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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just have one hive and am wondering about a few things:

How do you make foundation from recycled wax? I have searched and searched and can't find any good descriptions with figures showing how to make my own foundation. How do you get the hexagons without expensive equipment? Do you really need hexagons or can I put plain flat sheets in for super foundation?

How do you get bees to take up old wax and re-use it? I hear they will take it but either it's too hard if I melt it down, or ants and cats and squirrels get into it if I leave it near the hive, and the bees only seem to care about the honey in the wax anyway. Can I preprocess it into small chunks somehow, or make it more palatable some other way? Should I put it right in the hive? Where?

Aside from making candles, I've heard of few other options except I found a nice recipe for cold cream on the University of Florida "Apis" newsletter january 1991.
 

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[ January 15, 2006, 12:33 AM: Message edited by: oregonsparkie ]
 

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Making your own foundation is expensive. I believe that you need a roller/press machine(cost about $2000). As far as use, cosmetics are a biggie, bow string wax, candles, etc.
 

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Zarka,
Many will make starter strips (which act as a starting point for them to draw their own comb instead of a full sheet of foundation). Even plain, unembossed foundation can be offered to the bees. One method for both is to moisten a peice of wood and dip it into the wax. The wax, once cooled peels away into a sheet. If you want it embossed, I think there is instructions in the "build it" section. The idea that I'm going to use, but haven't tested is simply to take a sheet of wax, prepared as discribed above by dipping wood, and pressing it between to sheets of plastic foundation. I don't need it yet and am trying to divise a container to hold my limited amount of wax so the dipping goes smoothly.

and lastly, if you care to have it done for you, some supply companies do it for a small fee. Dee Lusby has mentioned doing a workshop at her place for those interested in running their own. If your interested in well-prepared Small Cell, I would recommend contacting her.
waya
 

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You can buy small hand foundation presses for about $2000. But you can buy a lot of foundation for that price.


If you give them blank sheets they will make comb on it. If you give them just 3/4" wide piece of a blank sheet they will build it quicker. Dipping a wet board in wax is the typical way to get a sheet.

Here's a comb that is just started on a blank starter strip:

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/PrimaryCombOnBlankStarterStrip.JPG

There are many ways to get good comb without foundation. Here's one with just a triangle cut onto the bottom of the top bar:

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/FoundationlessDrawn.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the info. I'll try a blank sheet next time I take out a frame and see how it does. Was also wondering how to get bees to accept/take melted wax back and re-draw it.

I'm going to experiment today with mixing sugar, wax and pollen to see if I can make something they'll eat.

I had some success with honey-wax mixture (skimmed off heated honey while making mead) I put on Al foil and left on an ant proof stand near the hive. The bees worked at it a while and the wax became a very fine powdery substance, but they didn't take all of it, and when it finally became obvious squirrels or cats were eating it, and it was turning grey, I dumped it in the compost pile.

I think having it already in small granular form is key, as is having sweet stuff mixed in with it.
 

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>Thanks for the info. I'll try a blank sheet next time I take out a frame and see how it does. Was also wondering how to get bees to accept/take melted wax back and re-draw it.

In my experience they will draw their own comb more quickly than they will draw a blank sheet or a sheet of foundation. Why recycle it?

>I'm going to experiment today with mixing sugar, wax and pollen to see if I can make something they'll eat.

But bees don't eat beeswax. What are you trying to accomplish? If they want to recycle wax they just chew off a piece, tuck it in their pollen basket and take it somewhere else and use it. If the wax is in the way of getting food they just dump the wax on the bottom of the hive and take the food.

>I think having it already in small granular form is key, as is having sweet stuff mixed in with it.

Let us know how it appears to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
> Why recycle it?

I read in George Imrie's pink pages that it takes 8lbs of honey, digested, to create 1 lb of wax. Simple economy. Of course I realize that the bees will excrete wax anyway, so I'll have a surplus of wax unless I continually increase my hive number, but I figure it's worth a try, at least to get rid of the wax dredges that aren't clean enough for making new foundation or candles.

>But bees don't eat beeswax. What are you trying to accomplish? If they want to recycle wax they just chew off a piece, tuck it in their pollen basket and take it somewhere else and use it. If the wax is in the way of getting food they just dump the wax on the bottom of the hive and take the food.

