Wax from Hive 3!

Anything bee/ honey related these days makes me happy.  I’m not sure Hive 3, my adopted hive at the North London Beekeepers, will generate any excess honey this year as it’s very young and I’ve been told that we open the hives waaay too much because it’s a teaching apiary. Each time we open up the hives, it temporarily halts any production.

I had my first go at extracting wax from the handful of comb I had collected and am very pleased with myself.

A few things learnt :
1)   Don’t use your best pan (duh!) even if it is non stick. We’re talking wax here! Still, eating a little bit of wax never killed anyone!
2)   The best way to get wax off a pan is to heat it gently and use a kitchen towel to wipe most of it off – don’t scrape.
3)   The best way to get wax off a kitchen surface is to put newspaper on it and rest the hot pan on top of it. When the wax melts, the newspaper soaks it up.
4)   Don’t use any utensils of value to you.
5)   Or maybe just use someone else’s kitchen!

I didn’t have rainwater handy so I used natural mineral water and wasn’t sure how much water was needed so after filling the cup with water thinking it would be ok, I panicked and put another cup and a half in with it.

I put two cup fulls of water with half a cup of wax?

I put two cupfulls of water with half a cup of wax?

The wax melted pretty quickly and for a small lump of comb, there was A LOT of gunk that separated from it.

Bee's wax melting in pan

Bee’s wax melting in pan

How to separate wax from comb

Propolis, Varroa and bee poo?

I didn’t have muslin so used some cotton from the sewing box. The wax cooled really quickly so at one point the wax sealed the cotton to the sieve. This sieve was just in my cutlery drawer and is quite possibly one of the smallest sieves you can use for this sort of project! Not as practical as initially imagined…

How to seperate bees wax from comb

Tools for separating the propolis from the wax

As the liquid cooled, the wax floated to the top.

Beeswax cooling on water

Looks like Beer!

The wax formed pretty quickly but I left it overnight to cool. It still had lots of bits in underneath so I repeated the process another two times with less water. I think I lost half the wax doing it this way but couldn’t wait to show my fellow bee buddies and beekeeping teachers at North London Beekeepers Association. Probably not quite enough to start CC’s Beeswax Surfwax but enough for a medallion!

Bees Wax medallion

ta-da! Bees’ wax medallion.

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4 comments

  1. Well done!. I don’t melt mine in water, I put it on top of the sieve (I use car window shade cloth) in a styrofoam box with a glass lid in the sun – a solar wax melter. I’ve heard you can do the same thing with the oven on low heat. Whichever approach you use, you’re right, it’s a mess. And remember, beeswax never goes away, it just gets thinner…

    • Thanks! My non beekeeping friends are less impressed with my medallion! Yes I saw someone use a solar wax melter on You Tube. Looks much neater actually. We have a lack of sun here in London (bar this week) and I don’t have a garden so this seemed like the easiest way for now.

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