How to prime new top bars with beeswax starter strips

This page will guide you through a couple of different ways to prepare the top bars of your horizontal top bar hive with beeswax starter strips. It is a very good idea to do this as it encourages straight comb building, left to their own devices the bees may, or may not, build their combs centrally on the top bars. 

 

I will describe to you the two easiest and most reliable methods that i have found for waxing new top bars.  

 

Method One

This method is perfect if you have a lump of nice clean beeswax available to use. 

  •  Melt some beeswax in a bain-marie. 
  • Put the wax starter template in a bowl of cold water to soak for a couple of minutes whilst the wax melts.
  • Once the wax has melted, take the starter template out of the water and give it a quick dry to remove the excess water. Then place the template on the ridge of the triangular guide strip.

 

  • Pour wax into the groove using the 'adapted' spoon.
  • Whilst the wax is still warm scrape the excess off the top of the template.  

 

  • Allow a few minutes for the wax to set then gently wiggle the template and remove it.  Be paitent! If you pull it off too soon the wax won't have had time to stick to the top bar and so will come off with the template. You can run a little cold water over it to speed the cooling process. Put the template back in the water until you are ready to do the next one. 
  • Press the template down a little to close up any gaps that may leak molten beeswax. If beeswax does leak through don't worry, just scrape it off with a hive tool or knife as it cools. 

       

 

Method Two

  • Cut strips of unwired foundation into pieces about 3-4cm wide and the same length as the triangular guide strip.
  • Then using one of those little butane powered, windproof lighters (they are like a mini blow torch and can be picked up quite cheaply) warm one edge of the foundation until it just starts to melt.  Gently run the flame back and forth along the length of the foundation so it gets heated evenly. 
  • Whilst it is warm press it onto one side of the triangular guide strip and bend the overhanging bit straight, so it will hang vertically when the bar is in the hive. 
  • On the same top bar you have just done - heat the beeswax foundation where it joins the guide strip, just enough to melt it a little, then tip the top bar up and/or down to get the molten bead of beeswax to flow all the way along. Do this on both sides.  This will ensure that the wax really sticks to the wood. Omitting this last step will often mean that the foundation falls off - either due to heat or the weight of bees hanging on it!