By Howland Blackiston

When you extract honey from hives, the cappings that you slice off represent your major wax harvest for the year. You’ll probably get 1 or 2 pounds of wax for every 100 pounds of honey that you harvest. If you have a Top Bar hive and are using a honey press, you will have an even greater bounty of beeswax.

This wax can be cleaned and melted down for all kinds of uses. Pound for pound, wax is worth more than honey, so it’s definitely worth a bit of effort to reclaim this prize. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Allow gravity to drain as much honey from the wax as possible.
    Let the wax drain for a few days. Using a double uncapping tank greatly simplifies this process.
  2. Place the drained wax in a 5-gallon plastic pail and top it off with warm (not hot) water.
    Using a paddle — or your hands — slosh the wax around in the water to wash off any remaining honey. Drain the wax through a colander or a honey strainer and repeat this washing process until the water runs clear.
  3. Place the washed wax in a double boiler for melting.

    Always use a double boiler for melting beeswax (never melt beeswax directly on an open flame because it’s highly flammable). And never, ever leave the melting wax — even for a moment. If you need to go to the bathroom, turn off the stove!

  4. Strain the melted beeswax through a couple of layers of cheesecloth to remove any debris.

    Remelt and re-strain as necessary to remove all impurities from the wax.

  5. The rendered wax can be poured into a block mold for later use.
    You can use an old cardboard milk carton, for example. Once the melted wax has solidified in the carton, it can easily be removed by tearing away the carton. You’re left with a hefty block of pure, light-golden beeswax.