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Author Topic: Comb honey. A journey of learning  (Read 23376 times)

Offline max2

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #200 on: January 01, 2023, 01:05:25 am »
Good to see that "one handed Les" can manage.
I wish I had a young helper.

I took some honey off yesterday including a few 1/2 frames I will cut into comb honey.

We definitely have a good flow on and pretty well prefect weather again.

I was mowing this yard early this morning (around 7AM on the first day of the year)  and the bees were very calm, coming in with heavy loads.
Often they are not too happy with the smell of petrol and the fast movements in front of the hives.

If the weather hold I plan to take more honey off tomorrow.

One question: how do you burn your name on the side of the boxes?

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #201 on: January 01, 2023, 04:00:56 pm »
Hi Max

Happy new year to you and all forum members. I can?t mow around my bees without upsetting them unless there is a good flow on. Sounds like you have plenty of nectar coming in. Good luck with it. We did the markets yesterday and saw good crowds coming through after a slow start. Wish I had some comb to sell as people asked for it. Looks like it?s becoming a bit more popular, especially at this time of year. I had a brass stamp made for the mini frames. I just came up with some simple artwork and sent it off to a company who machined it out of a solid block of brass using a CNC router. I then attached the brass to a handle and the jobs done. The brand is heated with a propane torch.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #202 on: January 03, 2023, 07:55:00 am »
I bought the branding iron from Mann Lake originally, but I bought additional irons from Nova: https://www.novatoolco.com  The beehive ones are here: https://www.novatoolco.com/Brandingiron-BeeHive.htm

Can't say if they will ship to Australia or not... but I often buy things in Australia and have them shipped here.


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My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #203 on: February 03, 2023, 01:02:01 am »
Hi Folks,

With the markets coming up, I thought I?d have a quick peak into the hive carrying the mini frames. On inspection, about half were fully capped. As you would expect, the frames in the centre of the box were done with most of the outer ones getting close.

When I first started using this system, I would wait until the frames were fully capped and then pull the whole box at once. As time went on, I started to take capped frames as required and replace them with with new frames. The problem with that method was that the bees would draw new comb in an uneven manner and the frames would end up being lop sided. The solution was quite simple. If I took 10 capped frames and then placed any new frames in one block, the bees would draw out the new comb evenly. This does require a bit of frame manipulation but that only takes a couple of  minutes.  The centre block was setup yesterday so that I could take what I needed today.



If I was organised, the whole process could have been carried out in one operation but unfortunately I only had a few frames constructed and had to jump in and build some more and add foundation to them.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #204 on: February 03, 2023, 01:13:17 am »
It was a simple task to take a couple of mini boxes down to the hive in prep for the rob.

The centre block of frames was removed and replaced with new empties.

The frames were quite good considering the small flow that we had over the summer.



Even though the bees were quiet, I wore gloves to protect my injured hand. I should be able to repeat this process in a couple of weeks if the Black butts continue to flower.

Cheers

Les

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #205 on: March 05, 2023, 07:44:03 pm »
With the season coming to a close, it is now time to start experimenting with comb honey frames again. The mini frames that I have been selling at the markets are quite popular and the bees seem to work them slightly better than the other designs that were shown early in the thread.They also require a little less work than the other methods. One criticism of the mini frames is the size. A smaller frame would suit some people and also keep the purchase price down a little. With this in mind, I started experimenting with a couple of designs.

The first frame is one of the mini frames that I currently use. I can get 30 of those into a specially made 10 frame box. The second frame is a cut down version of the first frame. 50 would fit neatly into a custom box. The third frame is a smaller frame utilising a slightly different design. It would be a frame that is held by the base  into small slots with bee space on all sides. This design would allow only 45 frames to a box.

Regardless of size, each frame cost less that 20 cents each to produce. At the moment my preference is for the cut down frame as it would give a better financial return per super but the appearance of the last frame is a little more appealing. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Cheers

Les

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #206 on: March 08, 2023, 05:38:27 pm »
After quite a bit of thought, I decided to use the cutdown mini frame as it has a few advantages over the smaller frame. The main reasons are:
1) The cutdown min frame will fit 50 frames to the box rather than 45 of the smaller frames. ( this is due to bee space design)
2) End bars are concealed and do not get a build up of propolis and wax which makes cleaning a quick task before packaging.
3) This method works and modification of the design is only a minor task
4) unit cost is only about 5 cents more than the smaller frames

I just finished building and painting a box to hold the frames.

Material used was 120x19 pine. The ends of the box have rebates cut to a depth of 8mm.
Dividers are dropped down 8mm from the top of the box.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #207 on: March 08, 2023, 05:46:35 pm »

The dividers are lifted 9mm from the bottom of the box to give bee space to allow horizontal movement of bees above the excluder.

Spacer blocks were used to keep dividers accurately spaced to ensure precise fitting of frames. You will see that some of my marking out was not correct which was corrected by the spacers. The next job will be to construct frame making jigs.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #208 on: March 10, 2023, 01:14:21 am »
Just finished making an assembly jig for the new frames. The jig holds pieces in place for the stapler.

This ensures that the frame is square and allows the nose of the stapler to sit in exactly the right position.

Next job will be to cut material to size and make 50 frames.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #209 on: March 10, 2023, 07:20:41 pm »
All the remaining jigs were constructed yesterday.

