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Author Topic: Making Foundation  (Read 405 times)

Offline Beeboy01

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Making Foundation
« on: June 04, 2020, 12:57:18 pm »
This has been a question that has been bouncing around in my head for a while. I've a lot of rendered wax and am interested in making my own foundation. My question is has anybody tried to set the foundation in the frames as it's being made? There are plenty of U Tube videos where they make foundation by dipping a wet paddle into hot wax, letting it cool then peeling it off the paddle. That gives a regular sheet of foundation that still needs to be placed in a frame.
  I was thinking that it would be possible to take a pre wired frame sitting flat on a stationary wet piece of wood the size of the foundation that's being made and press the paddle with hot wax on it against the stationary block. The pre wiring would get inbedded in the wax and when cooled it should produce a wired frame with ready to go foundation. It wouldn't have any comb pattern on it but I've found that bees tend to draw out what they need not what's on the foundation.
  Guess I'm getting some cabin fever sitting around and need to cut back on my coffee but can't see any drawbacks in giving it a try. Any thoughts about it?
Thanks All

Here's a followup, it almost works but the wire or fishing line which I just tried it with doesn't get inbedded in the wax enough. I tried using two pieces of foundation and tried sandwiching the line between it. Couldn't get a good fusion between the two sheets of wax so that's out. It also used way too much wax. Dipping a wet paddle in hot wax actually produces a pretty nice sheet of wax.
  Had some success by laying the frame and line on a piece of home made foundation and painting the wax over the fishing line which might be the way to go. Need to make a slightly bigger paddle to fill the space in the frame from top to bottom bar, I'm about 1/4 inch narrow. I was only working with a few shallow frames today just trying different ideas, not sure how it will transfer over to deep frames which need more support for the foundation.
   Maybe pouring the wax onto the base then flattening it with the paddle while liquid would get the support fishing line inbedded properly. Going to give that a try next using a ladle for the pour. 
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 05:17:09 pm by Beeboy01 »

Offline Absinthe

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2020, 08:13:16 am »
A couple things to note.

If you are using wire as opposed to monofilament have you simply tried laying the wax sheet on it and hitting it with a battery for a few seconds to let it melt in?

In the examples I have seen where they made sheets (without the cell impressions) there was a second step of rolling them that had a tempering effect so that they weren't so brittle. This may be difficult to do once it is within the confines of the frame, but perhaps have you considered doing the rolling when the wire/mono is present, like with a glass instead of a rolling pin that would fit between the frame?

Not sure the frame size you are going for, but how about if you simply weave the foundation between the wires? And let the bees do the integration for you later?

I am not sure that your size is too bad. Consider when people do starter strips the obviously don't reach the bottom, and even with full sheets of wax foundation, the bees tend to chew holes here and there along the sides for communication. The wax foundation is kind of just a "suggestion" with the goal of keeping things straight.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2020, 09:13:31 am »
If the foundation is not sufficiently thin in the center of the cells then the bees will rework it.  I am not sure what you gain by making your own foundation if it causes more work for the bees.  Don't get me wrong I have had these ideas too.  I cast the idea away because I don't see the gain.
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Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2020, 02:36:46 pm »
So far pouring the wax and then pressing it flat has shown the most promise. With the cost of wax foundation going through the roof and having about fifty pounds of wax sitting around it is simply an economic decision to make my own. I have plenty of time to work out any problems since the Coronavirus-19 pandemic is still in full force and I'm practicing safe lockdown.
  AceB, having the bees move the wax around is a lot more resource efficient than having them build fresh comb every time a frame is installed. I don't understand why you think thick foundation could be a waste of resources when bees rework most foundation anyways. The only resource I'm "wasting" with thick foundation is the wax which is free.
  It's mainly an economic decision on my part but also helps my bee yard to become almost completely self sufficient and cost free. I'm already breeding my own queens and haven't purchased any nucs in about five years. Purchasing foundation has always been an expense since I try to swap it out every four years as recommended.
   I don't think there is any need to "temper" the wax since it's already in place and doesn't need to be manipulated when installed in the frame.  The home made foundation is also a little thicker which makes it stronger and resistant to cracking. If I was going to use the foundation like commercially made where it needs to be installed in a frame then I could see the need to "temper" it so it's not brittle but that's not the objective of what I'm attempting. 
     

