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Oh, yeah, another way is to make a wax mold of your branding iron, and take it to a foundry for casting.

I've made one myself out of bronze at a local college machine shop that had a forge furnace. The crucible was for brass, bronze, and other copper alloys, I broke up a Coca Cola bottle to melt over the metal so the tin would not fly out as white smoke.

The mold model pattern was made of wood, sanded, polished, and lacquered. The mold was made of red oil sand, and I dusted talcum powder over the model for releasing agent, riddled sand over the pattern, packed it in with a wedge-like wooden mallet, skimmed the top flat, cut a pouring hole, carefully removed the pattern, troweled out some runner sprues, and cut out a liquid metal riser.

A piece of thin welding rod made gas escape holes in the highest areas of the mold cavity out the top of the sand mold. The bottom half of the cope-and-drag mold was made and the two indexed and bolted together. When the forge was fired up, I used a pyrometer to check that the bronze was indeed 2,000 degrees F so that the tin AND the copper were melted - it looks like liquid at 1500 degrees F, but the copper isn't really liquid yet, which is why I put glass over the bronze chunks - the tin will "boil" - oxides smoking out really - you DON'T want to breathe it!

A short sand-and-cinder brick wall is built around the pouring area in case of a spill. I spread an inch of sand over the concrete floor to prevent damage in case of a spill in the pouring area. Extra people can be at the ready with a hoe to push molten metal back toward the center in case of a spill. One or 2 "fire men" should be ready with extinguishers, and a medical kit on hand. The most experienced hand should be appointed as director of the casting operation.

Casted and machined bronze scrap metal is made into chunks small enough to fit into the crucible, as the forge heats up, a powdered "flux" is added. This combines chemically with impurities in the liquid metal and usually falls to the bottom or floats to the top as slag, which is skimmed off before pouring.

A large, special tongs was used to grab the hot crucible out of the forge furnace and place it into the pouring ring. The pouring ring has two long T-handles for two people to pour it into the red oil sand mold while standing 6 feet away for safety. Wear safety face shields, welding jackets, leather boots, welding gloves, and chaps for this, and the college had arm-length asbestos / canvas gloves for using the tongs. Everyone involved should be suited up, no one else should be near. Make sure the pouring ring fits the crucible before starting - too large or too small a ring and you cannot pour the metal!

Let such a casting cool still in the sand mold over night before attempting to remove it, place the un-burned red sand back into the box, clean the cope and drag, then cut the excess metal off your casting. I hope it goes well - sometimes the metal cools before the entire mold cavity is filled (that's a start-over!). Keep pouring until the metal comes most of the way up the return riser hole. You should see smoke coming out of the gas escape holes.

Lots of planning, setting up, and effort, but a fun project, and you can make several castings at one time if your crucible is large enough and you have several cope-and-drag sets. A high school or a college with a bee program and a forge setup could get together with a local beekeeping club and knock out several dozen bronze branding iron heads in whatever time it takes to make the patterns, cope-and-drags, and sand molds, then pour them all in one afternoon when the forge is hot.

A single casting with a dozen brands could be cast as one, then band-sawn apart, so a whole bee club could save a lot of bucks getting it done in one batch. A pine board can have ready-make 3-D letters attached, filled, sanded, and lacquered over, then attached to a piece of high-grade plywood for the model. A whole club could get their county numbers molded in one swoop for very cheap this way.

If you prefer CNC, private message me - I'll give it to my boss to quote you. A local shop may work out better, so ask around.
 

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Re-bar and scrap metal yards are other options. Dumpster diving in industrial areas might not be too good an idea - you could end up finding out in person just how mean a "junk yard dog" can be. Better to go during business hours with a jar of honey and ask favors. But use your creativity and keep the idea on back-burner until you have enough scraps, hacksaw and / or sawzall blades, tools, and such for your project.

Branding should be a good deterrent to beehive theft. I cringe when I hear of beehive theft. Bee thieves should be stripped naked, rubbed with bananas, and dragged by a rope behind a truck through a drop of p!$$ed-off Africanized honey bees in a cactus patch while the NRA takes shooting practice. Survivors should be lit on fire.
 

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Oh, yes, about molding and "thinking forwards and backwards" regarding lettering. A male "plug" or "pattern" usually has regular letters that read from right to left, same as the finished casting. A female mold cavity usually has reversed letters that read in a backwards direction. Check them with a mirror!
 

