2 minute read

Letter to the Editor

In issue 18 of Beekeeping & Development Mr Tomlinson describes how to make wax extractor. I agree with him that it is hard to understand why so many beekeepers do without one. Under some circumstances the northern-designed extractors do not work too well, or work only infrequently.

One reason is that if sunshine periods are short and intermittently interrupted by passing clouds, the large extractors built for sufficient capacity do not heat up enough or for long enough to melt old combs. Besides, extraction from very old combs is not efficient in these extractors as Professor Morse (Beekeeping   Development 19) pointed out. 

However, once processed in the solar extractor the dark left-overs can be processed in boiling water. Solar extractors work very well and fast for lighter combs, cappings and the left-overs from honey pressing. However two small modifications are necessary

1. A small solar wax extractor heats up quickly and reaches the wax melting point fast. It therefore extracts wax even during short, intermittent sunshine. Painting it black inside and out (not with tar paint) will further speed up the process. Double pane glass covers are unnecessary and only retard the whole process. Extra insulation beyond the three-quarters to half-inch wood box is not necessary for tropical climates except in cold mountain areas. A good size is about that of Langstroth brood chamber or super. Small adjustments can be made if whole frames are to be processed and cleaned, though are rarely necessary. The colder the outside climate the larger and better insulated a solar extractor should be.

2.  A metal grid (3, 6 or 8 mesh wire screen) should be placed 0.5 to cm 1 cm above the metal tray. This will allow faster run off of the melted wax and thus compensate again for the smaller capacity.

With these adjustments small extractor actually has a higher capacity than larger models and is considerably cheaper (both timber and glass are very expensive). If you want to spend the money, build two, and you can even lend one to a friend!

Rainer Krell, Rome, Italy