A bees wax solar extractor is not difficult to build, but it does take a bit of planning, and some expense. The double glazing is fairly costly. The rest I made from scraps in my workshop.
Extracting bees wax from old combs, and the cappings, is a fag; I can't tell you how many times it's boiled over making an awful mess on the stove.
Finally my honey, wax and I were completely banished from Helen's kitchen, and this beekeeper had to make a plan.
This was in fact Bernard Preston's first venture into using the sun's energy in his home, long before we considered heating water and generating electricity.
Most of the extractors I've seen have a pipe leading out of the hot box, but the problem is that, on meeting the cold air, it tends to cool and solidify. So I made a double chambered container with the molten wax remaining inside.
It's crude but effective; you must have a lid with double glazing to trap the heat of the sun.
Use light materials; mine's too heavy. I'll give you the dimensions of this one, but I'd make it only 25cm wide if I constructed another; but long enough to hold a brood frame.
That's unless you have a large number of hives; then I'd stay with these dimensions.
Normally I'd use a small plastic container in the recess to capture the wax. Notice how clean it is with no filtering.
In the winter when the temperature is lower it's a golden yellow colour, but the wax I've just extracted in midsummer is much darker.
Bees wax solar extractor means no more overflows on the stove. It tends to boil and froth the moment you look the other way, making a terrible mess.
This way you waste no electricity and there's zero mess; it's so user friendly. The good wife did me a great favour by banishing me and everything to do with honey and beeswax from her kitchen.
Start by building a box from old timbers that you may have lying around. Use wood no thicker than 15mm; it tends to be very heavy and hard on the back.
Mine is rectangular, 70cm long by 50cm wide. At the back it's 30cm deep and at the lower end 15cm. That was because originally it rested on the ground and needed a slope for the wax to gravitate to the second chamber.
Then I built a steel base years later, angling the whole contraption, so it no longer needs to be deeper at one end than the other.
Today I would make it 25cm deep at both ends, since it stands on a base making it easy to turn to follow the sun.
That bees wax solar extractor base needs to be quite sturdy; a solid round bar about 5cm long slots into the pipe. Don't use square tubing as I did, though it works well enough. A short piece of angle iron strengthens the bottom.
I used fairly heavy 5mm plate; two pieces of scrap from the steel merchant, one screwed to the extractor base.
The angle isn't critical, though this is a fraction too steep; the sluggum and frames tend to slide down.
The extractor lid needs to be quite firm as the two sheets of 5mm glass are rather heavy. I used 20mm x 60mm timber to make up the frame; its corners need to be exactly square.
This is Mark II; the first version which eventually rotted after twenty years I routed out the rebate for the glass on both sides. That was unnecessarily difficult.
On Mark II I simply cut a small strip of wood 10cm x 20cm which I glued and nailed to the inside of the frame; the glass nestles on those strips on a bed of silicone.
Drill a small hole through the wooden frame so that it enters the space between the glass. The temperature of the air in that enclosed space gets very high; the increased pressure actually shattered the 5mm glass on Mark I.
Cover the hole with a piece of insulation tape to stop water getting in, but allowing excess pressure out.
Glue a strip of scrap wood onto the frame to stop it from sliding off.
So, make a sturdy rectangular extractor box, 20cm deep, 70cm long and 25cm wide. Fit a sturdy bottom.
Build a raised area about 5cm deep, leaving the recess into which the molten wax will drip; actually into a shallow plastic dish.
Line the floor of the upper chamber with discarded aluminium sheets from a printing company; then make a sort of funnel out of the same material. As the wax melts it runs downwards by gravity, through the crude narrows and into a plastic container in the recess below.
Line the upper edge of the box with a rubber strip; the glass must sit firmly keeping the hot air in.
This bees wax solar extractor works extremely well even in our mild winters; to the apiarist it's even more valuable than honey.
Then I send the raw wax to a rolling company who return the foundation for use in the hives next season.
I cheat a little and drip candle wax onto the sheet to make sure it's firm and doesn't come loose.
Whilst the drippings from your bees wax solar extractor can be used for a whole variety of skin conditions, and other products, for most of us it's all about raw honey.
Only the privileged few unfortunately can enjoy raw honey; beekeepers and those who go out of their way to locate a local apiarist.
Sadly most honey from the supermarket today has been spoiled by processing, over-refining and adulteration with synthetic sugars. I'm not convinced that it's of much more value than sugar for sweetening.
By using only coarse filters, allowing much of the pollen through into the liquid, it lowers the GI further. Surprisingly raw honey glycemic index is not high, despite the simple sugars; still it should only be used in moderation; I enjoy no more than perhaps two or three teaspoons a day.
Absolutely avoid all artificial sweetener side effects; chemicals like saccharin produce glucose intolerance just like sugar and refined starches do.
Bernard Preston is a semi-retired chiropractor, cum hobbyist beekeeper. He made this bees wax solar extractor when he was driven from his wife's kitchen because of the mess made when it boiled over on her stove.
How to start beekeeping
» bees wax solar extractor
Italian bees are relatively docile but but keeping those from Africa is a bit like having a pitbull in the garden. It's wise to do plenty of planning before rushing into beekeeping.