Saturday, September 21, 2013

How to clean-up your wax cappings

Everyone asks me about this.  I'll try to explain.

(1) "Wax Dumplings".  I stand at the kitchen sink with a light flow of WARM water - grab a handful of cappings and make "balls" under the warm water - kneading and squeezing the ball harder and harder. The warm water carries the honey away.  Squeeze and knead until it gets too hard to do so anymore - and move on to the next ball. You won't get all the honey out and it is not imperative to do so.  And this doesn't make a mess of the sink - don't worry about that.

(2) Melt the "dumplings".  I have a "campfire" coffee pot. And I have a SIMMER sized burner on my gas stove that makes LESS of a flame!!  (some of you might not be able to get your stovetop heat that low)  How you do the melting part may depend on your heat source.  You want a SLOW steady heat.  You DO NOT want to get the melt "ROLLING".  NEVER TURN YOUR BACK on wax and flame!!!!  Some of you may have a DOUBLE BOILER.  Some may do this in a crockpot and ladle it out.  You NEED SOMETHING THAT WILL POUR decently.  What I like about my "campfire coffee pot is....look at picture #4 - it has a little built-in "sieve" - it holds back some of the GUNK.  (will explain that more later).  SO - I'M MELTING the balls over a VERY SMALL flame - as the liquid becomes visible around the edges (half way up the pot) - I start pouring.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE ENTIRE batch to go liquid - you can keep pouring it off as it melts.

(3) Pour the liquid into styrofoam cups or bowls.

(4) Getting back to the GUNK.  As you keep pouring off the more "pure" wax - your concentration of GUNK (honey and propolis and beeparts) becomes more concentrated.  Just keep pouring off as much liquid as you can.  (That's where the built-in sieve comes in handy) The last couple pours - will be entirely GUNK - there's too little wax in it to even worry about - these pours will be thrown away. (yes - pour every last bit of GUNK out and into the styrofoam cups or bowls)  And wipe out your container while it's still warm with paper towels - be careful about HOT WAX - it will burn you in a second! (but it's easier to wipe out the containers when still warm - maybe use some rubber gloves to withstand the heat).

(5) When ENTIRELY cool (about 2 hours) - your wax will pull away from the sides of the syrofoam.  THE PURE WAX FLOATS TO THE TOP.  The bottom will mostly be honey...and it can be deceptively hot yet in the styrofoam. (I do this in the sink) Peel back the styrofoam to get your hands on the wax and pull it out - the liquid below is honey (DON'T consume this or give it to your bees - wash it down the sink!).  Again - you'll use WARM water to wash away the honey from the wax "cone".  Rub off some of the other impurities that collect on the bottom of the wax.  It's ok if it's a little brown with propolis.  If you don't want to use this "dirty" wax in your product - you can cut/scrape it off when you make something with it.

(6) THE CLEAN WAX - the final product.

Tips and Tricks.  Use COMET to help clean up wax from utensils.  Spread out NEWSPAPER on your surface for easy cleanup.  Use PAPER PLATES to "pour" over - then you can come back an peel up that good wax - waste not/want not.  Use PAPER TOWEL for wiping off the lip/edge from pouring.  In general - have PAPER TOWEL handy.  BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL with hot wax - it will burn you in a second - pouring can sometimes splatter - keep pets and spouses/helpers at safe distances.  BE CAREFUL - wax is extremely flamable!  Don't pour around an open flame and don't get wax "rolling" and smoking hot!  MELT - don't cook!  YES - IT TAKES SOME TIME!  This batch probably took me 1.5 hours to melt down - it's THAT SLOW.  (DO NOT use any of those electric "hot water pots" - they're way too hot - too quick - and there's no way to regulate the heat - they are all or nothing heat sources)

Can you use a sieve?  Yes - but I don't think you need to - the WAX will separate out from the impurities all by itself.  Beeswax is REALLY STICKY...and you'll never use that sieve again - for anything other than this process if you do!

Impressive New Book

(2011) Classic Queen Rearing Compendium.  An impressive 2-inch thick collection of 7 books/authors. (and not cheap: $54/amazon)
• An overview of queen rearing, by Michael Bush
• Practical Queen Rearing, by Frank Pellet
• Scientific Queen Rearing, by G.M. Doolittle
• The Alley Method, by Henry Alley
• The Miller Method, by C.C. Miller
• Isaac Hopkins on Queen Rearing
• Queen Rearing Simplified, by Jay Smith
• Better Queens, by Jay Smith

I've only just started but I REALLY LIKE the line of thinking - and that is BUILDING GENETIC DIVERSITY.  Building a Better Bee - Building Survivor Stock.  This is going to cover old methods and thought...right up to the new methods.  Despite it's reads quite quickly as you're going from author to author.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Crystallized Honey IN CELLS!

yes...this happened to me.  While I was extracting this season - we came across some frames (~6 or so?) that had CRYSTALLIZED honey in them.  Nearest I can figure, the bees got into SOME (mystery) nectar source that crystallized on them.  It was interesting and not at all harmful to the batch - because even if some crystals escaped the cell in the extractor - they were filtered out in the final batch......I just wonder what FLOWER/source they got into?!

Queen rearing

I'm looking into taking a queen rearing class.  Lane Honey in Illinois offers classes in the spring.  Details for classes will be posted to their site closer to December.  Classes fill fast.  Its far enough into southern Illinois to get room reservations and make a weekend of it.  I'll try to remember to keep you posted.

You keep asking

How many mites is too many mites? THIS IS! a mite every centimeter?  Heavy concentrations. I've never seen mite loads like this in the hives!  After the harvest I was showing a NEW-BEE  a random! The drone had 4 adult mites running around it.  GROSS!  did I say GROSS?!?!

I suspect something about the 5 queens I installed this summer...perhaps they're less hygienic about ridding themselves of mites.  I suspect this because, the old /natural queens are less infested.  I'm going to requeen again summer 2014.  I'm going to go for some BEE WEAVERS, OR MINNESOTAS, OR RUSSIANS.

My treatment choice is APIGUARD. They got their second tray yesterday.  I hate to do it, but they CANNOT go into winter with this amount of mites!

Make mead

When I harvest...I set aside all the 'questionable' frames for last.  Those frames that are not completely capped.  I got (2) 22# pails of WET honey (tested at 22 on the refractometer).  This honey became mead.  The recipe for 5 gals only calls for about 15#, but I have a problem following directions!

I made one batch with white grape concentrate, honey, ginger, lemon and lime juice and zest.   The other was dark grape, orange juice and zest, ginger.

I used to have to get wine/mead supplies from Minnesota (Midwest brewing supply or something like that), or Needsome Supplies in FDL carried some things.  But now there's a fully stocked brew supply in FDL on s main.  THE CELLAR. (Beer stuff too!)
My storeroom smells mead's a bubbling away!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wisconsin DATCP - register YOUR hive!

Ann Marie Ames from the Wisconsin DATCP brought some FABULOUS information to the beeclub meeting!  I'm headed to the website next to register MY HIVES.  Whether you have ONE hive or're welcome to register.  I'll post the DATCP information permanently in the LIST tab.

Ann Marie was kind enough to bring us SIGNS to display our participation....however, she forgot the STEPSTAKES!  this is NOT a contrived sale...but as i'm "in the business" ...I DO SELL STEPSTAKES for those signs. You can stop by the shop (D'Signs Unlimited, W4559 Lakepark Drive, Fond du Lac  M-F 8-5)  there's a cheap one for $2 (beeclub members only)...or you can get a heavier one for $4.00.