How do you get Beeswax?

  • From burr comb2013-07-14 11.05.40
  • From honey cappings
  • From an entire frame you want to recycle.

Burr comb is what we call the wax comb that gets built between frames when there is excess space. Bees will efficiently use space by creating these beautiful extensions of wax cells which often undulate around frames.

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As much as I’d like to keep their fine work of engineering, I scrape it off before they get a chance to fill it with brood or honey. Their network of bridges would get ruptured anyway each time I had to pull out a frame so it’s best for them to concentrate their efforts on new foundation frames which I’ll insert when there’s too much space or not enough space. After all they are masters at drawing out delicate hectagons at amazing precision.

A foundation frame is a thick layer of wax within a frame which you buy for $3.00. You insert these frames to give the bees more space and they will get to work drawing them out. In this picture the bees have started in the centre but the top remains untouched so far.

A foundation frame is a thick layer of wax within a frame which you buy for $3.00. You insert these frames to give the bees more space and they will get to work drawing them out. In this picture the bees have started in the centre but the top remains untouched so far.

Honey cappings are like the lids to honey jars. Not to be confused with brood capping which is slightly darker in color.

Honey cappings (top part of frame) are lighter and thinner and brood cappings (bottom part of frame) are darker and concave out.

Honey cappings (top part of frame) are lighter and thinner and brood cappings (bottom part of frame) are darker and concave out.

Once we have enough cappings, we’ll need to separate the wax from the dirt, aka “slum.” We can do this by melting it all in a nifty window box crafted by the talented Heinz who’s been in the beesness for  38 years!

2013-07-14-14.51.38When I first saw the box, I thought it was a display case for an abstract nature piece. Later that day, it had changed appearance. Once the burr comb heats up in this solar box, the liquefied yellow wax collects at the bottom of the tilted tray and drops into a baking pan through tiny holes.  What remains on the tray, is a display of slum. It’s not a very aesthetically pleasing piece of abstract art but it can be used as an ingredient to make fire kindling, a dance floor powder or a sweeping compound.
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Now we’re left with a beautiful mass of yellow beeswax with a delightfully addictive scent. Mmmmm….can’t stop smelling this.

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