Along with the labour intensity involved in making them, the craft of making beeswax cell foundations is becoming increasingly specialised thanks to the ready availability of prefabricated plastic or wax cell foundations. However, some apiary experts are keeping this knowledge alive and also encouraging a DIY attitude. According to Volcano Island Honey, making your own organic cell foundation is healthier than commercially made versions, which use wax that may contain leftover contaminants or inorganic plastic.
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Things you need
- Sheet of one-quarter-inch thick wood board, cut to 18-by-11.5 inches
- One vat of salt water
- Wax blocks
- Electric wax melter or two vats
- One vat of cool water
- One vat of warm water
- Embossing mill
Soak the wooden board in salt water for 24 hours.
Melt the wax. You can use an electric wax melter for this, or you can put a vat with the wax in it into another vat partially filled with water and heat up the water using a propane burner. There should be enough wax in the vat so that you can dip the board up to the approximate size of your final cell foundation.
Dip the wood board in the melted wax one or more times, until both sides are coated to the thickness you prefer.
Immerse the waxed board in cool water and remove.
Prepare them for the embossing mill by putting the sheets in warm water until they reach a temperature between 32.2 and 37.7 degrees C, and warming the rollers of your embossing mill until they reach a temperature of 52,815 degrees C.
Run the sheets through your beeswax embossing mill, which should have rollers that will imprint hexagonal cell shapes. Make sure that the honeycomb cell pattern gets embedded deeply, so the bees will have a solid foundation to work with. The cell shapes on embossing mill rollers are available in different sizes; which cell size you use is partly personal preference and partly trial and error.
Dry the sheets with a paper towel and cut them to fit the size of your particular wooden beehive frames. Store with sheets of waxed paper in between if you are not using the cell foundations right away.
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