Now that the honey has been all gathered, and the apistan strips to protect against varroa mites are in the hives, my attention turns to the wax. I already rendered down the cappings wax a few weeks ago, but now I need to take all the broken comb and the bracing comb of the various frames and melt that down.
Beeswax pound for pound is more expensive than honey and is an important by product of keeping bees.
There are different grades of wax -- the lighter, the more prized. Capping wax because it tends to be nearly white is the sort that is used in cosmetics. The wax that comes from the old brood combs is probably only good for polish -- although I have been known to make it into candles but they don't burn as well I don't think.
Anyway, I now have candles to make -- generally the tapers as they are the most useful. This can be quite fun, but it is also time consuming. Disheartening when the mould topples over and the wax spills out. But fantastic when the new candle emerges. And I did not really get any candles made last year. My dh is now making noises about having very few candles left...
I use a variety of moulds. Thornes which is the biggest British beekeeping supplies store also has a sideline in candle making equipment. They are always very helpful. And their products are top quality. But be warned -- they have a wide variety and there is a lot that goes into candlemaking.
As an aside, the coal industry in the Northeast used tons of candles in the Regency period and several fortunes were made supplying the tallow candles. Until I really started looking into the Northeast during this period, I did not realise how diverse the industry was and how many different things were needed to support the coal mines. Interestingly, the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire owed a lot to the tax on seacoal. The Northeast was the primary supplier of coal to London. I am currently reading Peter Ackeroyd's new book -- Thames and it is full of interesting facts about trade, docks and the general importance of the river. Thames may be a prehistory word.