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Is old Equipment Worth the Extra Work?

4184 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  jean-marc
I would like to grow in the next few years and I may have the opportunity to pick up some older equipment that has been in storage for 12 years. Along with the older equipment I would have access to a retired mentor, a warehouse/honey house and some locations. There are about 2500 usable deep hive bodies and the comb varies between black with lots of burr comb and crumbly with 70% missing and fairly dirty frames. The brood boxes have solid bottoms nailed on and are in good shape. The frames have lots of dust from storage bird poop and mouse poop and chew holes in places. There are plenty of covers, and about a 1000 dirty frames that need new foundation. When I grow I see myself going to pallets so the bottoms will not be needed then. What is the best way to test equipment for foul brood? Are old frames worth messing with. Some of these I cannot imagine anyone eating off of.

I am inclined to just get enough new frames and foundation to replace the crumbly stuff and scorch the old boxes if needed. What do you guys think?:scratch:
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Don't waste your time with the frames. Buy new ones. Buy them as you grow so figure what you will need for the following year for your increases and buy that amount. Deal directly with Nick at Pierco and you will save yourself money. Go through the boxes. Anything not tight get ride of. With 2500 you have lots to choose from so only choose the best. You are going to want to go with pallets as soon as you can so see how much work it would be to pull the bottom boards. Hopefully it won't be too much work. Where you will really save starting out is with the honey house equipment so if he has that you will be way ahead. Even if it is galvanized you can clean it up with a pressure cleaner and hot water.

Good luck.
Is there a commercial place that will render out the wax in the old frames? I'm possibly looking at 10,000 frames that have old and crumbly wax.
This is great! Yeah, I've been down this road.

In a nutshell, my answer is "yes," old and used equipment is a bargain....if it doesn't require any more work. I'm speaking mostly of boxes, tops and bottoms. But once you start cutting off rotten bottoms to make a brood box into a super, replacing ends....well, this takes time. Maybe you have the time. I spend a lot of my winter down-time in my shop fixing and repainting. It's relaxing work for me, but once spring arrives, I don't have the time to be messing around with rehab work.

Frames? I'd simply pitch the old ones if they show any wear, weakness, etc., and buy new ones. By the time you cut out and/or boil the frames, re-wire (if that's your preference) and stick in new foundation, it's faster to simply buy and assemble new frames. I've tried reclaiming the wax from old frames and that's also very time consuming and the wax yield hardly justifies the time. Unless the frames are good enough to go right into a hive body as-is, I pitch them.

The clean up? Bird poop and mouse poop is dusty, and the clean up is far more dustier than I ever imagined. My sinuses protested for days following this work. The nagging cough lasted a week. My wife thought I developed lung cancer.

Unfortunately, I possess some kind of a genetic disposition to frugality. Both my parents grew up on farms during the Great Depression in Minnesota. I have a really, really difficult time turning down ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that might be fixed up and reused. I have a shed full of old boxes that need a little TLC. I keep promising myself that "some day I'll have the time."

All the best! I'm excited for you. It sounds like a great opportunity.

Jackson, MO
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Thanks for the input guys.
Grant, my folks grew up in Indiana during that time and are very much inclined the same way. It has been killing me to throw these frames away but with the input I am more comfortable with the way it is going.

I can use a sawzall with a metal cutting blade to cut the bottoms of the brood boxes and it'll go pretty quick. He coated the bottoms with tar and they are in perfect shape after 30 some years, yet another item I'll hate throw away. Maybe I use them for fire wood this winter.
Heck with tar on the bottom side, use them for really big shingles on that shed you were going to build with old rail road ties. Tar side out...nice. :D
One thing about using old equipment is it allows a guy to build the operation with smaller investment. Buyin new is so hard. Thats the way I did it. bought used machines, made my own equipment. Id say toss the old dark frames. not worth your bother. but keep the good honey frames if there is any. Disease is a curse, might be well worth your time just to render down the wax and bring in new comb

After you get into a groove, start your progression into your IDEAL set up. Re invest your earnings into your operation make over. Small progressive stepps is alot less risky than borrowing a dump of money ;)
Good advice, all around:)
There was a smaller commercial beek, now retired, here where I live. He build a large, maybe 4'x8' solar wax melter to render his wax. He'd dump old frames in it, and let the sun deal with the wax. I don't know if that would be of any help to you in getting the wax off those old frames, but a commercial sized solar wax melter would make easy work of old frames.
Using contaminated old equipment that has been in the family for 40-50 years is alot more costly to operate than the new equipment that we run. We keep the two separate, and notice it takes less time to work the hives, and there are no diseases in the new equipment. I do not think you could give me old frames, but I might pay a small price for used supers, bottom boards, etc. Otherwise, what do you do all winter , other than assembling new equipment?


Take a vacation. I know I earn mine.

One the topic side personally I'd avoid using old equipment. I like newer looking equipment, especially if you do pollination. I think the customers like to see good equipment. They pay for the bees but at least they see where some of the money goes.

It costs a lot of money to cull equipment if you pay staff. It's best to do it when the deadouts come the equiupment shed. The run down looking stuff bothers me so I like to cull it. If you plan to do beekeeping for a long time then get new stuff. It's cheaper in the long run, easier to sell later if you want to get out.Your time is the most valuable asset you have, because it is limited. You can't borrow it. You can't create it. Money cannot buy you more time, it will not prolong your life, so personally I feel it should be treated with the upmost respect and not with an attitude of what else am I going to do. I feel that this attitude devalues ones efforts. Unfortunately it is very prevalent in beekeeping and I think that this is the one thing that has hurt us the most as an industry. If as an industry we don't value our time and efforts how can we expect our customers to value our time and efforts?

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Jean-marc - I would love to take a vacation, but since I bought some infected used equipment, I can not afford to. Unless you wish to let me park my VW camper in your driveway for a while?

I have ended up tossing just about all the frames. The main reason came down to time to deal with them. It was pretty sad work, if they had been sold earlier most of them would have been very usable.

It won't be much of a vacation here. Good news is there is an unoccupied bedroom in the house, so the VW can stay home.

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