Preparing Beeswax from the Hive (or the valiant effort anyway)

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There wasn’t any honey to take because my bees died of starvation by all appearances.  But the seventeen frames of wax ought to come in handy for salves, lotions, and candles if I could get them melted down.  I planned on transferring the strained, melted wax into empty milk cartons.  The milk cartons would act as molds and once the wax hardened I could simply peel off the paper and cut into useable pieces, yes?  Ah, if only it were that easy.

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I began with a pile of wax and filled one pot (that cannot ever be used again for cooking since it is permanently a wax cauldron.  I made a double boiler by placing that pot into a big canning pot filled with boiling water (careful not to splash any water into the wax) and melted it that way so not to burn the wax.

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It seemed like the combs were going down and I would add more.  Pretty soon, I smashed and stirred and looked for wax and found none.  The blackened combs just seemed burnt (before I put them in oddly enough) and they just fell down into a mass.  If the wax was there it sucked back into the remaining combs.  I thought the entire honey comb was wax.  Am I wrong?  I must be because hours later I only had half the frames in the pot and a pot half full of blackened mass, and about two teaspoons of wax.

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I did eventually give up and placed the pot by the door with the wooden spoon which met its demise during this process as well.  What happened?  What did I do wrong?  I still have about eight left but no pot to waste.  The black parts of the comb make me wonder if that was normal, if I should have separated out the lighter comb.  Did I give up too soon?

Oh who knows.  The top bar hive I knew nothing about, the bees that came and passed, the black not-so-much wax, and a mere pint of honey out of all of it.  I think we can consider my bee keeping venture a complete failure at this point.

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Next year, we will try again.

5 thoughts on “Preparing Beeswax from the Hive (or the valiant effort anyway)

  1. If the black stuff was from old brood comb, it was mostly discarded cocoons from the bee larvae. That stuff left over is referred to as “slum gum” for some reason, and doesn’t provide much nice wax. If it was from frames of honey, I can’t explain. I melt mine down during the summer in a homemade solar melter. It takes time but works pretty well. Don’t give up!

    1. I agree with Bluestempond. I wouldn’t waste your time melting down the brood frames. Plus if you are going to try again, that’s less wax they have to make before expanding the colony. Most beeswax melted down comes from the honey supers and the solar melter is a common way to melt it down.

  2. I just did the same thing with my hives (since we lost all our bees again). It is amazing how little wax you end up with once it’s all said and done. I only melted the bright yellow wax but it’s alot of work and a huge mess. I also use a canning jar inside a pot of boiling water so I don’t destroy any more pans (I made a tutorial on my blog if you want to check it out). Best of luck to you in your honey bee adventures!

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