wax foundation embossing machine
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  1. #1
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    Default wax foundation embossing machine

    I'm wondering how useful these are vs. foundationless frames. I'm ditching the plastic frames for now and going foundationless. When I get to the point that comb needs rotated out, I'm wondering if making my own foundation and "gluing" it in with wax will be worth the cost of the embosser and time invested. Any opinions?
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Heather, I had thought the same thing and looked into the cost of the embosser and the labor involved with dipping the board to make the blanks etc. Way too labor intensive for the hobbyist beekeeper. I am going foundationless for the brood chambers so I can let the bees do all the work.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Most people think in terms of 'foundation' or 'foundationless' (I'm one of the latter) - but there is a third option, that of installing plain (non-embossed) thin sheets of wax:
    Observations made during the study indicated a preference by the bees to use thin non-embossed wax sheets to make new combs rather than thick non-embossed wax sheets or embossed foundation. Cells built on combs from non-embossed wax sheets were, however, irregularly arranged as compared to the regular, orderly arrangement of cells on combs developed from the embossed foundation. Beekeepers can therefore reduce costs and make good gains in colony development and production through the use of plain non-embossed wax sheets. European bees readily use them and construct good combs within frames.
    http://www.beesfordevelopment.org/me...ation-_21_.pdf
    But - can't say I've ever been tempted to try this, as foundationless is working well enough for me - and Oldtimer's recent tip to ensure that only worker combs are drawn-out promises to make even that more satisfactory in future.

    Commercial embossing machines are too expensive for Yours Truly, and silicone DIY efforts appear too messy and unpredictable.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    JW, the labor and machine costs are concerning. However, f it allows them to build it faster and store more honey, it may be worth it. However, does it actually do that????

    little-john,I was wondering about a plain sheet, but heard that it might slow them down in the sense that they hesitate to take to it. Very interesting research. Thank you for posting it.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  6. #5
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    I’ve been up one side and down the other of this. I did the board dipping method to make full sheets of unembossed wax. The stuff is brittle. I tried the rolling pin thing and it helped, but it’s still fragile. I tried making a press/mold, but it doesn’t make the force needed to emboss cells on sheets, and casting with liquid wax did not go well.

    In the hive, the plain sheets are readily accepted by the bees and they build right away on them, but as stated, the cell pattern is way whacky, like a construction crew that drank their lunch. But, the bees use it fine for brood and honey. Your frames won’t win beauty contests but function over form I guess. The added benefit is you won’t get cross comb with the sheets. I got a fair number of those with foundationless.

    The sheets are quick to make once you have the system down. I found 3 dips with the board gave me the best thickness. Any thinner and the sheets just shatter at a touch. Overall it was fun but I ran out of time this year and just bought a case of plastic foundation. So we are moving in opposite directions, but at least we can share where we have been.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  7. #6
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    BeeBeard, thanks for the info!
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  8. #7
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    resent controlled studies such as Robyn Underwood's work are showing a large advantage in foundation in terms of drawn comb and conly growth. In her COMB study on organic mangment she is using plastic small cell foundation coated with lusby organic wax as it was felt foundation less would have handicapped the organic test group
    Cast wax is brittle do to being hard, Bush and others have suggested that impacts the bees ability to work it
    Seeley 2001 found a natural amount of drone comb cuts a hives honey production by 50%
    WILKINSON, SMITH 2001 found a natural amount of drone comb caused a 400X mite increase.
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  9. #8
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Beebeard: Good to hear from someone who's actually tried this ... (Especially about the rolling-pin (half)'cure' - I even bought one a few years ago, with this use in mind).

    They said: "... combs from non-embossed wax sheets were, however, irregularly arranged ... ". You're also saying that the cell pattern is "wacky" - can you expand on this ?

    Is it simply a case of drone cells being mixed-in with worker cells - or is it something more than this ? The reason I ask is that my foundationless combs are - in the main - pretty good, except when they mix cell-types. Then, sure, they can be a bit of a dog's dinner.

    But Oldtimer gave us a good tip which should cure this: to install several drone combs into a box prior to getting worker combs drawn-out there. Their presence should then ensure that only worker combs result. A really good tip.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  10. #9
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    The whacky cell thing is hard to explain. I'll see if I can pull one out and get a picture, but it will be a day or two. Without the guide lines, one group of builders starts a little half circle of cells in one spot, another group in another, and so on, then when those groups meet up in the middle, nothing lines up and they just kinda plug cells all over to connect it. Probably some drone sized mixed in. With sheets that cracked, I just trimmed to 2inch starter strips that work great.

    I'm moving away from foundationless and the flat sheets because I was getting way too much drone comb. I know there are ways to get foundationless drawn as worker comb, but that's one more hive manipulation to deal with, and I'm doing spring splits right when they are in drone mode. I just don't have the time to tinker the way I like to right now. But since I know I can't help myself, I'll tinker when I get the chance. I found making the sheets enjoyable.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  11. #10
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    My Great Grandfather bought a foundation mill in the late 1800's. It looks like new. It was cheaper to buy foundation.

