ABC and XYZ of BEEKEEPING, A.I. Root – 1891 – Pages 62-72
Since the introduction of foundation, within the past few years, many difficult points have been solved completely; such as, how to insure straight combs, how to insure all worker-comb or all drone-comb, as the case may be, and how to furnish the bees with the wax they need without being obliged to secrete it by the consumption of honey. It is so simple a matter to make a practical test of it by hanging a piece in a hive when honey is coming in, that I think I may be excused from describing the way in which the bees use it, at any great length. Neither will it be needful to dwell on the successive steps by which it was discovered, and brought to its present state of perfection. The first mention we have of wax foundations that were accepted by the bees, was published in a German bee-journal as far back as 1857.
Mr. J. Mehring, of Frankinthal, Germany, if I am correct, seems to have been the original inventor. For nearly 20 years the matter seems to have slumbered, although different ones at different times, among whom was our friend Wagner, took it up, made some improvements, and dropped it again. The sheets made in both England and Germany had no side-walls, but simply indentations. Mr. Wagner added shallow side-walls, making it much more like natural comb. Until recently it was all made with a pair of plates; even yet the Given press is preferred by some (see elsewhere); but it did not require much wisdom to decide that such an article, if wanted in large quantities, should be rolled out by machinery. In the latter part of 1875 I talked with a friend of mine who is quite an artist in the way of fine mechanical work and machinery, and told him what I thought was wanted. The result was that he made a machine that would roll out a continuous sheet, with very fair side-walls of wax, and superior to anything ever made. Indeed, so perfect was the workmanship of the rolls, that, even though fifteen years have passed, nothing yet has been constructed which fully equals the foundation from them. Mr. A. Washburn, the mechanic who did the work, made the rolls by stamping – an operation slow, laborious, and consequently expensive. This made the price of these machines from $100 to $125 apiece – a figure beyond the reach of the average bee-keeper, and even of most supply-dealers. In consequence of the call for mills for less money, Mr. Chas. Olm, of Fond du Lac, Wis., invented an automatic machine which cut with a set of knives the embossed surface of the rolls. It was thus made possible for us to manufacture foundation-mills at a price from one-fourth to one-fifth of those first made.
As the space here is limited, I can hardly go into minute details showing you how these rolls are made. The following is an engraving of a machine embodying the principles of the original one made by Mr. Olm, but with the added improvements of the foreman of our machine shop, Mr. Washburn.
There are two gravers, as you will notice, held at the proper angles, set in slides operated by a crank and pitman. One of the keen chisels first comes down and makes a cut in the surface of the roll. This first cut raises the edge of the chip, but does not take it out. The other chisel cuts this chip entirely loose, and throws it out. As these knives work back and forth, the carriage holding the roll is spaced automatically until the end of the roll is reached. Here it is again carried back automatically, and after a “click, click,” the knives, or gravers, resume their work. This is repeated until the surface of the roll has been indented with the lozenge faces. The side wall is then stamped by a perpendicular punch, likewise fastened into a slide, and operated by a crank and pitman. The machine is run by power, and is almost entirely automatic. The machinist simply operates a set of levers, while the machine responds to his bidding. It can likewise be operated by hand-power whenever occasion demands.
The cut represents one of the latest improved mills. The wooden-roller attachment will be explained further on. The price of these machines ranges all the way from $15.00 to $40.00. The regular size of a ten-inch machine for the Langstroth frame costs $20.00.
