Friday, January 13, 2012

Processing beeswax

In our little apiary the role of beeswax processing falls to me. It wasn't something that was premeditated it just has worked out that way. This of course is the honey which is the best part of beekeeping but in my opinion, dealing with the wax is the worst. It really isn't that bad but it is still my least favourable task associated with keeping bees. We had a few older frames in the batch we extracted this week. They are darker than the light and pretty newer frames.

The by product of extracting honey is the cappings. It is the wax and other bee products that you remove to release the honey. It isn't pretty and to get the wax to a usable state, they have to be processed. I do this firstly by rinsing in a bucket with lukewarm water. It doesn't purify the wax too much but it does get rid of some of the honey and gritty bits and pieces.

The washed cappings are then placed in the top of a double boiler (water in the bottom) and melted. It is wise to keep an eye on the pot because wax can be a little volatile around a heat source. The melted wax t can look a bit revolting depending on how clean it is to start with. Once it has melted it is poured through a strainer (I use cheescloth) into a flexible container (an ice cream container or clean milk carton is ideal) and allowed to cool.

When it is set it can be removed and any water that was left in with the cappings will come off now as the water sinks below the set wax. The wax might be clean enough at this stage but todays wax was not. It required another straining.

On the small scale that we work it isn't too time consuming but it is messy hence the lack of pictures of the process along the way.Next time I will do it when there is a photographer in the house to help out. Everything the wax touches becomes well... waxy and it isn't fun to wash up.

We are however truly self-sufficient and beyond in wax.



Bec - Farmers Wife said...

Thanks for posting about bee keeping and wax. Once you have the finished wax product what do you use for? I would imagine candles and base for furniture polish (just add lavender essential oil) ????? Again many thanks for posting about this :)

Vickie said...

ahh thanks Tracy now I have a better idea of what you do with it, and I agree it does sound messy,cheers Vickie

joolzmac said...

Yes, thanks for informing us. Do you make candles?


Jodie @ Jellywares said...

You are so amazing Tracy!!! I love this post.

We harvest wild honey here on he farm, so we get no where near the quanity of wax and honey that you would.

Thanks for your tips for cleaning the wax - I'll remember them when we next harvest..