Alexa and I went to Bee School last night, and heard a talk on the challenges of beekeeping by Ken Warchol, who is the Worcester County Apiary Inspector. The talk was all about everything that can go bad during the year from varroa mites to chalkbrood and other calamities like having your hives destroyed by bears.
One interesting thing of note was his talk on using plastic frames vs. using traditional wood frames. The typical knock against plastic frames is that the bees are slower to ‘accept’ them, and thus tend to take their time drawing out the frames which in turn delays or inhibits brood rearing and thus colony strength.
He stated that he was working with UMass and the USDA both with many hives, and that UMass used wooden frames/wax foundation and that the USDA had decided on using plastic frames/foundation. It turned out that the UMass frames were pretty much completely drawn by the end of May, and at the end of August, the USDA hives were still not fully drawn out. That’s a pretty stark contrast between the two, and admittedly there can be other factors involved, but it doesn’t bode well for my upcoming experimentation with plastic frames in the new hive!