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2020, 02:45:33 pm »
Beeboy, have you considered buying a roller type embosser? The initial cost would be a lot but should last a lifetime? I do not have one, nor know anyone who has one. I did see them advertised on Alibaba. I would suppose you would have to be very careful when buying one. (Know the cell size). It might be a good idea to start a new topic asking if we have members here that use these and the results which may be obtained?

Phillip
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline Absinthe

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2020, 03:16:14 pm »
Something else I hadn't thought of before. What if you don't actually wire the frame, but simply embed the wire into the foundation... You know, like "wired foundation"? :)

The thing with wired foundation is that the wire seems to be kinky. I suppose that is intentional to give some more surface area so that it doesn't just slice through. You could perhaps stretch it across your paddle before hand, and once the wax cools, release it then simply fold it over like you would with wired foundation in slotted frames.

I still think this would be the awesomeness!!! but what do I know :)

Offline Absinthe

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2020, 03:22:22 pm »
Or this guy

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2020, 05:25:56 pm »
Absinthe, I've seen wire embedders even had one from the early 60's which was a step down transformer screwed to a piece of wood which had a cut up tin can for an off/on switch. I think it came from the Root Company, it would of been a collectible by now, real pre OSHA with exposed wires.  After the last few hours playing around in the shop my take is that wire would work better than fishing line because it has no stretch to it and is easier to tie off but doesn't need to be imbedded with electricity.
    Prewiring the frames and pouring wax on them is quick and easy with decent results if done right. So far I've only been successful with shallow frames, deep frames take a lot more wax and that's where the stretch problem with the fishing line showed up.
   Cross wiring up and down would be nice but I can't figure out how to do it quickly, in fact I don't know how to even start setting something like that up for a backyard operation. Purchasing an embosser is way beyond my budget also. There are a few videos on U-Tube with silicon foundation molds and how to use and make them which might be worth pursuing down the road.   
  The biggest drawback so far is the cooling time needed before the wax and frame can be handled. Picking up the frame too soon causes the wax to pull apart and crack. If I was planning to run a lot of frames I would set up three or four stations to allow for cooling downtime. 

Offline Absinthe

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2020, 08:40:43 pm »
Oh, I love the one with the (I am guessing somewhere West Africa from the accent) fellow that just buys 5 tubes of silicone caulk to do it. Although the brilliance of that was that he used plastic foundation for the mold mother. But you can spend a bunch and get the nice 2 part silicone mold making stuff and do that too. Seems easy enough. The one thing I hadn't seen was putting up some walls so that you were pouring the wax to a given depth before putting the second mold onto it. It all looked like making waffles and made me hungry :)

Something else I though of on the wires/mono. It might have to be raised up off of the paddle some. Just a few thou, and that might make it better especially for the mono. The other thing I was thinking of was to cook the mono in the hot wax first so that it is up to the wax temp before it gets hit with the hot wax. It might pull the wax around it better, kind of like sweating a pipe. Or you might have to pre-wax the mono like a candle wick, or tinning multi-strand wire before soldering.

Just guessing, at some point, don't starter strips just sound like a better idea :)

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2020, 10:35:04 pm »
"Just guessing, at some point, don't starter strips just sound like a better idea :)" LOL yeah I'm just burning time with not much to show for it but what the heck, I'm having fun. Actually the shallow foundation is working out pretty well so far. I'll probably put together two boxes of shallow frames and see how the bees like them. Got a Cabbage Palm flow starting soon and need a couple more honey supers.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2020, 10:49:45 am »
  AceB, having the bees move the wax around is a lot more resource efficient than having them build fresh comb every time a frame is installed. I don't understand why you think thick foundation could be a waste of resources when bees rework most foundation anyways. The only resource I'm "wasting" with thick foundation is the wax which is free.
You are also wasting the bees time.  They have to chew it out and it gets wasted at the bottom board.  It adds to the mess which harbors hive beetles and wax moths.  To me it makes more sense that if you have a lot of wax then sell it and buy foundation.  Time wise the bees can draw comb as fast from nothing as they can from foundation.  The purpose for foundation is so you don't have to fool around straightening the comb.  Foundation also has the advantage of embedded wires so the frames can handle more manipulation. IMO if you cannot produce embossed foundation with wires then you are also wasting your time whether it be free or not.  As you get older you are a little bit cognizant to wasting time because you have less of it.
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Offline paus

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2020, 02:50:31 pm »
Something that I like and you may have missed.  Skewers in the frame, 2-3 is all that is needed and I can install 2 skewers as fast as I can use mono or wire and I have seen some people that are fast at installing mono.  Build a simple jig to drill 3 bottom frames, then when frame is complete install skewers and drive point into top frame, then  a drop of glue probably not needed, but I always put a drop in hole in bottom frame.   Use top guide, then wax or  dip frame in water left from recovering wax.

