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.

A Trip to a Medieval Village (our bee hive)

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There has been so much activity in the medieval kingdom (our bee hive that is) that I thought I better have my friend and mentor, Brett, come over and translate what is going on.  It has been four months since we first got our hive.

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After donning our suits and smoking the hive entrance to hide our intruding scents, we opened the roof.  Fifteen slats were being filled with comb, honey, and brood.

Doug and Brandon got some amazing pictures. You can actually see the pollen on the bees' legs here.

Doug and Brandon got some amazing pictures. You can actually see the pollen on the bees’ legs here.

The bees have capped the comb over the brood.  The flat clearer cells are worker bees and the puffier cells that are lower on the comb are drones.  The drones are the only boys in the hive.  They have one job, make out with the queen.  Come winter they shall be ousted from the kingdom.  All the workers are girls.  It is definitely a matriarchal society in this village.

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We also can see honey in the frames closest to the door.  We will save fifteen slats for the bees to get through winter.  Hopefully we can get a little wild herb honey for our winter tea.

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SAM_0052 Looks like the Queen is alive and well.  All hail the queen!