HOW TO REFINE WAX
Under Wax, in the latter part of the work, this subject will be partially treated; but in this place, in order to make a first-class article of foundation, some specific directions will be necessary. Wax cakes are usually of all grades and colors, particularly if your trade is such that you are obliged to make use of the commercial article. The difference in color is due largely to the amount of impurities the wax contains. To cleanse this wax and also reduce it to a uniform color, proceed as follows: Into a receptacle of the proper size (say a wash-boiler, one that your wife will let you have), pour four or five inches of water. Put it on the stove and heat the water, after which put in the wax. When the latter is melted, dip it out and pour into receptacles with sloping sides. The deeper the receptacle the better it will be. The Dadants, who have the reputation of making the finest foundation in the world, use tin cans 10 inches in diameter at the bottom, 12 inches at the top, and 20 inches deep.* If you can not afford these deep cans, utilize whatever receptacles you can get hold of. Sap-pails or ordinary pails would answer your purpose sufficiently well, perhaps. Having dipped out all the wax from the boiler into the cans, put them in a close room, or, better still, in a cupboard, so that the cooling process may be delayed as long as possible. The longer the cooling the better opportunity is afforded for the impurities to settle to the bottom. When the wax is hard, remove and scrape off the bottom of the cakes, which will be largely foreign settlings and other impurities. If these wax cakes have not, in your judgment, attained the proper color, that is, a bright yellow, repeat the operation once or twice until you are satisfied.
The method already given is essentially the one employed by the Dadants, and I give it here because it is one of the secrets of their success in turning out yellow foundation. If you are making foundation for your own use, it is not necessary to have the wax so thoroughly refined; but as the trade demands yellow foundation you will have to supply what it calls for. We have found, however, that the darker grades of foundation are as readily accepted by the bees as the lighter. As it costs some more to make the yellower foundation, if your customer prefers, let him have the darker for one or two cents per pound less. I might state right here that the wax for thin or surplus foundation should be brighter in color than that intended for the brood-chamber. We make it a practice to save out our yellowest wax for thin foundation.
* Use no receptacles made of galvanized iron – see Wax.
HOW TO MAKE WAX SHEETS.
To be able to do this work successfully, requires not a little skill. Neatness is another important essential. A little carelessness in spilling and dripping wax upon the floor means a great deal of trouble in scrubbing it up afterwards. Indeed, it is well nigh impossible to get a floor clean after particles of wax have become pressed and rubbed into it by great big clumsy feet.
The operation of making wax sheets, in a word, is dipping a thin sheet of wood into a deep vessel of melted wax. A film will cling to the board, which is afterward peeled off. Very simple, isn’t it? But I am afraid, my friend, that, before you get through it, you will find it more difficult than you at first imagine. One of the prime essentials for making wax sheets successfully is experience. But with the assistance of a few suggestions, I can save you a great deal of trouble.
To melt wax for dipping, you must be sure not to burn it, otherwise it will be totally spoiled. To insure against this, the receptacle for melting should be inclosed by another larger receptacle containing hot water. This is to be placed upon the stove, and the wax cakes are to be deposited in the inner tank. As the wax can not get hotter than the boiling-point, there is no danger of burning. But desiring to work as economically as possible, you will feel, perhaps, that you are not able to purchase any more implements than are absolutely necessary. An old wash-boiler, or one that your wife thinks she can spare, can be made to answer nearly as good a purpose. Place it upon the stove and pour in four or five inches of water. Into the water, put the wax cakes. As the latter have a specific gravity lighter than the former, they will float on the water either before or after being melted, and consequently there will be no danger of burning. After putting in a sufficient amount it can be dipped out into the dipping-tank. This is a deep vessel for holding the wax after it is melted. A sufficient quantity should be dipped into this tank so that the dipping-board may be immersed within an inch or so of the upper end.
The dipping-tank should be placed close by the stove, so that the hot wax can be dipped or drawn off readily through a suitable faucet from the melting-tank on the stove. You are now ready for your dipping-boards, which I will presume you have already made. There should be at least two, and more would be an advantage. These boards should be made of the very best straight-grained pine lumber which you can obtain. There are generally only one or two boards in a log which are fit for the purpose, and they are the “heart” boards. These will warp neither one way nor the other, and the grain is not as liable to shale up and catch the wax sheets when being peeled off. They are to be made of a size to suit the frame you are using. If you are using the Langstroth frame, the dipping-boards should be 9 inches wide and about two feet long, or long enough to leave about two inches projecting out of the melted wax for finger room. Before using they should be soaked in brine water for a few hours, the proportion of salt in the water being about a teacupful to two or three pails of water. We have found that the salt serves a double purpose: It acts somewhat as a lubricant in facilitating the removal of the sheets, and as a preventive against the grain rising in the board, and consequently roughening. Before we used the salt, we used to have to sandpaper the boards quite frequently; but we rarely have occasion to do it now.
