Saturday, July 30, 2011


It's been a messy couple of days in the basement!  I've been rendering my wax cappings and have been working towards making some candles and lip balm etc. 

The problem is converting the wax cappings, left after the honey harvest, into beeswax that I can make good use of.  I looked on the internet and it has all looked pretty straight forward.  First off I put my cappings in a big aluminium saucepan I got from a garage sale - do not use a new one or one from the kitchen! To this I added about an equal volume of water and simply boiled up the water/wax mixture!  I don't think the proportions were especially important and it didn't seem to matter that once the mix was boiling I thew in further handfuls of cappings. Anyway I let this boil for about 20 minutes.

Once I was happy everything was all mixed up I then had to filter the debris (bees, bugs and other detritus) out of the wax.  I read different things on the internet and I was also given advise by some fellow beekeepers.  Basically you pour the filtered water/wax mixture into a container and let the wax and water separate. Anyway, my first approach was to pass the mix through an aluminium insect screen; the type you put over a window. This worked reasonably well but a lot of scum was carried through the filter and when the wax had separated and hardened there was a thick brown scummy layer attached to the bottom of the wax.  My second try was to pour the mixture through a paint strainer (a fine nylon cloth mesh).  This proved very good at removing the scum, but some still managed to get through this. I was going to have to pass the molten wax through a finer screen to remove the final few bits of rubbish

So my last effort involved melting the wax in a jar that was sitting in a bath of boiling water, and then to pass this through a really fine screen.  I found that a coffee filter was excellent; not a paper one, but one of the fine metal ones. The wax that passed though this is lovely! I will have to try to clean this sceen and reckon that I will have to clean it in boiling water.

I haven't tried it, but I do wonder if this coffee filter would be as effective on the boiling water/cappings wax mixture?  I guess I'll have to wait until next year to find out, unless I get some fall honey!

All good fun and I now have some ingots of beeswax and some candles!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Finally, a practical use for my honey - a tasty cocktail!

At Last I found a practical use for my honey - as an ingredient in a tasty cocktail...

"Lemon Balm Honeysuckle" - serves 8

6 Tbsp. honey
2 cups Bacardi
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup (loosly packed) fresh lemon balm leaves
8 lemon slices (for garnish)

Add the honey to a large jug and dissolve it in 6 tablespoons of hot water. Stir in the Bacardi and lemon juice. Add 2 cups of ice cubes. Cover and refridgerate for 2 hours (if you can wait this long!). Squeeze the lemon balm leaves to bruise them; add these to the jug. Finally fill 8 "Old Fashioned" glasses with ice cubes, divide the cocktail and pass out, to your guests of course!

So, that deals with about 1 tablespoon of honey per glass. By my reckoning that means I can drink about 6,144 glasses before I run out of honey!  Mind you that's also about 96 gallons of Bacardi!

Clearly I have some work to do..... better go and get a refill!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Harvested! & knackered to boot!

And relax, it's all done, for now......

Yep, everything is harvested and in buckets!  I'm just about to pop out and have a few well earned beers - Happy 4th July everyone! Oh, the final tally...

Blue Queen Hive - 61 kg (135 lbs)
White Queen Hive - 31 kg (68 lbs)
Botanical Gardens - 14 kg (30 lbs)
City Bees - 22 kg (48 lbs)

So a total of about 128 kg (280 lbs) from my four hives.  Add to that the 45 kg (100 lbs) from Susan's harvest and 61 kg (135 lbs) from Eugene's and I'd say it was a pretty successful day!

Now, where's that beer.....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

All gathered in!

I think (and hope) all the hard work is now done! Over the last two days I took off 6 more supers (more or less). I now have 8 supers awaiting extraction tomorrow, but I reckon I'll have to start tonight! Boy was it hard! Working in 35C temperatures (95F) was tough. How people do this for a living I don't begin to comprehend!

Anyway my guess is that I will have another 150 lbs. Some will go to others, but that still leaves me plenty not to know what to do with!!! A sweet problem nevertheless!

I'll blog tomorrow with the final score!