Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cappings


Since so many of you find the things I do in the world of beekeeping to be fascinating, I'll give you another glimpse into that world. Besides keeping bees and harvesting and bottling their honey there is the side business of the wax. I've written about the wax before and about how I always bring a small bucket with me when I work the bees because they like to build wax structures where they shouldn't. I cut that wax away and render it, but there is another opportunity to garner wax and it happens during the honey rendering process.

Bees store honey in combs and once they get ti dry enough they cap it with wax to keep moisture from getting into the cured honey. It's like how your grandmother put paraffin on the jars to preserve her jams and jelly. This wax gets cut or scrapped away to expose the honey in the comb and then the comb goes into a centrifuge to spin the honey out of the comb. The wax that was uncapped gets to drain and residual honey into a bucket.

Also while the wax comb is in the centrifuge small bits of wax breaks off and gets suspended in the honey. This wax gets filtered out before the honey goes into settling tanks or buckets.

The photo above is much smaller scale than what I work on. After letting the residual honey get filtered out there is still a little honey left that is stuck to the bits of wax. This is when I take the wax outside and let the bees clean it up. In the end I end up with about four pounds of wax flakes that looks like dry oatmeal.

This wax is pretty clean at this point, however there are foreign things mixed in that need to be filtered out such as bee parts. Next I stuff this wax into used stockings and melt it. The wax melts through the mesh and the nasty stuff is left inside the stocking which gets thrown away. This is when I pour the wax into forms and let it cool and harden.

8 Comments:

Blogger darev2005 said...

Wow. That is cool. And sounds like alot of hard work. Do you add dyes to your wax, or do you just leave it clear?

9:14 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I leave it natural since I don't use wax to make candles or crayons. The wax can be different colors as you can see in the last photo.

5:26 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

So if you have four pounds of wax, how much honey do you have?

7:30 AM  
Blogger Tango said...

Amazing!! ...so why is some of the was a lighter color?

11:08 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev,This year only about 125 pounds.

Tango, wax darkens in color as it ages in the hive. Old was is nearly black, but does turn lighter when rendered.

11:14 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Hey, that's still alot of honey.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Dalia said...

I love the bee-havin' balm, you know that! It's a great, neutral moisturizer that I use one all the dry rough parts. I've had the oceany-scented and the unscented, and once you made a vanilla balm (which I keep losing and finding!) :-)

My vote is for Vanilla.

2:33 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Dalia, let me know when you need some more.

5:09 AM  

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