How tender is your comb honey?
The very best comb honey is melt-in-your-mouth tender with minimal chewiness. The honey itself should be front and center, while the comb should be a pleasant addition to the texture, not a tasteless wad.
When I first began making comb honey, I used the extra-thin surplus foundation that is designed for this purpose. But even that is impossibly thick compared to what the bees can build themselves. I now use starter strips instead, cut just wide enough to attach to the frame and extend about 1/8-inch into the comb building area. The small strip tells the bees to “build here” and, much to my continued amazement, they do just that.
I use strips in all my comb honey supers, including Kelley squares, Ross Rounds, Nick’s supers, Eco Bee Box frames, and ordinary shallows. I still use the thin-surplus foundation, but I lay a sheet on a cutting board and, using a ruler and a Rotary Cutter (the kind used for quilting), I cut the sheets into strips.
The foundation is easiest to work when it’s about room temperature, ± 70° F. In case I have trouble getting a strip to stay in place, I keep a small pan of melted beeswax close by. A dribble here or there inside the slot works wonders, especially since the strips are so light.
The photos below were both taken from the same honeycomb. The first photo shows the midline of the comb that contains the starter strip made of thin surplus foundation. You can see that the wax looks thick and chewy. For the second photo I cut the comb below the starter strip. You can see that the midline—where foundation would normally be—is about the same thickness as the cell walls. This makes a very tender comb.
*This post contains an affiliate link.