Monday, March 17, 2014

Survival Bee Keeping - Bees Wax





Bees are not just for honey. There are in fact about four or five useful things that can come out of bee hives besides the honey. There is the wax, which is what this post is about, propolis, gathered pollen, royal jelly and the actual venom the bees inject when they sting. I will cover all of them eventually but today I am going to ramble on a  bit about the wax.

If you have bees you are going to collect wax. There is no way around it and it is so useful you certainly do not want to waste it or throw it away. Bees will build comb in places you don't want them to inside the hive. A swarm will build a good sized comb (like the one pictured) in a very short period and a dead out hive for all the sorrow of lost bees also offers up a chance to clean up some unwanted comb before you re-use the frames.

Clean comb like you see above is the best for melting down as it doesn't need washing and requires very little filtering. Comb you get when harvesting honey (Called cappings) and old brood comb that has turned dark needs a bit more preparation and washing/rinsing/drying sometimes before it is melted.

I use a solar wax melter I made myself, a strainer with cheesecloth and a crock half filled with water in the bottom to melt my unfiltered wax whenever I have a sunny day with temps above 85 degrees or so. I also have a little crockpot I keep filtered and clean wax in to melt whenever I need some liquid wax around the Small-Hold.

The type of wax you get after it is melted, filtered and reformed (floating on the water in the crock) is called yellow wax because it is a nice mellow yellow color. You can bleach the wax to make white wax sometimes used in candles and other things and you can also mix melted wax with alcohol (I believe) and make what is called bees wax absolute.

And no you can't drink it Bubba!!!

The uses of bees wax are almost infinite really and no way I can cover all of them. You can use it in reloading to make a bullet lube or to seal the ends on shotgun shells. It is used as a flux when melting some metals to remove impurities. You can use it in sewing and leather working as a waterproof thread coating or to help the thread go through tough leather. There is the obvious candle use of course. Flavoring can be added to make a gum etc. etc. etc.

Bees wax also has some alleged medicinal uses. I say alleged because nothing is proven just old recipes and lore but it is said to help lower cholesterol, relieve pain, swelling, ulcers and help stop diarrhea. Most of the recipes I have seen for internal use have it mixed with olive oil and chickweed extract then taken as a medicine. This is when you see the absolute version used most.

Please note I am not recommending anyone mix these remedies nor am I medical professional of any type.

One important health benefit of bees wax that anyone can stand behind however is it's use as a lip balm or other moisturizer/blocker when mixed with natural oils. Do you all remember how desperate for lip balm the shop keeper was in "The Book of Eli"?

For bee keepers the wax is also useful in getting the bees to build comb where you want them too. Those who use foundation-less frames or top bars will often paint a line of bees wax where they want the girls to start building the comb. It doesn't always work because you are trying to get a large group of females to do what ya want, and all us men know how hard that us. If you use plastic frames it is helpful to coat the plastic in a thick layer of wax so the bees will just start building it up. The girls are not always enthusiastic about bare plastic let me tell ya.

Needless to say I spend a good amount of time producing yellow wax and saving all the extra wax I can get out of my hives. In a grid down situation it will be in great demand I assure you. Why even in the slow collapse we have now I get many phone calls and contacts asking about it.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


14 comments:

  1. I joined a bee keeping club here and researched the whole thing and even had a wild hive living in the corner of my out building. I found that hives are really stressed here probably from the government promoted chemical farmers all around the area. The beekeepers were sinking way more money into the bees and continued to have poor results.It is just not feasible to have bees when someone spends so much time and money to kill them. A good thing about a collapse is that chemical farming would slam to a stop without the taxpayer money being pumped (literally) onto the farmland.

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    1. Sf - You may be right. I have several large fields around and within the range of my bees but yet when I go and actually look in those fields it is rare to see many honey bees in them when they have the GMO soybeans planted or the corn. I have never checked a wheat crop. Still I will get some dead bees when my neighbor sprays his fields. My guess is my location still has enough timber and edge areas that the bees really do not work the big ag stuff. A lot of cattle pastures and hayfields keep them away from the harmful stuff.

      Justa theory I have.

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  2. So neat! Thanks for posting all this great info!

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  3. I bet if you went into candle (tapers) production you'd have one heck of a nice ebay business. I still have a small round of bee's wax I used back when I tied my own trout flies...it was old when it came to me and I've had forty years. The stuff will last forever.

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    1. Stephen - I have made a few candles but honestly I would need to have about 100 times the hives I have now to produce many candles. They take a lot of wax. I have a mold for some simple candles I plan on making some in the future. I have made some poured into glass candles already but the pure bees wax tends to split while cooling when you make candles that way.

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  4. Greetings from California! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break.

    I really like the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
    Anyways, awesome blog just like http://danieluyi.com

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    1. OMG Get out of Kalifornia... Unless your up North anyway :)

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  5. Can use wax your cars with it or is it too soft?? I remember the old saying.."Mind Your Bees Wax" You can reply "Thanks for reminding me"...LOL sad I know

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    1. Rob - ya know I have no clue about a car wax. I also have no clue what that saying is suppose to mean as in where it came from anyway. I have heard it myself since I was a kid. I should look into it.

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  6. Thanks Preppy. I live my bee dreams through you vicariously.

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  7. My first try at cleaning the wax did end up sort of dark yellow in color so I will add the cheese cloth to filter it a bit better. I'm looking at beeswax as a carrier for salves/medical and Mom wants to make candles. I have a solar oven but I have not tried using it yet for melting the wax.

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  8. i'm with Toirdhealbheach above - and i love these posts! one day i will make the actual foray into raising bees. but i have to admit that after the first year here when we didn't see many bees, and then i got the mason bees, we see bees all of the time now! and because we let all of the wildflowers grow all over our yard, the bees seem to like it. i have yet to find one of their wild hives, but they must be somewhere and they certainly seem to like our yard. which is awesome for the garden. but you, Sir, are the bee God. and i love reading all of your posts about bee-keeping. it's one thing to look stuff up on the internet, it's quite another when someone you consider a friend is doing it for real, and sharing.

    your friend,
    kymber

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