Besides the melting-tank, dipping-tank, and the dipping-boards, you need a cooling-vat of water, for cooling the wax film adhering to the dipping-boards. An ordinary tub of cold water may answer; but if you propose making very much foundation, you had better make an oblong shallow wooden box, capable of holding water. This cooling-vat should be close at hand.
Two can work to the best advantage – one to dip, and the other to peel off the sheets. In order to make the dipping a success, the wax must be neither too hot nor too cold. We find that we get the best results when it is at about the temperature of 165 or 170 degrees F. It is too cold if there is a small film, or little spots of cooling wax on top of the melted liquid from which you are dipping. If too cold, it will leave little ripples on the sheets, and the surface of the sheets will be wavy and the thickness irregular. If the wax is too hot, the sheets will crack in peeling off. It is very important, as you will find by experience, to do the dipping when the wax is at the right temperature. Properly made sheets will work better in the rolls than when they have been subjected to either extreme of temperature. If they begin at any time to stick to the plate, rub a rag, moistened in a weak solution of lye, such as is made from an ash-leach, on both surfaces of the board, and you will probably have no more troubl. If this fails, then the sides of the boards have become roughened, and, of course, nothing will do then but to sandpaper them down again after they are dry.
We make five kinds of foundation; viz., heavy brood, from 4 to 5 ft. per lb.; medium brood, 5 to 6 ft. per lb.; light brood, 7 to 8 ft.; thin surplus, about 10 ft. to the lb.; and extra thin surplus, from 11 to 12 ft. To make sheets for the first named, five dippings will be required; for the second, three; for the third, two; and for the last, one short quick dip.
After each successive dip into the tank, before immersing again a low all the ripples to run off till the board is smooth. Immerse quickly, and draw out as quickly. The number of dippings will have to be varied, however, according to circumstances. The adjustment of the mill, the temperature of the wax, and the quickness of the plunge of the dipping-board, all have their influence. It may be an advantage to reverse the dipping-board, i.e., dipping the other end. After the boards are dipped they should be placed immediately into the vat of cool water, which we before described. After the boards are cold, scrape the edges with a knife. Peel up a corner of the sheet, and pull it off. As you proceed in your work, the wax in the dipping-tank will become cool, and the water* in the cooling-vat will become warm. Of course, both must be restored to their proper temperature. To bring the wax in the dipping-tank to the right point, pour in a dipperful from the melting-tank on the stove. Add another dipperful, if necessary. To cool the water in the cooling-vat, draw off a portion of it and add cold water.
I have thus given minute details in regard to making wax sheets, because beginners usually fail on this feature of the work more than in any other.
*Use soft water whenever you can in foundation making.
I will presume that you have carried out faithfully the foregoing instructions, and that you have already purchased a foundation-machine. Procure a box or small table about three feet high, and upon this screw down the machine. You will also need two other small tables, one in the rear of the machine and the other in front. The latter is to hold the piles of sheets after they have beed embossed on the rolls. The former is to hold a shallow vat for holding the sheets – the latter immersed in three or four inches of water. This vat should be made of tin, long enough to accommodate the length of the sheets, and of suitable width. We find that, when the sheets are taken from lukewarm briny water (110 degrees), they work much better; indeed, we now regard this tempering of the sheets quite a necessity. In order that you may get a proper idea of the arrangement as above given, I submit the engraving on next page, taken from a photograph, as the two helpers were making foundation.
At the left of lady No. 1 is the oblong shallow vat containing the sheets immersed in tepid water. For the sake of economy of space, and general convenience, we have a couple of tables made exactly right for the purpose. The engraving will make their manner of construction self-evident. We use a similar table for holding the piles of wax sheets after being run through the rolls.
