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Comb honey. A journey of learning

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Lesgold:
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

Lesgold:
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.
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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

The15thMember:
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/

Lesgold:
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

The15thMember:

--- Quote from: Lesgold 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

--- End quote ---
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.     

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