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Author Topic: Comb honey. A journey of learning  (Read 13254 times)

Offline Lesgold

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Comb honey. A journey of learning
« on: December 16, 2021, 05:00:37 pm »
Hi Folks

It?s good to be here as a member of the forum. This topic has probably been covered a million times before but it?s still new and exciting for me and I would like to share with you some of my experiences in the field of comb honey. Here in Australia, a few people play with cut comb or chunk honey but I haven?t seen a lot of comb honey sections. A couple of suppliers sell Ceracell Rounds kits (Ross Rounds) and that?s about it. I ended up buying a kit and the consumables required to make the rounds. The big killer for me was the cost of the rings, foundation, packaging and labels. It was going to cost me around $3 per round to produce as all of this gear had to be posted. Anyway, I bit the bullet and bought everything and started to play. After spending all of that money, I started to think about other possibilities. Could I come up with my own system? Are there other options? And the journey begins. I am hoping that people can share some of their ideas here. Like most of you, I?m a sponge and soak up comments, thoughts, pictures, knowledge, criticisms etc etc etc. roll it around in the grey matter for a while and then try to churn out a better way of doing things. (Hope that makes sense) I?ll get the ball rolling by showing you where I started and then show you the developmental stages that I?ve been working through.  I?ll take a photo or two and post them. (Sorry I?m a visual person) Hopefully I?ll be able to sort that process out. Will catch you guys later.

Cheers

Les

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2021, 06:53:24 pm »
My first play with comb honey sections started about 3 years ago. I had an idea that if I could make some wooden round sections, it would be a very saleable item that would look quite attractive on a cheese platter. I made a frame with circular cutouts to fit into a deep body and then tried to bend some thin strips of wood into a circle after sitting the timber in warm water for about an hour. Those circles looked horrible. They were kinked, out of shape and just looked plain ugly. I pushed and shoved those blobs of timber into a reasonable shape and then jammed them into the frame. Oversized circles of foundation were then cut with a knife and they were then pushed into the centre of the section frames. I tried to convince myself that the bees wouldn?t  care what it looks like, they would play with the foundation anyway. That assumption was correct. The bees quickly started to draw the foundation and actually pushed some of it over as it wasn?t secured overly well. I quickly learnt two lessons on that experimental frame. 1) The hive was just average  and wasn?t bursting with bees. This resulted in a slow formation of the comb and 2) I placed the frame onto the hive towards the end of a flow which slowed things up. After a couple of months I pulled the frame out. Two of the sections were capped and the rest were partially filled. It took me 15 minutes to release the sections from the frame. The bees had filled in gaps between the frame and the sections with propolis and I mucked around with a knife and screwdriver trying to remove them. The frame was then thrown into a corner of the shed and the whole adventure was deemed a partial failure. COVID lockdown this year was the saviour for the frame. Being stuck at home forced me into doing some of those jobs that you don?t enjoy. For me it was stripping out the workshop and having a rethink about how the shed was set up. It was a chance to get rid of those bits and pieces that you accumulate over time. You know what I?m talking about. ?That may come in handy one day? type stuff. Tools were re racked, beehive material stacked neatly to save space etc. etc. I eventually found the frame. I was just about to throw it out but changed my mind at the last minute. From that point on, the mind clicked into gear and the experimenting and development started. Here?s a pic of the original frame. I kept it just for reference and a starting point.

September was just around the corner (spring) so I knew I had to get moving if I was going to catch the early flow. I?ll continue tomorrow if I can rustle up a few photos of the next stage in the frame development.

Cheers

Les


Offline The15thMember

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2021, 09:00:50 pm »
Interesting!  Is there any reason other than aesthetics that you want rounds?  Because I'd have to think squares of comb would be easier.  Heck, you can just cut up any nice frame of honey into cut comb, as long as the wax is thin enough and you don't use any foundation.  I read a really comprehensive article about comb honey a while back.  It was published in the American Bee Journal originally, but you can read the article for free on the author's website, which is one of my favorite beekeeping websites.  Perhaps it will have some good ideas and tips for you. 
https://www.honeybeesuite.com/making-comb-honey-should-be-simple-and-fun/
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2021, 09:58:04 pm »
Thanks for the reply. You are correct. I have played with cut comb and still make a bit from time to time using foundation-less frames.  I wanted to try something a little different and that is why I started experimenting. The big advantage of this type of system is at harvest time. You don?t have to handle the comb. Sections are removed from the frame and they are ready to be packaged. When I get some photos organised, Ill post up the next stage of the development of that frame. From an aesthetics point of view the rounds actually look quite good. Going down this path requires a bit of extra work (especially the initial stages) but I reckon it?s worth it. As I?m retired and treat this pastime as a hobby, time is not the issue. Actually the time spent in the workshop making the frames and jigs required is a real joy. From a commercial perspective, I would be ignoring this thread and just treating it for what it is ie. just a bit of fun. Thanks for the link, I will have a look later. I appreciate the time you have taken to post it. Any tips picked up from the article will be helpful.

