How to Turn Old, Dark Honeycomb Into Clean, Yellow Beeswax (2024)

When bees secrete beeswax, it's white.As bees walk over the comb and fill it up with nectar and pollen, the wax turns various shades of orange and yellow.I can always tellthe difference between my Spring and Summer honey because the Summer honey is bright yellow and so is the comb. It's almost neon, it's so bright with a slight green tint (Ikid you not!).

When you leavecomb in the hive for months, especially in the brood section, it will start to turn dark brown. This is mostly from propolis. Propolis is plant sap. It is super sticky and usually various shades of dark brown or a reddish brown (but not always). It stains not only wax but also clothing. It's why my white bee suit has brown stains all over it.

Whyyou want to removeold, darkcomb from the hive

If the comb in your frames is getting to be a dark brown, it's best to remove that comb and not put it back in the beehive. There are two reason why I recommend doing this. The main one being that I put treatments into my hives once a year. Beeswax is very porous and the waxabsorbs these chemicals. I don't believe the buildup of these chemicals is a good thing and prefer to cycle out this wax.

The other reason only pertains to the comb that is in the brood boxes.The brood cells are lined with propolis and get a lot of traffic from bees walking over them to feed the brood (baby bees) all day. When the comb gets dark, I meanreallydark, these cells can get smaller from the buildup of propolis. Although I see some hives use this comb anyway, I also see hives begin to abandon this comb, if they have room to build comb somewhere else. I prefer to take this comb out and give the bees room to build new honeycomb.

Removing old, dark combis by no means a requirement. It's one of those things I do because I have a hunch it's the right thing to do and so I do it. Somebeekeepers never remove the old comb and some beekeepers use this comb as bait in swarm traps because they say it lures bees!

Just to clarify,when I talk about old, dark comb, I'm not referring to comb that's a darker brown. I'm referring to the comb that is almost black. It's covered with so much propolis, if you were to fold it, it would just snap, its so stiff and hard.

A good time toremove the old comb is in the Fall before you close up the hive for Winteror in the early Spring when the queen has just started to lay again. If you live in a warm climate and there is always brood in the hive, you can remove frames of old comb once the bees have stopped using it (sometimes they abandon the comb) or when there is a new queen and the comb is empty.

Itried melting this old, dark comb down the same way I do with the beeswax I have from harvesting honey. This didn't work well. Dark comb, when melted,smells pretty bad,you get very little wax fromit and the wax is ashade of brown which didn't lend itself to the candle molds I had of pineapples and palm trees.

Despite how much I hate throwing anything away from the beehive, I resorted to just throwing this honeycomb out. It wasn't worth the electricity to melt it down for 3 hours ifall I was going toget was apot of floating propolis casings and 5 ounces of brown wax.

Finally, I made myself a solar wax melter. I read about a solar wax melter you can make from a cooler that takes 5 moinutes to make. So I made my wax melter, threw a piece of old comb in there and just a few hours later I had a little piece of beautiful, yellow beeswax! I was so excited! I wasn't wasting hours of electricity and my time melting wax and water and straining and it was yellow again!

I only recently made my first solar wax melter and the only thing I can say is "What took me so long?!" These things are amazing! Not only is it a great place to throw little bits of beeswax from an inspection week to week, but it's by far the best way to clean your dark comb. When the comb is in a solar melter, the wax melts and goes downto the bottomand the propolis casings stay up top in your basket. The propolis doesn't mix in with your wax and your wax ends up a nice shade of yellow/orange.

I have been told by beekeepers that you can also melt your wax in with water at a high enough temperature that it causes the wax/water mixture to bubble and this will also separate the wax from a lot of the debris and propolis but I don't recommend doing this. For one, beeswax is flammable! It has to be done outside and you're still using a lot of electricity and since you're outside handing wax at high temperatures you should be out there making sure everything is ok. This is a lot of time wasted. Don't do this.

Solar wax melters are easy to make. All you need is a styrofoam cooler, aluminum pan, hardware cloth, and piece of glass or plexiglass (an old fame works well). Seethe video below on how I made a solar wax melter.

The only time a solar wax melter isn't the best option for your old, dark comb is if you are in an area that gets very little sun. The dark comb, especially, takes awhile to melt. The melter needs not only sun, but sun for at least 4 consecutive hours to properly heat up the box to the temperature needed to melt the wax. Without this, your melter is useless.

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How to Turn Old, Dark Honeycomb Into Clean, Yellow Beeswax (2024)

FAQs

How to Turn Old, Dark Honeycomb Into Clean, Yellow Beeswax? ›

To render beeswax from the honeycomb, you must melt the comb in simmering water. The first step is to wrap your pieces of honeycomb in cheesecloth. This will filter out any solids in the comb, such as pieces of honeybees. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer, and carefully place your bundle of honeycomb inside.

