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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper! Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.


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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pouring Wax Block for Young Harris

I'm leaving for the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute on Wednesday night. I'll take the course for the Journeyman Certification (Journeywoman??) and stay for the lectures about beekeeping. I really enjoyed it last year and learned a lot. This year will be a lot harder.

I've spent time documenting my public service credits - you have to have five for Journeywoman. I put together a notebook with the documentation in it - I gave talks at the Atlanta History Center, a garden club in Stone Mountain, an elementary school in DeKalb County; I am doing ongoing work with a Dunwoody Girl Scout troop; and my blog has been accepted as a public service credit by the powers that be. (Whoo Hoooo!) Just for insurance, I also documented one of the three swarms I collected (you can count 2 swarm collections as public service credits).

Just for fun, I thought I would enter a wax block in the honey contest there. Virginia Webb, a world champion honey producer in N Georgia (her honey won best in the world at Apimondia a couple of years ago) enters wax blocks in the Young Harris contest, so mine will not hold a candle (ha, ha) to hers, but I thought I'd try. So I melted my wax in my Presto pot and followed what I have learned from pouring so many blocks - this is the 11th pouring I've done.

While the wax was melting, I heated the pan for the mold in the oven at 300 degrees along with the measuring cup into which I would pour the wax from the Presto pot.


I boiled two full teapots of water on the stove to put in the cooling pan. The wax block sets up best when the mold is in a pan of hot water in the way that one would bake a custard. Before the wax was finished melting, I put the mold (coated with a slight coat of Pam) into the larger pan and filled it with one pot of boiling water.


The melted wax was then poured from the hot measuring cup into the mold and I poured a second pot of boiling water into the surrounding pan. See the steam rising?


I'll leave the wax until the morning when it should be completely cooled and then remove it from the mold pan and polish it with panty hose. I've also bought a new queen sized pair of panty hose to carry the block to the contest in one of the stocking legs. This should keep the sheen from polishing it and should protect it from marking on our journey to Young Harris.

You can see from the last picture that the wax poured evenly and is cooling evenly. That is the secret to a good wax block. With my luck, I'll turn it out tomorrow and there will be some flaw on the top. Oh, well, I'll probably enter it anyway!

I'm also entering one of two photos that I like of bees on flowers. I'll pick one before the deadline on Friday. I've printed my two favorites out so I'll have both with me.



Post Script: I popped the wax out of the mold to find that it had stuck on two sides and I couldn't pour it again before I left for Young Harris.....so I won't enter it this year and instead I will just take my bee picture to enter in the photography section of the contest.
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