1 Pound of Wax
Honey may be the bee’s life’s blood. But wax is their home, kitchen, storage cabinet, and nursery all in one convenient place. When bees move to a new home the first thing they do is draw wax to build comb. Bees will hang in festoons and create wax. The best bait for swarm traps is old comb. The impulse to create wax is stronger than the impulse to swarm. The splitting a hive is proof of it. Bees will fan day and night to keep wax cool in the heat. Bees want what all life forms want. They want somewhere to raise young and for that they need shelter and therefore wax. Keep in mind that bees will return to a hive charred in a forest fire and return its wax to use. How do we know that bee have enough food to make it through the winter? We count how many frames (of wax) are filled.
Do bee’s defend their nest to protect honey? Sure. An entire colony will fight to the death literally protect a nest. But what they are defending more than anything else is resources, energy, and effort needed to create wax. As proof, a swarm for the most part will not sting. There is nothing to defend, no honey, no young, no comb all the result of wax.
It has been calculated that it takes eight pounds of honey to make one pound of wax.
Now we know the time and energy put into creating wax and its important role in a bee’s life. Let’s look at making a solar wax melter.
This melter can be made from simple materials most of which are available from a dollar store. You’ll need:
1) Wooden box, a ½ height super
2) Flat Black paint, Spray paint is easiest.
3) Styrofoam, hard house insulation
4) Plywood, pick out of a dumpster any thickness
5) Full Size Black Paint Tray, another dollar store item
6) Metal baking dish, another dollar store item
7) Glue, for the bottom if you won’t use the box as a super and insulation
8 ) Nails and nail gun/hammer.
9) 2 pieces of glass and/or plastic window sheeting
10) Wood or plastic to make frames for the glass.
Cut the plywood to fit the bottom of the wooden box. If you are not going to use the box as a super glue and nail the plywood bottom on. If you want to use the box as a super just use one nail on each side and forget the glue. Cut the Styrofoam into sections slightly larger than the sides and bottom of the box. Then fit them into the box by shaving ever so slightly the edges till they fit. Do the long sides, short sides then bottom. That way if you come up short on material only the bottom will be short and covered by the paint tray anyway. If friction holds them in place fine. Otherwise glue and clamp them if they are floating free.
Once the glue is dry and clamps are off. Paint the inside with the flat black paint. Gloss or Semi-gloss does not absorb as well.
While the paint dries measure the wood or plastic for the glass frame. Remember that the long sides are styles and short sides are rails. I use mitered corners. It is a detail that is easy to make and I like them. But you can use any joint you wish. Measure the long sides of the box. This is the measure for the style. Take an angle square and mark a 45o from the outside corner. Then transfer the measurements to the frame starting at the outside corner down. Then draw a second 45o from other end of the line facing in towards the first 45o cut. Use a miter saw or miter box to cut this piece. You now have a template to cut the second style. Repeat this whole process for the rails. Glue and nail the rails and styles together. Then drill holes in the glass or plastic and nail one piece to the top of the frame and one to the bottom.
Now place the metal baking dish in the melter and place the paint tray on top. Fill the top of the tray with wax, place the cover on top and place in the sun. Check back in about a ½ an hour to see how everything is going.
If the wax is melting, it should run down to the bottom. The slumgum should stay in the upper part. Put on a pair of oven mitts or heat resistant gloves as the tray will be quite hot and pour the melted wax off into the metal baking dish. Keep this dish inside the melter until it you are ready to use it or it is mostly full. The melted wax will congeal quite quickly once removed. Scrape off the slumgum and other waste. Be sure to clean any honey off completely. It is now burned and not usable. Destroy it and DO NOT give it back to the bees either. If the wax is not melting check to make sure that it is not in shade and there are no leaks letting the hot air out.
I am sending the photos to be uploaded. Thanks