Instead of painting, I use a hot wax mixture to keep my equipment safe from the elements. The tank is stainless, and filled with a mixture of 2:1 paraffin to microcrystalline wax. The wax is heated to 160 Celsius (320 Fahrenheit), and the boxes are submerged for 10 minutes. The water within the boxes boils out, and it is replaced with wax. The boxes are ready to go, as soon as they are dry, and should last for decades.
The melter contains about 700 lbs of wax, so once it is melted for my use, I usually make it available for local beekeepers. If you are interested in this option, please see the notes below. If you have questions, or want to know the next time that will happen, please contact me.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When is the next wax dipping date?
- April 20 - 22, 2018 - you can come in person 10 - 4 on the 20th, or drop off your equipment for me to do over the weekend. See below for drop off details.
- I usually schedule 2-3 / year, so I can do more as the season and the weather allows. If you can't come to the posted date, and have a lot of equipment, call me to works something out.
- How much does it cost?
- I do not count this as part of my business, so I just try to have my costs covered - the wax and propane, and if I have help for that day. I as for about $3/ box or box equivalent to cover those costs.
- Can I dip used equipment?
- You can dip used equipment, as long as it is clean and dry. Please make sure to remove all dirt, dust, dead bees, cobwebs etc that will gum up the bottom of the melter. If you suspect AFB or other disease, please give me a heads up first. The melter can sterilize AFB spores, but I would want to make sure that we take all precautions to not spread any pathogens during the process.
- Can the equipment be painted?
- Yes. Most of the time, the paint is just fine. I have had a few colors fade in the melter (an orange turned to light yellow). You can also paint the boxes immediately after (before they cool), if you want them painted a particular color. You'll have to do that yourself, but we can set you up with a tarp and water.
- Does the equipment have to be assembled?
- No, you can also dip unassembled boxes and woodenware. The wax goes into the wood, so it doesn't change the size of anything.
- Can I dip metal parts like screened bottom boards and telescoping covers?
- You can, but the wax will cling to the metal. It may fill in some of the holes on the bottom board (unless you immediately wipe it), and it will dull the shine on the lid. It will work fine, but you may not like the way it looks.
- Why don't you use beeswax?
- Beeswax melts at too low of a temperature. If I use beeswax the boxes will get all sticky in the heat, and the dirt will stick to them. The paraffin/ microcrystilline mix is designed to remain hard in the summer heat, and will actually impregnate the wood.
- How long does it take?
- I can do about 6 boxes at a time, and it takes about 10 minutes per round. After they come out of the melter, it takes only about a minute for them to cool and dry, and they are ready to go. If there is a lot of moisture in the wood, it tends to cool the wax (as the water boils out). It may take a while for the wax to reheat after a few rounds. Usually I can do a quite a few rounds, and then I have to let it heat up for 20 minutes or so.
- Do I have to be there the whole time?
- No, you don't. If you want to wait, you are more than welcome to hang out, talk bees, or even make frames in the wood shop (mine or yours!). I don't take appointments, and we are at the mercy of the weather and the wood moisture, so I can't guarantee that I can do it immediately. You are more than welcome to drop off your equipment well ahead of time, and pick it up after. If you drop off equipment, EVERY piece of equipment must be labeled with your name. I will leave a pallet by the American Flag pole, and you can leave your equipment there, and pick it up after the weekend is over and it is done.
- Do I need to organize with you or schedule an appointment?
- Not really, though it is good to check before you come out to make sure it is still happening. We have had to switch weekends before because of pouring rain or heavy wind. If it is bad, you can always just leave the equipment, and I'll do it when the weather turns and I have time.
Let me know if you have more questions! firstname.lastname@example.org / 651-428-0543