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Wax dipping - Sydney & surrounds

Hi all,

I am trying to gauge what interest there may be for beekeepers located in Sydney & surrounding areas in providing a wax dipping service (and painting, if desired) for timber hive ware.

Not just for protecting new equipment but also as an alternative sterilization method to the gamma irradiation offered by Steritech at Wetherill Park.

Currently looking into starting a business selling only Australian made equipment wherever possible and I feel an easily accessible wax dipping service could be a valuable point of differentiation from existing suppliers here.

Any thoughts?

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Hi Steve, A member of the forum but not too active here living at Kurrajong Heights does wax dipping of wood ware, maybe he will give some 1st hand advice, it would be great if he does.
Once in a while people have asked about the availability of a wax dipping service on this forum, but I’m not sure with the set up cost and cost of heating the volume of wax would be a viable business with enough demand for it.
Not sure if there has been any reliable research done if a wax dipped hive make it resistant to EFB or AFB or not needing to be irradiated.


Well I’d be looking at importing a purpose made dipper from NZ which makes the process a lot safer and it’s well insulated to make it more economical. Yes I would need to work out a fee to make it profitable but I’m a plumber so can calculate the fueling costs (LPG or NG) quite easily.

I’d be looking at selling made up hives as well as offering dipping to anyone off the street but would have to work out a batch system so I’m not heating the whole thing up for one box.

Wax dipping at 160 Celsius for at least 10 minutes is recognised as a suitable alternative to irradiation in many parts if not all of Australia.

Hey Steve,
As Peter mentioned, I set up waxing for myself and have regular contact from people wanting their hives done. I’m strictly low volume so it’s not a business model for me. I built a larger unit so I can dip my Long Langs. It’s turned out to be good for faster turn around on normal hives too. There could be a market for you to partner up with commercial guys who don’t want to dip their own. I’ve seen the automatic dippers that load up at one end of a chain drive and come out the other end drained and dry. Great if you can get the volume to justify it.
Wax dipping as you described is still an approved treatment for AFB contaminated wood ware, so that could be a good market if your pricing is more attractive than eradiation.
I think the biggest resistance comes from new beeks thinking paint or oil is cheaper than wax. Until they have to recoat, and recoat, and recoat.
I’ll be interested to see how it pans out for you, once you’ve worked out the viability.
Good luck.


Thanks Mike,

The unit I’m looking at isn’t automatic, just purpose made but looks safer than anything I could make myself. Also relatively inexpensive from my perspective at around Aus $5000 so if I can get the volume it would pay itself off quite fast. Apparently they’ve already sent several to other states here. Even though it’s manual you could do quite a few boxes in a day.

There’s now a lot of beekeepers located much closer to the coast in Sydney so a trip out to Weatherill park can be a bit of a headache, I know it was for me. I also suspect Covid is going to cause an explosion in back yard beekeeping and especially Flow hives and I could not think of better way to preserve something that costs so much, especially when most people want to preserve the natural finish.

Something I would like to know is how much wax is consumed per box dipped and is the process the same for redipping a box that is already treated?


Waxed hives will eventually lose the new look too, but it will still be in good shape in 15-20 years. Re-dipping is the same process, but there’s almost no foaming because there’s no water to boil out of the wood. I haven’t calculated the amount of wax absorbed, but figures I’ve seen are in the order of 30grams for a full depth 10frame box. I’ve experimented with painting as soon as the box is hot out of the wax with good results. The paint is drawn into the grain making for a much better coat than surface painting. I think this would make redipping unviable, but perhaps unnecessary.
I’ve just begun my Certificate III Beekeeping at Tocal, so I may find out more from there.


So in terms of wax itself the cost is very low, would just be the gas and labour I’d need to work out. I’ve seen it offered elsewhere for $20 per box, that seems reasonable.

I was referring to re-dipping for sterilisation if needed, I guess it wouldn’t make any difference to the prior paint it may just lock it in further. The timber almost stops being timber once it’s waxed.

Here’s the one I’m looking at, they reckon up to 250 boxes a day can be done and you would probably only use 9kg of LPG if that. They use a couple of four ring camping burners from Bunnings.

That’s a very nice design for boxes. A bit less convenient for bottom board, lids and inners, but way more efficient than mine. I’ll make a top like that for my little one.
I usually cook for 10 minutes at 150deg or until the foam stops. Five minutes seems a bit short to me. Usually still foaming by then, so water still in the wood. Re-dipping painted boxes for AFB is ok, but the wax won’t penetrate the painted bit and it’ll stop new paint adhering

I like how it mostly contains the process, although it’s still far from risk free.

There’s other photos showing two boxes on each side with one strapped inside the other, I guess you could make a basket for smaller parts or stack several lid rims if the clamps will hold them.

This is very informative if you haven’t seen it:

If I lived close and depending on price I would do that over panting… I’m over painting already :joy::joy:. I think as said above if you can get commercial mob on board that would be a massive benefit. For people with 1 or 2 hives just starting out you need to come up with a way to sell it. I mean they would want to protect their investment for 15+ years. But a lot like to paint pretty pictures on their first hive (me).

best of luck with it.

Hopefully it works out for you.

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There’s a guy in Melbourne doing it for $20 per box, if you were firing it up for large batches it would be a decent profit.

I think it’s pretty hard to get paint to adhere to them once dipped, maybe I could start making custom stick-on decals too lol.

I’m getting the feeling it’s going a be a big season over here in Sydney after all the rain we’ve had, could be a great time to open a business even with the recession :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi :cherry_blossom:, I would really love to get my hive wax dipped. Does you know anyone on the South Coast or Sydney area that Could wax dip a hive or two?

Thanks, Dahlia

I’ll do it if I get a wax dipper set up soon, no timeframe as yet lol.

I can’t find anyone outside of Melbourne who offers it as it is mostly done by manufacturers or commercial operators.

That would be awesome. Please let me know when you are all set to go and I’m in.
Thanks, Dahlia

Hey Dahlia,
I’m in Kurrajong Heights and regularly dip people’s hives if you want yours done sooner. $70 for a hive consisting two boxes, base, roof and inner cover. $50ea for two or more. You can paint successfully immediately after dipping while still hot.

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Penny has just dropped but I knew I recognised you from somewhere just not by name lol.

Assuming it is actually the Mike Allerton of course?

You got me, Steve. I’m the only one at Kurrajong Heights, though there is another unrelated one in the Hawkesbury. Far as I know he doesn’t keep bees. Sorry, I don’t recognise you from your member details.

Hi Mike,
Thank you, that would be great. I’ll probably get two done. I’m in no rush but anytime in the next month - 6 weeks would be awesome.

I live in the South Coast so can drive up On a Friday/Sat or Sunday.


Can do, Dahlia. Saturday’s are usually good. It takes a couple of hours to heat the wax, so I can fire it up when you leave home. Contact me at mike@fibre5.com in case I’m not on the forum for awhile.

I made my own dipper for under $150! and I only use pure beeswax and gum rosin… But mine is a shallow fry dipper having only around 3 inches of wax at the bottom. I can fit two boxes in at a time but have to turn them to do all four sides so it takes me around 40 minutes to do two boxes. I can’t then paint as I can’t keep the entire box hot enough and when you paint with wax dipping it must be done immediately while the wood is still hot. I made mine from a steel sheet welded into a tub with two elements from a cheap deep fryer. So it’s electric not gas powered and no flame which reduces the risk of a fire. It was a lot of work but sure beats painting and I love the look of natural timber hives!