Sometimes other projects have to be put on hold for seasonal things, such as dealing with honey. I took a small amount off my hives midsummer, concerned that I'm going to need all the room I can get for fall honey flow. We'll see what happens. Queens have been really high this year, laying brood up in the honey supers. I don't like using excluders for various reasons, but it kind of bit me this year. There's about 70lbs of honey I had to leave on, because of the presence of baby bees.
But Ian and I combined efforts and did honey a few weekends ago. I got about 24 lbs off, he got over 40ish I think. One of the results of extracting honey is the contents of the "uncapping tank" - this is a big box-like contraption that you scrape the comb caps off into. It gathers dripping honey, bits of propolis, dead bees, pollen, the cap wax, and if you're not lucky, comb wax the knife catches and rips off the frame.
I usually scrape this morass into big gallon ziplocks and take it home to deal with it.
This is how I get to the results you see above:
1) Take ziplock of honey debris and upend it into a large colander over a deep bowl. Point a space heater at it for a while it if you're feeling spunky. Loosely cover with plastic wrap so bugs don't get in. Walk away for a day or three.
2) Scrape resulting honey drippings out of bowl into a jar. This is junky honey, and not something I'd want to sell or gift, because it's generally kind of full of floaties, but it's fine, just not pretty. Set aside for tea.
3) Take what's left in the colander and put it into the Sacrificial Stockpot (3 gal). This stockpot will not be good for Anything Else Other Than Wax Extraction Ever Again, so don't use a good one. Cover bee debris generously with water. Stir that slurry up really good with a Sacrificial Spoon. Basically anything that contacts melted wax has to be sacrificed to the wax process. Set heat to medium low. Come back and stir really good once in a while to agitate the debris.
4) You'll notice when the wax starts melting. I stir pretty good at this point and keep an eye on it. Do not let it boil, just melt. Once everything is good and liquid, except for solid things like bee carcasses, turn the heat off, put the lid on and walk away for the night.
5) Next morning, I put the Stockpot in the fridge.
6) That night, I carefully punch some sort of holes in the cake of wax that has solidified on top, and pour off the really icky water out from under the wax. Most of the time the wax has contracted and cracked, so you can break out a corner to gain access to the water. After it's drained I break/carve the wax cake out of the pot and rise it really good.
7) Now you'll notice a nice layer of wax, and a horrible brown layer of... something. I know it's wax, but it contains..stuff...it's not the wax I want. So I take a knife and carefully pare that layer off and toss it.
8) I put the chunks into the Sacrificial Saucepan. (Sacrificial for the same reasons as the stockpot and spoon.) I put this in another, bigger saucepan with water in the bottom to form a double boiler. If you are very careful, you can use a normal bigger saucepan for this, just be really careful not to drop any wax in the water bath. On second thought, just get a second Sacrificial Saucepan.
9) Melt wax completely. I stir it using an old chopstick, since the spoon is covered in debris from the first round.
10) Strain through a filter - I use an old screen sink trap strainer, you could use an old sieve. I use a decent quality paper towel as the filter. I pour into small wide mouth glass jars (4oz jelly jars). Smooth side is important.
11) Let it set up over night. The next morning, put the little jars in the freezer for about an hour. After that your wax should pop right out and you can do with them what you will.