Right now in the US there are two comb honey systems that include embossed plastic foundation in a plastic tray. You put these plastic trays in a honey super and the bees build their comb right on the base of it. Once filled, the beekeeper only needs to add a lid and a label.
Previously I wrote about the Bee-O-Pac system. A similar system, Hogg half-comb cassettes, actually disappeared from the market following the death of John A. Hogg, the inventor of the system. But recently the patent was sold to Herman Danenhower of Pennsylvania and the once-popular equipment will soon be available through BetterBee.com.
So what is a half-comb cassette? The cassettes are plastic units, called trays, that interlock to form columns. The columns are pre-assembled and fit into a modified comb honey super. The supers are available for both ten- and eight-frame hives. Altogether, a ten-frame super holds four columns of ten trays each, for a total of 40 trays. An eight-frame super holds four columns of eight trays each, for a total of 32 trays. A complete set of columns is purchased as a unit called a “superpack.”
The base of each polystyrene tray is pre-stamped with a hexagonal pattern that is coated with unbleached beeswax—a system that gets the bees started without additional foundation. The trays are designed to allow proper bee space on all sides.
The name “half-comb” comes from the fact that the bees build just one layer of cells against the embossed foundation. So instead of your comb honey having two layers of cells with a scaffolding of wax between them, these have just one layer of cells. If you have trouble visualizing this, just think of a frame with plastic foundation. The bees build one layer of cells on each side of the plastic, so each side holds half of the completed comb. Since the Hogg cassettes are embossed only on the inside of the tray, the bees build only half a comb.
The half-comb aspect is one reason that consumers like these sections. Because there is no mid layer of beeswax, there is less wax per bite. People describe this type of comb honey as very light and delicate without the chewiness that is often associated with more waxy combs.
I have not used these myself, but beekeepers report that the system is easy to use, and once the sections are full, they are a snap to prepare for market. You just scrape the bottom of the completed super, pull out the trays one-by-one, add a lid, a label, and you’re done. The beekeeper does not touch the comb at any point.
With a strong colony and good timing, bees can easily fill every tray. The completed sections sell well for several reasons: the packaging is clean and neat, the product is completely visible, and the unit is small enough that the price can be moderate. These are attractive features, especially for first-time comb honey purchasers.
On the other hand, the cassettes must be continually replaced and they are expensive. Natural beekeepers may object to both the plastic and the sprayed beeswax coating. And although polystyrene is considered food-safe, it is non-biodegradable. When tossed in a landfill, it will persist for hundreds of years.
If you wash and sterilize them could they be reused? Say I offered a 50 cent discount for returning your old container. I wish there was somewhere I could go see one up close. The idea looks pretty neat.
At betterbee.com is a photo of the empty frame including of a single tray, and some more info including some videos.
I’ve wondered this, as well…
After watching videos on Hogg half-comb the simplest way is a strong hive. Put half comb on top of two brood boxes; when honey flow is strong when 60% full put on another super? Is that correct? t/k Stan
Basically, that is correct. For more information on how to manage your bees for Hogg cassettes or other sections, see this post: How to manage bees for section honey.
I would like to buy the half-comb cassettes. How do I do it???
Go to BetterBee.com.
does anyone know where i can buy commercial quantities of hogg half comb
You asked this on May 26 via email and I answered you on May 26 via email. Here’s a cut-and-paste:
Thank you rusty. I missed your email [mailbox was full]
and I have just received the information here. I have contacted them direct. thanks again.
I used the Hogg half comb this year. The flows were weak until later in our season. I still filled a few supers and they are sold out.
The trick is a strong colony but set up using one of the methods for producing comb honey. To learn how to do the technique use the juniper split. It’s demonstrated by comb honey producer Henry danenhower of kutztown Pennsylvania. He has written articles in the journals on comb honey production. He now holds the rights to the Hogg half comb cassette. I would recommend this to people trying to produce comb honey.
Lastly, you may look at the cost as prohibitive. Don’t and here’s why. By the time you assemble the frames and place foundation in the traditional method you’ve spent an hour or more for one super. Then using the traditional method you have to cut the comb, let it drain, then package. This could take a day or two draining the honey. And the container boxes are about a dollar a piece.
Lastly you have to do this every year. Using the Hogg half comb is as simple as loading the cassettes installing springs to keep it from moving around and waiting for the bees to complete. Disassemble the cassettes, snap the lid on and label it. I’ve left cutting the comb nonsense even though it works also.
Lastly, if the cassettes don’t ( finish ) leave it out to get robbed and store it away for next year. You can’t do this with traditional comb honey frames because the next year they get really chewy. The Hogg half comb doesn’t get chewy so your money and labor isn’t wasted.
I used the original wood version of this several years ago.
It’s a very unique product. Great for fruit stand sales.
I think this will come back strong in this age of au natural.
I’m going to try this new system and I will post my success or failure here.
