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Battery charger - suitable for fitting wax foundation?



I installed my very first wax foundation sheets today - using a candle :wink: Then I remembered that I read somewhere, that a charger for car batteries is a good tool for heating up the frame wires and that my father used to have a charger for motorcycle batteries. I got the old device from him, but he told me it would burst up when used for the desired reason. He didn’t give me any explanation, but he is absolutely against my mom’s and my “crazy, stupid bee-idea”. Well, I have this thing right here on my table, but now I’m not sure if it will do the job without exloding and setting my house on fire…
Here are some pics, I hope the labels can be read…

It can be switched from 6V to 12V output

electrical data. I don’t understand much of this… My frames have stainless steel wires. I wouldn’t mind if it takes more than 2 seconds to heat up the wire…

croco-clamps (do you call them like this in english?) need cleaning


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Your father has reason to be concerned. Connecting a battery charger to wire is known as “shorting the circuit”, which is almost always bad.

It could work. If the equivalent internal resistance of the battery charger was high enough to keep the current flowing through the wires low enough to keep the wire and/or charger from burning up.

The worst case scenario is that you burn up the battery charger. The acceptable scenario is that you destroy the wire on your frame or over heat your foundation. The best case scenario is that the wire heats up just the right amount to melt the wax foundation in a reasonable time frame.

What you really need in a situation like this is a way to control the amount of current/voltage applied to the wire. Or even better, a temperature controller that allows you to set the temperature created by electrifying the wire.

Using a car battery is nice because the car battery is not likely to blow up before your wax is melted (which probably won’t take more than a couple seconds or less). This is likely not true for the charger which usually will contain electrical components which don’t handle being shorted very gracefully.

My university education is in electrical engineering. If I were in your shoes and the charger was just sitting around wasting space, I’d give it a try and hope for the best. If you ruin the charger, then, try something more intelligent the next time.

Whatever you do, video tape it and post it on the forums! :smile:


You could put a 12 W rheostat in series with your battery charger. Set the rheostat to maximum resistance before turning on the charger. Then, slowly decrease the resistance until the wax starts melting. A 12 W rheostat is gonna be expensive. There are much cheaper ways to do this, but, they are slightly more complicated.

The cheapest way would be if you knew the exact current you want flowing through the wires. Then, you can select a power resistor to connect in series that will cause the circuit to produce the desired current. A power resistor is a regular resistor that can handle high current without burning up. 12W or higher would be overly cautious because your charger indicated a 0.8A output at 12V (0.8A x 12V = 9.6 W plus a safety margin gets you to 12W).


Your high tech talk is jibberish for her as she doesn’t understand the lingo. I would just tell her to cross her fingers and turn the charger on outside the house,so if it does blow, at least the house stands and the neighbours get to see a mid year Sylvester fireworks display:fireworks:


Hi Angela, this is my 12 volt embedding tool video.

You need something like this to hold the wire down all the way across.


Well… there is your proof that it can work! Most likely all 12V battery chargers are similar, and if you have a mechanism (like @JeffH does) that allows you to easily close the circuit for a short period of time, you are probably good to go!

If I were in your shoes, after seeing @JeffH do it, I wouldn’t worry about moving the foundation melting party outdoors (but I am an adventurous kind of guy who likes to throw caution to the wind, i.e., I love lighting my bonfires with a 50 foot trail of gasoline).


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Hi Jape, it’s only complex if you want to be. I’m a very uncomplex type of bloke. If I can make one. Anybody can make one. The beauty of it is: once you’ve made it, you’ve got it for the rest of your beekeeping career, not only for yourself but to help others as well.


And, don’t forget. It can be used as an interrogation device too!


My husband wants to know why I am laughing… :smiling_imp:


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:grinning: That’s probably the greatest answer in this whole thread! Thank you! :grin: If only fireworks weren’t illegal aroung here :wink:


Thank you for this video. The idea with the board underneath the wire is great!


Ok, I did a very short first test - and it worked! My body and my house AND the charger are perfectly ok :grin: 6V - no movement. I set the device to 12V and first put the clamps to the wire outside the wooden frame, like I always see people around here do it. No reaction. Then I held the clamps directly to the wire inside the frame and voilá! Took about 3-4 seconds for the wax to melt. I’ll try to make a video later.
Thanks, guys! :bouquet:


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I’m not well equipped for making videos, but I hope it will do. You can see that I had a little trouble getting the electrical contact with the broad clamps. It’s easy to tell if there’s contact since I feel a slight vibration then. I’m thinking about some extension like a bolt or something like that to make an easier acces. But at least it worked and I’m ready for my second hive to come. I made two frames with full foundation and several others with just a strip. I want to work with natural comb as much as possible. I’m going to make more frames after the weekend, since I have to work till tuesday, before I have three free days ^^


Why use the battery charger? Just use the battery charger as it is intended: To charge the battery and use the battery to heat the wire. Connect the minus to the battery/wire and use the plus of the battery and touch the other side of the wire for 2 to 3 short ticks and problem is solved. Worked even with a 25Ah battery, but we now use a 150Ah battery we have in the workshop anyway. Oh, and do not forget to include a 20Amp fuse in the + line so you are safe, just in case there is a problem somewhere.


I don’t have a battery, that’s why :wink: My dad bought the charger for the scooter I once had. I sold that several years ago, but the charger was left and just kept sleeping in a box full of other electrical stuff. And now that it works for my purpose, I don’t see why I should spend extra money :slight_smile:


Just don’t blow up your circuit breakers or burn down the house, because that would be a LOT of extra money to spend! :smiling_imp: Just joking, but please be careful, we care about our community members! :blush: