This is a work in process, and is definitely in need of some refinement, but as it sits it does work.
I got into beekeeping for sustainability aspects, so the idea of buying rolled beeswax foundation from an out of state supplier bothers me. But, since it takes around 8 pounds of honey to make a pound of wax, if you want to produce honey you really need to use foundation sheets and reuse your comb as much as practical.
The foundation is simply a sheet of beeswax that is embossed with the shape of the comb. Normally wax sheets are rolled flat in large steel rollers, and then rolled through rollers with the cell shape negatively embossed. Rolling the wax aligns the crystals in the wax so that it is not as brittle as sheets that are formed from dipping forms in melted wax.
When researching this idea, I quickly saw that with only 5 or so hives a 3 to 5 thousand dollar embossing machine would not work. I did find a website that talked about making dipped wax sheets by dipping a metal or plastic sheet in hot wax several times, dipping in cold water, and peeling the sheet off the metal.
While this works, the sheet is brittle and you get a lot of breakage as you peel it off.
I wanted a mold. In some bee supply catalogs I saw silicon molds but they were $500.00 and they were for commercial sized bees. I run the natural 4.9 small cell bees, so if I wanted a mold I would have to do it myself.
I saw this webpage http://scienceinafrica.com/old/index.php?q=2006/february/beeswaxmould.htm but I wanted something that was a little stronger.
What I did was make two mold boxes from scrap wood, and then glued a piece of small cell foundation in the center of each box. Remember that each side is different so ensure that you have each side represented.
I used tape to build up the edges so that when I poured in the silicon it would make a flat sheet.
Next I painted over the foundation and mold box with a silicon release agent.
I used OOMOO30 from smooth-on and used the sample sized kit linked to at the bottom of this article.
This silicon was very easy to use, I simply poured equal amounts of the yellow bottle (red liquid) with the contents of the blue bottle (grey blue liquid) and mixed thoroughly until mix was a uniform light purplish blue. Use something disposable as it is very hard to clean after mixed.
I then poured the liquid into each mold box and let set.
Once the silicon hardened (6-8 hours) I carefully pulled the silicon mold out of each box.
I took the two silicon sheets and screwed them together to make the completed mold.
I also placed the bottom sheet on a board to give some structure to the mold.
I could have saved some silicon if I had made the sheets thinner, but I made them thick in the hopes of getting more use out of them. I also hope the extra weight helps spread the liquid wax more evenly.
Stay tuned as we will soon show you how to make foundation using this mold.
Use this silicone mold making rubber for making perfect reproductions of original models. It captures intricate detail and is easy to use. OOMOO 30 is easy to use silicone rubber compounds that feature convenient one-to-one by volume mix ratios (no scale necessary). Very low viscosity for easy mixing and pouring, and vacuum degassing is not necessary. Cures at room temperature with negligible shrinkage. OOMOO 30 has a 30-minute pot life, with a six-hour cure time. For The Novice Mold Maker - OOMOO 30 does not have great tear strength. They are good for making simple one- or two-piece block molds. OOMOO 30 is suitable for a variety of art-related and industrial applications including making molds for sculpture and prototype reproduction, casting plaster, resins, and wax. Net weight 16 oz. (454 grams). Technical Information Mixing Ratio: One to One by volume (100A:130B by weight) Pot Life: 30 min. Demold: 6 hrs. Color: Lavender Properties (Part Aand B Mixed) Viscosity: 4,250 cps G/CC: 1.34 Cu. In./Lb.: 20.6 Tensile Strength: 240 PSI Elongation At Break: 250% Die C Tear Strength: 40 pli Compression Set: 37% Shrinkage: .0025 in./in.