Last week we took about 2.5 gallons of honey from the hive – not a lot since we wish to leave the bees sufficient stores for winter. But enough for our needs for making bread, sweetening our uncooked oatmeal and tea, and a few jars for good friends. Inevitably scraps of wax are left over and what to do with them has been a learning process for me. The first year I placed them in a stainless steel pet bowl outside the hive. Bad idea – the sun heated the bowl, melted the wax and killed bees trying to salvage honey. The next year I added an empty super and placed the bowl in the hive. A few days later when I retrieved the bowl and the super the pissed off bees chased me all the way to the house. The simplest is to put the scraps on a piece of plyw00d near the hive entrance and let the bees take what they wish.
And then what to do with the bits of wax?
One year I tried gently melting it in a pan over the oven, I turned my back and it all caught aflame. I decided to smarten up and get a double boiler which is a large pot to heat water and a small pot placed inside. But why splurge when we weekly visit the local thrift store. They did not have a double boiler but I found a good large pot ($1) and a smaller pot ($2) which could fit in the larger pot. I solved how to keep the small pot level in the larger pot with the method below.
I half filled the big pot with water, inserted the small pot filled with wax scraps, and set the oven to gently boil the water.
Next I poured the liquid wax through a filter into a mold. Actually it was simpler than it sounds – the filter was cheesecloth folded 4 times secured with an elastic band over a Starbucks coffee cup.
The cheesecloth and wax debris I placed in the wood stove for November to start my first fire.
And the wax I will keep – my father in law used to wax screws before driving into hard wood, I may one day try making Dubbin, a leather preservative used in the UK, South Africa and Canada.