Comb honey foundation: yes or no?
When you plan to make comb honey, you must decide whether to use foundation. A decision for or against will have a bearing on the type of comb honey you make. If you are opposed to any amount of foundation whatsoever, you will probably need to stick with cut combs, chunk honey, or Bee-O-Pacs. If you are okay with beeswax-coated plastic, you can add Hogg Half Combs to your list. If you are willing to use foundation starter strips, you can add squares, rounds, and glass jars to your options.
Comb Honey Type
|Basswood sections (square)||Thin surplus (full sheet or starter strip)|
|Romanov sections (square)||Thin surplus starter strip|
|Ross Rounds (round)||Thin surplus (full sheet or starter strip)|
|Hogg Half Combs||Sprayed embossed plastic|
|Chunk honey||None necessary|
|Glass jar||Thin surplus starter strip|
|Cut comb||None necessary|
Purchased foundation, made from recycled beeswax, is known to harbor a variety of pesticides. Along with the pesticide are adjuvants such as solvents, emulsifiers, stickers, and spreaders. These adjuvants are added to the pesticide to increase its effectiveness, but they are often poisonous as well.
Together, the pesticides and adjuvants are lipophilic, meaning they will readily dissolve in fats, oils, lipids, and non-polar solvents, which is why beeswax is perfect for harboring these chemicals.
You can think of it this way: oily substances dissolve into oily substances, and non-oily substances dissolve into non-oily ones. This simple fact means your beeswax may contain lots of pesticide, while your honey has virtually none.
So-called thin surplus foundation is made especially for comb honey. It is thinner than regular foundation and it is usually made solely from wax cappings. As such, it probably has fewer contaminants than thicker or older wax, but it is not contaminant free.
Another issue with foundation is its texture. Some people feel that even thin surplus is too chewy for comb honey; others think it is entirely acceptable. Recently, something called “comb honey foundation” has come on the market. Oddly, it is thicker than thin surplus, so I don’t recommend it for comb honey. It is supposed to be easier to handle because it is thicker, but thicker defeats the purpose of thin foundation.
As you can see, there are many issues and many choices. All of the systems work, but it is up to each individual beekeeper to decide what is best for him.