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Cooking on sunshine!

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Bees are well known for making honey but there’s a lot more going in the hive.

They also collect pollen and store it in cells in the hive. They feed it to the bee larvae developing in their famous hexagonal comb.

Constructing the comb is a challenge, in some hive types the beekeeper provides a printed comb to reduce the workload. In top bar hives the bees ‘trapeze’ an arc which helps form the basis of the comb structure. You can see that here.

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In the centre a piece of comb with that famous hexagonal structure is the core of the building of the comb. Then the bees hanging either side are planning the next layer.

The bees wax glands work overtime.

They also create a sanitary environment inside the hive. They collect a sticky resin substance from trees called propolis. It’s found in the buds.

They coat the inside of the hive with it. A hive is sustained at around 34 degrees so it’s important that it’s clean and sanitary. The propolis helps prevent fungus from forming inside this warm humid environment. You may have noticed that honey doesn’t go bad either. Various theories about how long it lasts can be found online.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, we have a lot of wax comb. We wanted to melt it down and remove impurities so it can be used to make candles. There’s many ways of doing this but we wanted a natural one.

So the plan was to make a solar smelter. We created a box with insulation material.

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Initially we topped it with a fresnel lens from an overhead projector.

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With a metal pan (it was a garden planter) in place, using a mesh to sieve the wax, we placed honey comb pieces on the mesh and a thermometer to see what would happen.

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On a normal day this weekend when the temperature was around 16 degrees with the fresnel lens on top we soon had 100 degrees. It focussed the temperature in one spot though. Rather than creating a fire we switched to a normal piece of Perspex. This gave us 70 degrees C!

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We now have a melting and filtering process that is running on free power! I guess we have to blog about the candle making process next!

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20 comments on “Cooking on sunshine!

  1. lindaswildlifegarden
    May 6, 2014

    Reblogged this on Linda's wildlife garden and commented:
    Lovely post Liz and thank you for sharing

    Like

  2. cheergerm
    May 6, 2014

    You are busy bees! 🙂

    Like

  3. bmary
    May 6, 2014

    Can’t wait to hear about the candles! You guys are so clever! 🙂

    Like

  4. Good Food Everyday
    May 6, 2014

    I have had a similar experience of visiting hives and helping with harvesting but this is really clever,thanks for sharing !

    Like

  5. Debra
    May 6, 2014

    Wow. That is really clever.

    Like

    • lizard100
      May 6, 2014

      Thanks. It seemed like the logical solution and it really worked. The other benefit was we could just leave it out all day to work. This was better than stinking the house out with wax smells and standing over it for ages.

      Like

      • Debra
        May 6, 2014

        No doubt. I am really looking forward to seeing what you do with the wax. Good luck!

        Like

      • lizard100
        May 6, 2014

        So am I? Could be funny. I’m hoping to make some salve for rashes with it too.

        Like

  6. Chloris
    May 6, 2014

    How do you think of these things? You are endlessly inventive.

    Like

    • lizard100
      May 6, 2014

      Thank you. It’s a cycle really. We do stuff and change our habits and then we question other things in our lives which leads to ingenuity to solve problems. Just keep thinking about stuff really!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You actually had to taper it down a bit to avoid a fire – that’s some good sun. Definitely good thinking, although I take your point that practice helps on that front.

    Like

  8. Rambling Woods
    May 9, 2014

    More info…am soaking it in….. Michelle

    Like

  9. cnbarnes
    August 1, 2014

    I recently made one that was much more “basic” – a plywood box (painted black) with a “jelly roll pan” on the inside to hold the wax. Under that is a cheap aluminium baking pan to catch the wax.

    Like

    • lizard100
      August 1, 2014

      Sounds good too. Really easy to harness the sun. : )

      Like

  10. permiechick
    August 25, 2014

    Love this! Just got bees back at the homestead and can’t wait to try this next year when we harvest honeycomb.

    Like

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