They include a plug press for pushing and holding foundation in the frame, a jig for holding the frame while the hot stamp engraves the frame and two templates for cutting foundation to size. I bought two 8 foot length of 3x2 non structural pine from my local hardware store and cut and assembled all frames. This material may contain a knot or two (which is cut out) but the timber is only about 30 to 40% of normal untreated pine. I had enough material to make 60 frames plus a lot of the jig components. Unit frame cost ended up at 16 cents which is more than reasonable. Foundation was trimmed to size using the templates and a pizza cutter. It will be inserted into the frame during the next honey flow in the spring. All jigs did their job and cut assembly time considerably.



Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #210 on: January 13, 2024, 05:44:43 pm »
It?s been a while since posting in this thread but I thought I?d show the latest development in this area. Over the last couple of days I?ve been playing with the laser cutter to produce frames for comb honey. Using thin plywood, box pieces can be accurately cut with finger joints to make assembly an easy task. A slot was cut in the top bar and grooves in the sides and bottom to allow a piece of foundation to be slipped into place. Top and bottom bars were shaped to give bee space. There is also potential for graphics and text to be added to the top of the frame. As the cutter does all this without much input from me, the time saving will be huge. As an example, while a number of frames are being cut out, I can be assembling frames and inserting foundation into boxes that have already been cut out. The size of frames, slots etc will be refined to suit the box being used and obviously the thickness of the foundation to be inserted.

Online Terri Yaki

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #211 on: January 13, 2024, 05:52:02 pm »
Those look very nice, congratulations. Once I'm up and running, I'd like to dabble in comb honey a little. I'm not thinking a lot, just a little. Maybe I could put a deep super on with medium frames and let them build them out on the bottoms.

Online The15thMember

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #212 on: January 13, 2024, 07:34:37 pm »
Those look very nice, congratulations. Once I'm up and running, I'd like to dabble in comb honey a little. I'm not thinking a lot, just a little. Maybe I could put a deep super on with medium frames and let them build them out on the bottoms.
You could do that.  You could also just not put foundation or wires in a frame or two.  Or you could just never use foundation or wires; I don't!  :happy:
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Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #213 on: January 13, 2024, 08:09:17 pm »
A beekeeper I know still uses the wire to give strength to the comb and when he wants comb honey, he cuts the wires, attaches a battery charger briefly to each wire and then pulls it out of the comb while it is still hot. Clever thinking in my opinion.

Online The15thMember

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #214 on: January 13, 2024, 08:21:23 pm »
That is 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.

Online Terri Yaki

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #215 on: January 14, 2024, 08:35:28 am »
Thanks for those tips, I'll try them all out and see what works best for me. I look forward to shoving a hunk of that in my mouth.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #216 on: January 17, 2024, 03:35:56 am »
Another wet afternoon so it was a few hours confined to the computer and workshop. The morning was spent on the beach catching tonight?s dinner but the fishing was a bit slow. Plenty of time to think and solve a few more beekeeping issues. Two years ago I designed an adjustable frame for holding 8 mini boxes for comb honey. The system works quite well but there are issues with the design. The frame does take a reasonable amount of time to make and there are slight issues if all of the mini frames are not exact in their size. This often means a bit of packing with cardboard to ensure nothing moves once the frame is tightened. The other issue with this type of frame is that it requires the standard frames on each side to be evenly drawn and capped to enable the bees produce straight comb within the mini frames. Thought I?d start with the issue of the adjustable frame. If I could design and cut the top and bottom bars on the laser cutter, I could ensure accuracy with absolutely no error. I also wanted to make this frame using no machine tools. A lot of people don?t have extensive workshops or the background in using this type of gear so I limited myself to a handsaw and a hacksaw for this project to see if it could be done. Decided to use some 90x12 pine and see if the machine would handle it. A few samples were cut to determine the correct settings to get the best result.The board was cut a bit longer than required and was positioned in the laser. Due to the length of these two pieces, the timber had to be positioned diagonally on the laser bed. Holes were also marked out which meant no drill was needed. The top and bottom bars cut out very well. I am pleased that the laser can handle this thickness of material.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #217 on: January 17, 2024, 03:44:42 am »
The burn took about 8 minutes due to the thickness of the material. While they were cutting I did some other work nearby. I was pleased with the result. Holes were exact. With a laser, you don?t have the drill wandering like you do when using a drill press. I did make a mistake with the size of the holes in the bottom bar. They needed to be larger to allow for the tee nuts that would be fitted underneath. A 30 second job on the software fixed the issue for any future cuts. I did drill these holes out so that the material would not be wasted. Tee nuts were then tapped into the bottom bar.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #218 on: January 17, 2024, 03:46:27 am »
Some threaded rod was then cut with a hacksaw and screwed into the tee nuts. The top bar could then be slid into place.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Comb honey. A journey of learning
« Reply #219 on: January 17, 2024, 04:05:03 am »
The end bars in the original plan had a slot to hide the threaded rod. As I didn?t want to use a saw bench to cut this trench, I designedly the end bars to be made from 3 pieces of 9mm ply. I had some small off cuts lying around so I cut them with a hand saw to a size that would fit on the laser bed. The design was changed from the original plan to be similar to a standard frame end bar. This would provide extra support and holding power compared to what I am currently using. The end bars and spacers were cut without issue and a thin stream of Titebond 111 had everything glued up. A few spring cramps held the spacers in place for 20 minutes while the glue tacked off.

 

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