Before proceeding with the operation of rolling, see that the room is properly warmed, say about 80 degrees. It has been found by experience that this temperature is best. This is rather too warm to work with comfort; but in making fine quality of foundation, comfort is not to be looked after. Next, you need some sort of lubricant. Various mixtures have been advocated, such as soap made into a lather; a weak solution of lye, obtained from an ordinary ash-leach; a saturated solution of salt and water; a solution of slippery-elm bark; and ordinary starch paste, such as woman use for wall-paper. After testing most thoroughly all of the different ones mentioned, we have decided in favor of the paste, with the addition of a tablespoonful of salt to the pint, as being by far the best. I believe the Dadants use the soap lather; but for some reason or other we have not been able to make it answer as well as the starch paste.
Your enthusiasm may prompt you to run a dry sheet through the rolls, just to “see how it will work.” Just as sure as you do, you will find your ardor greatly diminished, for the wax will cling to both rolls, and can be removed only by a method to be described further on. Having prepared your starch paste (and we suppose every woman knows how that is made), add about a tablespoonful of salt to a pint of paste. This should, of course, be added in the preparation of the paste, in order to be quite thoroughly mixed throughout. When cold, fill the tin tray under the roll. Dip your hand into the paste, and rub it over the rolls until they are thoroughly lubricated. If possible they should be warmed to about 95 degrees in order to work best. Place the mill near the stove for a little while before you expect to use it.
Referring to the engraving again, No. 1 is to feed the sheets and turn the crank. We will suppose that you assume the position of No. 1 while an assistant acts as No. 2. If the end of the sheet is too thick, cut it off with a knife.* Feed the sheet into the mill and turn the crank about half a revolution. Now raise the wooden roller until it is level with the upper metallic roll. The office of this wooden roller is to keep the sheet, after it has passed through the mill, from coming in contact with the lower roll before it should. It also causes the sheet to be fed evenly. As soon as the sheet is run through an inch or so, the end will stick on one of the rolls and must be picked out with a blunt hickory bodkin. A shawl-pin made blunt would be better, but you must be careful not to let it scratch the surface of the rolls. You will find that the first three or four sheets will give you more trouble than those succeeding; and, likewise, that a new mill will give more trouble at first than after you have used it some. After you have loosened the end of the sheet in the manner indicated, No. 2 is to grasp it with the grippers, made as shown in the accompanying engraving. The manner of using them is shown above in the right hand of No. 2.
Referring to the large engraving again, No. 1 rolls out the sheet, and watches carefully to see that no foreign particles adhere, either to the upper or under side of the sheet, such as would damage the surface of the rolls. No. 1 receives the sheet and deposits it on the table at her right.
*The sheets as they leave the dipping-boards are, as a general thing, a little ragged, and sometimes a little thickened at the ends. Instead of trimming each sheet individually before passing it through the mill, take a pile of them and trim all at once, evenly and squarely, with a large butcher-knife, as will be explained presently. Put this pile into the vat of water, and you are ready to roll.
HOW TO ADJUST THE MILL FOR LIGHT AND HEAVY FOUNDATION.
In adjusting the mill from thin to thick foundation, give the adjusting top bolts each an equal turn somewhere about one quarter of a turn up. If the sheets roll bowing on one edge, the rolls are screwed down too much on one side. If you are running on heavy foundation, and desire to turn the mill down to medium, an eighth of a turn will probably be entirely sufficient. Be careful not to screw down the mill too much, or you will bruise the surface of the lozenge faces. If the bottom of the cell is thick on one side, with a screw-driver loosen the screw in the cam one-eighth of a turn, and follow up with the one on the opposite side of the cam which you will find on one end of the top roll. Be sure to oil often.
