When the weather warmed up last week, I went out to check on our bees. As soon as the weather is over 40, they should be coming out and doing stretching their wings. I wanted to make sure they were still doing ok, and restock some food for them if they needed any. Unfortunately, our hive didn’t make it this year.
While, I’m never happy to see our hive collapse, but that did mean I could take the honey from the hive. I have left some honey in the hive for the new bees that are coming in a few months, but anything past that – we happily enjoy until we can harvest again. My first attempt at using my honey spinner wasn’t very successful, so I went back to crushing and straining our honey. I did filter the honey again to make sure we didn’t have any extra “bits” in our honey – but afterwards I was left with smashed honey comb. What was I going to do with it? Try to clean the wax and make it usable!
Now, not all of the wax will end up being beautiful clean wax, in each honeycomb you actually have bits of older wax, propolys, some pupa bits etc etc etc. Honeycomb gets used over and over again and over time it does get get dirty over time, and not everything in those bowls left over are usable. So you have to “clean” your wax and strain out the non-usable bits.
My first attempt to render my bees wax didn’t turn out very well – I skipped a very important step, and ended up throwing everything away. But my second attempt resulted in a beautiful wax bar I can use for candles or body products (more on that later!) Keep in mind, the majority of your wax that goes in wont turn into usable clean wax – don’t be discouraged by this!
Now you can render wax in a pot, but I found the easiest way is in your slow cooker! Since I only have one, and love using it to make dinner – I actually used a slow cooker liner for the first time (ever!) This made clean up easy, especially when I screwed up the first batch.
How to render and clean bees wax:
- Add your crushed honeycomb and beeswax into your slow cooker and add 3 cups of water.
- Heat your mixture on low for 2-3 hours and mix a couple times – use a rubber spatula that you’re ok with getting messy.
- Once all of your wax is melted (there will be brown bits floating in there) – turn off your slow cooker and let the wax mixture cool completely. This will take another 2-3 hours.
- When your wax mixture is cool, you’ll see a bright yellow bees wax disc floating on top. Carefully remove the bees wax and don’t worry about any spots on it at this point! You will have have some liquid in the bottom of the pot or slow cooker (liner) still – this is the left over propolys, any honey you didn’t get and some other bits you don’t want.
- Reline your slow cooker, and place your wax disc inside. Turn it on low again for 2 hours and melt completely again!
- This is where your liner comes in handy! Once your wax is melted again, remove the liner and place it in a pour-able measuring cup. Place a piece of cheese cloth over the top and pour into your container of choice. This last straining will remove the majority of the bad bits but you may end up with a bit of sticky bits you can rinse off later.
- Let the wax cool completely and you’ll be able to use your clean wax for candles, lotions and more!