Solar wax melter, part II

Earlier today I posted photos of the solar wax melter in the side yard, hard at work in the hot July sun. Several people asked for more detailed pictures and dimensions.  My first melter was a small, quick version – just a wooden fruit crate with a cookie sheet as a drip surface and an overhanging piece of window glass. It worked, but I immediately wanted something better. And bigger. When I started keeping bees I had no idea just how much wax they were going to contribute.

There are plans online here that look good. I admit, I went out and bought the one I have now as a kit. It’s just the right size – big enough to melt a pile of comb and trimmings and just at the limit of what I can comfortably carry around and store. $60.00 at Dadant and Sons Beekeeping. Whichever way you go, be sure to paint the inside of the box black.

I think that the the wax from this old, very dark comb is a lovely color – imagine how many bee footsteps it took to turn it brown. The sun bleaches it a little bit as it melts, but it’s nothing like the sterile white blocks sold in craft stores. The yellow candles give off a honey scent as they burn, subtle and not at all artificial. I use votive candle molds. They’re easy to fill and use. This is a handy list of molds and burn times from Busy Bee. These molds are silicon rubber – no release agent needed.

And welcome to the Maine mind-set, where every summer day affords another chance to be ready for winter.

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