Beverly Bees

Backyard beekeeping for the love of bees and honey.

Burr Comb, Honey and Bees from Cut Out
Burr Comb, Honey and Bees from Cut Out

Processing Beeswax From Honeycomb

| 11 Comments

Cutting Comb Is A Sticky Gooey Mess, But Processing It Is Fun!

After I cut the burr comb out of my hive, I was left with a sticky gooey mess.  There was honey leaking from my hive (which the bees fixed the next day) and a cookie sheet full of dead bees, honey and comb.  I hoped the bees would clean up the cookie sheet, preventing me from having to do the work.  I tried leaving it in front of the hive but due to the work they had to do inside the hive and the nectar flow they were not interested.   So it was up to me to clean it for them.  Thanks Bees!

Burr comb, honey and bees from a cut out. This is what I started with.

I brought the cookie sheet inside and removed the dead bees.  Then I poured everything into two measuring cups totaling 4 1/2 cups worth. (To see a larger version of any picture just click on it.)

Next, I put a knee-high over a glass jar and poured the honey through it to filter out the wax and other stuff.

Once this was done, I ended up with a beautiful jar of honey totaling just over 2 cups and some wax.  This was the first time I had ever strained honey or even tasted honey from my hive and it was delicious.  It started out light in flavor but had a rich after taste.  I wish I could have kept the honey for myself but instead I will be feeding it back to the bees.  Right now they need it more than I do!

Honey from the burr comb.

Wax left over from the burr comb.

The wax needs to be purified before it can be used in candles, soaps, cosmetics etc.  So I decided to also try processing the wax for my very first time.  First I rinsed the wax in water to remove the leftover honey.  Then I wrapped it in two layers of cheese cloth, closed it with a rubber band and placed it in a pot of water to boil.  (If you have an old pot this would be ideal, because the pot you use will also get wax on it.)

Wax in the cheesecloth.

The wax ball in water.

The water started boiling and the wax began to melt through the cheesecloth and float to the top of the pot. In the picture below the wax looks yellow.  Throughout the boiling process I watched the wax carefully to prevent it from boiling over and catching on fire.

Wax melting and floating to the top of the pot.

After 30 minutes, I removed the ball and squeezed out the water with tongs.  This is what remained before I tossed it out.

What was left of the wax ball.

The pot sat on the counter to cool for a while. This is what it looked like hot.

What the pot looked like right after being removed from heat.

After cooling the wax hardened and looked like this.

Wax after cooling.

I removed it by pushing it down on one side.  I ended up with a thin circle of wax about 8 inches in diameter.  Now this wax will be ready to use for whatever beeswax project I decide to do.


I was surprised how simple the whole process was.  Once I have large quantities of honey and wax it will get more complicated, but this project only took a few hours.  It was perfect for a small amount of wax and was quite fun!

Purified Beeswax From Burr Comb

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

  1. A Hive With Two Queens
  2. First Inspection Of The Two Queen Hive System
  3. Inspecting The Two Queen Hive System
  4. Off With Her Head, Well Actually, Her Butt (Merging the Two Queen Hive System)
  5. My First Bee Swarm – Part 1 of 3 

This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

Author: Anita Deeley

Anita Deeley is a biologist and state bee inspector who runs between 30-50 treatment free hives. She is also the beekeeper, writer, owner and creator of BeverlyBees.com. When she is not spending time with her girls (the bees), she enjoys being a wife to her beekeeping cohort, Brian and mother to 3 little boys (the beekeepers in training). Read more about Anita here >> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Connect with Anita on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Facebook here.

11 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this with Wildcrafting Wednesday, Beverly! I’m so glad you stopped by! Beekeeping is definately on my to-do list. I envy and admire you, and I appreciate you sharing your experiences on your website.

    Thanks again! :)
    ~ Kathy

  2. I’ve been going through your lovely blog in preparation to get bees next spring. Your posts are so informative and I very much appreciate all the gorgeous step by step photos! Just curious, why did you freeze the wax? Isn’t beeswax shelf stable at room temperature?

  3. It is shelf stable and you don’t need to store it in the freezer. That is just where I put it for storage. I will take that part of the post out to avoid future confusion. Thanks for pointing it out. I’m glad you are enjoying the website!

  4. Pingback: Wax Candle Making, Honey, & Reminiscences | Our Lovely World

  5. Hi Anita,
    I have a chicken and fox situation. A dead hive, two deeps and one honey super on a stand. I need to clean out the hive as I believe there is a mouse nest in the bottom honey super (that’s another story). So I pulled out one frame, some of the top bars on the other frames separated, lots of honey leakage and no bees to eat it, sad. As noted I at that point pulled out just the one frame. Now, a frame dripping on my counter and honey in the hive is running into the mouse’s ( probably more than one mouse) mouth, horrors. Any ideas to moving all the frames ( I found a lonely extractor for this weekend) but need to get from point A to point B with out a honey bath, contamination, lots of honey loss and a broken back. I will put 5 frames aside for the May nuc as you suggested, in my garage in a cooler (can the frames get moldy? Without air?). I plan to use a cooler to transport the frames from the hive to the extractor, any improvements on that idea is welcome. Please give detail on what to look for when determining hive death. I plan to send out a bee sample as soon as this weekend, post bad weather.
    thanks ahead of reply.
    Debra.

  6. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing all of your information! It has been very helpful to me. I don’t have bees yet, but want to someday. But I do make soap, and have a friend with bees who gave me a huge bunch of honeycomb that he cut off a hive that didn’t make it through the winter. Can I still use the honey? Or is it bad? There are some parts that look totally normal, honey tastes fine to me, just from a little dab of it that got on my hands from moving it. I wasn’t sure how to process it, there is a LOT of honey in it. But after reading this, I’m assuming I can just use the same straining method you did. There are some other parts that are darker. Very dark brown in color. Does that mean there is something wrong with it? Thanks for all of your help!!!

    • It is fine to use. Honey never goes bad. Just crush the honey comb and strain it through a sieve or a paint strainer to get out the wax. The dark color you are referring to is probably the brood comb. It is fine to crush and strain that comb as well, you just want to make sure that no miticides, pesticides or antibiotics were used on it that are not approved for use with honey supers on. Beekeepers sometimes use these in the boxes that contain the brood comb.

  7. Well, we are nearing the end of our first year of beekeeping and your site has been an amazing resource of information!! The latest is how to clean the honeycomb! We have pulled 3 frames from our first ever hive and have wax to clean! We are so excited!We got just over 3 pints of honey per frame! We never expected to claim any honey this first year. And in the process we have wax to process! I used your method this morning and it worked just as described! I now have several layers of purified wax….dunno what I’ll do w/it yet, but it’s cool to look and, and to thank the bees for! Thanks for all your hard work keeping this blog going!

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