Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trying new things

So, one of the side aspects of taking apart and recolonizing the beehives is that I had some un-needed beeswax. In the form of (mostly) brood comb. In case you didn't know this (I know I sure didn't!), when the bees first make the wax, it is the palest white/yellow (virgin wax). They make LOTS of cells of this, which serve different purposes at different times. Sometimes they store the pollen the worker bees bring in, so they can eat it later. Sometimes they store honey, which is capped with more pure virgin wax for storage. Sometimes they store brood and little baby bees, and in the process of hatching, pupating and emerging, that wax gets brown (almost black eventually) and pretty gross.

There are lots of ways to process beeswax, and it is a pretty simple to do--put the chunks of wax in a deep, old pan (that you never want to use for anything else, ever again!), fill it with water, bring it to a boil, than let it cool. The wax floats and cools into a disc. The water with a full load of nasty residue (which is called "slumgum" is left behind. You can skim out the solids and load them into cardboard egg cartons--after they dry they make dandy firestarters (it is still well permeated with wax!) or you can give it to chickens (they love it!), or you can pour the whole mess on your garden or compost pile, where it is an awesome enrichment. If you want the wax to be purer, you can melt it again, for further refinement.

The process of melting the wax is easy, and it made our whole kitchen smell--exotic. A very strong smell, but not unpleasant--very floral and honey/sugar scented.

No comments:

Post a Comment