I just wanted to write a little bit about preserving woodenware. For me one of the worst things I can bring myself to do is to buy replacement woodenware. Let's face it bee hive parts are expensive no matter how you look at it. Some beekeepers build their own; it's a huge investment in time, materials and equipment. I and many others like to buy equipment unassembled, put it together myself and finish it myself. I would prefer to buy my woodenware once and any additional purchases are to support our growing apiary.
This is where wax dipping of woodenware comes in. For the past few years I have been priming and painting all of my woodenware. I even go to the trouble of sealing every exposed end and edge with latex caulk. Wow, those hives look fantastic when you put them out there in the bee yard! The following spring, well, not so much, let alone two or three springs! I also have an aversion to pulling all of the frames out of a hive so I can pressure wash and repaint. I don't think it makes the bees or I very happy to be accosted in such a way. For the past few years I have been doing (way too much) research on paraffin dipping of woodenware. Some of the best points that I have learned is that some keepers have dipped their hives back in the late 90's and they are still going strong, you even hear of equipment older than that still doing well. In a worst case scenario when you have a die-out (yes, it happens to everyone) you get an opportunity to re-dip a hive. On the bright side of that, you toss it in with your new hardware, very little scraping and no sanding of old paint. One of the other most important points is that a hive "deep fried" in paraffin wax is sterilized. If by some chance that die-out was caused by some virus or bacteria the heat will kill most things and what doesn't die will be encapsulated in the wax within the wood.
The process; Wax dipping is performed by heating a mixture of paraffin wax and rosin or microcrystalline wax heated to 150-160 degrees Celsius (302-320 deg. F). The woodenware is then fully immersed in the wax for about 10 minutes. This allows for the wax to permeate the wood and displace all of the moisture. Hives can be painted after dipping as long as the wood is still hot, it will absorb the paint along with the wax left on the surface. If they are left natural they will not be "waxy" or sticky but they will repel water.
Most times someone who is dipping woodenware will wait until there is enough work to keep the process running for a few hours or even days. Usually it takes nearly a day to bring six or eight hundred pounds of wax up to temperature. Our tank holds about 800 lbs of wax and should take about six hours to bring up to temperature. So, if you're going to get this done, make sure you plan ahead and stay in contact with the folks doing the dipping. If you miss an opportunity it may mean waiting for another few weeks until they have enough woodenware stacked up to make it worthwhile.
We should start our first run sometime in late January and knock out all of the woodenware ordered over the winter. Follow up sessions will be as the demand requires and weather permits. We encourage everyone who is considering purchasing wax dipped woodenware to get their orders in as early as possible. We want to avoid a backlog for woodenware during the January schedule due to getting everything assembled and ready for the dipping process. Winter is the time for building equipment and getting ready for when spring arrives.
For more information about wax dipped beehives and Woodenware in Tappahannock contact us at HiveFive Apiary and Bee Supply.
Please ask for a quote for quantity discounts.