BetterComb is a completely drawn comb made of food-grade, virgin, synthetic wax, similar in composition to beeswax. Unlike regular foundation, BetterComb does not need to be drawn out by the bees. When installed into a deep frame (not included), the frame is ready for the bees to use. BetterComb provide bees instant access to space for brood or nectar without needing time and resources to draw out comb.
There are several advantages to using drawn comb over standard foundation. BetterComb can significantly benefit both packages and nucleus colonies. When packages are first installed in a hive, they must draw out comb before raising brood. By allowing immediate egg laying, BetterComb encourages rapid brood production, which increases the colony’s productivity. Similarly, when nucleus colonies are first installed in their hives, the bees may begin storing nectar in the brood nest of the nuc, as it may be the only space available. If the brood area becomes plugged with nectar, the colony’s swarming impulse can be triggered. BetterComb gives bees built-out space to expand.
BetterComb is sold in 10 packs of comb similar to a 10-pack of foundation. It needs to be installed into a groove top wooden frame. The combs are 17" by 8" to fit Betterbee deep frames. Please note other manufacturers' frames may vary, however it is possible to cut BetterComb with a knife to reduce the size if needed. Combs can be embedded into fully wired frames, or pressed and pinned into frames. The wired frames are most versatile and can be used in hot climates as well and with honey. Pinned frames should only be used in cool climates, and in locations where bees will use primarily for brood. Instructions for both methods are included, but parts and tools are not included. Our specially designed embedding device is available here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is BetterComb made from?
BetterComb is produced from synthetic wax similar in chemical composition to beeswax. The wax is a mixture of ingredients synthesized from mineral and plant sources, and contains no animal fats or byproducts.
Is it safe?
Yes. BetterComb is produced in accordance with FDA requirements for food contact and is produced in an ISO 22000-certified facility. All ingredients are food or pharmaceutical grade, and do not include any toxic or harmful ingredients.
How do bees use BetterComb?
Bees use BetterComb as they use any other comb once they become acquainted with it. Queens will lay eggs and raise brood in the BetterComb, and workers will store pollen and nectar in it. Bees will repair and adjust the comb just as they do with real comb.
Can I mix it with other frames?
Yes. There are certain configurations that work best when mixing with other frames. Alternating frames is not recommended. See photos in instructions for additional information.
Can I extract the frames?
BetterComb frames are fragile unless assembled with wires. We do not recommend extracting the frames unless the combs are installed into fully wired frames. This item does not include parts needed for wiring.
What do I do with the wax at end of life?
At the end of a frame’s useful life, the combs can be melted down. The resulting wax can be used for candles, but is not beeswax. We have found the BetterComb wax and mixtures with beeswax make excellent candles.
BetterComb can be pressed into a frame and pinned with toothpicks, or it can be installed into wired frames. Wired frames perform best in most conditions, especially in hot climates, and also whenever the frames may contains honey or will be extracted. To install the combs into wired frames, first wire the frames completely (4 wires for deeps, 2 for mediums). It is important that the wires are anchored with a separate nail on each end, thereby forming an open circuit. It is also important that the wire is well tensioned, as they will loosen when heated. Use eyelets to prevent the wire from digging into the wood. Select a high quality tinned wire, such as our 27 gauge tinned steel frame wire. Once the frame is wired, place a piece of comb on a support shim. place the wired frame over the comb with the wires resting on the comb. Touch the ends of the wires to a 12 volt power source, and gently press down until the heated wires reach the central layer of the comb. Remove from the power, and allow to cool. Before getting started, watch this video for full details of the process.
Details on power source: a DC or AC power supply can be used. Generally 12 volts provides the appropriate amount of heat to embed the wires into the combs. The amount of power or amperage required depends on the length and diameter of the wire used. We have found that between 6 and 12 amps are required at 12 volts when using 27 gauge steel wire. A car battery works well to provide this much amperage. Certain battery chargers or other power supplies may also work if they are rated to provide this much current. A typical small power supply such as a 12V "power brick" used to power electronics will not work as these usually provide less than 1 amp of current. A bench power supply or large car battery charger may work.
BetterComb is produced for Betterbee by Hexacells in Hungary.