Harvesting Your Colony’s Beeswax

Master the beekeeping task of correctly and safely collect your beeswax from your bee colonies, all while getting a few tips on what to do with your harvested beeswax.

| January 2018

  • There are a variety of ways to use beeswax, including in candles and cosmetics
    Photo courtesy of Quarry
  • A solar wax melter is a tight box covered with translucent plastic and painted black (top). Inside temperatures can easily exceed the 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees Celsius) temperature needed to melt wax. Frames or wax are placed on the slanted tray, and melted wax is collected in a small pan (above). This is a great way to collect raw wax for candles, lotions, frame coatings, and more.
    Photo courtesy of Quarry
  • Pouring melted wax through paper towels sorts out the rest of the debris.
    Photo courtesy of Quarry
  • Paper milk cartons work well for holding beeswax until it cools and is ready to be made into candles, creams, or soap.
    Photo courtesy of Quarry
  • “The Backyard Beekeeper” by Kim Flottum has helped nearly 200,000 people start their beekeeping adventures.
    Photo courtesy of Quarry

The Backyard Beekeeper (Quarry, 2018) by Kim Flottum extends his expert advice on beekeeping, one of the fastest growing hobbies today. He walks beginners through setting up their colonies, choosing their bees, and the benefits of raising and caring for these buzzing bees. In the following excerpt, Flottum shares his favorite tips and secrets on harnessing and utilizing your colony’s beeswax.

About Beeswax

If you extract your honey, you’ll have both honey and wax when you’re done. (If someone does it for you, his or her payment may actually be in wax or honey.) The wax is what is removed when you cut off the cappings from the honey-filled cells before you put the frames in the extractor. These cappings are usually collected in an uncapping tub that lets much of the honey drain off, separating the cappings wax from the adhering honey. (Now you see the wisdom of lining your uncapping tank with a mesh lining: It keeps the wax and lets the honey go.)

You have the choice of separating the remaining honey from the wax or simply discarding both. That may not be the best choice; there is a lot of honey clinging to the wax cappings, and the best beeswax is found in those wax cappings. If you choose to keep the wax, there are several ways to proceed.

The simplest method is to gather the corners of the mesh filter that lines the uncapping tank and shape it into a large bag. Tie the “bag” closed and suspend it over a clean bucket to let the honey drain for a few days in a bee-free area in a warm location. Add the honey to your crop and clean the wax in water. Once the wax is clean, freeze it to destroy any wax moths. Whatever you do with it, do it fairly soon so wax moths or small hive beetles cannot cause problems. (This wax can coat next year’s plastic foundation, as well.)



Terms of Uncapping

The terms decapping and uncapping mean the same thing: mechanically removing the beeswax coverings from the honey-filled cells on a frame. The coverings are called cappings. When melted, the beeswax is called cappings wax.

Be Safe

To melt the wax there’s one golden rule: never melt beeswax over an open flame. If the temperature of the melting beeswax rises past its melting point and boils over the sides of the heating container, that liquid wax, when it makes contact with the flame, becomes a torch, burning uncontrollably. All the wax will soon catch fire, and that burning wax will soon spread over your work surface, setting fire to anything flammable it comes in contact with. Also, wax vapors from overheated wax can explode if exposed to an open flame.

eligriggs
2/1/2018 5:37:45 AM

Shooters whom reload, use bees wax for making bullet luv, etc. Color does not matter, so long as it's clean. Market it in full postal boxes and contact shooting clubs to let them know what you have for sale. Artist practicing encaustics often mix their own pigmented waxes and need clear, clean bees wax. Let your local art stores, colleges with art classes and local art co-ops or art league s know what you have.


eligriggs
2/1/2018 5:37:43 AM

Shooters whom reload, use bees wax for making bullet luv, etc. Color does not matter, so long as it's clean. Market it in full postal boxes and contact shooting clubs to let them know what you have for sale. Artist practicing encaustics often mix their own pigmented waxes and need clear, clean bees wax. Let your local art stores, colleges with art classes and local art co-ops or art league s know what you have.







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