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Offline Ralphee

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Making foundation
« on: October 14, 2020, 09:32:36 pm »
What do people use to make their own foundation?
Looking up how its done is fun on YouTube, but i dont think i need an industrial plant for my few bee hives!
Do people the hinged alloy plates that have the pattern on them? (think a giant sandwich press) Even these are a few hundred $$

I am very much a hobby bee keeper, i only have 3 hives (so far...) and not making hundreds of frames, so i am looking at the silicon mold which is only $50 or so
That way i can use the wax i have and make some of my own foundations and not break the budget

I see some people use the paddle to make flat sheets, but the rollers to imprint the patterns are even more expensive than the alloy press! (and we know that flat foundation isnt the best)

So, without buying crazy expensive equipment - how do YOU make foundations from your own wax??

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2020, 10:55:32 pm »
I tried to make a silicone mold. It did not work at all.
I recommend that you just buy wax foundation.
Jim Altmiller

Offline Ralphee

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2020, 12:08:24 am »
sawdstmakr - that was my thoughts, probably a lot easier to simply buy them as i am not producing hundreds of frames (or thousands like some of you!)
But i like to play and its a hobby, so i am curious what other people do, and experiences from others.
Watching a couple youtubes with the silicon molds looks very hit-or-miss and the full alloy frames are more expensive for me than simply buying the foundation pre-made.

Do people who assembly hundreds (or thousands) of frames buy the foundations? Or what do you use?

Offline paus

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2020, 10:37:29 am »
For years I used store "boughten" foundation.   I am going foundationless now, it's not for everybody but check it out.  My foundation comes from the same source my honey comes from and I know it did not come from China.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2020, 02:30:14 pm »
There really is no need for foundation.  Just a comb guide will do and that can be wood.  But if you insist, you really need a press to emboss it and you make sheets with a board soaked in brine and dipped in wax.  If you don't have a press the resulting sheets are vary hard and kind of brittle so it's hard for the bees to work it.  Hawley Honey in Kansas sells the presses at the best prices I've seen.  I would get a 4.9mm press if it was me. 
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
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Offline worrywort

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2020, 07:17:33 pm »
Hello Mr Bush.
I live in the UK and Have tried a few of your Brilliant ideas. The foundation less frames  I tried I planed a 45 degree angle on the edge of the wedge which holds the foundation in place. I stapled it to the top bar. I put six inside a hive with a frame of foundation either side.

A couple of years later. I replaced the combs and as I was cutting out the old comb, I realised amongst them were The foundation less Combs. I had forgotten about the trial and they were used and waved about just like the Foundation combs. They looked exactly alike. 

Back to the Foundation question. (Forgive me For a moment as I am relying on Memory. A few years ago a Magazine called The Beekeepers Quarterly ran an article about how some beekeepers in Africa would pour  A thin layer of wax onto a wet board, peel it off and attach it inside a frame.

It was found that it worked as well as foundation if half a dozen 1 inch  (25mm) triangular Holes were cut out with the point down. The bees would work it almost as fast.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2020, 07:28:47 pm by worrywort »

Offline Skeggley

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2020, 10:59:42 am »

Back to the Foundation question. (Forgive me For a moment as I am relying on Memory. A few years ago a Magazine called The Beekeepers Quarterly ran an article about how some beekeepers in Africa would pour  A thin layer of wax onto a wet board, peel it off and attach it inside a frame.


Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2020, 08:50:56 pm »
Actually I just made a batch of home made foundation this year with mixed results. I took some used wood frames and wired them with mono fishing line and cast the wax foundation in the frame instead of casting it separate and installing it in the frame.

  It ended up being a pretty simple procedure, I cut a piece of plywood which was a tight fit in the frame, soaked it with water and pressed the wired frame onto it. Then I used a ladle to pour liquid bees wax onto the plywood and immediately took a second piece of water soaked plywood with a handle on it's back side and pressed the hot wax out into a sheet which embedded the mono fishing line and filled the frame. Sometimes a second pour of wax was needed for deep frames and to fill out the edges missed during the first pour. The first half dozen didn't fill out right till I got the technique right.  I mainly made shallows with a couple of deeps.