How to turn honeycomb into beeswax? ›

To render beeswax from the honeycomb, you must melt the comb in simmering water. The first step is to wrap your pieces of honeycomb in cheesecloth. This will filter out any solids in the comb, such as pieces of honeybees. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer, and carefully place your bundle of honeycomb inside.

What can I do with dark honeycomb? ›

The best use I have found for this old dark honeycomb is to use it to attract bee swarms to my traps. The scent present in this old wax is very attractive to scout bees. And if the frame is destroyed by wax moths – you really haven't lost much.

Why is my honeycomb so dark? ›

When you leave comb in the hive for months, especially in the brood section, it will start to turn dark brown. This is mostly from propolis. Propolis is plant sap.

How to clean old dirty beeswax? ›

Melting on the Stovetop
  1. Place your wax in a large pot with 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) of water. ...
  2. Turn the heat to low and let it melt for 15-30 minutes. ...
  3. Scoop debris and old cocoons out of your wax with a slotted spoon. ...
  4. Turn the heat off and let your beeswax cool in the pot. ...
  5. Remove your wax and discard the water.

How to purify beeswax? ›

Melt your slightly cleaner cake of wax in a double boiler, and pour it through a filter to sift out the rest of the impurities. You can start with a metal sieve for the big chunks, and then pour it again through a coffee filter (but don't use it for coffee after this). Now you have purified beeswax, ready to use.

What's the difference between honeycomb and beeswax? ›

Honeycomb is basically beeswax and raw honey, so it's 100% edible and safe to eat. The beeswax alone has very little nutritional value, with the exception of trace amounts of Vitamin A. However, since our system does not break down beeswax, it can help the body move food and waste through the gut.

What does it mean when the honeycomb is black? ›

What is Dark Honeycomb? Also known as black honeycomb or brood comb, dark honeycomb is comb that has hosted brood (bee larvae). Brood cells get extra-special treatment to help the bees in them develop, which contributes to the darker color.

How to lighten the color of beeswax? ›

Once the wax is filtered, cut it into chunks or grate into flakes. Chunks of beeswax bleach quite well provided the sun's rays are at their strongest and there's enough time to allow for a longer bleaching process. The disadvantage to chunks of any size is the inability of the sun to penetrate deeply into the wax.

Is it OK to eat dark honeycomb? ›

yes! – it is totally safe to eat honeycomb. Some say it's very healthy to eat honeycomb as the honey in the comb, as with all bee honeys, is a natural antibiotic.

Why is my beeswax so dark? ›

Beeswax candle makers can also cause beautiful beeswax to darken if they overheat the wax when they make their candles. Overheating beeswax can also ruin the sweet honey scent of beeswax, so experienced candle makers are very careful with their wax to preserve both color and fragrance.

Why does old honey turn dark? ›

Beekeepers will find the honey they harvest will be different colors in different seasons, based on what plants are in bloom and when. Honey that also remains inside of honeycomb for longer periods of time than other honeys can become darker in color, due to some oxidation.

Why is my beeswax not yellow? ›

White beeswax is turned white after undergoing a pressure-filtration process. Yellow beeswax is typically processed less and therefore left in its more natural state.

Does vinegar clean beeswax? ›

The vinegar acidifies the water which helps remove the solids from the beeswax. After the beeswax melts, it sits on top of the water, and after hours at 180 F, the dirt settles out of the wax into the water.

How long to boil honeycomb for wax? ›

Then place your second pain into the boiling water with the honeycomb chunk inside, wrapped in cheesecloth. Note: avoid at all costs letting the simmering water mix with the wax as this can negatively impact the finished product's texture. The wax melting process will generally take around 15 minutes.

How do you process honeycomb at home? ›

The simplest method of honey extraction, and probably the oldest, is the crush-and-strain method. You simply destroy each of the wax cells holding the honey by crushing the entire comb in a bowl (with a tool or with your hands). Once you've broken the cells, you must strain the honey and wax to separate them.

How do you get beeswax from a beehive? ›

Methods of Extraction
  1. Melting in hot water (usually in some kind of filtering bag). ...
  2. Melting using a solar wax extractor. ...
  3. Melting by using a distillation method of wax extraction where the wax is suspended in a filtering bag over a steam heat source.

Can you use honeycomb as wax? ›

There's a couple of different ways to acquire solid beeswax - from specialty woodworking stores, to apiaries, to health food stores. But if you happen to know someone who works with bees, you can render wax from honeycombs directly.

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