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The Classroom

The Classroom – April 2017

- April 1, 2017 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)


I have some Jewish customers who would like to have me produce kosher comb honey for them. They don’t want me to use any foundation since they don’t know where that came from, but want me to get the bees to build everything from scratch. What is the best way to do this without creating a big mess with burrcomb everywhere? I have read about putting a narrow strip of wax foundation in the top of the frame and letting the bees build down from there. Is this the best option or is there a better way? Thanks for all the time you put into bees.

Marlin High
Myerstown, PA


Hello Marlin. Sounds like a good opportunity. I can kind of understand their concern about the origin of the “foundation” but, and there is always a but, thin surplus or cut comb foundation is only made from ‘cappings wax’ which is the newest and purest of beeswax.  If they want chunk comb honey and they totally refuse pure cappings wax thin surplus or cut comb foundation, then using a small strip of starter thin surplus or cut comb foundation is one of the only options.

If they might want comb honey, but not chunk then there is the Hogg Half Comb where the bees build the comb in a container themselves, but only one side of the comb or as the name says Half Comb. Google it.

Then there is the Ross Round system of course, but that requires foundation. Without the consistency available by using foundation, it makes it a bit tougher. Explain to them what comb foundation is and where it comes from as they may simply not know. Kosher rules may prescribe certain production techniques, however. The customer is always right.

Top-bar and Warré Hive beekeepers (frameless beekeeping) produce comb honey without foundation on a routine basis and often report excellent results with good honey flows. The resulting comb honey is then cut to size and packaged for the customer.


If I wanted to keep my bees in a building, what is the ideal humidity for the bees in my bee room?

Dick Laumeyer


This is from the European COLOSS manual Dick.


6.3.1. Honey bee intra-hive relative humidity requirements

Humidity within a colony can also be influenced by honey bees, albeit to a lesser extent than temperature (Human et al., 2006). Similar to temperature, relative humidity can differ among areas of a colony (Human et al., 2006), but also fluctuate substantially because of breathing events that exchange stale air at optimal humidity with air at ambient humidity (Southwick and Moritz, 1987). Relative humidity within honey bee colonies (among frames and not within capped brood cells) is typically between 50 and 80% (Human et al., 2006; V. Dietemann, pers. comm.), and when given a choice between a range of relative humidities (i.e. 24, 40, 55, 75, and 90%), honey bees showed a preference for 75% (Ellis et al., 2008). The OECD (1998) recommends relative humidity to be between 50-70% for laboratory testing of acute oral toxicity of chemicals.

The paragraph below comes from the 2015 edition of The Hive and the Honey Bee (Dadant & Sons, Inc.) in Chapter 21 on “Wintering Management of Honey Bee Colonies” by Currie, Spivak and Reuter:

“Honey bee colonies can tolerate a wide range of humidity and it is usually not tightly regulated in wintering buildings.   Optimal levels of humidity for indoor wintering have not been established and there is considerable variation in terms of what range of relative humidity should be recommended.  It is generally thought that ”low” humidity increases the potential for feed granulation and can result in starvation of bees or that it can impair brood rearing, whereas ‘high’ humidity is thought to cause problems with mold growth, cause water to condense inside the hives and drip on the winter cluster, cause ice formation on cooling and ventilation equipment and/or …