There are many plans regularly published in beekeeping
magazines. But before you make one... Consider how you will use it.
My personal one is rather small as I was working around an existing
metal reflector, but if I were making one now I would make it large
enough to accept a stack of ten framed queen excluders.
Solar Extractor Tweaks
APEX "Roof" version
Solar Powered Wax Extractor
Solar wax extraction is popular with beekeepers as the
energy source is free. Beekeepers are known for a prudence and
frugality that borders on the miserly.
All it amounts to is... a simple box with a hinged lid that
is double glazed. There is a collector for the melted wax and a metal
tray that has an "8" mesh filter at the bottom end. The
whole device is arranged so that the face of the double glazing is
perpendicular to the angle of maximum insolation.
The device that I have in my back garden is similar to the
diagram, but the box is insulated by expanded polystyrene sheets on
the outside and then the outside of the insulation is further covered
by a skin of shiplap boards. Even with this extra insulation it only
runs well on days with clear blue sky and summer sun. It will deal
with a kilo of wax per day if the sun shines and it will cope
adequately with my current needs.
Greenhouse glass is recommended for the glazing and the
uppermost sheet overlaps the reduced top edge of the bottom part of
the frame to allow rainwater to run off without collecting or
penetrating into the box.
The mesh along the bottom edge of the melting tray is
intended to strain out any large particles of debris and stop them
reaching the collecting tray. I found that a certain amount of
particulate debris would still find it's way into the collector and
so I took some cotton twine and wove it in and out of the holes in the
mesh. The fluffy nature of the twine retains the debris, but allows
the liquid wax to flow unhindered. The large particles and cocoons
remain on the metal tray and after draining under the influence of
a hot sun for a day or so after the main melting the sludge is scraped
out and I discard it. It can be used for garden compost or as a fire
lighting medium. There is also a method (Slum Gum Press) by which the
remaining wax can be removed. (When time allows I will detail it.)
When I was in business I designed a very large specimen that
I intended to put on the factory roof... It was never completed
although many of the parts had been made and the reflectors, that were
made from cast aluminium rainwater guttering, had been fettled and
polished. Eventually there will be a page about it accessible from
the link at top left.
Ladies' tights (panty hose) can be utilised in Solar
extractors... The rough quality wax and old comb are stuffed into the
legs and then tied off. The sausages so formed are put in the
extractor and the fine mesh retains a good deal of the debris whilst
the molten wax runs easily out.
Written... 12 February 2002, Additions... 10 November 2002