When Robb and I harvest honey from our bees, we crush the honeycomb and strain out the honey. At the end of this process, we're left with a fair amount of bees' wax. Sometimes we wash the residual honey off the wax, and make mead. Most of the time, we set this crushed wax outside and let the bees reclaim the honey that's still sticking to the wax.
It doesn't look particularly impressive or useful at this point.
The comb is not pure wax. If the comb was used by the bees for brood-rearing, it will likely contain other materials, like the secretions the bees use to line the brood cells, and -- you know -- bee toenails and eyelashes.
We filter out impurities with cheesecloth. Our method is very simple. We suspend cloth over a vessel of water, and out the while thing in a barely-warm oven. The wax melts through the cloth, and floats on the water.
The kitchen smells ambrosial during this process, and the bees go a bit crazy, trying to get inside. Thankfully, neither Robb nor I are frightened by a few confused honeybees.
When the wax cools, it shrinks a bit, and is easily removed from the pitcher. It's a lovely golden color, and smells like Catholic Church.
We'll either use this for decorating Ukrainian-style Easter eggs, or if we're really organized, we'll use it to make soap. In any case, it's lovely to be able to use so much of what the bees produce.
(This post is part of the weekly harvest round-up, hosted at Daphne's blog. Swing on over, to see what folks are harvesting.)