Plastic Foundation Review

We were working with a customer today to fit frames with foundation, and thought it would be useful to have a post showing different brands of foundation. We have been going foundationless lately in the middle bar frame, but when we use foundation, we like the plastic kind that has been sprayed with beeswax. All of the types discussed today are plastic coated with beeswax. There are other manufacturers of foundation out there, but these are the ones we have experience with.

We prefer white foundation because we can see the color of the honey in the comb. We also can more easily see how dark the comb is in order to rotate out the darkest combs. Culling dark combs prevents several bee diseases. Some beekeepers prefer black, as it makes it easier to see eggs and larvae in the cells. This is important to do as well, but we’ve learned to do it on most white foundations.

We don’t think the color matters to the bees, so it is based on beekeeper preference. The foundation you will see here is white, but most of it also comes in black.



Permadent foundation is the one we use most. Permadent comes with the bottom corners of the foundation already cut to form communication holes. Bees like to crawl through them on their way from one frame to another. It is a nice feature to have this done for you.

Permadent is slightly more flexible than some brands, which makes it easier to snap into the frame or trim slightly if there is some obstruction on the frame that causes the fit to be too tight (for example, a stray staple).

Permadent comes in white or black.

Permadent’s white-colored plastic frame is not as white as the bee egg. This slight tonal difference makes it easy enough to see eggs on white foundation.

Permadent’s cell size is exactly 5.4mm, which is large cell.

Permadent foundation is 100% made in the USA. Only occasionally will they have to buy some of the sprayed-on beeswax coating from Canada.

They have one of the best prices per sheet of foundation in the industry.

Permadent does not have a website, but their phone number in South Dakota can be found on line.

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Dadant’s Plasticell foundation is comes in yellow or black.

The thickness and flexibility is about the same as permadent. If you want communication holes at the bottom of the frame, you’ll have to cut them yourself.

The consistency of sprayed-on beeswax with Dadant’s is the most uniform, thin, consistent spray. The plastic is injection-molded, and precise.

The cell size on Dadant foundation is 5.4 mm.

Dadant has a website and ships within 7 business days.

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Pierco’s customer service is great. They were able to come through with foundation when all others were out of stock. Pierco’s cell size is closer to 5.3 mm, which makes it the smallest of the large-cell worker foundation, which is good. It comes in black and white.

Pierco’s coating of beeswax on the plastic is the most liberal, which may or may not make any difference to the bees. Notice the darker stripe of wax on the middle of the foundation below.

Only one dislike with the Pierco white foundation is that the white is exactly the same white as eggs, making it very difficult to see eggs.

You will need to cut your own communication holes and it is slightly more rigid than Permadent or Dadant.


Mann Lake

Mann Lake’s Rite Cellis thicker, more rigid, and slightly heavier than other brands of foundation. This can make a difference in a truckload, but probably won’t matter so much in one box.

The communication holes in Mann Lake foundation are perforated. You can use the foundation without them, but if you’d like the communication holes, you will need to snap off the corners. It is thicker foundation than all other types, which makes it more difficult to snap off the corners, and we usually end up cutting them anyway.

It has 8 filled in hexagons on one side because these are the plastic injection sites. The bees don’t care about these filled-in parts. Injection molding is generally more expensive than roll pressing, which can be reflected in pricing.

The embossed hexagons on the sheet of plastic are deeper from the rim to the base of each cell than other manufacturers. This may cause difficulty with grooved bottom and grooved top bar frames if the groove is not wide enough (1/8″). If you choose this foundation, be sure it fits in your desired frames.

Mann Lake’s website is the easiest to navigate and search, and they offer free shipping on orders over $100.


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Mann Lake Medium

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Some other brands worth checking out include Acorn Foundations, Brushy Mountain (foundation made in the USA), Betterbee, etc.

Posted in the Honey Company and tagged , , , .


    • Perma-Dent Foundations does not have a website. When we need to contact them, we do a Google search, then call. They are located in Webster, South Dakota.

  1. What kind of plastic are they made of? Food grade is not an answer.
    How hot can you get them?
    Solar melter?
    Steam melter?
    Who has small cell?

  2. I am dusting off a hive that hasn’t been used in 4-5 yrs. the hive didn’t survive a harsh winter. There is a few frames of empty cells that weren’t used. Can I keep them when I install the nuc or let them start their own cells?

    • You can reuse old beekeeping equipment, as long as the hive did not die from American Foulbrood. (This is uncommon, and you would have smelled some very foul smells in the hive to diagnose it, and seen gummy, slimy larvae. Foulbrood spores can survive in wooden equipment, and we recommend burning infected equipment.)

      Here is a video Stan made a few years ago about cleaning up dead hives.

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