Adventures in Beekeeping: Wax Rendering

Well, this week has been one huge farm adventure that, aside from the surprising addition 14 new guinea keets to my flock, also included two donkey escapes (those little shits), and one wind-storm that blew half the stuff I own into the field across the street…. and the week isn’t over yet. So. We’ve all been having fun around here.

Good news:


So far most of the keets are doing great. I lost one today, which is sad, but it’s also to be expected. There’s a reason “ground birds” hatch 15-20 babies at a time…

More good news:


Before all of the Crazy happened I managed to successfully render some beeswax, which is something I’ve been fretting over for weeks.

First, I built a cheap solar melter that cost about $5…

This is just a regular, cheap cooler that I lined with foil.


Then I found some scrap glass I had around (from replacing some of my window panes.) Thanks to my old stained-glass hobby I had all the tools to cut this glass down to size…


Then I duct taped everything together.


Now, in theory you’d put a container in here with a screen on top of it and the wax on top of that and then leave it out in the sun for everything to melt… which sounded like an awesome idea to me, except a solar melter requires sunlight to work, and I finished it on maybe the last warm and sunny day of the year. There hasn’t been a day since with the appropriate weather to make this thing work.

Okay, so, Plan B.

I’d recently purchased a turkey fryer for the express purpose of, well, not frying turkeys actually. In fact, I bought it to use to melt the wax and propolis off my cut-comb honey frames (worked beautifully.) It came with an aluminum pot though, and I read you should only process wax in stainless steel… so.

Two cheap stainless-steel pots later, I was ready to try the more complicated “let’s see you pour a pot of boiling wax through a filter without ending up in the hosipital” method of rendering beeswax. Here’s how it went down:

First, I filled the pot 1/3 of the way with water, then dumped all my wax cappings (and other miscellaneous wax) in the pot…


(It’s not very much because I only extracted 2 boxes– or 20 frames– of honey this year.)

Then I brought it to almost a boil. The wax was fully melted and some debris was floating on top…


Then I poured the boiling water-wax mixture through a filter and into the second pot…


Technically you should use cheesecloth for this, which I thought I had, but when I couldn’t find it I just used some window screen folded over a few times.

Then I let the pot of newly filtered wax-water sit inside for a few hours…


Once it started to cool, the wax floated and solidified at the top…


How cool is that?


Before I use it for anything like lip balm (or beard balm… because, mmm, beards) I’ll need to melt and filter it one more time through– as the internet says– some old “pantyhose.”

Okay, 1.) Do people still use the term pantyhose? Because… really?

Also, 2.) Does anyone still wear those damn things? I will wear tights on occasion, but my memory of “pantyhose” is… not favorable. Like if my options were to rub poison ivy on my legs or wear pantyhose for a day… I might take the poison ivy. Ugh.

Anyway… I don’t currently own the proper gear to filter this stuff so it’s going to hang out in my freezer until I’m ready to do something with it. But I did successfully filter and render it, which definitely counts for something.

The other singularly awesome thing that happened was that after some comments on my last beekeeping post, I decided to set one of my supers out (on its side) for the bees to clean the honey off of the frames. This is 10 minutes after setting the box out…


It was so incredible I actually put my bee suit on so I could sit down next to it and watch…


Occasionally the bees would land on me (non-aggressivley) because– I think– they needed a place to rub the exceess honey off their feet before flying home.

It was such an awesome experience. I enjoy having hives on the farm more and more each day.

14 Responses

  1. Cool! uh… hot, warm, cool!

    What kind of burner did you get?
    I need to get one for scalding/plucking poultry…including turkey.
    Too many to choose from, hi pressure/low pressure, different sized manifolds or jets.
    Can’t decide.
    Pot same thing, alum or SS…SS would be better in the long run and range, but whew $$$$$.


    Cheesecloth for all your homesteading needs!
    Wax rendering, bouquet garnis, winemaking…
    Making Halloween ghosties…

    Don’t risk making do with used pantyhose!
    Be safe.
    Use real cheesecloth.
    Who knows?
    Someday you may try making a little brie.

  3. Lots of vocal Guineas you are beginning to have 😉 You’ll have your solar warmer ready for a sunny next time, great little diy warmer idea. What you do Kit, is indeed pretty kewl, helping retain our bees and enjoying all of the by-products you receive from bee keeping which most people know not how it’s done. A friend keeps bees and will add different fragrance oils depending on preference, in with a hand softener bees-wax balm bar, I see no reason why it wouldn’t be value added in a beard balm bar.
    constant growth


  4. Well I don’t know who buys pantyhose anymore but I do know that Walgreens sells increadabllely cheap pantyhose under their own brand. It used to be a dollar a pair, so check them out for a resource. Why on earth would you want to use used hose….that sounds yucky!

  5. Granted, I’m a middle-aged man, but what else would they be called other than pantyhose? That’s all I’ve ever heard them called.

  6. Pantyhose…I guess I’m old fashioned…but when I’m in a skirt at work or at church, I don’t feel dressed without it.

    It has a much finer mesh than cheesecloth, so cheesecloth probably isn’t the best substitute. I second the notion of cheap pantyhose from the store, but if you really want old/used, let me know and I’ll send you some of mine.

  7. Where did you get your crank extractor? I adopted a wild Africanized swarm but the instructables featuring a homemade centrifugal extractor made from a salvaged ceiling fan motor scare me… I might be better off buying one!

  8. If I had the space, I would love to keep bees of my own! I’m actually pretty skiddish when it comes to bees, but a bee suit would fix that 🙂

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