Comb honey: Bee-O-Pac system
The Bee-O-Pac system was designed, in part, to answer the consumer demand for smaller sections. Section honey is expensive, but market research showed that many purchasers of extracted honey would try comb honey if they could buy it in a smaller unit. The sections in the Bee-O-Pac system measure about 3¾” x 2½” x 1″ and weigh about 4 ounces. In comparison, a standard wooden section box is 4″ x 4″ x 2″ and may weigh a pound or more.
A set of Bee-O-Pacs consists of 8 molded-plastic frameseach consisting of two partsand a set of plastic lids. The beekeeper assembles the frames by snapping two parts together, back to back. These frames fit into a standard medium super. The super is then ready to useno wax foundation is necessary.
Because bees often do not completely fill frames that face the sides of the box, some beekeepers assemble only seven frames. The eighth frames is left in two parts, and placed at the outer edges of the box with the embossed sides facing the center. This yields better acceptance by the bees.
Each side of the plastic frame comprises 8 embossed sections, for a total of 16 sections per frame or 128 sections per super. Completely filled, a medium super can supply approximately 32 pounds of section honey. Currently, these sell for around $3 per section or $384 per super.
After the bees have drawn out the frames, the beekeeper carefully detaches the two halves of the frame that were snapped together. The individual sections are then separated, covered with a lid, and labeled. Sections can then be frozen overnight to guard against wax moths.
- Other than the frames and lids, no specialized equipment is needed
- No foundation is required
- No special supers are required
- No additional boxes, trays, or wrapping are needed for marketing
- The frames and lids are very expensive. Currently, one set (eight frames) runs about $60a very high price for one-use molded plastic (essentially a reshaped soda pop bottle)
- Although the plastic is food grade PET, many people do not like food stored in plastic because of the potential for plasticizers or other chemicals to leach into it
- Great care must be taken when separating the sections so that the comb does not become damaged
- Some beekeepers find reluctant acceptance by the bees and resort to preparing the frames by spraying them with sugar syrup or painting them with melted beeswax