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  • Writer's pictureNona Spillers

Cross Combed!

Bees are normally very regimented. Every cell is exactly the right size. They build in a meticulous pattern. Which is why managed hives have frames. The frames give the bees a guide for building. We (John) even paints a bit of bees wax on the top bar of each frame so the bees know where to get started.

But occasionally, you have a colony of artists! This has happened to us twice. Something sets the bees off on a creative path and they get busy. The first time we had an entire cross combed super - we used a technique of only putting 9 frames in a 10 frame box. The theory is that the bees would build deeper cells for storing honey. Less wax building - more honey making. It worked! Except they didn't follow the pattern of the frames...they weaved and curved and all nine frames were stuck together. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. And heavy! And the only thing we could do is cut out the comb, crush & strain it. That being our first harvest -- It was really hard.

This season, John found a ten frame that was cross combed. He decided to leave it on a hive for safe keeping. After all honey is the bees food first! Unfortunately, the hive it was on failed. Bees, being the industrious creatures they are - harvested all of the honey and even started to repurpose some of the wax.

Being the recycle souls we are...we decided to harvest and repurpose the wax. Because this was a honey super, the wax was very clean (no brood had been laid, so there were no dark linings) which means it's wonderful for making herbal hand salves. Here's John doing surgery to get the frames out of the box.

And a couple shots of the frames and the crock pot we use to melt the wax. Once melted, you can pour the wax through a filter (sturdy paper towel) into a bucket of water. Once cooled, the disk will float. I am fully aware of how much bee energy goes into making these resources -- so when we do this...I'm constantly saying to myself - THANK YOU BEES. Thank you Mother Nature. I promise we will do our part!

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