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Honey by-products: Beeswax

posted Feb 11, 2010, 5:24 AM by Reinoud Vaandrager   [ updated Feb 14, 2010, 7:43 AM ]
Now that I went through the full training starting with hive construction and ending with pure honey, there are a few more skills I needed to master to become a beekeeping jedi :)

One of those is how to process honey by-products such as beeswax. Beeswax is the wax the bees make to create the combs and has a number of potential uses ranging from candles to medicinal purposes.

After we harvested the combs with the honey from the bee hives, we crushed the combs and let the honey drip out through a filter in a bucket. After a couple of days most of the honey has dripped out and the combs can be put in water for soaking out any remaining honey (the beeswax needs to be pure)

So after a day or two of soaking, the honey water can be poured out (actually the locals like to make an alcoholic honey drink out of it since it ferments) and the comb pulp can be boiled in a large pot over the fire with some water. It is important that the wax melts, but doesn't boil else it will lose all its medicinal properties such as it's enzymes etc. The molten wax can then be poured into another container through a rough filter such as a canvas sack. This sack then needs to be squeezed by two people by slowly wringing it together from two sides. The pure beeswax will then come out. The remaining chaff in the sack can be discarded (or used for things like chickenfeed).

bits and pieces of pure beeswax squeezed out of the filter bag.
However this is not the end. The bits and pieces of pure wax now need to be collected and rolled into little clumps, these clumps are then put in a smaller pan, which itself it put in a large pan with a small quantity of boiling water. This way the wax in the small pan will melt but not boil. Once all the pure wax is molten it can be poured into a mold (candles, bars, etc.).

melting the clumps of pure beeswax for molding

We will be re-using all our wax to bait the new hives we are planning to construct for a new apiary that should generate some sustainable income for the organization.

the finished product (looks a bit like cheese...hmmm cheese...)