Good Beeing everyone!
I saw a woodend version online as well, but how do you package this system? I want to do this 1/2 cassette honey comb system, but don’t like the idea of throw-away plastic long term.W would love to hear of your success with a wooden substitute or other 🙂
Jeff, How did the Hogg cassettes work out? I was in an increase and rebuild year so I did not get to comb honey this year. I would be interested in your input..
I didn’t get a chance to use them this year. Maybe next season.
What is the going rate for comb honey using the Hogg cassette?
I don’t know. Does anyone else?
Can and where can I buy them in Australia? I would love to try them?
Does anyone know?
Have you had any luck in buying in Australia?
BetterBee controls distribution, gotta ask them where, maybe become the retailer in Australia yourself….?!
The 12oz cassette sells for $14 plus shipping. The cassette costs about $2.50 with shipping and label.
Sorry but I wrote a few weeks ago about the price for labels for the cassettes I do not believe I have seen a reply.
My address is Montpelier, Montpelier Avenue, Clapham Hill, Whitstable. CT5 3DQ. England
You need to contact someone who sells them. I don’t sell anything.
Is there a distributor for “Hogg half cassettes” in Sydney Australia? Or where would be my nearest distributor?
You are not the first Aussie to ask me this. Unfortunately, the only distributor I know is Betterbee in the US.
I live in Melbourne Australia and am also keen to try this out. Any luck in finding a distributor in Oz?
I haven’t heard of any.
I was wondering what the dimensions of the containers were? The website doesn’t give any information other than a kit. If anyone could let me know. Wanting to make sure my boxes would work or not.
I don’t have any. Does anyone know?
The Kit comes in 8 frame and 10 frame 32 or 40 cassettes. I would call better to confirm it is for Lang.. So the box come with the Kit. Also can order the refill cassettes.
https://www.betterbee.com/comb-honey/hogg-halfcomb-system.asp For exact dimensions.
“The Hogg Halfcomb comb honey system incorporates 40 cassettes (32 cassettes in 8 frame equipment) into a single super pack and fits into a 4-3/4 inch comb honey super. ”
If I don’t mistake the IP is expired now.
Why people don’t produce it in large quantities and cheap?
They are available here: https://www.betterbee.com/hogg-halfcomb-system/hhcs-hogg-halfcomb-super.asp?mkwid=&pcrid=409843175975&pkw=&pmt=&pdv=c&gclid=Cj0KCQjw0pfzBRCOARIsANi0g0sTJLnWKuUb8SHCmQDRNXNunMMl3M5EPKsoibyz9mA9GIcwBVqq56AaAlqOEALw_wcB
I would like to try the Hogg Halfcomb comb honey system. How much are the refills?
Hope you are keeping well and enjoying the start of another spring buildup for your bees.
I’ve been impressed with the Dr. John A Hogg ‘half comb’ system that you speak about on your webpage and am hoping you knew where I’d be able to purchase these for a 10 frame super, please?
I’ve been a hobby beekeeper for 38 years. I’ve been mentored by my father-in-law who in turn was mentored by Ormaond & Harry Aebi, of California. I live in Adelaide, South Australia now and just starting up again with 8 hives.
I would appreciate any contacts or suppliers who you think could help me.
– Cobblers creek honey SA
You can get them here: https://www.betterbee.com/comb-honey/hogg-halfcomb-system.asp
Are the Hogg half-comb cassettes distributed in Australia?
I appreciate your input on the environmental impact of using the plastic cassettes that are non-biodegradable. I am confused on what an environmentally friendly alternative could be. Cut comb is mostly sold in plastic containers as well. Do you have any opinion on which method of packaging honeycomb is least impactful on the environment?
Thanks in advance,
Kelley sections are made of wood and the sales boxes are made of cardboard. They do have a plastic window, but overall, they use way less plastic. You can buy them at Mann Lake.
Do I need to use an executor using the half-comb system? I have had little luck getting the cassettes to completely fill, many are half-filled and capped, very frustrated. I see the result that people are getting and wonder what I am doing wrong. My hives are very healthy, but my cassettes won’t fill up Please advise if you have any pointers for me. I am using the half comp system with adding the second box once the lower box is 60%. Is that supposed to be 60% capped or 60% filled.
Lost and need anybody’s input.
Thanks, Lone Pony Ranch Honey Products SW Florida
An executor might not fit! (Sorry). I think 60% fill on the first super is a bit early to add the next one. It means that the bees still have plenty of places to work, and they may decide to work closer to the brood area as long as there is room. I like to wait until the first box is about 80% full (but not necessarily capped) before I add another.
Yes, it’s frustrating because your bees will work where they want to work, rather than where you want them to work. You could try reversing those two supers to see what happens. If that still doesn’t work, you can try putting your excluder above the half-comb super but below the regular super. That might encourage them to fill the lower one first.