Cheers

Les

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2021, 12:02:59 am »
Thanks for the reply. You are correct. I have played with cut comb and still make a bit from time to time using foundation-less frames.  I wanted to try something a little different and that is why I started experimenting. The big advantage of this type of system is at harvest time. You don?t have to handle the comb. Sections are removed from the frame and they are ready to be packaged. When I get some photos organised, Ill post up the next stage of the development of that frame. From an aesthetics point of view the rounds actually look quite good. Going down this path requires a bit of extra work (especially the initial stages) but I reckon it?s worth it. As I?m retired and treat this pastime as a hobby, time is not the issue. Actually the time spent in the workshop making the frames and jigs required is a real joy. From a commercial perspective, I would be ignoring this thread and just treating it for what it is ie. just a bit of fun. Thanks for the link, I will have a look later. I appreciate the time you have taken to post it. Any tips picked up from the article will be helpful.

Cheers

Les
I totally get it, I was just trying to understand the goals of the project.  I'm a hobbyist too; I only have 4 hives at the moment, and I can relate to doing things the less efficient but perhaps more enjoyable way.  I'm not very handy when it comes to building, so I probably won't have much to offer from a mechanics perspective, but I'm sure I'll follow the thread with interest.     
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline NigelP

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2021, 07:51:43 am »
I sell a lot of comb honey but have given up on trying to get the rounds. My bees simply don't fill them well. I use thin foundation  (or strips) and either sell whole combs packeted with a stand or use a cut comb honey cutter (or a knife) to cut sections out to fill the cut comb containers. I'd love to sell nothing else as it's much easier to do than extracting honey which is a real chore.


Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2021, 04:08:57 pm »
Hi NigelP
That?s a nice collection of cut comb there well done. I would love to see a picture of the stand for the full comb. I like that idea. I understand what you are saying about the rounds. The commercial kit that I bought hasn?t been as successful as I would have hoped. The bees just don?t seem to like the plastic frames. That?s another story in itself. I totally agree with your last statement. I need to start extracting in a few days. 35 degrees and a bee suit don?t seem to get along.

Cheers

Les

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2021, 05:14:00 pm »
OK, it?s about time to continue with the story. The next stage of the rounds development was one of those ?accidental light bulb moments.? I?d just come in from pulling some frames from a few hives in preparation for extracting. I was hot, sweaty and tired. Just needed a break for a while before getting back into it. Grabbed an almost empty bottle of soft drink from the fridge and sat down. I was just sitting on the lounge with the plastic bottle on my lap and then it hit me. Could I use this PET bottle in some way? It?s food grade and its round. And that?s where it all started.




Online Ben Framed

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2021, 05:21:55 pm »
Lesgold I am enjoying your post. Keep them coming...

Phillip
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2021, 05:22:50 pm »
This is the type of bottle that I started using. It has a cylindrical section that allowed me to cut 3 rounds. The consumption of Pepsi increased dramatically over the next few days so that I could get all the material I needed to fill a frame with the PET rounds. The first round was cut with a pair of scissors. That was a painful job and didn?t look all that good. After a bit of experimenting, I came up with a technique whereby my wood lathe could be used to cut the rounds. It now takes me about 2 or 3 minutes to cut them accurately.



Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2021, 05:28:49 pm »
I was lucky enough to have a holesaw of the correct size and the frame holes were then cut to suit the rounds. They fitted extremely well and did not move around in the frame. The only issue I had was removing the rounds. This was going to be an ongoing problem so a simple two part frame was developed.

One side of the frame is not fixed. Two locating dowels (up in the corners near the two x marks) help align the removable plywood side. 4 homemade clips keep the side of the frame cramped in place.  It?s very simple but it works a treat. Rounds are easy to remove without causing any damage to the wax comb. These frames now take me about an hour to make so it?s not a big time investment.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2021, 05:33:04 pm »
Sorry Phillip,

You responded just as I was posting. Still trying to sort out how to add multiple photos without causing issues. Have had to modify the post to get things working. Will sort it out eventually.

Cheers

Les

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2021, 05:42:50 pm »
Quote
Will sort it out eventually.

No doubt, you are doing pretty good even now.
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2021, 05:43:46 pm »
I came up with a method for cutting circles of thin foundation (or starter strips) for the rounds. The starter strips (or foundation) are held in place with a bit wax applied with a small art brush. A plug was made to push the foundation into place and keep it in the correct location while it is secured.

This is an example of what it looks like. That was just a standard piece of foundation that I had lying around that I used for this photo. I normally make really thin foundation for this purpose. You may be able to see the blob of wax holding the foundation in place. The bees move this wax around and use it as required.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2021, 05:46:49 pm »
And finally for today?s post, an example of what the bees produce. This came out of a hive 3 days ago. All 8 pieces looked just like this one.


Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2021, 05:53:36 pm »
And a few more just before they were packaged up.

They do look good but there are issues. First of all it is recycled material so in this format they can?t be sold commercially. The second issue is that it is plastic and I would prefer to head towards a renewable and sustainable material. The story continues in a day or so when I can get organised.

Cheers for now

Les

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2021, 06:00:00 pm »
That looks really good! I like it!
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2021, 07:50:16 pm »
Wow, that's genius! 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2021, 12:52:06 am »
Thanks guys. I was really pleased with how it came together. A couple of months ago I put a bit of a clip together to show what it looks like and how the bees take to the frame. Not sure how to insert the shortcut but this is where you will find it

https://youtu.be/uK17ZRBdpcI

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2021, 01:28:13 am »
Les I am impressed with your out of the box method. Have you figured a way to stop the access holes. If not I have an out of the box idea that just 'might' fix that small problem.

Phillip
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.