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2020, 05:45:58 pm »
Paus, I've heard about using skewers as support for foundation just didn't think of it, thanks for the tip. I've seen skewers used for cutouts to support the odd shaped comb but didn't transfer it over to what I'm trying.
  So far making foundation has an advantage when mainly reusing older frames. To install fresh foundation in older frames the frame needs to be scraped down and the top wedge removed along with the bottom bar grove cleaned out. So far running some support line and pouring fresh wax foundation takes a lot less time than cleaning the frame and using store bought foundation.
  Ace, I'm not wasting the bee's time. The job of pulling out or producing foundation is performed by the younger house bees before they become field bees. The life cycle of a bee has them producing and drawing out wax in the hive when young. Providing the house bees with thick wax means they will not need to produce as much wax for comb building thereby saving hive resources.   

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2020, 10:18:32 am »
Paus I am attaching an article from the Apiarist which features your skewer type frames as well as starter wood strips. It states the skewers are the last part of the frame that the comb will be attached as the building goes but WILL be attached. When it is attached the comb will prove to be as good and rigid as wired in fountain frames. (which I have found to be true and a very good thing). I am thinking when it is time to remove the old combs sometime in the future, the removal should be easy and quick when using the steam method as demonstrated by Tim of (Way Out West) in Ireland. (Youtube). Leaving the skewers intact and in place being ready to go right back into service. I can't thank you enough for sharing this valuable method.

Phillip


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For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline Robo

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2020, 10:59:58 am »
You have made an assumption that is going to bite you once you figure out your pressing methods.   The bees will not draw on a flat surface (ie no cell stamping).   Just ask anyone who has used duragilt.   When the bees chew off the wax cell impressions they will never draw comb there.   Bees natural instinct is to draw comb from the bottom and both sides at one time.    If you put tflat sheets of wax next to each other, they will more than likely just draw natural comb between the two or perpendicular between the sheets.   Trust me,  you aren't the first to try smooth wax sheets.
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Offline Honeyeater

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2020, 06:14:42 am »
The purpose for foundation is so you don't have to fool around straightening the comb.

Illuminate me if I'm wrong as usual, but isn't one of the main reasons to use foundation (a full sheet) is to get less drones?

Online Garigal

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2020, 07:57:07 am »
Yeah and uniformity of cell size, less or no wonky comb, and it's wired in so structurally stronger too.

Has there ever been a perforated stencil-like foundation, like a mesh of hexagon cells invented & tested?

Offline Acebird

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2020, 08:31:56 am »
The purpose for foundation is so you don't have to fool around straightening the comb.

Illuminate me if I'm wrong as usual, but isn't one of the main reasons to use foundation (a full sheet) is to get less drones?
If the colony wants drones they will make them.  If you go out of your way to prevent it the hive suffers.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2020, 08:32:51 am »
like a mesh of hexagon cells invented & tested?
They don't like mesh at the bottom of the cell.
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Online Garigal

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2020, 08:50:04 am »
like a mesh of hexagon cells invented & tested?
They don't like mesh at the bottom of the cell.

No I guess I meant a web of wax hexagons with holes through it, although it would be very weak and the bees would probably tear it apart.

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making Foundation
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2020, 12:24:57 pm »
Update, I made a full box of shallow foundation using the pour and press method and installed it in on of my bigger, more active hives last week. Doesn't seem to have a flow going on right now but the Cabbage palms have started which I hope will stimulate the bees into drawing out the flat sheets of wax. I'm interested in seeing if the hive will reject or use the flat foundation. If this batch works I'll switch over to wiring the frames instead of using fishing line which has a lot of stretch.
  Home made flat foundation might only be useful as starter strips. Only time will tell, you can't rush the bees into doing something they don't want to do.