The humble honey bee is the creature that continually amazes us. What they give is so far out of proportion with what we give them. In our past Field Trips we’ve visited maple syrup producers and stare in awe at the amount of fuel needed to boil down 40 litres of sap to make 1 litre of maple syrup. Then we think about the quiet, combustion-free environment of the bee-yard (excluding the smoker of course), for a similar amount of sugar.
Our good friend, David Neumann’s father is a beekeeper. We visited him a couple years back, and learned all about bees. (Make sure you visit the post with its video.) Since then, he’s sent some wax our way, but it’s waiting at David’s house until we can have a much belated get-together. In the meantime Melanie and a friend, Jaycee, sourced some from Zavitz Honey Hill Apiary, a local, Norfolk County beekeeper who’s honey we’ve been buying for a year now.
Orville, the beekeeper, sent some wax over to us with his wife Janice. She helped us with our first ever attempt at processing wax from raw honeycomb right through to candles. We used our Mehu-Liisa juicer/steamer base to serve as the bottom half a double-boiler with an old stock pot on top. This kept the wax from overheating as it melted and separated from any honey and water.
We sieved the melted wax through some burlap into some water in an old pan below to help it cool quickly. The wax is almost like an oil so it doesn’t mix with the water, and will harden and float. It was a long task the first time, but we know future batches will go much quicker. And some solar oven designs on YouTube make melting the wax a simple thing in the summer.
To make our candles, we secured our wick to the bottom of our jars with some melted wax and held them centred with a clothespin as we slowly filled the jars with wax. The candles burn well, and smell amazing.
The thing that we love about burning beeswax candles is that they burn clean, so clean, in fact, they said to purify the air. This is a welcome change from regular paraffin wax candles, which are an oil production byproduct, and don’t make sense to burn indoors, regardless of how nice they smell. This makes naturally scented, slow-burning, fossil fuel-free beeswax a welcome addition to our home.