Harvesting And Processing

In the hive, the purest beeswax is that which has recently been secreted: in "cappings" with which cells have been sealed, and in recently built comb. Wax scraped from hive walls or frame bars may be mixed with propolis. Old, dark combs in which brood has been reared are of least value.

When a beekeeper harvests combs of honey from the hives, the honey is first extracted from the combs. Then the wax is melted and the liquid wax separated from any contaminants. On a small scale, clean wax from hives may be melted and strained through cloth, or a "solar wax extractor" may be used, in which the wax pieces are spread out on a sloping metal base in a shallow container with a double glass top, to be melted by radiation from the sun. The liquid wax flows into a container; any contaminants settle at the bottom, and clear wax flows out through an outlet near the top.

In some commercial wax extractors the wax is heated with water, floats to the top, and flows out through an appropriately placed opening. More efficient devices use a steam press. The percentage of beeswax extracted from the initial material varies according to the source of the wax and the method of extraction.

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