I have already incidentally remarked in one or two places in regard to the danger of running pieces of metal through the mills. To prevent the occurrence of such accidents, be sure that all nails and pins are kept out of the room. We used to box our wax in the same room where we rolled out the wax sheets. By some means, the nails would get on to the tables by the piles of wax sheets, and we had trouble later. A nail is an innocent looking thing when lying on a table, to be sure; but let some one heedlessly lay a pile of wax sheets on top, and that nail will be sure to imbed itself in the sheet above it. As it will be pretty apt to elude scrutiny, it will be passed through the mill, clinging to the sheet, and the consequence is a big nail-mark on the surface of each roll. After having invested twenty-five or thirty dollars in a foundation-mill, and damaging it, you will find, as Josh Billings says, that “egsperiens keeps a gude skule, but the tuishen is ruther hi.” Only one little nail, that’s all! We have also had the rolls injured by the bodkin, or little implement used for lifting up the sheets from the rolls. It would be laid carelessly in front of the mill, and, in some strange way, would get imbedded into the sheet, only to repeat the mischief. We now have them suspended by a rubber cord from the ceiling, in such a way as to hang four or five inches above the rolls. When it is necessary to use it, the bodkin can be drawn down. After usage it is let go, when it will draw up out of the way, where it can not get entangled in the sheets.
HOW TO CLEAN THE FOUNDATION-ROLLS.
Now, after you have been using your comb-mill for a day or so, the rolls will become clogged, or dirty, from small particles of wax collecting in the interstices. The most expeditious way we have found for removing all such particles is to turn a jet of steam upon the rolls for five or ten minutes, or until the rolls feel hot to the hand. While the steam is blowing, the rolls should be turned backward and forward. The action of the steam is to melt the particles of wax, and then blow them off. Next scour with a brush and boiling soapsuds. Where it is not convenient to use steam, a stream of boiling water from a tea-kettle will answer nearly as well as the steam, though it does not do its work as rapidly.
If you do not succeed in making nice foundation, clean the rolls as I have just directed, and you will be surprised at the difference in results. Unless you do keep your rolls clean you will probably become disgusted with the whole business.
MAKING FOUNDATION IN LARGE QUANTITIES.
The foregoing directions in regard to making wax sheets, and passing them through the mill, apply to those who either desire to make foundation for their own use, or to supply a moderate trade which they may have. Where the article is to be made by the ton, the wax should be melted by steam, by means of a series of coiled pipes, or by heating water surrounding the vat of wax. Either plan is very simple; and where large quantities are to be melted, it is by far the best. Steam is not only a great convenience in melting the wax and cleaning the foundation-rolls, but it may be made a very useful servant in turning the rolls themselves. Very recently, comb-foundation machines have been built, to be operated by steam-power. The following engraving illustrates one of these machines.
For some time it was a problem as to how these mills could be started instantly and stopped instantly, and yet in no way inconvenience or endanger the operator while manipulating the wax sheets. The problem was successfully solved by means of friction-rollers. The treadle B communicates, as you will notice, with a light iron rod. This operates another lever, A, which in turn operates a friction-pully. Pressure upon the treadle brings the friction-pully in contact with the lower pully, C. The mill can be instantly started or stopped. Before we adopted power attachment, our employees complained a good deal in consequence of the tiresome work of turning the crank on the hand-mills, and we found it necessary to employ a good strong man. Since the adoption of these power-mills, the services of the latter have been entirely dispensed with; and only one woman (rarely two) operates the machine easily alone. Reversal of motion is accomplished, what little there is of it, by hand. The large balance-wheel can be turned backward or forward. When ready to roll, power is applied. The general directions which have been given for the hand-mills will apply to the power-mills.
TRIMMING AND SQUARING THE SHEETS.
As the sheets are taken from the rolls, lay them squarely upon each other until you have a pile 2 or 3 inches high. Now lay on them a board cut the exact size you wish the foundation to be, and with a sharp, thin-bladed butcher or other knife, cut through the whole, all around the board. To prevent the knife from sticking, dip it occasionally in the starch, such as is used in rolling the sheets. To have the knife work nicely, you should have a coarse whetstone near by, with which to keep the edge keen. As the board is liable to shrink, warp, and get the edges whittled off, where a great number of sheets of a particular size is wanted, we have frames, made sharp on their edges and lined with tin. The tin is folded, and put on so that the knife-edge does not strike it, if the blade is held in the proper position.
