I started selling “beeswax chews” at Seattle’s Ballard Farmers’ Market. After explaining what they were to customers, I thought – “hey, a new blog topic”. Now “Beeswax Chews” are what I’ve always called the big bits of wax that float on top of the honey after extraction. These bits have a fair amount of Bee Bread (bee adapted pollen) and propolis and some raw honey clinging to them.
How I Use Beeswax Chews at Brookfield Farm:
They have always served two purposes for me:
1) I chew them like gum. You can swallow them, but I just spit them out (in a delicate lady-like manner of course). They taste good and I figure the bee bread and propolis should be good for me.
2) I feed them back to the bees. Before anyone cries out, let me say that when bees share bees wax or honey there’s a good chance diseases will be passed around. I would not let my bees pick through any other beekeeper’s beeswax bits, but my girls get to share with each other.
Where the Beeswax Bits Come From:
There are 2 sources for beeswax bits in any honey operation:
1) Cappings wax – the wax that is cut off from frames of honey during extraction. At Brookfield Farm, these fall into a vat with a screen at the bottom so dripping honey collects below the cappings wax.
Uncapped Honey Frame – Capping Tank Below
2) From extracted frames. When the uncapped honey frames go into the extractor, bits of wax can and do fly off. The extractor is a centrifuge and if wax it loose, it flies off the frames along with honey.
Extractor Spinning (don’t open spinning extractors, it’s dangerous)
When the extractor’s honey gate is opened to let the honey flow from the tank’s bottom, the bits of wax come right along with it. (They are the white blobs in the honey in the image below.)
Brookfield Farm’s very basic set up
In my operation, I just scoop them up with a large spoon and hand held sieve and pop them into their own container. Other beekeepers catch them by having the honey flow through a wire sieve that sits between the extractor and the honey bucket.
In large operations, there is a baffle tank. Think of a long open trough with three “dams” or baffles in it. The honey flows from the extractor and into a tank with three baffles – little dams (at least the one I was privileged to use for a while had three – oh, the good old days – baffle tanks are great).
At each step, the beeswax bits float to the surface as the honey drifts under a slot at the bottom. By the third baffle, the honey’s pretty darn free of big bits. It still has bee bread (bee adapted pollen) and propolis, just not big floating bits.
Customers Do Ask….We try to supply
I never really thought about selling them. We just chewed them – especially in winter during the “cold and flu” season – and let the bees have them. Then a customer asked for them. So I thought, hey, I’ll put them out there… My great marketing strategy – ask me for something, if I have it I’ll put it out, if I don’t have it, I’ll try to find out where you can get it. So now you can find them at Seattle’s Ballard Farmers’ Market every Sunday.
Beeswax Chews – Up Close
What’s Happening Right Now
It’s raining. This is not earth shattering news in winter around here. I’m happy to say it’s snowing where it should: 15 to 25 miles up river. That gives good snowshoeing in the forest and good skiing/snowboarding at the Mt. Baker Ski Area (I don’t ski/snowboard, but it’s ski slopes in the midst of a National Forest – beautiful, and I hear world-class runs).
The bees popped out for the two nice days we had. Of course, I had appointments in town (an hour away) both days. I took some quick peeks at the farm bee yard and most look good. Two (this is a blog of 2’s) look like dead outs, but I’ve been fooled before. I start pulling apart a “dead out” and the cluster of bees looks up and say “close the darned box lady, it’s cold out there….” So we shall see
I also got my vacation rental in Glacier onto Air BnB – it was a bit more complicated than I thought it was going to be. The good photos seem to be still making their way though the system (go figure). I’ve been trying to sell the house, but with the economy as it is, renting it seems to be the best way, or now.
Oh, and I learned how to use my new Square Register, kind of. I’m getting better at it. But I have had lots of help from the wonderful vendors around me at the Ballard Market. I’m quite pleased it’s working – technology is not my forte.
That’s the news from Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, in Maple Falls, Washington, how are your bees as we head into spring here in the northern latitudes, and you all head for fall down south?