Paraffin wax dipping...

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NickWallingford

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I recently wrote up what I could find relating to the history of paraffin wax dipping:

Paraffin Wax Dipping

As with a lot of my writing, I didn't focus on the use of the article, and write to the audience and purpose. The text is mostly what I was preparing for a more formal article, so you might want to skip down to the summary toward the bottom. I do much prefer to write in such a way that I can easily provide the links to the "old" material for people to evaluate for themselves.

In collecting the information, three things in particular stood out for me:

  1. The consistency in recommended time and temperature, even long before it was confirmed in the late 1990s. 160 deg C for 10 minutes was the recommendation in almost all these articles over time (for AFB sterilisation).
  2. The realisation that there probably wasn't anyone who "discovered" the use of hot paraffin dipping for AFB gear sterilisation. It probably came over quite a period time as bkprs realised that gear wasn't causing reinfections.
  3. The persistence of allowing the treatment of AFB-infected gear with scorching and boiling in caustic. As late as *1975* the classic "Beekeeping in New Zealand" book described those methods, though advising against them. Fair enough, the book was for the most part a reprint of an earlier book, and may not have had the editorial rigour to pick up on that. The first bkpr I worked for (in 1974) had some boxes that were scorched on the inside by a previous owner, but even then I was under the impression that it had been outlawed as ineffective.
 

NickWallingford

BOP Club
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459
Tauranga
Experience
Retired
:cool:
we still have the "waikato version". no idea how old it is.
Prob just an enclosed vat type arrangement?

I must say the "push through" troughs were my favourite. I worked at Harry Cloake's in 1975. He had one much as the one described for Fred Bartrum. Cloakes' was labour intensive with bkpg generally, and incredibly effective whether it was honey production or extraction. So there were a number of us 'workers' to each do a bit. The dipping involved a number of people - getting the supers to the pad, pushing it into the dipper, taking it out, initial coat of paint, stacked into tall stacks. Later second coat of paint over the stacked boxes. A full (cold winter's day in Timaru) day of getting boxes ready for the spring. I can't remember how many we did in the day. But I remember that winter as being the coldest I've ever had in my life...
 

Alastair

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Me, I find these things scary as heck.

To treat an old box from an AFB hive I would not bother, I know at least one beekeeper who gave up on wax dipping because he felt the AFB was coming back afterwards.

Then to treat new boxes against rot, I have still seen dipped boxes starting to rot in ten years.

I guess both those issues might be put down to incorrect procedure during the dipping, I don't know. But me, if a hives has AFB, I burn it, I know it's gone.
 
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NickWallingford

BOP Club
314
459
Tauranga
Experience
Retired
It is quite amazing that the same basic time/temperature recommendations were described so long ago, and pretty much always accepted and repeated. When Mark Goodwin tested it a range of times/temperatures, he found the "10 minutes at 160deg C" to be effective. But it is a thin line - you can't afford to shorten the time or lower the temperature without consequences. And yes, I think every one of these devices I've ever worked around has scared me somewhat. They go 'woosh' very quickly.
 
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theres been a few bee sheds that have gone up in flames from overflowing dippers that have drained back into the shed.
moisture in the timber and molten wax is not a good combo.

with the amount of work that goes into paraffin dipping gear, unless the gear is near new its just not worth the effort.
 
  • Agree
Reactions: John B

NickWallingford

BOP Club
314
459
Tauranga
Experience
Retired
I'd be curious to work some of the numbers re: box age and paraffin's preservation and costings. But not enough to actually do it. I can't find my reference just now, but I think it may have been Harry Cloake (?) who used the rule of thumb of "a box should last 20 years". But that's talking wax dipping new gear, not for sterilisation. Just to put that into the context of "way back then", the rule of thumb was you need to replace 2 frames per year. That was per hive, not per box... We would often have some pretty gnarly old black combs...
 

Alastair

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Boxes in Canterbury last way longer than boxes in Auckland. Honey boxes last way longer than brood boxes. An untreated pine brood box in Auckland will normally be showing rot by year ten.

Some hobbyist hives that are on stands and well above ground level may get a better life span out of a brood box.

I don't think a standard life span of a box can be stated.
 

NickWallingford

BOP Club
314
459
Tauranga
Experience
Retired
I don't think a standard life span of a box can be stated.
It wasn't so much the life span of any given box, but rather the expectation of the future of the outfit, if you see what I mean. Every outfit knows you gotta replace gear to keep it "the same". It was that rate I was referring to. The "replace 2 frames a year" rule of thumb was letting you know that if you don't have any new frames in this year, you'd need twice that next year to keep up the general appearance and workability of the frames throughout the business. Not so much with boxes, which have (in my time) most often made from some pretty vulnerable pine, but it was that frame replacement rate that changed quite a lot in the time I was away from bees. I'm picking that the ready-availability of ready-to-use frames, combined with a more general "getting rid of old black combs is good" from a disease control point of view did it. Oh, yeah, another factor that come in during the time I was away was plastic frames, again changing the economics of a hive.
 
  • Agree
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NickWallingford

BOP Club
314
459
Tauranga
Experience
Retired
Here was what Roy Paterson had to say about hive costings in 1945. One thing I used to confirm it for me was he estimates wiring 40 frames/hour. I always used to claim I could do 50, but I think I was lying. I'd like to find a similar approach for other times. And it relates, too, to the number of hives that could give a beekeeper a living income. *That* has changed dramatically for some in the last years...

 


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