Beekeeping For Dummies
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If you're a beekeeper, your annual harvest doesn't begin and end with honey. You'll also be collecting plenty of beautiful, sweet-smelling beeswax, which can be cleaned and used for all kinds of artsy projects. You can make candles, furniture polish, and cosmetics for all your friends and neighbors. Better yet, why not sell these goodies at the local farmers' market? Here's some useful information to get you started.

Courtesy of Howland Blackiston

Here's a sample of the wonderful products you can make from beeswax.

Beeswax candles

Beeswax candles are desirable; unlike paraffin, they don't drip, don't sputter, and don't smoke, but they do burn a long time. You can make three basic types of candles from beeswax: rolled, dipped, and molded. Buy them in a gift store, and they're fantastically expensive. But not when you make them yourself!

Dipped candles

This is a time-consuming process, but the end result is beautiful.
  1. Melt beeswax in a tall container (the container can be placed in a hot water bath to keep the wax melted).

    Never melt beeswax directly over a heat source; always use a water bath when melting beeswax. At temperatures higher than 200 degrees (93 degrees Celsius), beeswax can vaporize and ignite.

  2. Tie a lead fishing weight to one end of wicking (to make it hang straight) and begin dipping.
  3. Let each coat of wax cool before dipping again. The more you dip, the thicker the candle becomes.
With a little finesse, you can create an attractive taper to your dipped candles. You can even add color and scent (your candle-making supplier sells what you need, including wicks, coloring dyes, and scents). Elegant!

Molded candles

Candle-making suppliers offer a huge variety of rubber or plastic molds for candle making — from conventional tapers to complex figurines. Just melt your beeswax and pour it into the mold (add color and scent if you want). Don't forget the wick. Let it cool and remove the mold. Easy!

Beeswax furniture polish

Peter Duncan makes simply beautiful wood furniture. He says that my beeswax wood polish is the finest he's ever used. Smooth enough to apply evenly, beeswax polish feeds and preserves the wood and provides a hard protective finish. Here's a "secret" recipe:
  1. Gather the following ingredients:
    • 4 ounces beeswax (by weight)
    • 2 tablespoons of carnauba wax flakes
    • 2-1/2 cups odorless turpentine or mineral spirits
  2. Melt the waxes in a double boiler.
  3. Remove the waxes from the heat and stir in the turpentine or mineral spirits.
  4. Pour into containers (something that looks like a tin of shoe polish is ideal) and let the mixture cool.
  5. Cover tightly with a lid.
Apply the polish with a clean cloth and rub in small circles. Turn the cloth as it becomes dirty. Allow the polish to dry, then buff with a clean cloth. If more than one coat is desired, wait two days between applications. This stuff is simply fantastic!

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