Silicone mold making for Candles

Posted in Things to do in Winter on January 26th, 2011

With the bees tucked in for the winter I turned my hand to completing some projects. This week I wanted to try making a silicone mold for floating candles. I have not been able to find a floating candle mold which I’ve been happy with, so I wanted to make my own.

My idea was to create a mold box out of Legos. They seemed perfect to me, easy to put together, simple to create the correct size, and I had plenty of them around. I glued the box down to the Plexiglas and hoped for the best.   Sadly I forgot the most important thing about Silicone. It  is great for making molds because it finds it way into ever crack and cranny. Including cracks between the Legos. I recommend using either Plexiglas to make a box or large plastic cups.

I used my kitchen scale to weigh out a 10 to 1 radio of silicone to catalyst. I would recommend watching Tap Plastic’s videos on Youtube. They go into the measuring and mixing process in detail.

The silicone is completely mixed and ready to be poured into the molds. I do not have access to a vacuum chamber to remove the air bubbles from the silicone. Instead I am using a method called “Bombs Away.”  The idea is you pour the silicone in a long thin stream which pops any air bubbles on the way down. This is done by cutting a 1/2 inch hole in the bottom of a plastic cup. Place a piece of tape over the hole. Once your silicone has been mixed, you pour it into the cup. Carefully position the cup onto a counter with your mold on the floor beneath it.

It is a long way down.

The silicone is ready to be released. With all the solo cups it is starting to look like someone is playing beer pong.

Bombs Away! This is best done with two people. One person removes the tape and holds the cup. The other is ready to move the mold in case the silicone misses the mold.

Almost filled.

Filled to perfection, just before the leaks started. Very quickly the silicone started to work its way into the Legos and out the sides. I used a glue gun to seal the cracks as quickly as I could. By that time the silicone level had dropped a few millimeters so the end result was not as thick as I would have liked.

After 16 hours, The silicone had cured.  I removed the Legos and candles. You can see where the silicone got between the Legos and created half Lego molds. I cut the flashing off and I now have a nice workable mold.

The end result.

Intresting Honey Bee Videos

Posted in Bee Tools, Things to do in Winter on January 19th, 2011

Two promo of videos dealing with the loss of honey bees.

The first is for Vanishing Bees

The second is for a upcoming Australian move Honeybee Blues. It includes some amazing footage of flying honey bees.

Recipe for making Sugar Candy for Bees

Posted in Bees, Things to do in Winter on January 3rd, 2011

Poured Frames

Making sugar candy for the bees is one of the simplest ways to feed sugar to your bees. However, if a  good “candy” making process isn’t followed can cause problems for you and your bees.

Things you need:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • A large pot
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Candy Thermometer  This is important. If you don’t have one order one here or borrow one.

Bring 1 pint (2 cups) of water to a boil.
Add 5 lbs of sugar.
Stir it until all the sugar dissolves into the water. Place the thermometer in the pot and monitor the temperature.
Continue to heat on high, stirring occasionally until around 220 degrees. As the solution reaches 220 degrees you will see a change. Bubbles will form on the top and thicken a little.

Reduce heat and continue to stir. You want to bring the solution up to at least 245 degrees but it should be done slowly. As you Boiling Overstir you should still see clear liquid. If all you see are bubbles, reduce the heat slightly. If you heat it too fast or stop stirring it will start to boil over. (See photo) If this starts to happen reduce the heat and keep stirring.  If you are concentrating  on taking a photo it will likely start to boil up.

You can gradually turn up the heat and bring the solution to 245 degrees. On a perfect day, you can stop at 245 degrees. If the humidity is high or the solution not completely heated evenly you can run into problems. I like to bring it up to almost 260 degrees on humid days. Many have reported that 250 to 255 is good number to shoot for. The hotter you get the more water you evaporate so there is some room for error going a little over 245 degrees. I like to keep the solution at temperature for a few moments and continuing stirring.

Remove the pot from heat and let it cool down a little.
There are several different containers you can now pour the candy into. Tinfoil pan tins or cookie sheets can great large thin blocks which can be placed above the inner cover. This year I tried something new for me and poured them directly onto an inner cover.  I used a cup and wooden spoon handle to keep the candy on the board.
I can now place the inner cover onto the hive with little or no fuss. Remember once you start feeding the bees sugar candy you need to continue until there is a natural food source available.


DrippingIf you heat the sugar too fast or don’t remove enough of the water the solution won’t set properly.  This can cause it to become runny and sugar syrup can drip out of the candy. This is dangerous for the bees as it can chill them. If this happens just scrap the sugar solution back into a pot with some water and reheat it.
If you burn the sugar you can not give it to the bees. Caramelized or burned sugar is poisonous to bees.