Sunday, November 11, 2012

The story of Beeswax

The past few days, Robb and I have started preparing for our annual Holiday Market up in the mountains. We sell raw and infused honey & everyonessss favorite Beeswax Candles!
Beeswax candles are different than other candles. how so you ask??  Beeswax candles burn brighter, longer, and cleaner than any other candle. And after you see how its all done, you will have an even greater appreciation for beeswax.

Worker Bees develop special wax producing glands in their abdomen. These glads turn the sugar from the honey into wax. The wax is then able to move through tiny spores in the bees body, leaving flakes on the bees abdomen. The wax is then chewed up by the bees and added to the construction of their hive.
Honey bees also Cap the frames of honey with wax( like a little lid on top of the honey filled cell :). This is usually a good indication for us as beekeepers to know when to pull the honey from the frame... If you pull the frames to early, the honey can still have to much moisture in it ( the bees fan the honey with their wings to draw out the moisture,, and they know Exactly what they are doing and when its ready to be capped)
Pulling honey that is runny can result honey that will spoil or ferment.

Here is a photo of a frame of honey with the wax capping still in place:

When the frame is about 80% capped thats where we come in. We give the frame a quick shake, if no honey runs out, we know we are good to go...

Before we put the frames in our Honey extractor, we have a tool that scraps off the wax cappings , (its similar to a wire comb) to open up the cell and allow the honey to flow from the frame.

Next the frames go in our honey extractor ( a large machine that spins the honey out),, and the honey comes out a spout at the bottom and then through a large strainer to remove any large bee parts etc.. the WAX cappings are also sitting on top of this strainer , allowing as much honey to strain through before bagging up the wax.

After all the honey has made its way through the strainer ( NOTE: we use the largest strainer possible, allowing the pollen,small bee parts and some wax into our honey, because thats all the good stuff ;) we take the wax, throw it in a gallon bag until we are ready to make candles...

When we are ready to make candles, we pull all that beautiful sticky wax out from the freezer. There is still honey in the wax. The only way to seperate all the honey from the wax is with a solar wax melter or using a double boiler on the stove.
We place the wax in a coffee can, then place that coffee can, in a pot with water and melt the wax down completely.
Once the wax is melted, we cover containers with cheese cloth to strain it yet once again,, to remove any other little bee parts, dirt etc..from the wax.
Then you let it cool, The wax will solidify at the top and the honey will be at the bottom of the container . When you pop the wax out of the container you are left with this:,, almost ready, but there as you can see, there is still a bunch of honey n gunk on top of the wax..
This obviously must be removed before making candles...
so what to do???
FEED THE BEES :) give em back what is rightfully theres to begin with:)

Then just take a butter knife and scrape off any excess gunk, and you are left with a Beautiful chunk of beeswax to make Candles, lipbalm, soap ***********
The whole process is very involved, labor intensive, and when it comes to the bees part in the whole process, nothing short of amazing...

Be sure to support your LOCAL Beekeeper at this Years Holiday Markets..
The Cools

1 comment:

  1. I would love to have some good beeswax candles! Thoase look great.