The object of the present Invention Patent refers to a process for
obtaining simple and/or compound wax honeycombs.
In the beekeeping industry two types of honeycomb are currently used:
one moulded of plastic material and the other one of wax sheets imprinted on both
surfaces, with only engraving of the hexagons for the subsequent operation to
be carried out by the bees inside the beehive, on the waxy walls of the parallelepiped
of hexagonal section which will constitute each cell.
In the first case, the honeycomb moulded in rigid plastic material
have the disadvantage of the bees being inclined to reject them because of the
very rigidity of the material and unpleasant odours given off by the solvents used
in their formation (granular raw material for subsequent fluidification by heat
and moulding), odour given off due to the very nature of the plastic and aggressiviness
of the rough and rigid surface of the honeycomb once moulded, all this in addition
to the thermic problems of a mass made of rigid plastic material which does not
have the necessary ductility of wax, and the internal variations of a "live" beehive.
To persuade bees to accept honeycombs moulded in rigid plastic material,
beekeepers resort to the trick of using a thin waxed layer impregnated with substances
which give off familiar odours attractive to bees.
In practice, obtaining and finishing of moulded rigid plastic material
honeycombs is not very reliable, for when it is least expected the bees discover
the deception, rejecting the construction and leading the swarm to go on strike.
Another technical problem is that the moulded rigid plastic material,
as indicated above, does not have the sensitivity to heat possessed by wax, where
on hot summer days heat accumulates inside the hive, heat which is beneficial for
the seed and larvae inside the reproductive cells. As the wax cell walls begin
to soften due to excess heat, this softening warns the bees that this optimum due
to excess heat, which has been reached must not be exceeded, for otherwise the
seed and larvae will be killed by excess heat, as will the cells.
This property of wax is not possessed by moulded plastic honeycombs.
As there is not softening of the plastic walls prior to fusion, the bees receive
no warning and do not carry out forced air ventilation of the hive to move the
air and establish forced air cooling to keep the optimum temperature for healthy
As regards obtaining wax honeycombs with only the outlines of the
hexagons imprinted, but not having raised parallelepiped cell walls, these honeycombs
which are partially industrially manufactured have another great problem in industrial
performance in beehive honey.
This problem is obvious if it is borne in mind that bees use approximately
10 kg of honey to obtain 1 kg of wax.
It is clear that using wax walls engraved by imprinting and without raised cells
walls represents a great loss of money and time for the industrial beekeeper, for
the wax for construction of these walls must be supplied and put in position by
the bees, so that they finish the honeycomb partly constructed by industry.
The large amount of money not earned for the amount of honey which
is not obtained because the bees are devoting themselves to "in situ" construction
of the cell walls means that the apiculturist reuses from one season to the next
the honeycombs already centrifuged for extraction of honey.
This practice saves using new sheets of printed wax, and therefore
avoids the bees devoting themselves to constructing the cell walls of a new honeycomb.
There is the disadvantage, however, that after a while micro-organisms develop
within the hive, attacking the health of the seed, larvae and bees, and even creating
These micro-organisms are a real plague, decimating the bee population
with extraordinary virulence in a beehive and in hundreds of hives for many kilometres
all around, for the bees carry such micro-organisms on their collection tasks,
and inoculate the flowers to which other bees from other hives subsequently go.
When this happens -and it currently happens very frequently- the hives
and all their contents have to be burned.
Thus from the health point of view it is better not to reuse honeycombs
from one season to the next, though this is difficult because of the problems mentioned
To overcome this problem, complete honeycombs are also made industrially,
but then another problem arises, being the easy breakage of the wax cells in the
demolding phase of the molded cells of the honeycomb.
As it is well known, the walls of the cells are thin and relatively
high and therefore very frail. Due to that those wall cells break easily during
demolding of the honeycomb because the molded wax adheres to the mold.
To avoid this problem US Patent Nr. 3.182.339 of Ellis et al. was
With its aim his creator intended to avoid the breakage of the complete
molded wall wax cells. To do so, Mr. Ellis changed the shape of the cells. From
a parallelepipedical form with hexagonal base he passed to tapering hexagonal
cells. This realisation has two great problems.
Firstly in practice the cells made with this tapering method also
break when demolding. Once the wax wall cells are molded the wax adheres to the
fingers of the mold and when the molded honeycomb is taken off from the mold with
a non uniform force applied to the fingers by the person demolding the honeycomb,
the thin and frail wax cells tear because on certain points of the wax wall cells
there is more adhesion to the mold than in other points of the same cells. Such
different traction forces create the breakage of the frail wax cells. In each thus
molded honeycomb there is a great number of broken cells.
Secondly the tapering shape of cells is not accepted by the bees.
Ancestrally bees make the wax cells of the honeycombs with a parallelepipedical
shape and with a hexagonal base. For them it is antinatural to change the shape
of the cells.
Thirdly, in the tapering cell shape of the U.S. Patent 3.182.339
the thickness of the cell wall is bigger in the base of the cell than on the top
of the cells.
This shape results in a bigger mass of wax on the base of the cell
than in its top.