To cut the sheets we have frames made as follows:
The diagonal piece in figure 1 serves as a brace to keep it true and square, and also for a handle to lift it by. The frame is placed over the sheet so as to cut to the best advantage, and the knife is run around it.
Figure 1 is for cutting sheets 12 by 18, and figure 2 for the L. frame, 8 by 16-1/2 in. For the wired frames shown on page 65, the sheets are to be cut 8-5/8 X 17-1/8.
Fig. 3 is composed of seven 1/4-inch strips, 1-3/4 inches wide, by about 20 inches long. The spaces are just wide enough to allow the knife to run between them. Fig. 4 is composed of the same number of boards, but they are 3-5/8 wide, by about 16 long. You will observe that this allows one frame to be placed over the other, each fitting in between the cleats of the other. To use the machine, place a sheet (or sheets) of foundation, say 12 by 18, on Fig. 3, and lay Fig. 4 over it. Run the knife through all the spaces, and then turn the whole machine over. Now run it through as before, and your sheet is cut into oblong pieces, just such as we put in the 4-1/4 section boxes when we ship them in hives complete. We should, perhaps, use pieces somewhat larger, were it not that there would be greater danger of their breaking out with the rough handling they get when the hives are sent by freight. The pieces, as made with the above frames, are 1-3/4 by 3-5/8 inches.* If much work is to be done with these frames, they had better be covered with tin, like frames before mentioned.
*Nearly all our prominent honey-producers, however, are strongly in favor of having the thin foundation entirely fill the sections; and for the one-pound sections, they are cut 3-3/4 X 3-3/4, made of foundation with the base about as thin as natural comb. To make starters this size the slats in both Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 should be 3-3/4 in. wide.
FOUNDATION FOR COMB HONEY.
The only trouble with it for comb honey is that, under some circumstances occurring very rarely I believe, the bees will build on to the foundation, without thinning the center at all, as they usually do. I believe this is more apt to occur when a good yeild of honey comes during rather cool weather, the bees being unable to get the wax warm enough to work readily. The remedy for this will be in making the base of the cells of the foundation exceedingly thin, and the small 6-inch machines seem best for this purpose. We have made machines for making the foundation four, four and a half, and five cells to the inch. The latter is intended to be used in brood-rearing, unless, per-chance one may desire to rear drones. In that case, four cells to the inch should be used. As the queens are not as apt to deposit eggs in drone-cells, it was once thought that drone foundation would be more desirable in the surplus-apartment. But notwithstanding this, more recently a decided preference has been shown for thin worker foundation (five cells to the inch).
In order to get nice thin foundation, the rolls should be screwed down as closely as they may be (according to directions already given), so as to get the base of the cells nearly if not quite as thin as the natural base. If it is made a little too thick, the base is very easily detected in the comb honey, and has been called, not inappropriately, “fishbone.”
Flat-bottom foundation has been made, which some think is the best surplus foundation. It is nothing but a sheet of wax, embossed with hexagonal cells inclosing a flat base. While it makes very nice comb honey, yet the testimony of many of those who have tried it is to the effect that it is not readily accepted by the bees, and consequently valuable time is lost. We do know this much, that they remodel and rebuild the cells before drawing them out. Notwithstanding this, there are two or three large honey-producers in the State of New York who consider it the best surplus foundation Mr. P. H. Elwood, of Starkville, N. Y., an extensive bee-keeper of large experience, among the number. There are other New York bee-keepers who think as he does.
SAGGING OF THE FOUNDATION, AND HOW TO PREVENT IT.
Many devices have been tried to prevent the sagging of the foundation, and consequently slight elongation of the cells, in the upper part of the comb. With the L. frames, this is so slight that it occasions no serious trouble with the greater part of the wax of commerce; but with deeper frames, or with some specimens of natural wax, the sagging is sufficient to allow the bees to raise drones in the upper cells. Paper has been tried, and succeeds beautifully, while the bees are getting honey; but during dearth, when they have nothing to do, they are liable at any time to tear the nice combs all to bits, to get out the paper, which I have supposed they imagine to be the web of the moth-worm. In our apiary I have beautiful combs built on thin wood; but as the bottom of the cell is flat, they are compelled to use wax to fill out the interstices, and the value of this surplus wax, it seems to me, throws the wood base entirely out of the question. I do not like the foundation with wire rolled in it, on account of the greater expense, and because we cannot fasten it in the frames as securely as we can where the wires are first sewed through the frames.
