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Minding the beeswax

This is always the point of the winter where I start getting antsy.

I want to start playing in the dirt. I want to start seeing things grow. I want to not need to wear three layers to be comfortable outside!

Instead, we live in New England. We've got at least two more months of yuck.

Actually, even last year we had snow in May.


So instead I dream. This week that dreaming turned towards the bees.


I haven't been in the hives since last Thanksgiving. I know at least one of them is alive since I found dead bees in the snow. Both may be alive and that would be awesome. But I don't actually know.


Since I can't really get into the hives because of the cold, I've spent this last week rendering the wax I collected over the summer.


When you see beeswax in the stores it's gorgeously clean and smells amazing.


That's not how it comes out of the hives.


What comes out of the hives looks like this:

It's full of... ick. Environmental debris, bee poop, honey, and some bee larva. This is a 2.5 gallon bucket that was 3/4 full.


So how do we get this stuff into the pretty wax? At Kenyon Acres, we use the toaster oven.

A disposable baking pan, a hardware cloth rack, a single layer of paper towels, and 200 degrees for 1 hour. Most batches take a couple of renderings to get clean wax. (Which also gives us some really nice fire starters since the paper towels burn really well.)


After about a week (I'm kind of slow with it) we end up with this:

While not perfectly clean, it's 15.9 ounces and it's far better than what was in the bucket on Monday. #beekeepingitreal

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