I have around 450 like new cages (heitkams honey bees in California) which I would sell you for the deposit. In my opinion buying up good cages is quicker and easier than making your own. Maybe not cheaper.
Kevin Jester used to make cages and had a line setup in Arkansas. The cages are not hard to make up but very time consuming.
If Kevin is not busy I bet he would make up a pallet of knocked down cages and ship. If not I bet he would send you the patterns. Kevin has always helped me when I needed help.
Jump on I70 and come get these as another package bee supplier said he would take off my hands.
Most cages are very similar and most package suppliers will take others cages and all will fill your cages if you drop off .
I use a digital paulose scale ( Grainger catalog) for weighing packages. Battery operated with a remote indicator.
I use and recommend making the package filler out of aluminum. My original funnel was designed and welded up by the Horace Bell operation in Florida.
Strong and light but heavy enough to stay in the package.
I can measure and post measurements and a good welding shop could make.
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