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Mutts.
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Interesting, had toyed with the idea of casting. Either attempting aluminum myself or paying to have it cast in iron. Bronze never occurred to me. Still probably more than I would tackle myself but it could be pretty enough to hang on the wall when not in use. Getting late so will get back to this in a day or two.
 

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Related, working on an idea for uniquely identifing each hive. Have seen others buy cattle 'ear tags' for this. Since I work in shipping & receiving have been saving used truck seals for the past week. Suprising how often you will find one or more broken seals just inside the back door where the driver threw them. Random names of companies and a 7 or 8 digit number. Plan to rout a shallow groove with a dove-tail bit and epoxy them in.
A quick and mostly working method for me is to staple playing cards to the front of the hive with a T50
I used Suits for races and numbers for the hives, prime numbers for breeder queens and face cards for test queens.
I used a deck that was missing a couple cards so free. Only issue is the rain, perhaps to the inside of the lid would help with that issue. then in my book I use top of page headings "7 of spades" can also use the hive position, which was my last method, just mark the base with something.
good luck with the idea work

GG
 

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Joined a lawsuit regarding the fire that burned down my apiary, workshop, and home. Laid out a plan for financial recovery for my crowdfunding effort, and applying for housing. Later tonight I'll assemble a "super horse" (a folding, portable, rectangular sawhorse to hold honey supers at a convenient height and save my back) for which I have already cut all the members, just need to drill, glue, and bolt. Oh, yes - it is 3 supers wide, the inside has two rails for holding up to 30 frames, a tool rack, and an umbrella stand on the outside corner. It makes working a drop of beehives a pleasure.

Tomorrow will make a "nucleus seat" - a short stool with a storage drawer and room for the smoker bucket - for queen rearing season. It saves the knees a lot of wear and tear.

Hopefully tomorrow will also see my the first part of my beehive identification branding iron welded. It's made of old railroad spikes and forms a large "KC" with a CNC machined piece that reads, "kilocharlie's honeybees and orchard management" underneath it, plus one that has my county beekeeper identification number sized for the frames. Next week's plan is a 5-frame solar wax melter.

Please excuse me, I have to get back to the mathematics of adding up the fire damage bill and filling out my application. Cheers to all, and keep those saws buzzing like a rosemary patch in full bloom!
Sorry to hear you were burned out - visited Ojai a while back. Will the "burn" provide an y benefits to your soil? Did any trees survive? I am working on a creamed honey procedure - adapting my old wood lathe to provide a power take-off for the a heating and cooling container's stirrer - small scale. I expect high torque requirements.
 

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Seems that the coastal live oaks that had little fuel near them survived, but there are a LOT fewer trees than before the drought. 20 to 25 % had died before the fire. Our soil in Ojai needs little nutrient enrichment through fire - it is fairly fertile and we had a fairly strong agricultural element in the area. It will be at least 60 years, very likely much longer before our local environment to recover anywhere near where it was before the drought started about the end of the 2005 rainy season. There have only been 3 substantial rainy years in the last 15 years. Most of the orchards survived.

5 days after the Thomas fire was contained, five inches of rain fell. That didn't exactly help the bees a lot. I should have taken Funeral Science or Toilet Paper Production Engineering back in college - something that pays a consistent buck. But, as Theodoric of York, the medieval bloodletting barber of Saturday Night Live said, "Nah!"
 

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Oh, do check out wikihow.com/Make-Creamed-Honey
Checked it out - a couple of mistakes but helpful.. I have to rad Dyce's report again now htat I am ready to understand all the issues he was working on. Dyce bought his initial seed honey - no description.

BTW, I have been doing various ways to produce seed honey - all none pasturized. One mehhod produced fermentation in top liquid volume - increase in % water for non-crystalized honey by nose detection method.
 

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Let's get back to In the work shop
Today my 2 son's came over and helped me move our stack of rough cut lumber from behind my wood shop to a storage shed in preparation for concrete. I have been using the area for storing lumber and extra hive equipment.
After the concrete is set this spring I will be building a honey house.
The pad is 17' x 42' and the honey house will be 17' x 20'.
 

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I almost completed a small saw horse. Building a longer one (so one can stack on top) and a 3-hive super horse to save my back when moving honey supers on and off the hives.

I had a few corrections to the cut angles on the legs. I make them 10 degrees kicked out the ends and 15 degrees to each side, and cut an angle at the top of the legs so they fit tight under the top of the main I-beam, with the bottom cap of the I-beam trimmed to 15 degrees for the splay of the legs.

