Processing Beeswax

Our bees died over winter, so we are processing the beeswax to put it to use. 

We did not save any honey this time, just wax. There wasn't much capped honey left anyway, so it seemed like a lot of work for very little result. 

Also, the capped honey that was there was covered in light layer of whitish-grey-green mold, and there was definite evidence that the uncapped honey underneath the capped honey was fermenting. (There were bubbles in the uncapped honey and it had a subtle, but rank smell.) 

I did not see how to get the capped honey out without #1 mixing it with the mold and/or #2 mixing it with the uncapped, fermenting honey. 

For those reasons, I didn't want to take the trouble to save the little honey left and/ or risk eating contaminated honey. 

Note: When I'm more experienced in beekeeping, I know I may learn more and find that I could have processed the honey and eaten it without risk, but I don't feel confident that I can do that at this point in my experience.

We aren't saving the wax on the old frames for the new bees, either, because I am using a different hive design in future. Right now, I use a Layens hive. In future, I am going to try a traditional Langstroth. 

So there is no way of reusing the frames. 

But I can and will use the processed, cleaned-up wax to melt and paint onto the new frames in order to help the new bees draw those frames with new wax. 

And/ or I can make homemade beeswax candles for gifts like I did last year. 

Outside, near the waterhose and over peagravel where it is proper to make a mess and easy to clean up, I pulled all the honey and wax off the twelve, large Layers frames and into this large, old Tupperware. Then I carefully, carefully brought the Tupperware into my spare bathroom shower. I added water from the shower, and I am soaking the wax in batches of water to clean it. Every day (or every other day), I carefully, carefully drain the dirty water through a fine, metal, mesh strainer and add new water, not allowing any wax out of the strainer/ into the shower. Even a small amount of wax could melt and coat/ clog the pipes. 

I have a smaller, white bucket on the kitchen counter where I am also soaking a smaller portion of the wax, and this is the bucket I work from. If this smaller bucket gets empty, I go to the larger Tupperware for more wax, etc. 

I get out a large-mouth, plastic cup and line it with a white trouser sock, then I stuff the sock with wax, carefully, not getting wax on the counter. If I do get wax on the counter, I clean it with Chlorox wipes and elbow grease. I am careful to move this bucket into the sink and wash wax off my hands off over this bucket with running water only, so no wax goes down the sink either. 

I tie a knot in the sock and put it in a crock pot specifically set aside for this purpose. Note: You can't cook in a crock pot once you've used it to process wax. So get a small crock pot from the thrift store for this purpose. I add water to the bottom, turn on the heat, and put the lid on. 

Make sure part of the sock sticks out the top of the crock pot so you have something to hold onto and the whole sock doesn't get totally hot and waxy.

After an hour or two on high or a few hours on low, check the sock to see if the wax is melting. 

Use a plastic spoon dedicated to the purpose to push the sock against the inside of the crock pot and carefully, carefully push the wax out of the sock and let it drain down into the hot water. 

The dirt and large particles will either remain in the sock if it's thick enough OR the junk will go into the water with the hot wax. 


Throw out the hot, waxy sock with the dirt and junk inside, but let the crock pot cool off with the dirty water and melted wax inside. 

Once it cools, the dirty water remains on the bottom; the wax forms a nice circle on the top. 

Remove the circle of wax and set it aside, THEN you can pour out that dirty water. It may still be best to pour it outside. 

I save the rounds of wax in a large zip lock once they are dry, and then melt them to use them in candles, which another step-by-step process entirely. 


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