I only take honey from my strongest colonies when they can genuinely spare it, and I cut the combs from the frames and allow it to strain through a fine-meshed sieve overnight. There is a still a lot of honey clinging to the crushed comb, and this gets fed back to the bees in tubs so that they can clean it up. Bees don’t reuse wax but they will enjoy licking it clean, and this leaves me with dry beeswax, and the bees have had a boost of honey.
It’s then melted with rainwater and strained to remove impurities – this sometimes needs to be done 3 of 4 times before the wax is suitable for use. Bees make the wax from heir own bodies, and they need to eat a lot of honey in order to do so. It’s only the young bees who are able to produce wax and they are incredibly economical with it in the hive. It is a valuable part of the bee organism as they use the combs for storage, as a nursery and as a communication platform so there is a surprisingly small amount. I am very pleased that the majority of this precious material goes on to be used in natural products as it has many properties and health benefits that plant waxes simply don’t have, and it is entirely sustainable in that the bees take what they need and the remainder is no longer of use to them once the honey has been removed.
I sell beeswax at £3 per 25g, and as I have limited amounts and am always very interested to hear what people make with it. Please note: I do not feel making candles is the best use for such a valuable commodity! Rebecca Cordery of Humble Ideas makes plastic-free wraps from my wax too. Please message me if you would like to buy a pack, or search Rebecca’s Etsy shop.