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The Beehive: The honey harvest is in; color varieties are up to the bees

The cut honeycomb containers are stacked and ready for sale. (Brett Kent / For the Enterprise)1 / 3
This is a solar wax melter. The wax runs down into a rubber pan, drained through a cheesecloth. (Brett Kent / For the Enterprise)2 / 3
Beeswax blocks and candles the Kents have made out of beeswax. (Brett Kent / For the Enterprise)3 / 3

Welcome back to the 9th installment of the Beehive. Life on the Bee Farm has been very hectic. So hectic, that I forgot to write my column. If this were my day job, I would have been in big trouble. Not sure, what the consequences are going to be for missing my "go to print time." So, if you don't hear from me ever again, you know what happened.

We finally finished extracting the honey. Everything went well and we have lots. We had a little twist this year from one of our bee yards, which is located northwest of Menahga. The honey we harvested from there was relatively dark.

That surprises me, because it was not dark last year. I am not sure what changed, because the cropland, which is mostly alfalfa and pastureland, stayed the same. It proves me right one more time, when I proclaimed that the bees are in charge.

It does give us an opportunity to offer one more choice to you, our customers, of our new dark honey, to go along with our proven great tasting light honey. Also for the first time in our beekeeping adventures, we were able to harvest some cut comb honey.

People love to take a chunk of honeycomb and chew it like honey-flavored gum. This is packaged in four-by-four-inch blocks of honeycomb. We have a limited honeycomb supply this year, but we should be on track to increase our supply next season.

People often ask me what we do with all the bees wax from the cappings. So far, we have been developing a method to purify the beeswax. We have a system in place now, and we are able to refine the beeswax into 3- or 4-pound blocks.

Our customers have approached Brenda and me looking to purchase some beeswax, to use it for sewing, for waxing zippers, and even for waxing some area on bagpipes. Beeswax is also made into lip balms and lotions. Here's a few beeswax bee facts. It is estimated that the bees have to fly 150,000 miles to produce one pound of wax.

Bees have to consume 6 pounds of honey to secret one pound of wax. Lastly, a bee farmer harvests approximately 100 pounds of honey for every 1 pound of wax.

Therefore, here is how we get the beeswax into useable condition. We take the cappings, which are full of foreign materials, like dead bees, honey, propalis, etc. and we let the bees feed in there until they get all the honey out. Then I put the cappings in a solar wax melter that I built. As the sun melts the wax, it runs down through some cheesecloth and into a rubber bread pan. We remelt the wax several times until it is in useable condition.

Thanks for your interest.

Editor's Note: Everyone misses a deadlines occasionally. But all is forgiven.