Aside from the avoidance of drone-cells, we want combs that will not break out of the frames in shipping, handling, or extracting, in either hot or cold weather; we also want frames that will not sag in the middle, no matter how heavily they may be filled with honey.
For several years we wired all our combs as shown in the accompanying engraving. The top and bottom bars were pierced at regular distances, through which the wire was threaded back and forth. If a thin top-bar that is, one not more than 1/4 inch is used, a folded tin bar will be necessary.
Latterly we have employed the method shown below, and it is what we call the Keeney plan. Perpendicular wiring is apt to bow up the bottom-bar if the wires are drawn tight, and to pull the top-bar down if it is not thicker than 1/4. True, we can avoid that by the use of folded tin bars, but bees seldom build over them nicely. The Keeney method of wiring takes less wire and less time, and it brings the entire strain upon the four corners of the frame the point where there is the greatest strength. No piercing of top-bars or bottom-bars is necessary. A 1-1/4-inch wire nail is driven through the end-bars 3/4 of an inch from the top and bottom bars. They are then bent into the form of a hook by means of round-nosed pliers. To do this rapidly, string a lot of frames over a narrow board, so that the end-bars will lie in contact side by side, and then support the two projecting ends of the boards. With a straight-edge and pencil draw a line 3/4 inch from the top-bars, and then a line 3/4 inch from the bottom-bars. This gives you the location for each wire nail as regards the top and bottom bars. Before taking the frames off the board, drive the nails in. Then slide them off en masse, and afterward bend the points, as shown in the accompanying engraving. Cut your wire 69 inches long. Twist a loop in one end; catch the wire over hook No. 1, and pass successively to hooks 2, 3, 4, and back to 1; then draw. Next pass the wire under the wire at 5, catch over the hook at 2, draw the wire taut, and fasten by twisting.
To get your wire the right length, wind it over a long board 5 or 6 inches wide, and rounded at the end to a feather edge. The length of this board should be just half the length of the wire you use; namely, for the L. frame, 34-1/2 inches. After you have wound the whole coil of wire on this board from end to end, take an old pair of shears and cut all the strands in two, right where they bend over the end; and to keep them from flying all over when cut, slip a couple of rubber bands over each end of the board. Now, when you are ready to wire, just simply pull the wire out from one end.
This method of wiring is very expeditions and satisfactory for the ordinary bee-keeper. It is not as substantial as the perpendicular-wiring plan, but enough so for practical purposes. The two perpendicular wires, 2 and 3, 1 and 4, hold the ends of the foundation from flopping out of position. The horizontal wires, 1 and 2, hold the top, also, permanent.
The wire used is No. 30, tinned iron wire. After the wires are in and drawn up tight, the foundation is cut so as to fill the frame, and the wires are then imbedded into the wax by means of one of the various devices for that purpose. During this operation the foundation is supported on a level board cut so as to just slip inside the frame, and come up against the wires. The board is to be kept wet with a damp cloth, to prevent the wax sticking to it.
A common carpet stretcher, like the cut below, is fitted with a short handle, and then the wax is warmed up so as to be quite soft. The wires are imbedded by laying the points along the wire, and pressing down while the foundation is supported by a board in the manner already given. By the use of the carpet-stretcher, the bees finish out the cells as perfectly as if nothing of the kind had ever touched them.
Still later, the implement figured in the cut below has found favor, and our girls now consider it quicker and easier to use than any other thing heretofore tried. You see, the points strike one at a time, therefore no very great pressure is needed; and yet by rocking the implement the work is done very rapidly.