This difference in thickness of the cell walls results in a different
sensibility to soften as soon as the temperature in the beehive increases. When
the bees eventually sense the softening of the wax cells which is delayed due to
the differing thickness of the wax walls, the heat would have exceeded the optimum
temperature within the beehive and the seeds and larvae would have died.
With US Patent No. 3.182.339 it is not possible to obtain exactly
parallelepipedical cells with a hexagonal base without breaking their walls, because
they cannot be taken out of such a mold.
In the object of this application, the separation of the fingers
from the wax walls of the cells is arrived at by making these fingers of an elastic
material, which contracts when cooling down. This contraction is done with the
same force on the whole perimeter of each finger. Then a small and uniform tension
is distributed in a radial sense through all the points of the cell, which tension
is compensated by the radially opposite one.
The total of those little tensions give a regular separating tension
sufficient to obtain automatically the demolding without breaking the wax wall
Then with this method simultaneous strong radial, axial and diagonal
tensions are not created, which happen when the demolding is done by pulling the
mold off the cells by the hand of the demolding worker.
The object of the invention is to avoid such problems. As it can
be seen from the description given as a nonbinding example, this is a process to
obtain honeycombs for hives. This is specified below, with two sheets of drawings
- Figure 1 gives a sketch of the elastic mould, partially closed, with the core
of the honeycomb to be molded partly introduced, and for greater clarity not showing
the flask support of the elastic mold walls.
- Figure 2 shows the elastic mould of figure 1, at the phase of demoulding of
the already obtained wax honeycomb.
- Figure 3 is a larger-scale sectioned detail of a piece of honeycomb obtained
by the process.
- Figure 4 is a schematic representation of the demoulding operation of a single
wax body obtained with complete wax cells on only one surface, and figure 5 shows
a complete honeycomb, with two bodies, similar to figure 4, backed on to each
other and permanently joined by the faces with no cells, forming a single composition
body with complete cells on either opposing faces.
The invention consists in taking a core (1) of suitable slightly
flexible material, preferably with perpendicular orifices (1') passing from one
side to the other laid out inside a mould (3', 8') with smooth, polished, non-adhesive
internal surfaces of an elastic material that dilates under heat and contracts
when cooled; materials such as silicone elastomers or other suitable ones can be
used, with walls (3', 8') of the elastic mold being held up by external rigid flask
walls (not shown) which are hinged for opening and closing. The elastic mold (3',
8') has finger shaped projections (4) on two opposing walls of the mold (3') which
are a multiplicity of parallelepiped elastic finger shaped patterns of hexagonal
section, duly juxtaposed and close to each other; they do not touch, however,
so that a perimeter space (5) is left between each finger shaped projection (4),
thus forming a chamber into which the fusion wax (6) can be introduced. Once set
by cooling, the finger shaped projections (4) contract due to loss of heat, coming
away from the wax cells (7) thus formed by moulding on the support core (1); these
are permanently linked, and they are covered in the same moulding operation with
the appropriate layer or wax, with the support core sheet (1) and the cells (7)
forming an inseparable whole, so that with the contraction of the mass of contractible
material of the mold (3', 8')) and the erectability of the finger shaped projections
(4) reduction of its size is achieved, thus facilitating its withdrawal from the
interior of the formed wax cells (7).
With the process of the invention we obtain honeycombs of simple
or compound wax, with complete cells (7) done, but during the demoulding phase,
it has been found that, owing to the central support sheet (1) having on each face
the corresponding cells (7) of total configuration and height, the simultaneous
existence of two opposing walls with finger shaped projections in the mold (3)
and their withdrawal at the same time made such an operation difficult, and sometimes
led to breakage of the walls of the little cells due to differences of applied
To avoid this, the honeycombs are designed to be of a composition
(fig.5), made up of two equal honeycombs (10 and 10') with complete cells (7) on
only one face, while the opposite face has none. The honeycombs thus constructed
are put together with their faces with no cells (7) against each other, linked
permanently together to form a single sandwich, which then has cells (7) on the
two opposing faces (10 and 10').
With this method of making the composition honeycombs, the central
support sheet is suppressed as being unnecessary, since the surface from which
the cells (7) emerge is obtained in the same operation as the moulding of the cells.
To facilitate the honeycombs demoulding, one of the two semimoulds (3) of plastic,
elastic, contractible material, is suppressed, while the mold is made in the form
of a tray with side walls (8) detachable when wished, and a fairly elastic semimould
(3) is arranged over the mouth of the tray, ensuring that the elastic and contractible
finger shaped projections (4) do not reach the bottom (9) of the tray; this so
that between the free ends of the elastic finger shaped projections (4) and that
bottom (9), the wax which is introduced and which fills the cavities and interstices,
when it has set and is demoulded by withdrawal of the elastic and contractible
finger shape projections (4), forms a wax body from one of the faces of which there
emerge the cells (7), fully formed and concordant in height and section with natural
ones made by bees, while the opposing face (11) has no cells. By juxtaposing two
half bodies (10 and 10') thus obtained by their surfaces (11 and 11') which have
no cells, they are linked together, forming a total composition body with the
two surfaces having totally formed cells (7 and 7'), facing outwards.