Saturday, July 28, 2007

One Hive Down - But We've Got Beeswax!

Well, we arrived on the homestead this weekend to face a dreaded reality. We have lost one of our beehives. We've been figuring as much, but really refused to face up to it. I suppose if we knew what we are doing, we would have gotten a queen earlier and tried to save the hive. But we really are winging this right now and we had hoped the hive could hold up until we got Bob from the Department of Agriculture got out here with queens again, but I'm afraid we waited just a little too long. Bob will be here Monday. But he'll help us deal with five hives instead of six.

On the upside, I do believe we will have honey this year afterall. We have four really rocking hives, and one that's appears to be doing ok. I guess we'll know for sure after Bob gets here on Monday and helps us go through each hive.

It troubles us a little that we found honey robbers trying to gain access to two of the hives. I put some pictures up on The Bee Buzz website. It really is awesome to watch these girls doing what comes naturally - but it is hard to not rescue the poor victim. Instead, I got pictures. Check them out!

Bernie and I have been collecting Bur Comb as we inspect the hives, and we cleaned up a few old hives that John gave us when we bought this operation. As a result, we had a fair amount of comb. As I mentioned in my last post, I rendered some wax from it over the past two weeks. It wasn't as easy as I read about, but it wasn't all that hard either. It just took some time and patience. I thought I'd tell you how I did it. As a side note I would say that I really think there has to be an easier way. If you know of one, please help a sister out!

I put a bunch of comb in a large stock pot (16 quarts) and covered it with water - and then another 2 inches or so.

Then I brought the whole ugly mixture to a boil. I boiled it for about 2 hours and then removed it from the heat. This is what I was left with:

I let that cool overnight and the next morning I could see the beeswax had hardened!

Then I took that lovely beeswax layer off (it was only about and inch thick) and was left with a bunch of goo in the bottom of the pot. I took that outside and disposed of it.

I don't have pictures of the remaining steps, but I will post some the next time. Next I took that layer of beeswax with all the trash in it and put it in a pot. I put the heat on medium low and stirred it until all the was was melted. Then I put a piece of an old cotton shirt over a bowl and poured the beeswax mixture into it. I let it filter through the shirt for a while, and then put on some rubber gloves and squeezed the balled up shirt to get as much was as possible out of it. As you can imagine, some trash made it through when I squeezed, so now I need to melt it all down again and filter it one more time.

As I said, rendering wax is a bit time consuming, but it is really rewarding! I made some more lip balm tonight with it and I am just tickled!

I'll be sure to get more pictures of the whole process next time. And I'll let y'all know how Monday goes when Bob shows up.

Bee Happy!



LT1 said...

Hi, Penny, I don't know if you
are still rendering wax, or even
watching this blog :-). I came across your blog first while
goggling how to render wax... I
tought you might be interested in
this link

This looks like a nice self-adjusting
method of filtering. Though I
have to say that your wax (& etc.)
started out with a lot more 'slumgum' to deal with!

How did your lip balm turn out?
Was it just pure beexwax?
-Lily said...

Hi Lily,

Thanks for stopping by. We never did built a solar wax melter, but we plan to get bees again this spring and I am definitely planning to build one.

After completing the rendering steps, the wax was very pure and golden yellow. The lip balm came out wonderfully and everyone that uses it loves it. You can see pictures of the complete rendering process at

Take care,