the unwaxed; it usually just takes a little longer.

Assembled frames with Perma-Dent Foundation are wax-coated for use in your beehives. These are made in Hackensack, Minnesota, and are BPA/BPS-free! It features a precision cell shape and offers an excellent place for your bees to start building a comb. Perma-Dent comes with the bottom corners of the foundation already cut to form communication holes. Bees like to crawl through them on their way from one frame to another. This medium brood foundation was designed with our customers in mind! This bee foundation has glued and stapled frames, resulting in a top-quality product that can’t be beat! Assembled frames are shipped to you with our economical Perma-Dent Foundation already inserted, so all that’s left for you to do is install them in your boxes.