Ended up with what looked like heavy usable foundation cast into the frame. Unfortunately the bees didn't seem to like it and wouldn't draw it out even during a flow. I had three or four frames that were drawn out just a little along the top bar but it looked like the bees were making burr comb not foundation. I only kept the home made foundation in the hives for about five or six weeks and they might of drawn them out more if I had left them in there longer.

  Looking back at it I think that the foundation needed to be embossed like commercial foundation, the bees couldn't draw out the wax because it had a smooth surface and they couldn't get ahold of it to work it. I never could figure out a way to emboss the wax so it went on the back burner till I have more time to work on it. I was thinking about making a small roller but couldn't figure out how to cut the comb design in it.

 Maybe transfer the comb pattern onto a aluminum roller and etch with acid but that's pushing my envelope a little. Casting a aluminum roller is another way to go but it's still outside my comfort zone. A small cold chisel and hammer would work but take forever dinging in each hexagon and I would still need some aluminum round stock to work with.  Just some ideas I came up with to make a roller. A 3D printer would be the ticket but don't have one laying around LOL

If you are going to give it a try use regular foundation wire not mono fishing line, the fishing line has a lot of stretch when hot and the foundation will flop and sag.
Hope this helps.   

Offline Ralphee

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2020, 12:54:21 am »
The aluminum molds are expensive, i wonder if a 3D printed mold using a heat resistance plastic would work?
Beeswax has a relatively low melting point range of 62 to 64 ?C (144 to 147 ?F), so it doesn't have to be highly heat resistant.
Now to try and find someone with a 3D printer! - has anyone tried this??

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Making foundation
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2020, 06:30:40 pm »
Some random ideas
- Buy a sheet or two of the thickest plastic foundation available. Would that perhaps bet the Rite-Cell brand?
- next get a liquid silicone pouring mould making kit.

Mix up the silicone and make a mould slab from the plastic foundation sheet.  Make two slabs, one for each side. 

Next take those silicone slabs and makeup a wax pouring unit that does both sides at once. Pour hot wax in, open to remove the new wax foundation sheet, repeat to makeup as many foundation sheets as you want.

Just thinking on the fly there.


There are two other ways of making foundation that are much more efficient. 
1. Dont.  Just give them a starter strip along the top bar and let the bees make it themselves.
2. Transmute cash directly to foundation.  In other words, buy it.
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Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2020, 03:44:23 pm »
Well after screwing around with making my own I'm moving over to plastic foundation and using my extra wax on it. LOL

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2020, 05:38:11 pm »
Well after screwing around with making my own I'm moving over to plastic foundation and using my extra wax on it. LOL
😀
Smart move. 
Jim Altmiller
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 02:09:20 pm by sawdstmakr »

Offline Ralphee

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2020, 01:18:18 am »
Okay, the general consensus seems to be - "Dont!"

And seeing that i think there are a lot of people here who would be much smarter than myself when it comes to what is cost effective and productive, i think i will take that advice!
Purely for the sake of playing, i might get a plastic frame and mold it (i have stuff at home, i was going to use for a different project, so no cost except one new fresh and shinny plastic frame), then see if i can mount that on a board and use some of my extra wax to play. If its a horrible mess (most likely to be) then i can re-melt and nothing but my time is lost.

Have you ever watched the industrial machines making wax frames? That's mesmerizing!

Thank you all.

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2020, 01:28:29 pm »
Good luck with it and let us know how it works out. Just because I couldn't figure it out doesn't mean it can't be done. ;)

Offline Bobbee

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Re: Making foundation
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2020, 05:09:57 pm »
I just found an interesting link to a 3d printed foundation roller >https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:746054/makes<