This press has found considerable favor with a few. With a pair of dies just the size of the inside of the frame, plain sheets of wax are made into foundation, and the wires imbedded into it at one and the same operation. The objections to it are, the price is much more than the price of rolls; that it makes sheets of only one size; that the wire used for it must be considerably finer than No. 30. No. 36, I believe, is generally used, and this we find too frail for our use, shipping bees, etc. As yet, I believe it does not put foundation into wired frames so that they will bear shipment, while that put in by hand can be shipped safely anywhere during warm weather. Neither is it adapted to making sheets of foundation that entirely fill the frames; and I should always want the sheets to come clear up to the wood on all sides.
FASTENING STARTERS IN SECTION BOXES.
For this purpose the foundation is made in narrow strips, as has been before explained. For the one-pound section we have dipping-boards 3-3/4 inches wide; and after being rolled, they are then cut up into pieces that nearly fill the sections, or as much less as the taste or purse of the bee-keeper demands. The pieces are fastened only to the top-bar of the section, and this is done by either of the accompanying machines shown.
STARTERS FOR SECTION BOXES.
Many bee-keepers want the starter to fill the section as nearly as possible, leaving a space of only 1/4 or 3/8 inch at the sides and bottom. Even with so large a starter as this, the bees sometimes fail to fasten the comb at the sides and bottom. It is especially desirable to have it fastened at the bottom, to prevent breaking out in shipping; but even if long enough to touch the bottom, the bees do not always finish it down. Perhaps a safer way is to fasten a starter at the bottom, 3/4 inch wide or deep; then fasten at the top a 3-1/4 inches deep. This makes a sure thing of having the comb fastened to the bottom-bar. Such starters properly fastened with a Clark fastener have been safely hauled on the trot to an out-apiary. If cut 3-7/8 instead of 3-1/4, the swing, and the consequent liability to fall out, would be much greater. The idea is, to rub or press a thin edge of the wax into the dry wood of the section. The motion of the machine spreads the wax down, and mashes it into the wood, as it were. Below is the Parker machine, which is used quite largely; in fact, many thousands of them have been sold. It does very nice work; but where thousands of starters are to be put in, it becomes a little tiresome on the hands.
The one next illustrated is what is called Clark’s starter machine. Instead of rubbing the foundation it presses it into the wood. Pressure is exerted entirely by the foot. This not only gives more power, but it leaves both hands free to pick up the sections, adjust the foundation, and, after fastening, remove them.
To operate, screw it down to a bench or table, so that the treadle just clears the floor. Make a little paddle, say 8 or 10 inches long, 1/4 inch thick, and 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide. Nail upon one side of it a piece of felt, or two or three thicknesses of old soft cloth, equal to the length of the presser-tongue, then whittle off the handle end, saturate the cushioned part well with salt water, renewing it if it should get dry. To moisten the tongue, lay your paddle under it, press with the feet just as when fastening in a starter, and then throw the paddle in your lap till needed again. This takes less time, and is more thorough, than to use the brush. You may need to moisten the tongue for each starter, or you may need it only after fastening several starters. It is a good plan to have a little tin dish of salt water in which the tongue may be so set as to keep in soak over night, so as to be in good trim for next day’s work. With one hand pick up a section, and with the other put the foundation in position, directly under the tongue. Bring the latter down with the feet, and let the feet come back with a rebound, and the whole performance is quickly and easily done. If the presser-tongue is so sharp at the edge that it cuts off the foundation, round it off a little with sand-paper. For the first few trials, the wax may stick to the tongue rather than to the section. Scrape the former off smooth with a knife; wet it thoroughly with water or paste. The foundation, before insertion, should be warmed up to a temperature of about 110º. If the sheets are put in the direct rays of the sun, shining through a window, they will be soft enough. Some prefer to put the foundation in piles of perhaps 50, and then heat only one edge by means of a hot brick or a body of water in some kind of vessel kept heated by a lamp. Foundation must be tolerably soft or it will not stick firmly to the sections. This is the machine that is recommened and used by Dr. Miller, referred to elsewhere in this work.