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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 frames—each consisting of two parts—and 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 use—no 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.

Advantages:

  • 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

Disadvantages:

  • The frames and lids are very expensive. Currently, one set (eight frames) runs about $60—a 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

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

Tim
Reply

Rusty, This question may be out of place, but this is the best place I could find to ask it. Do you have a preference in frames? I was wondering about using plastic frames for my honey supers this year. Thought it might make it easier to extract with a solid center.

Rusty
Reply

Tim,

I think frame type is just a personal matter. I got rid of all the plastic frames I had just because I like to rotate old comb out of my hives every three to five years and I can’t burn the plastic ones. To me they were just an annoyance.

The second reason is just that I don’t consider plastic to be “natural” and so now I don’t use any plastic in my hives if I can avoid it. I wire my wooden frames but go foundationless most of the time. The bees just build their comb right down over the wire, which adds a little strength.

However, those are just my hang-ups and other people think differently. Definitely plastic holds up well in an extractor, and the bees seem to draw it out with no problem. Plastic is probably better than foundation of unknown origin, because it has fewer pesticides. It’s all a give and take.

Seth
Reply

Where can I purchase these?

Rusty
Reply

Katie,

No. I do not sell anything.

Sean Govan
Reply

Rusty, have you ever used the Bee-o-pac system? Did it work for you? I am thinking about it for next year.

Rusty
Reply

Sean,

No, I have never used Bee-O-Pac, although I have seen them used and they looked good.

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