Sorry, I was economizing words... I meant what you said--tuck away the wax in the pollen basket while foraging sugar, although it looks like in my past attempts they're just as likely to throw the wax aside, which is why it became a granular pile eventually.

I just rearranged the supers, added a homemade Imrie shim between the two upper supers, and laid some of the wax-sugar blend on one side, laid shaings of wax/pollen on the other side. Will see what they do in a few weeks, if it's warm.

Since I live in So. CA, there's more bee activity sooner than in many other places, however it looks like they're mostly sticking to the brood chamber still, and putting honey there rather than the first super, which seems to be the same it was a few weeks ago.

There was a nectar flow from citrus and loquat trees a month or so ago, but I don't know if any of that honey is in the super, or if they put it all in the brood chamber.

I moved the first super up to the top, so the bees in there will find the sugar mix on the way down. Put the remainder on top of the hive, which is now ant-proof (I added feet and put them in cans full of oil) so they can scavenge that when it's warm like today.


Here's another semi-related wax question:

If I want to keep wax from pests, what's the problem with keeping my extra supers on the hive? I haven't had any trouble just keeping the supers on the hive and rotating the empty ones to the bottom as they fill up. Keeps me from having to store and isolate or medicate empty supers.
 

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>I read in George Imrie's pink pages that it takes 8lbs of honey, digested, to create 1 lb of wax.

That's a nice, often repeated, formula. Unfortunatly, there is no research to support it. And how much nectar makes how much wax is really irelevant. What matters is how quickly they make the comb so they can store the honey. Drawn comb is helpful, but I don't see that foundation speed up the process at all.

>Simple economy. Of course I realize that the bees will excrete wax anyway

Well, if they need it they will. Otherwise they store the nectar before they start making wax. But they will make some in order to draw comb and cap it as they need it.

> so I'll have a surplus of wax unless I continually increase my hive number, but I figure it's worth a try, at least to get rid of the wax dredges that aren't clean enough for making new foundation or candles.

I've left out cappings and never seen any real dent in them.

>although it looks like in my past attempts they're just as likely to throw the wax aside, which is why it became a granular pile eventually.

Exactly.

>I just rearranged the supers, added a homemade Imrie shim between the two upper supers, and laid some of the wax-sugar blend on one side, laid shaings of wax/pollen on the other side. Will see what they do in a few weeks, if it's warm.

Let us know. Maybe in the hive they might be more likely to move it around.

>Since I live in So. CA, there's more bee activity sooner than in many other places, however it looks like they're mostly sticking to the brood chamber still, and putting honey there rather than the first super, which seems to be the same it was a few weeks ago.

>If I want to keep wax from pests, what's the problem with keeping my extra supers on the hive?

As long as there are enough bees to gaurd the combs, it's a very good method.

>I haven't had any trouble just keeping the supers on the hive and rotating the empty ones to the bottom as they fill up. Keeps me from having to store and isolate or medicate empty supers.

In your climate this may be a good plan. In mine it doesn't work very well.
 

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Richard Taylor on the expense of making wax:

"The opinion of experts once was that the production of beeswax in a colony required great quantities of nectar which, since it was turned into wax, would never be turned into honey. Until quite recently it was thought that bees could store seven pounds of honey for every pound of beeswax that they needed to manufacture for the construction of their combs--a figure which seems never to have been given any scientific basis, and which is in any case quite certainly wrong. The widespread view that if the combs were used over and over, through the use of the honey extractor, then the bees would be saved the trouble of building them and could convert the nectar thus saved into honey, was only minimally correct. A strong colony of bees will make almost as much comb honey as extracted honey on a strong honey flow. The advantage of the extractor, in increasing harvests, is that honey stored from minor flows, or gathered by the bees over many weeks of the summer, can easily be extracted, but comb honey cannot be easily produced under those conditions."

from The Comb Honey Book, by Richard Taylor
 

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>(I added feet and put them in cans full of oil)

I had to do this too, and had to tack "umbrellas" on the legs, over the cans to keep the bees out. I found that nothing that will give the little devils access can contact the hive (weeds, branches, stuff like that) or they will immediatly take advantage.-j
 
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