Ah, beautiful Easter weekend in Carolina, how I love thee.
It rained the majority of the time, preventing me from working the bees. But I had no need to this weekend, thanks to my spiffy new software Hive Tracks. It keeps me organized, including a constantly changing and updating to-do list. On that list? Installing new foundation into frames. I made the leap to Plasticell foundation from Dadant in all sizes, buying the waxed plastic sheets that are re-usable and sturdy. But just to make it even more irresistible for my bees to draw, I re-coated the sheets with their own wax, too. Having never done this before, I opted to use a shallow pan on my hotplate since I don't have a ton of wax. Doing this requires a cement floor and a place out of sight to hide the mess.
The shallow rectangular pan was a perfect size to dip the sheets into, deep, medium and shallow foundation. However, the pan expanded and contracted as the hot plate did its work, so I had to constantly watch the pan and make sure it didn't tip over (yes, it did a couple of times, so there I was scraping wax off the cement floor).
After 40 or so I got the hang of it, sliding and dipping one side, rotating it, then knocking it against the bottom of the pan to release excess wax. Then I stood the sheets up vertically to cool. After 20 were done, I went back and coated the undipped halves.
Once all that was done for this round of waxing foundation, I got some of the sheets installed into the frames. Remember my divided bottom bars on some of my frames? Well, Plasticell needs a grooved bottom bar. So on those I stapled a popsicle stick on the bottom and it was good to go. Those sheets snapped right into place, then bam, bam, bam I stapled in the wedge and one frame done in seconds. THAT makes me love Plasticell. I went with black on the deep and medium sheets to help my eyes see the tiny bee eggs when inspecting (the shallow sheets are yellow). As I was coating these sheets, I had a few visitors buzzing around my room. My bee room smelled so amazing and wonderful of beautiful beeswax. All in all I used up almost 8 pounds of wax on 20 sheets of deep foundation, 20 medium and 20 shallow sheets. Now that's cleared from the shelves. I also rendered my collection of wax cappings from last year's honey harvest I'd taken out of the freezer a day earlier, some stretched foundationless frames of partial combs and a whole bunch of burr comb my mentees and I had gathered off some boxes this spring. So I've got another round of wax ready to harvest and use to coat more sheets. "It's THEIR wax, give it back to them!" I kept telling myself, sometimes out loud. "They'll reward me with so much new comb, new bees and new honey!"
When it wasn't raining, T's Bees were hard at work (and sometimes even when it was raining). Here a lovely bee works this spring's holly blooms, which smell so wonderful and permeate the breezes here in Carolina.
Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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