Get your wooden ware protected with Hive Guard!
Hive dipping is an alternative to painting for wood preservation. This process is quick, does not require space for drying, and should last much longer than paint or stain. Even better, it can sterilize equipment - including killing AFB spores, and is a recommended method for dealing with disease risk: Here is a fact sheet from the New Zealand Government on the process. I have been researching this alternative technique for a few years now and this year (2021) decided to take the plunge and have a tank made. The tank is stainless, and will be filled with a mixture of 2:1 paraffin to micro crystalline wax. The wax is heated to 160 ° Celsius (302 ° 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 dipping tank contains about 680 lbs of wax, so it takes a really long time to melt.
Non-plastic hive parts can be sterilized by dipping them in paraffin wax at 302°F for at least 10 minutes. Both the time and temperature are crucial, so it is essential that a timer and thermometer are used. Temperatures less than 302°F or dipping times less than 10 minutes will not kill all the AFB spores. The thermometer must be strongly made (e.g. commercial food manufacturing grade), and should be capable of reading temperatures up to 392°F.
Care must be taken when handling paraffin wax at high temperatures. There is the obvious risk of burns, so protective clothing needs to be worn. Heavy-duty industrial rubber gloves are recommended, and eye protection should be used. A set of long-handled tongs is an essential piece of equipment to remove the dipped wooden-ware from the hot paraffin..r 1.5 to two hours to bring the dipper up to the required temperature of 302°F.
Paraffin wax has a flash point of 356°F, so the temperature must be kept well below this level, especially since the use of an open fire often results in wide fluctuations in temperature. Water sprinkled directly into the fire box can be used to quickly reduce the temperature. Some wax dippers can also be heated by gas or electricity (Fig. 61). Although these are more expensive to operate, they are safer and provide better temperature control.
Cons(-) • Prone to cracking and breaking film
• Limited durability and preservation
• No Sterilization
• Chemical Composition ?? Cr, Pb, etc.
• Non FDA/CFIA compliance – Direct Contact
Pros(+) • Popular
• Low Cost??
PROPERTY OF WAXES
REFINED PARAFFIN WAX
• Food approved
• Low melting temperature
• BRITTLE & HARD
• Prone to cracking
• Lower impregnation
Wax dipped beehives outlast everything else in the industry! These hives are almost maintenance free and have a natural wood finish that lasts for years.
Just a little bit about preserving wooden ware. For me one of the worst things I can bring myself to do is to buy replacement wooden ware. Let's face it beehive 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 un-assembled, put it together myself and finish it myself. I would prefer to buy my wooden-ware once and any additional purchases are to support our growing apiary.
This is where wax dipping of wooden ware comes in. For the past few years, I have been staining all my wooden ware. 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! For the past six to seven years, I have been doing (way too much) research on paraffin dipping of wooden ware. 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 or stain. 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 micro-crystalline wax heated to 150-160 degrees Celsius (302-320 deg. F). The wooden ware is then fully immersed in the wax for about 10 minutes. This allows for the wax to permeate the wood and displace all 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 wooden ware 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 680 lbs. of wax and takes about four 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 we have enough wooden ware stacked up to make it worthwhile.
We should start our first run sometime in late January and knock out all the wooden ware 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 wooden ware to get their orders in as early as possible. We want to avoid a backlog 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.
Cost, yep this is always the big question. First let me tell you a little about the equipment and the materials. For many folks that have a few hives or even a few dozen hives the required equipment will discourage you from wax dipping. The process is also inherently dangerous. The wax is heated well above its flash point for ignition (burning) and safety measures are a must.
This is probably the place where I should say
("Please don't try this at home")
Back to equipment, we have a custom-built stainless-steel tank that holds 680+ pounds of wax. The tank has a weighted lid that is also a fire suppressor. We also have several fire extinguishers on standby. Our method of heating the wax is by a custom-made propane gas burners under the tank. This setup has proven the most economical design for us.
After calculating gas consumption for warm-up and process then adding in wax, labor, and other supplies, it is easy to see that the pricing of wax dipped equipment is a bit higher than standard equipment. Surprisingly though we can wax dip our hives for about the same price as painting them! In the long run the best value is to double or triple the life of your equipment.
Talk to us about wax dipping your equipment. If you build it yourself or have it, bring it by, and of course if you are buying new, we would be happy to supply you with high quality wax dipped equipment.
$20/ box or box equivalent to cover
$8/tops and bottoms
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 tank. If you suspect AFB or other disease, please call me before bringing anything. The tank can sterilize AFB spores, but it is best practice to burn the boxes.
Can the equipment be painted?
Yes. However I would prefer not to contaminate my tank, You can also paint the boxes immediately after dipping (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 to clean up after yourself.
Does the equipment have to be assembled?
No, you can also dip un-assembled boxes and wooden ware. 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.
Is there anything that can’t be dipped?
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