Unless you are a beekeeper you are probably asking yourself right now, “What is Wax Foundation?” and “Why Do I Care?”
Wax foundation is a thin sheet of beeswax that is embossed with the hexagonal shape that the bees naturally form for their honeycomb. The wax foundation is placed in a rectangular wooden frame with two wires across the horizontal center that holds the wax foundation in place.
The bees “draw out the comb” by adding wax on top of the foundation to create hexagonal cells, which is where they store honey and pollen as well as where the queen lays her eggs (in separate cells!)
Organic foundation is important because most beeswax foundation is contaminated from the use of toxic chemicals used by beekeepers in the hives to treat disease. The chemicals remain in the wax, which is processed into wax foundation.
Most beekeepers purchase this commercial foundation for use in their hives. Organic standards allow plastic foundation dipped in organic beeswax, but some organic beekeepers (like Volcano Island Honey Co. and Hawaiian Queen Company!) feel strongly that plastic should not be used in bee hives.
We produce raw, organic honey and have a commitment to nonviolent and non toxic methods to harvest honey, and in all aspects of production. We believe that organic wax foundation provides the basis for healthier, stronger bee hives, thereby increasing honey and queen production. Strong, healthy bees mean that trees and plants are pollinated which increases the agricultural productivity of orchard crops and maintains the health of non-native and native forest.
Making beeswax foundation in a small-scale farm setting is a lost art, there are not many people who know how to do it as the process has been industrialized in developed countries. The fact that it is not possible to purchase organic foundation means that making your own is a necessity for apiaries who do not want to use plastic foundation.
The process of making foundation is not complicated, but it does require time and patience. The only piece of specialized equipment required is an embossing mill. The embossing rollers come in both 4.9 mm and 5.1 mm sizes.
Volcano Island Honey Co. partnered with Michael Krones of Hawaiian Queen Company on the project, and we were fortunate to receive a grant from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education to help us purchase equipment and develop and spread knowledge about the lost art of foundation making.
Posted by Andrea Dean