In 2006 I bought 50 beehives. Life happened and I was forced to abandon the project. In March 2015 I began again with the 3 surviving hives.
Now I am trying to move from a Clueless Beekeeping Novice with 3 hives to Professional Beekeeper. So with that in mind, I will share my adventure, my follies, and hopefully my success with you. Enjoy.
There is an old episode of Frasier where Daphne gets the tune, "Flesh is burning... dana-na-na-nah... Flesh is burning... dana-na-na-nah..." the thought came to mind as I bobbled my soldering iron and could smell my skin burn before I even felt the pain - smelled like burning hair!
Nonetheless, if you are going to raise queen bees, you will need Queen Cell Protectors. These can be bought but you will need a lot and, if you are like me, I have far more time than money. So I am making mine.
There are two really good YouTube videos on this:
One is by Ralph Jones III - who I enjoy just listening to for the accent! He has a lot of other great videos too.
The second is The Beekeeper's Workshop. The Beekeeper's Workshop has lot's of great videos and a lot of blueprints on their main site as well. I've watched all of their videos and I get a kick out of how much they sound like Sheldon Cooper's Fun With Flags videos.
I have found a couple of things that work easier for me.
For starters, you should use lead-free solder. Ralph said he had a problem with this but TBW's video advised using flux and that seemed to make it work great for me.
Ralf also suggested getting a plug cutter to make the wooden ends. However, 3/4" plug cutters are really hard to find and they only cut 1/2" deep. Now I have to shave down a 1x4 to 1/2" to get the plugs. A wooden dowel may have been easier.
The other thing is that TBW twisted little "U" shaped wires to hold the cages closed before soldering. I found that if I wrapped the wire around my dowel and then rapped a single wire around the whole thing like a bread tie, then I could solder it on the dowel and then reuse the wire over and over. Those "U" shaped wires didn't work well with my big banana hands.
Oh and on the subject of wire. Every video I watch says "Just use #8 Hardware Cloth" as if you can find it at any feed store - YOU CAN'T. I went to every store in a 90 mile radius of the Delta and no one sold it. I eventually bought it from Amazon.com (Wal-Mart also had it Online).
The last thing I learned was to build a stand for your soldering iron so you don't have to hold it. This gives you two hands free and prevents burns - a problem I solved a day too late.
I can make about 5 of these an hour while I watch TV. That gives me 10 a night. I figure I will need about 600 for next year and so I should have no problem getting that many done.
So here is what you do:
Step 1 - Cut a 3"x3" piece of #8 Hardware Cloth. (that is 24 squares by 24 squares).
Step 2 - Roll the hardware cloth around a 3/4" Dowel. I made two 5" dowels and rounded off one end of each with sandpaper.
Sep 3 - Wrap a wire bread tie around the wire to hold it in place.
Step 4 - Dab flux on the two spots you want to solder and then solder the cage together. Make sure to let solder get down to the second layer.
Step 5 - At one end snip the wire 4 squares up every 2 or 3 squares. Then fold them in onto the end of the dowel. I use my second dowel to mash the ends tightly closed.
Step 6 - Add flux and solder the end to keep it from opening back up.
Pretty Simple. So give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.