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Does anyone make boxes out of rough cut lumber? The bees do a great job of packing the walls with propolis of rough wood. I have been trying to find a way to make smooth boxes rough inside. I was hoping that we could save planing and sanding steps on lumber stock and just make boxes from rough sawn lumber. Are there any small (or large) manufacturers of boxes that are willing take a stab at it? Anyone doing it?

Cheers, Phil
 

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Hi Phil.
You could try fitting a coarse wire-brush into an angle-grinder, and running it with a speed reducer - then flash over the wood's surface across the grain - that will pick up and expose the fibres. Too much speed and the brush will simply remove wood and leave it fairly smooth. It's a technique I use whenever I need to glue wood which has been coated with wax or propolis. FWIW - I put the subject wood in a freezer overnight, then pull it and immediately use the wire brush - the lightest touch - the surface is then very slightly undercut, and anything on that surface is simply flicked off.

The bees do a great job of packing the walls with propolis of rough wood.
By doing that they leave the walls waterproof and smooth again - so I've taken to coating the already smooth walls with paint to save them from that effort. :)

Some people paint smooth walls with a propolis/wax mix, suspended in a solvent. A guy named Roger Delon (in France) used to use a hot flat iron instead to melt a wax/propolis mix directly into the wood. Other people dip their boxes in wax.
'best
LJ
 

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Thanks for posting this Hankstump. I was just getting ready to post a similar question in the FB groups. I would love to hear more options. I bought a bat house a couple of years ago and they had used some method that gouged into the wood pretty good to allow the bat feet to cling to the box vs. having to use wire mesh. It was in a circular pattern so it might have been done with an angle grinder, but I'm sure it was something different than a wire brush attachment.
 

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Ruth - a circular saw (bench or hand-held) would leave that pattern - also, there are now much smaller (4 1/2 inch) circular saw blades which fit onto an angle grinder - that would also leave that pattern if the blade was used on it's side (as if grinding, rather than cutting). But - use such saw blades very carefully - they are a barbaric tool. I generally use mine with a speed reducer.
'best,
LJ
 

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I bought a bat house a couple of years ago and they had used some method that gouged into the wood pretty good to allow the bat feet to cling to the box vs. having to use wire mesh.
I made a couple micro bat boxes using cheap pine wood - I roughened the inside by wetting it and going over with a wire brush manually. I first tried a wire brush in a drill (not grinder) but found it was easier doing it by hand.

Interesting topic... maybe this is something I should try doing to my hives, although I find the bees do a pretty good job waxing the smooth inside surface already.
 

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LJ.'s quote "They are a barbaric tool". I absolutely agree. I have spent many hundreds of hours with an angle grinder in my hands and have done first aid on others who found out the hard way. I have been fortunate and only minor encounters.

Roughing up the unassembled hive body and components would be easy but working inside an assembled hive body would really up the ante. Angle grinder or rotary tools are too eager for the amount of material removal needed.

There is a power tool out in the last five years or so that I have not personally had my hands on but have watched. The vibratory / oscillating action is applied to many different shaped accessory attachments and the unit is somewhat smaller than an angle grinder. Nearly fool proof safety wise and little danger of fragmented wheels or kick back.

Cant think of the common name for them.
 

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.... I have been trying to find a way to make smooth boxes rough inside......

Cheers, Phil
I'd find me some other projects and focus on them instead.
Seriously. :)
What is your end goal you are trying to achieve with the roughened walls?

IF you are after heavy propolis envelope in hopes of bees being more healthy, this is what I have tried - a wall made of packed wood shavings and metal screen - PLENTY of propolis (impossible to harvest though).
20191123_163424.jpg
20191123_163437.jpg
The bees died anyway, because they could not handle the mites.

I got another swarm in that "eco-wall" hive this season.
Terrible mite infestation.

As far as rough lumber - impossible to find in dumpsters - such thing does not exist in trash (obviously).
If I find some, I'd use is of course. But good luck finding.
Sometimes an old wood shed or a barn can be had - but one needs to take it apart and haul all the wood - too much.

I am not going to spend time and money to rough up conventional lumber.
To what end?
 

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I'd find me some other projects and focus on them instead.
Seriously. :)
What is your end goal you are trying to achieve with the roughened walls?

IF you are after heavy propolis envelope in hopes of bees being more healthy, this is what I have tried - a wall made of packed wood shavings and metal screen - PLENTY of propolis (impossible to harvest though).
View attachment 58759
View attachment 58761
The bees died anyway, because they could not handle the mites.

I got another swarm in that "eco-wall" hive this season.
Terrible mite infestation.

As far as rough lumber - impossible to find in dumpsters - such thing does not exist in trash (obviously).
If I find some, I'd use is of course. But good luck finding.
I am not going to spend time and money to rough up conventional lumber.
To what end?
There is a reference to a book Constructive Beekeeping and the author Ed H. Clark is a big proponent of the propolis the bees coat the insides of the hive with; varnish he calls it. Not sure I buy that idea but he does have some very convincing ideas about hive ventilation (or not), insulation and working with the bees natural instincts instead of against it.