I used an old gear drill to counter bore for washers, to match the pilot holes from one leg through to the other, and to enlarge the holes out to the diameter to allow the all-thread to pass through. I hack sawed the all thread rod into 5-1/4 inch and 7-1/4 inch lengths for top and bottom bolts, respectively.

I'll probably have the all-thread ground clean at the ends and nuts and washers for them tomorrow.

A neat trick when chamfering threaded bolts is to grind it with the bolt pointing along the long axis of the bolt at the face of the grinding wheel, except angled down to make the chamfer. I try to get 2 threads at a 60 degree angle, but 45 degrees and 1 thread works for some applications. The grind stone leaves tiny burr chips 90 degrees (minus the helix angle) into the trough of the thread form, which cleans out easily with the nut, or with a wire brush.

Trying to chamfer a thread with the bolt pointing sideways to the grinding wheel can leave a gnarled, mushed surface that the nut often has a difficult time getting past.
 

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Would love to see a picture of the hive horse;) Sounds like a cross between a saw horse and a table?

Two things that will help with burs on threaded rod are a finer stone on your grinder. And whenever possible put a nut on the rod before you cut it. Removing it will help with those last tiny burs left by the grinder.
 

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The superhorse is, as you guess, a cross between a sawhorse and a table. There is a photo of an excellent, simple one in Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding by Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr. & Dr. Robert E. Page.

I go to a bit more bother to make mine folding & expandable, with a tool rack built in. It's always been better for me if beekeeping gear stays as small as possible in order to store out of the way, and is convenient for taking to bee lectures.

The superhorse is a real back saver. I am tempted to add a slot for some cookie trays to catch any honey that drips down, at which point why not just use a table? Oops! You could just add a rim for the bottoms of the supers to a table of the right size. I prefer the superhorse because the legs are splayed out for stability.

The beekeeper's wheelbarrow is another neat project - an "z"-shaped handle keeps the bed relatively flat while the handles are conveniently high enough to walk in comfort. The bed is 3 hives long with the wheels (2 of them) under the 2nd hive for balance. A 2 x 4 end stop keeps the hives from sliding forward in rough terrain. I made my last one with curved handles "Pitcairn Island Style" for going up and down hills. A bit more work than most folks would put into it, but it sure makes bee work easier!

I tend to overdo things for long-term convenience...if I'm going to do or make something, try to improve it. Just a habit of a shop guy.
 

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The superhorse is, as you guess, a cross between a sawhorse and a table. There is a photo of an excellent, simple one in Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding by Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr. & Dr. Robert E. Page.
Thanks, will add that to my list of things to build. Might be a good use for some of that used PT decking my son gave me. Be awhile my list is long!

Not much workshop time this weekend but did do a test of my used truck seals as hive identification. Small dove tail bit in the router table, two passes using a scrap of Luan to space the second one and the most common width plastic seal fits tight. Bit of epoxy or a one way screw and they will be chore to remove. Also have some stamped metal seals but most are pretty mangled. Not sure if I will be able to straighten them without damaging the letters.
seals.jpg
 

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Bought a nice 200 lbs scale for bee hives, setting fishing reel drags, weighing fish, tillering bows and crossbows, precise tensioning a hotwire bow for cutting foam when winterizing hives or making RC airplanes, and a bunch of other uses.

Now I have to build a mast with a boom lever and a lifting cable rig to lift the hives when weighing them.
 

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Bought a nice 200 lbs scale for bee hives, setting fishing reel drags, weighing fish, tillering bows and crossbows, precise tensioning a hotwire bow for cutting foam when winterizing hives or making RC airplanes, and a bunch of other uses.

Now I have to build a mast with a boom lever and a lifting cable rig to lift the hives when weighing them.
I used two - 2x3 pieces laying around; found a 5/8 bolt and nut with a washer in between pieces. Swivels for attaching the scale and load. I measure one side at a time, left and right, than correct for lifting point distance to fulcrum point. Pretty accurate as I checked with a full up bottom scale too. Clumsy but very flexible for various lifting conditions - need length adjust capability. CG location error corrects itself by lifting both sides and summing ( simple statics for correction factor). I am working on an improved bottom board assembly to improve attachment method as well.

Wish I had learned and bought welding stuff. BTW, a creamer is going to be a unique building /process effort. My honey is low on glucose, very slow to crystalize.
 
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