The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
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.
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.
Initially we topped it with a fresnel lens from an overhead projector.
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.
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!
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!
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...