Anyways if you have implemented all the more common tricks you can play with bees, let us know whether roughing up the inside of the hive bodies pays any dividends. Some strains of bees like caucasians dont need any encouragement!
 

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There is a reference to a book Constructive Beekeeping and the author Ed H. Clark is a big proponent of the propolis the bees coat the insides of the hive with; varnish he calls it. Not sure I buy that idea but he does have some very convincing ideas about hive ventilation (or not), insulation and working with the bees natural instincts instead of against it.

Anyways if you have implemented all the more common tricks you can play with bees, let us know whether roughing up the inside of the hive bodies pays any dividends. Some strains of bees like caucasians dont need any encouragement!
Either Clark, or (much more likely) recent noises from the Spivak lab about all encompassing propolis benefits drive people for propolis obsession. I don't know.
A simple piece of burlap tossed onto the frame tops stimulates so much propolis generation I don't care for it anymore. :)

Last weekend I decided to leave a hive alone and don't even take it apart - it is glued together so solidly, I need to break frames - will check back in spring.
 

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I'm not totally convinced about the "therapeutic propolis envelope around the whole cavity" idea - because - propolis is used a lot closer to home than that: it's used to line the brood cells with. Now that I can see could indeed have a prophylactic purpose.
LJ
 

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hankstump "Does anyone make boxes out of rough cut lumber?" I do.

In fact I also recycle old fence boards to. For rough sawn pine I plane one side only to thickness before making a box. They really do propolis it up.
 

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Beekeepers are always looking for that Golden Mean that will cure all their problems. Bees collect ample propolis on their own in the smoothest of boxes if it is available. I have older smooth boxes with it flowing down the insides and outsides. The availability is based on if propolis producing trees are available to the bese. Maybe Phll is keeping bees in suburbia not surrounded by older trees.
 

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little_john "propolis is used a lot closer to home than that: it's used to line the brood cells with"

Do you have a reference for this comment I can read? Very curious.
 

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little_john "propolis is used a lot closer to home than that: it's used to line the brood cells with"

Do you have a reference for this comment I can read? Very curious.
Well - I thought everyone knew this - but apparently not ... Even Marla Spivak is somewhat reluctant to accept this:

Propolis will occasionally be used for tasks other than smoothing hive walls and reducing entrances. Huber (1814) observed honey bees embedding strands of propolis in cleaned and polished cells. Ribbands (1953) believed that bees used propolis in this manner to prevent disease transmission when reusing cells. It is unclear how common this behavior is, but at least feral colonies can be found with propolis on the rims of cells (Fig. 3). Recent evidence also indicates that honey bees may “entomb” chemically contaminated pollen in cells with propolis, but the frequency of this behavior and subsequent effect on colony health is currently unclear (van Engelsdorp et al., 2009).

It is possible that the antimicrobial properties of materials used and stored in combs(e.g. royal jelly, honey) are enhanced by the addition of propolis (Visscher, 1980; Tautz, 2008).
In particular, the modes of action of propolis against microbes and parasites are currently unknown and could be due to contact (e.g. Garedew et al., 2002) and/or volatile emissions (e.g. Messer, 1985).

Propolis and bee health: the natural history and significance of resin use by honey bees. Michael Simone Finstrom, Marla Spivak.

https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1051/apido/2010016.pdf
Honeybeesuite are sitting on the fence:
https://www.honeybeesuite.com/why-do-brood-combs-turn-black/

And Wikipedia trot out the old myth of dirty feet ...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brood_comb

But - you really don't need links to the above sources: all you need is a really old brood comb - as black as night - and hold it under your nose.

Such combs stink to high heaven ... and of what ? Of propolis. And how on earth has that comb come to have developed such a smell of propolis ?

Even after one round of brood, it's possible to see that newly drawn white comb will have begun to turn amber - so why Marla Spivak and others can't see this is a complete mystery to me. Perhaps it's just too obvious ? :)
'best,
LJ
 

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......why Marla Spivak and others can't see this is a complete mystery to me. Perhaps it's just too obvious ? :)
'best,
LJ
IMO, Marla Spivak is overrated..
Ooops, I just said a heresy.
;)
 

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propolis sticks like crap and if the bees need it on the sides they would put it there
Wire brush on a drill would be my chose of tool. Not for me not going to make more work for my bees and my self im scrapping of enough propolis now when inspecting and removing frames.
 

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I burn the inside of my boxes. Both when new, and when putting back into service after storage.

And I mean BURN them! The bees fill in any cracks with propolis.

New Boxes:
I use a very high temp torch for landscaping and blacken the insides. A little mist of water and good to go. You'd never notice they were burned from the outside and if done at the right angle, won't burn the tops of bottoms.

Used Boxes:
I apply just enough heat for the propolis to seep into the wood. I started doing this as a quick and easy way to burn out wax moth, spiderwebs, etc., but noticing the boxes lasting much longer has me doing it to all boxes. It also has the added benefit of sanitizing the box, if used between colonies.

You can do a box in about 30 seconds. It's also thought that bees evolved to live in a burned out, hollowed, tree. As such, it's not unnatural for them to live in a burned out cavity. I've also noticed the burned boxes handle moisture better. Perhaps absorbing hive moisture better than an unburned box, but that's just my theory.
 
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