    With all of the pesticide residues in modern beeswax, of levels we do not know, it may be time to revisit making your own foundation form treatment free hives.

    Crazy Roland

  12. #11
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    My Great Grandfather bought a foundation mill in the late 1800's. It looks like new. It was cheaper to buy foundation.

    With all of the pesticide residues in modern beeswax, of levels we do not know, it may be time to revisit making your own foundation form treatment free hives.

    Crazy Roland
    Roland, That is part of what I'm thinking. I don't want chemicals in my hives. I don't trust some of the "safe" levels the FDA allows, so why should I trust chemical treatments to stay out of the honey. Bees move honey around the hive. I move comb up and down in the hive. Too many variables for me.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  13. #12
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    A question that begs asking is how much chemical free wax do you have with which to make foundation? I can't see melting down good comb to do this as I know you are trying to grow your total number of hives. Every bit of wax I have rendered has gone back onto plastic frames or been used on the starter strips for all my foundationless frames. I doubt I will be rotating out comb for at least another year and only collect wax from damaged frames. Wifey wants candles so there is some pressure to harvest, but I need drawn comb.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    A question that begs asking is how much chemical free wax do you have with which to make foundation? I can't see melting down good comb to do this as I know you are trying to grow your total number of hives. Every bit of wax I have rendered has gone back onto plastic frames or been used on the starter strips for all my foundationless frames. I doubt I will be rotating out comb for at least another year and only collect wax from damaged frames. Wifey wants candles so there is some pressure to harvest, but I need drawn comb.
    You are correct. I'm thinking about future years.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  15. #14
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Jadeguppy View Post
    I don't want chemicals in my hives.
    You'd better not let the bees out foraging then ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  16. #15
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Does anyone know of a relatively inexpensive lab that can test beeswax samples for pesticide residue? Hate to think after going through all the hassle of creating your own foundation that one might end up with a product no better than that which is already commercially available, or God forbid, even worse.
    At least with foundationless, your comb is fresh wax and would contain only the chemicals to which your bees are being exposed to on a regular basis in your area.

    Jadeguppy, you are thinking way ahead of me right now. That is one bridge I can't even see yet!
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    Seeley 2001 found a natural amount of drone comb cuts a hives honey production by 50%
    Beekeepers over the years have felt that drones are a liability to the colony since they consume honey but do not produce it. Thus, one would assume the more drones, the less honey for the beekeeper. However, Allen Latham (1949) says, "I have never yet seen a smaller surplus stored in a hive with many drones than in a hive with few drones. The amount of surplus is determined by the activity of the working force, and I have always noticed that where drones were numerous the bees were very active."
    Later Allen, in 1965, showed that there was no significant difference in the amount of worker brood nor in the honey yield between colonies with free drone production and those in which it was restricted. Since the rearing of many drones consumes a lot of honey stores, not to mention the effort put forth by nurse bees, as well as the honey required to maintain a drone through his life, we must then conclude that colonies with free drone production suffer no loss because they are able in some way to work more efficiently than others. The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, A.I. Root, 1980, p.219
    Seems yer pays yer money, and takes yer choice.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  18. #17
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    Gotta love the information age. Pick a plan, back it up with a "study", get rolled by others with their own plans and studies. Everyone is right in saying everyone else is wrong because this is the right way and others are wrong, right?

    Anyway... the combs I wanted to show are either burried in my stored supers or still in the hives, but I'll post them when I get a chance.

    The trouble I ran into with lots of drone comb comes in moving or reusing frames. If I've got a hive loaded with drone comb and I want to add drawn comb, and all I have on hand is more drone comb, I'm not doing me or the hive any favors. Might be good for a breeder hive, but I'm after healthy hives, low mites, and high honey production.

    I treat for mites; so far only with acids and thymol. Any residual pesticides should be environmental only.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  19. #18
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Beebeard View Post
    Gotta love the information age. Pick a plan, back it up with a "study", get rolled by others with their own plans and studies. Everyone is right in saying everyone else is wrong because this is the right way and others are wrong, right?
    LOL I've been reading-up a little on this Allen Latham guy - seems he just tore-up the beekeeping 'rule book' and started doing his own thing. Just about everything I've read so far about his beekeeping methods should have ended in disaster - but it seems quite the opposite always resulted.

    I'm fast coming to the conclusion that there is no conclusion ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  20. #19
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    Default Re: wax foundation embossing machine

    J.W.Palmer - you have stumbled on to a large problem. The USDA lab costs 396 dollars last time I used them, and did NOT include Dicambra to the best of my knowledge. If I find a replacement lab, I will let you know.

    Crazy Roland

  21. #20
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    I have been contemplating a wax machine as well. One can be had for about $600. I need 6 boxes of deep foundation before the end of March. Those boxes will cost more than the embosser. I already have plenty of wax.

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