Cleaning the honey combs : A tutorial of sorts

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Few weeks ago, Mark got into our top bar hive in the back yard.  He took as much honey as he thought was enough and we’ve been enjoying that.  It’s not a whole lot, but we feel funny taking their honey, and especially in the fall, when they are getting ready to be ready for the winter months.  I wonder if we should do this in the spring instead.

Anyways.  I ended up with a handful of mashed honey combs and some combs that didn’t have any honey, but I wasn’t sure how to clean them.  I had some from last year too, that we’ve been keeping in the fridge.

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I looked online and found out that I could get the combs hot in water, so the wax melts, and clean the wax from the honey and other impurities by passing it through a sieve.  So that’s exactly what I did.

First I was going to use one of our pots, but in one of the videos I watched they suggested using one specifically for this.  So I went to the thrift store and bought a pot and a big colander.

DSC_0072-smallAnd now that I’ve done it once, I’m glad I bought a pot for this, and with two handles.  It gets heavy and hot with the boiling water and wax, and it felt better to have both hands holding it while dumping it through the colander to the bucket, to cool.

So this is how I did it.

1- Get your supplies clean and ready to go, handy.  Big pot.  A metal colander.  A bucket.  Cheesecloth.

2- I got the honey combs that remained from getting the honey.  And some empty combs that didn’t have honey to begin with.  They were growing crooked in the hive, so Mark got them out and I’m thinking we can use them as well.

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3- Put water in the pot and the combs you’d like to clean.  Place them in the water.  Carefully heat up the pot, keeping an eye on it.  Since it beeswax after all!

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4- Heat up the pot (water + crushed combs) until beeswax melts.

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The pot will have a brown-ish liquid that has the water and wax mixed.

5- Put the (metal) colander over the clean bucket, and pour the water + wax mix carefully in.  If it splashes you will learn that it the water with wax will quickly dry and you will have to spend more time cleaning it off.

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6- This is what the colander will look like with what remains from the combs.  Things I probably don’t want in the candles or lip balm we will make with our very local beeswax!

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7- Repeat steps 3 through 6 a couple more times, until you get as much unwanted debris from the wax as you want.  After cleaning it three times this way, I passed it through a cheesecloth twice.

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And this is what I had after few hours of work.  not really hard work, but mostly wait.  On the left, a bowl with the “debris” from what’s left behind on the colander.  And the right, a few sheets of beeswax.

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As you can see here, the wax has lots of impurities still.  So I melted it all the sheets of beeswax together, one more time, and put it through a piece of cheesecloth on top of the colander.

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And I think it ended up looking a little better.

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I’m not sure what makes our beeswax very yellow, but everyone here says it smells good.  And still has some grits.  But I think we’ll use it as is and see how it works.  I’m excited to have our own wax.  And the delicious honey, of course.

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