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  • Writer's pictureNona Spillers

WAXING: In beekeeping it’s not brows & bikini lines

Honeycomb is made out of beeswax.  I'm often asked what we do with our beeswax.


It takes 8oz of nectar - the sweet stuff bees collect from flowers - to make 1oz of beeswax. Wax is the most valuable resource in the hive.  For that reason, we give as much honeycomb back to the bees as possible. I’ll explain that down below.


Where does your beeswax come from?

Bees, silly!  No seriously, the bees make it.  They have slits in their abdomen and for a few days of their lives they are at peak wax making age.



To harvest honey, we cut the wax caps off the cells of the honeycomb.  Those cappings are beeswax and they are very clean.  There are also inevitably pieces of honeycomb that we can’t give back either because they are damaged or too old.


I melt the wax down to render (clean) it.  There are several methods for  melting wax.  My favorites are the crock pot and the oven.  Once all the wax is clean, I use some of it in body care products like lip balm and hand salve. But mostly we use it to give our bees a head start.


Using a foam roller we apply a coat of wax to a thin foundation piece in each frame. The foundation helps to support the weight of the honey. Each frame can weigh up to 12lbs.  In Texas, our summer temps are often over 100 degrees which can make the comb soft and easy to damage.


The wax coating gives the bees a little head start.  The less wax they must produce for comb building the more nectar can they store and turn into honey!


How do we give wax back to the bees?


Once we’ve spun the honey out of the frames, most of the honeycomb structure is still in tact.  We put those frames back in boxes and set them out so the bees can repurpose any bits of honey we missed.  You can see the stacks of boxes are almost as tall as John (6’).  They are atop a stand that keeps wildlife out of them but lets the bees in.  Once they bees have cleaned them, we store them over the winter. And when everything starts to bloom (like right now) we put them back onto the hives.  That means the bees a store the nectar they collect rather than use it to make wax.



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