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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palestine, Tx. 75801
    Posts
    485

    Post

    I'm ashamed to admit that my home built solar wax melter didn't work for me. I followed the plans, put 3/4-inch double faced styrofoam on all of interior walls, and bottom; used foil tape on the inside corners, used a stove pipe flattened out for the bottom, and bent up the sides. I then painted the interior white, and the exterior black. I put a double pane insulated window to cover the melter. I used 3/4inch foam tape around the top that the window sets on. What have I done wrong?
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,953

    Post

    You forgot to put it outside facing the sun with cappings or old comb in it !
    Mine is made out of plain old pine, painted white all over, single pane, no insulation, and I melt about 100 lbs a year in it, not including the honey. And this the cool SFBA.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palestine, Tx. 75801
    Posts
    485

    Post

    The old comb is in the melter through all of June. Just some yellow stuff ran into the pan. Do you think the foam insulation needs to come out?
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    ...double pane insulated window to cover the melter..
    Could that be the problem?? The insulated window?? My melter works great up here in Anchorage when it's in the 60ΒΊ's, sunny and calm. Mine is made with half inch plywood, painted flat black outside and insulated with 1-inch thick styrofoam. My 2 pieces of 'glass' are actually clear plastic spaced a half inch or so apart. They work, but I don't recommend anyone else using plastic as they have, over time, sagged a little. Still very serviceable, though. Next time, if there happens to be one, I'll use glass and probably just one pane at that.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Plano, North Texas
    Posts
    318

    Post

    "Just some yellow stuff ran into the pan."

    Yellow stuff sounds like melted wax to me. I slammed together a box from 1/2" ply that was laying around. No paint. No insulation. Used a single sheet of lexan on a simple frame of cedar for the top. The top could be tighter, but it works like gangbusters. The only thing I'd change is to make it shallower - the bottom pan is too low/cool and the wax piles up in stalagmites. When the wax is all down in my catch pan, I just put it up on top of the melter pan for an hour or so and it melts down into a layer floating on the water.


    Here are a couple of photos of the Wax Melter and of my new hives. The bit of yellow stuff you can see at the edge of the melter pan is wax that didn't drip down into the catch pan below.
    Bee Photos
    "Before I speak, I have something I'd like to say. . . . I will try to keep this short as long as I can." Yogi Berra

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    CANDIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE
    Posts
    76

    Post

    Nice pics! I have a question, though. Can the bees see you inh the camo. If you get stung less I'll have to try it.

    Brian

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    Hey Rooter Man, Just a thought but if you're using old brood comb there may not be much wax lsft in em. Try something that you know has wax in it like a new comb. Or a bar of wax or something. If it doesn't work, try a different kind of glass.

    Good Luck,

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jenison, MI
    Posts
    1,514

    Post

    I'd try pulling the insulation and paint the inside black, or at least paint the inside black. Most of the heat should be generated by the light entering in through the pane, and white will reflect it back out instead of absorbing it and converting it to heat like black will.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    CANDIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE
    Posts
    76

    Post

    I'll bet you're using low-e glass. That stuff filters out most of the uv radiation therefore, no heat. Try changing your glass to the cheap stuff and it will crank.

    Brian

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    West Newton, Pa.
    Posts
    915

    Post

    I painted all the inside surfaces of mine flat black and it works great. If the inside is painted white it won't absorb much sunlight. If the outside is painted black it will absorb the sunlight and heat up, but the heat can't get to the inside because of the insulation in the walls.
    Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    I layed a comb on top of a hive the other day and forgot it and it melted just fine without a double pane of glass, or even a single pane of glass.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palestine, Tx. 75801
    Posts
    485

    Post

    Old brood comb is probably the answer. That's what I can't melt. It has wax moth worms aplenty, with lots of web. The yellow stuff was melted wax. It was hard when I tried to adjust the wife's panty hose over the plastic catch box this morning. I looked at Tx Ashurst pictures, so I moved my metal pan closer to the top, and replaced the insulated glass with a single pane glass. When it was 98-degrees this afternoon, there was just about 3-drops that melted. I bet it is the old brood wax. I'm glad I didn't chunk it. I did buy a crock pot to replace the wife's so I could star melting. Thanks All
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palestine, Tx. 75801
    Posts
    485

    Post

    I also forgot to mention, I dumped a whole five gallon bucket at one time into the melter. Does that make any difference?
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,953

    Post

    My melter can handle five gallons of cappings on a good day.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palestine, Tx. 75801
    Posts
    485

    Post

    odfrank, that is good to no. I have a good melter, just old wax that I got from old brood frames from another deceased beekeeper who I didn't know. I have 2-more buckets to melt, some of it is my burr comb, and most of it is more of the same. I guess I will get what I can, and have to wait until I get a little further along with my hobby.
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    Hey Rooter, don't forget to compost your old coccoons. I mean what left after you get what wax you can out of the brood comb. That's some healthy stuff for your garden/potting soil.

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palestine, Tx. 75801
    Posts
    485

    Post

    Thank You. I had no idea what i was going to do with the stuff. I was just going to take it into the woods, and chunk it.
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Post

    Hi Guys,

    Could it be that, in Texas, a solar melter doesn't melt wax, it vaporized it! :&gt)))

    If the comb is really old, it won't have very much beeswax left in it. Those combs can be very heavy, but most of the weight will be in cocoon silk, propolis, resins, etc. What small amount of beeswax remaining in the comb, is easy absorbed by the other material, especially pollen. It can be removed by chemical extraction, but is out of reach for the melting/boiling methods.

    When I kept thousands of hives, I once rendered a few thousand old frames using steam. The bee business had an old melter that hadn't been used in a long time, so I fired it up.

    Most of those frames were over 30 years old. It was a long, messy, hot day, moving lots of frames. At the end of the day, I had less than 30lbs of chocolate colored beeswax for my effort and a very big mess to clean up and haul to the dump. That's why most commercial beekeepers incorporate old comb with melter slumgum and ship it to a commercial wax renderer if one is close enough. Or they just pitch them if transportation costs are too high. I never used the melter again! :&gt

    Your solar melter design sounds great. I would suggest putting in a few pieces of new comb or maybe a chunk of beeswax in it as a test.

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    Just some yellow stuff ran into the pan
    I went back and reread the posts. Sounds as though it's working. As some have pointed out OLD DARK combs don't have much wax to give up. In fact, if they are set in the melter in their frames, they will still look like comb at the end of the day with only a trickling of wax in the catch pan. Some sources mention to paint the outside black and the inside white, other sources mention to paint the entire unit black. As far as color goes, odfrank mentioned his is all white and he's out there on the coast.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    waco, tx
    Posts
    528

    Post

    The guy that spoke to our bee club tonight said he did a thermometer test once on inside temps between 2 melters; one painted white inside & black outside; other all black. Said the white inside was 10 degrees F hotter than the all black one.

    Lew

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