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Thats a nice way of doing it, shame I use plastic foundation! What do you use as the source of your steam? I saw thew plastic tube in your picture, but not what it was connected to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I use a wall paper steamer does 1 deep at a time in about 25 min per box + 5 min to scrape the frames down. I set my timer on my cell and work in my garden or wax plastic frames. Or other bee work. The nice thing about this method is that it leave cross wired frames in tact usually. I buy cheap bread pans at the dollar store which are usually perfect for a box unless really old comb with mostly cocoons. Important to scrape slum off immediately or will be a pain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Steve, This is where I got the idea from around 9 yrs ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbx-Dv5iLmA

I do 2 things different then the gentleman in the video. I used #8 hardware cloth made similar to a queen push in cage. I fit it to set inside the bottom board. On top of that I place a metal bound queen excluder to hold up the slum. They kind of act as 2 different filters.

Roland: That was 9 combs in that box. Couldn't fit the 10th one as some of the combs were broke.
 

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I use paper towels to filter out the slum in my solar melter and gives a very clean product.
Maybe you could incorporate that into your setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here is the steamer I use: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1607895146035438&set=a.1219004524924504

Here is a cleaned frame with wires still good to go. Just Hit again with wire crimper if they are slack. Ready to embed wax. If wires are broken and I'm busy cut the wires and add plastic foundation. Come fall and I have a pile of frames I re-wire with wax foundation. To me wax foundation trumps plastic but we don't always have time for that. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1607897659368520&set=a.1219004524924504

You'll notice allot of my frames are modified to have 5 wires. I made my own foundation for years. With medium brood foundation (no wires) the extra support is really nice when extracting and keeps combs nice and flat in the brood nest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Jack, I save up my wax blocks till I have a good quantity 20# 's or so. Melt on hot plate. Then I run it threw pillow casing or old sheets from thrift store. Comes out nice and clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Another thing. I use no antibiotics at all. Combs that have EFB or para-foul. Heavy virus loads from dead outs. All go threw the steamer to sterilize equipment. Obviously AFB would be burned. Yes I re-use the wax all the time w/o any disease issues.
 

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Clayton,

You have been very good at answering questions. Thank you!

I've got one more for you: How many minutes (or hours) of "steam time" does it take to 'harvest" a 10 frame box of old wax frames? Also, can you stack and melt multiple boxes of frames simultaneously?

Cheers,
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have tried multiple boxes works terrible. Not efficient at all. One box at a time unfortunately. Only fill the steamer 2/3 or so or will take to long. Takes 25-30 min per box plus scraping and dealing with slum. Get the steamer going before you set the box to be steamed up. Takes like 15 min to get up to a boil and 10 to melt the combs.(can be more in cold weather) I don't usually do more than 20 to 50 boxes a year. So haven't need to go bigger yet. Every morning while I get my coffee going I set up while it brews. I do one box every morning till they are all done. No stress just morning chore routine. I do everything outside no mess to deal with, no angry wife. If it rains skip it have another coffee. This way you can work bees and not have all those boxes to deal with and have equipment ready over time to go back to the field. Slow and steady staying well ahead of your bees needs. Just a little bit every day adds up to allot. On a rainy day is good for making up pollen sub. I toss in my chest freezer pull it out the night b4 I need it. Try to keep ahead on that too.
 

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Mr. Huestis:

28 oz is a good yield, more than it takes to make 10 sheets of foundation. What color is the wax?

Crazy Roland
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Roland, It's like anything else you put really old black combs you get darker wax. If you fill the box full of nice white wax capping you get white wax. But in general you get a nice yellow wax.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
do you know for sure that it doesn't damage the boxes or frames?
It doesn't hurt them. BUT, don't use old punky boxes. Don't use the same box every time. Make sure the box doesn't have excessive cracks and holes and plug them if you can. I don't think any particular box will be steamed more than 4-5 x's in 20 years. In general though my equipment is just fine. Never steam plastic or plastic foundation. Bad things happen.
 

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The real beauty of steaming wax, instead of boiling it, is the sterilization of frames and that old black comb will produce loads of wax. I used to boil really old comb and get nothing. Then I would take a piece of it unboiled comb from the same batch and ignite it on fire, and wax starts dripping. So the wax is obviously there, it just cannot break the bond from cocoons. Steam breaks that bond and carries the wax out for you to reuse. When you take out frames, cleans them out right away, because slum gum can solidify on them as the frames cool.
 

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I made a steam generator out of a beer keg propane heated, and steam box out of a stainless box a friend found. Steam enters top and bottom. It can fit about two boxes of frames. It gets a lot more wax out of old combs than a solar melter because it has active steam washing the combs. I found the same as Clayton, if I try to melt a stack of boxes it is too many. The wax comes out tan to dark tan. The frames still contain cooked black residue. The wires are well preserved. This is not a financially viable process. The melter costs, the propane costs, the refurbish the frames cost. The value of the retrieved wax will never cover it. I threw away the last 300 we did with their rotten boxes. Going forward I will only steam my Jumbo depth frames which are hard to come by. And buy or make new Langstroth frames. Labor is too valuable to waste trying to save old stuff.
 
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