Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Lazy Woman's Honey Warmer

I had a dilemma.  I'd recently read Kim Flottum's book, The Backyard Beekeeper's Honey Handbook. .

The author describes how to make a warming box.  It's basically an insulated container where the honey pails are set with a low watt light bulb.  The honey slowly liquefies over a 12 hour period.  The key is to sustain a low heat so that the honey's natural elements are preserved.

[Photo - sticky honey and cappings before heating]
If you've been beekeeping for even a year you'll have noticed how quickly natural honey crystallizes.  And that's a normal process.  (If you want more info on how and why honey crystallizes read this.

In the next month or so I plan to build a warming box and I will certainly share all the details of that with you once I get it done.

But this brings me to the dilemma.  I needed to warm up some honey and wax cappings that I had scraped out of the cappings box last season.  They've been stored in containers and it's quite a sticky mess of wax and honey.

I don't want to cook the honey which would separate the wax and honey but would give my a dark caramelized honey.

So I started looking around the house for a potential warming box that I could pop two bowls into to warm up.

I looked over cardboard boxes and then my thoughts turned to the oven--not to turn it on but to use it as a warming box.  It's a closed container, maybe not super well insulated but it could work.

I took out a shelf, leaving only one shelf up about 4" from the bottom.  I put the bowl of cappings on the shelf.  Then next to the bowl I set a trouble light with a 60 watt bulb.  I closed the oven door, with the electrical cord only creating a small gap.

The next morning the honey was softer but not melted so I made two changes.  I upped the wattage to 100 and put the light on the floor of the oven underneath the bowl.

Viola!  By evening I had runny honey.  I could put it through a sieve and jar it.  The cappings left on top of the sieve I'll give to the bees to lick dry--they do it better than any other method.


Jumble Packet said...

I just found your website and really enjoy it!

Recently, I added a beekeeping class and someone mentioned taking a small old fridge -- like the kind students keep in their dorm rooms -- and rigging it with a high watt bulb. Unfortunately, I don't remember what he did to keep the bulb on when the door was closed, but he said it worked really well in keeping his honey warm.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Jumble Packet: Yes you're right about the fridge and many beekeepers use them. They must put a trouble light inside with the cord going through the seal on the door. I think the wattage is low, like around 40 watts because it can get quite hot inside.