Rosey the Riveter

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Every time we get into the hives, we inevitably have to take out some wax because the bees like to build in the most inconvenient of places.  We save the wax in the freezer in Ziploc bags (to kill any larvae in the cells and also to prevent the sugar-water-honey from fermenting.)  After this last visit, we had a fair amount of wax, so I decided it was time to make a solar melter.  With some verbal instructions from my mentor and her husband, and a tin pan from Tim and Lisa (my beekeeping partners), I rigged it up.

Using a thumbtack, I poked a few holes in the corner of the pan.  Below the holes, I placed a silicone pan.  I then propped the tin pan at an angle so the melted wax would drain to the corner with the holes.

Into the pan went the beeswax, and I covered it with a pane of glass from a picture frame.  This helps heat things up (beeswax has a high melting point) and also helps to keep out curious bees.

So, after a whole afternoon in the sun, the only thing that drained into the silicone pan was thick sugar water from the cells.  What a sticky mess.  I was ready to give up, but decided to give it another shot.

This time, I washed the wax first with warm water.  This rinsed off most of the sugar water.  I also made the thumb-tack holes larger, using a nail instead.

Although it's slow going, I am happy to report that it's working.  Beautiful beeswax in the pan:
Not so beautiful is the gross stuff that remains!  It's called slum gum.  There still a lot of wax here to be melted, but you can see all the dark gross stuff left behind.
I've got high hopes for this beeswax! 

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