Raising honeybees in an apiary has a number of benefits, including the ability to harvest honey, honeycomb and wax. You can extract beeswax from honeycomb when you harvest the honey, since you have to remove the wax caps from the comb in order to remove the honey. Using the wax extracted from the honeycomb is a good way to make use of all of the products of your home apiary, and you can use beeswax to make homemade candles and other craft projects.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Pocket knife or extractor
- Double boiler
Remove the frames that contain the honey you wish to harvest, since these are the frames from which you will also extract beeswax.
Set the frames on end so both sides are exposed to air.
Check the frames for larvae, since honeycomb that contains growing young will not be abandoned by honeybees and should be returned to the bee hive.
Wait for most of the bees to fly away from the frame before you attempt to harvest beeswax, then brush off any remaining bees (or use an alternative method for removing bees from frames before harvest, such as a bee removal formula or a bee escape).
Extract beeswax from the honeycomb by making a clean cut between the wax and the frame using a pocket knife or an extractor.
Harvest beeswax by leaving the wax caps in a strainer over a bucket and allowing the honey to drip off of the wax and leave it clean.
Skim to extract beeswax from the honey as you harvest it from the combs, and add the smaller pieces of wax to the wax caps that were cut from the frame.
Wash the wax pieces with cold water after all of the honey has dripped off.
Place the harvested beeswax in a bowl of lukewarm water to soften the wax to a workable consistency for moulding or melt beeswax in a double boiler to avoid scorching.
Store beeswax in an airtight container for later use or begin working with it immediately after harvesting.
Tips and warnings
- You do not need to purchase an extractor, which is a bulky and expensive piece of agricultural equipment, unless you have a very large apiary with dozens of hives. If you have just one or two hives, a pocket knife is sufficient to extract beeswax caps from the frames for harvesting both honey and beeswax.
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