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How much wax from 1.8# of drone comb

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Discussion Starter #1
I hear it said that there is very little wax to be rendered from drone comb. So I am trying to find out. I cut the wax off 5 fully drawn deep foundationless frames of drone comb. There was some residual nectar and propolis in the mixture which weighed in at 1.82# The question is, how much clean wax do you think I will get after rendering? I dont know yet myself, thought it would be fun to see what everyone thinks as I am doing it.
 

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Not enough to make it worth your time.
 

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"Time spent" depends on how it is rendered. If you have a solar wax melter time is minimal but results are fantastic. I use to do the water in a turkey roaster thing, never again! Love throwing a bunch of old black wax in the thing and come back to a bright yellow glob in the tray.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Discussion Starter #4
There is no question that rendering a few combs is not worth the effort, unless that is all you have and you need a small quatity of wax. My solar wax melter is still nothing but lines drawn on a board so I am using the small hobbyist method. For me, that means a 2 qt. saucepan, a fine mesh strainer, and a plastic food storage container to let the wax cake cool. A bit time consuming, but simple and easy with a low cost to start processing.

At this point, the wax has been processed twice in boiling water to remove honey, cocoons, propolis, and dead bees. It is not yet clean enough for candles, but is now suitable for waxing frames and starter strips. I squeeze the slumgum pretty hard during the inital rendering, so when I re-boiled it to extraxt the remaining wax, I only got .06#. Not worth the time or effort for sure.
 

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I think you have to hot press it. The capillary attraction between all the particle surfaces holds the wax and gravity wont strip it. I bet you are leaving behind twice what you are recovering. I watched some old video of the Lusbys processing old comb with steam and a screw press something like a grape press.

A lot of monkey motion for the return.:rolleyes:
 

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You are correct there will be wax left behind. Did I mention the total effort involved is to open the top, insert the wax, close the top, come back later and collect beautiful yellow wax. 😎
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Discussion Starter #7
Funny you should mention the grape press. I looked long and hard at one at the local brew shop to see if I could modify it to hot press the slumgum. Too expensive for the ROI. Still considering a set of rollers like an old wash wringer or a screw wringer that would twist a filter bag using a crank handle. If one simply allows gravity to drain the wax, a huge amount is left in the slumgum. Then again, pressing on the junk with my hive tool seems to do a pretty good job in small quantities.
 

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You are correct there will be wax left behind. Did I mention the total effort involved is to open the top, insert the wax, close the top, come back later and collect beautiful yellow wax. 😎

In 45 years of solar melting, I have never melted old brood combs in a solar melter and gotten
"beautiful yellow wax". And I doubt that you have either. I have gotten many pounds of dirty/tan yellow wax.
 

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I respect your experience, I just made a solar melter this spring I took this picture today (to show off to the wife), I started it with some cut out brood comb. Am I missing something, gunk uptop and beautiful yellow wax below. I haven’t melted any real old brood comb yet but I have about 10 frames of about 5year old stuff, should I expect different results? Should I keep them separated?
 

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I respect your experience, I just made a solar melter this spring I took this picture today (to show off to the wife), I started it with some cut out brood comb. Am I missing something, gunk uptop and beautiful yellow wax below. I haven’t melted any real old brood comb yet but I have about 10 frames of about 5year old stuff, should I expect different results? Should I keep them separated?
The difference is the age of the comb. The older the broodcomb the darker the wax you get out. I see yours are only just a few years old. The old combs we have rendered in the past have been 30 to 60+ years old and it results in pretty dark wax. Frankly we just burn them now, not worth the mess to me.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
The combs I rendered are not old brood comb. They are drone combs that are maybe two to three years old. They were very dark and two were a little moldy. Although I have not tested it, I have heard that the older comb gets, the less wax is recoverable. I have attached a picture of the wax block after the third and final water boil.

20200505_061500.jpg

The color looks pretty good to me, definitely not a brownish color. But, how much do you think it weighs?
 

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We have no way to judge its size.
 

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I got wax that color from small hive beetle combs.
 

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Looks great headofmeadow. I keep mine separate. Each batch will look different dependant on how long it's been sitting around, whether it's brood comb, honey comb or cappings. I have gotten the dirty tan yellow wax as well but oddly not from the darkest comb. I got that from old frames that have been in storage and not been used by the bees in a while, comb that from past experience I would have just thrown out were it not for the melter, that nasty bunch on the left side of the second picture is that stuff. The two round samples were done using hot water. I was never able to get mine to look as nice as JW's (though we can't see the bottom). As you can see the colors vary quite as bit. I'm just a hobbyist and enjoying the new experiences with the melter, I definitely needed to rerender some of it.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Discussion Starter #18
Ok, as a hobbyist, I can't even picture how much 420# would be. Earlier this year I bought 15# from the Harbo's at a cost of $6 per pound to make candles and wax a bunch of plastic foundation. Assuming that is a fair price, it seems that $2000 for two day's work is not bad.

As apiary size increases, the avalability of wax increases. Capping obviously make the best wax for cosmetics and such, but there are many instances where us small guys need wax for sundry other reasons. If we discount the amount of wax in drone comb because we are told it is not worth rendering, I think we are ignoring a valuable asset. Besides, learning how to get clean wax from crappy frames is kinda fun.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Discussion Starter #19
We have no way to judge its size.
That was the point of the overhead shot. The poll is still open and I did not want to post a spoiler.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Discussion Starter #20
I just realized the poll was not going to close until after my bedtime. I am still working and 5 am comes early. So here are the results:

I started with 1.82 pounds of crappy old drone comb and the scrapings from cleaning the frames. Everything went into a hotel pan I use for this purpose. I tared out a large plastic container and dumped the whole mess into it to get the starting weight.
After the first boil and straining, I recovered 1.11 pounds. After reboiling the slumgum and cocoons, I recovered an additional .06 pounds for a total of 1.17#. After scraping the chunks of gook off the bottom and performing a second boil and strain, the recovered wax weighed in at 1.03#. I did a third boil no strain to consolidate the rest of the small particles and scraped them off when cool. The final clean wax from the five frames weighs 1.02#. Just barely over 1#. The scale is an NCI model 8710-15 with an accuracy of .01#.

20200506_175539.jpg 20200506_175559.jpg

Pictures show the top and the bottom of the wax. The experiment shows that there is a substantial amount of good wax hiding in drone comb and that with a little effort, a small scale hobby beekeeper with some old comb can get something from it. Now if you have more money than time, this would not be very cost effective and purchasing wax would be a better plan. I think HoneyHouseholder has about 420# of it.
 
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