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Genes and Races

One of the most widespread legends in beekeeping is that when you cross almost anything with Carnica bees, the result will be angry bees, almost unbearable mongrels.

That was true. However, it is not true anymore.

In 2006 I had the honour to meet Harald Singer, the son of the world-famous bee breeder Wolfgang Singer. When we sat down in the restaurant table, I told him about my experiences of their Carnica queens.  Hunajayhtymä Ltd. had been importing of Carnica Singer queens for years and in the early 1990s I bought 5 of them.  Tradename “Carnica-Singer” was painted with red on the cages.

These Carnica Singer queens surprised me. They had all max 5- 6 frames of brood (Jumbo frames) in the peak season.

“Impossible!”, answered Harald.  “Our queens make a big brood area.”


For a second I had doubts about the origin of my Singer queens, and had there not been the name “Carnica-Singer” on the cages and had the importer not been Hunajayhtymä, the largest beekeeping company in Finland with years of co-operation with Singer, the doubts could have been justified.  But now this contradicting information had to be solved otherwise.

And the answer is breeding.

Wolfgang Singer vaimoineen

Picture: Liane and Wolfgang Singer

Bee breeders have been selecting for good honey crop, good temper and low swarming for a long time. Genes enabling these qualities have multiplied in population long enough: different races have become almost indistinguishable.  Today, one could argue that colour remains the only thing to separate a Carnica from Buckfast.  Crossing good breed Buckfast with good breed Carnica results in marvellously good bees.


Heidrun Singer

Picture: Heidrun Singer in continuing the work of her parents.

The best Finnish Italian bees are remarkably close to good Buckfast and good Carnica bees in their performance qualities. And with ”good” I mean bees bred by distinguished breeders, not cheapest ”race” queens found in Internet.  If only there were more serious breeders, we could see a third race become identical twin. Today in Finland we have a situation where the Italian bees of Finland are too much considered as something permanent and immortal. From the 1950s the Finnish bee breeders have bred for winter hardiness and for lower consumption. The excessive egg laying and lavish spending of stores have been rooted out. Finnish Italian bees have raised well deserved interest among bee breeders in Central Europe.

It is no secret that genes from “original” black bees, Apis mellifera mellifera, made this change.  Not original, because honeybee in Finland in not indigenous, they have been imported by man late 16th century, mainly from Estonia and Sweden.


Large brood area is the main factor influencing honey gathering ability of a beehive.  Singer Carnica was bred for a good honey crop and, little by little, selection pressure changed the nature of Carnica Singer. They were no longer small brood area bees.

Originally Carnica bees had yellow markings in upper corners of abdomen. Today these yellow, or leather brown, markings are almost extinct, thanks to tightened and unnatural race breeding instructions. (Naturgeschichte der Honigbienen by Friedrich Ruttner, 2. Auflage, pages 90 and 94)


Years later I made another experiment with Carnica bees, bought 6 queens, this time of German origin. They were exceptionally good bees. I cannot say anything bad. Large brood areas, good temper, excellent honey crop and no inclination to swarm.   If I had not known their origin, I would have had difficulties separating them from dark line (Primorski) Buckfast.

When we breed for certain qualities, certain genes become more widespread. This a general phenomenon.





Picture: Alaskan sled dog

Another example comes from the world of dog breeding in Northern America.

“Alaskan sled dogs are a recognized population of dogs of Northern breed ancestry. While not recognized by the American Kennel Club as a distinct breed, consistency in behaviour has led to them being informally referred to as a ”breed”. The Alaskan sled dog is comprised of several different lineages, optimized for different racing styles. The Alaskan sled dog is unique in that it is not confined to a breed standard of size or appearance, as are most AKC-recognized breeds. Rather, they are a mixed breed dog. We know little about the starting stock of Alaskan sled dogs.”

Siberian Husky is a recognized breed by American Kennel Club(AKC). Alaskan sled dog, however, is not, because of its mixed and unknown origin.

Those Alaskan sled dogs which have been bred for long distance races resemble Siberian Husky dogs in their genes.  

The race definition of Siberian Husky (AKC): “The Siberian Husky, a thickly coated, compact sled dog of medium size and great endurance, was developed to work in packs, pulling light loads at moderate speeds over vast frozen expanses.”


Picture: Siberian Husky



It is important to take care of various bee races. Many of them are endangered. But we must bear in mind that if we keep bees in modern beehives and universally favor the same beekeeping goals, good honey gathering, good temper, low swarming etc, we might be doing a disservice.  It is more important is to protect endangered genes than races. Other solution is to keep bees in nature like hives, for instance log hives.

Race is a man-made definition; gene is a creation of nature.

48h kennot klubi

48 h kennot klubi aloittaa toimintansa heti kunhan korona virus hässäkkä helpottaa. 


Kerhon tarkoituksena on:

  • edistää hyvän mehiläisaineksen leviämistä
  • varroaa paremmin kestävän mehiläisen levittäminen
  • emonkasvatustaitojen kehittäminen

Kerhon jäsen sitoutuu:

  • myymään muille jäsenille 48h ikäisiä emokennoja tai toukansiirtoon soveliaita toukkakakun paloja
  • lyhyesti esittelemään toukansiirtoihin käytetyn pesän (pyydettäessä)

Kerhon toimintamuodot:

  • emokennojen osto, myynti ja vaihdanta
  • emonkasvatus aiheisten tapaamisten järjestäminen
  • kennojen lähettämistapojen kehittäminen
  • emonkasvatuskurssit
  • yhteiset paritustarhat



Emokennojen/toukkakakun palojen hinnoittelun saa kukin jäsen itse vapaasti määrätä.

Kennojen hinta voi muodostua perusmaksusta ja kappalehinnasta. Kappalehinta voi joko laskea tai nousta lukumäärän kasvaessa. Hinnoittelun avulla on mahdollista estää turhat tilakäynnit kiireiseen aikaan ja se, että kennoja ei haaskata tai käytetä kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin.

Pesän esittelyksi luetaan:

  • lyhytkestoinen avaaminen (jos emokennot haetaan paikanpäältä)
  • sukutaulun esittäminen
  • pesän arvostelutietojen jakaminen

Paritustarhaan saa tuoda parituspesiä ennakkoilmoituksella rajallisen määrän. Parituspesät tulee olla täytetty ilman kuhnureita, tai siinä on oltava kuhnurisulkuristikko. Paritustarhan tarjoaminen muiden käyttöön on vapaaehtoista ja ilmoitetaan keväällä. Paritustarhojen tarkoitus on tuoda vaihtoehto keinosiemennykselle ja mahdollisuuden käyttöemojen pariutumiseen.


Klubin ”jäseneksi” pääsee kuka vaan, ilmoittautuminen vetäjälle riittää.  Virallista yhdistystä ei ole tarpeen perustaa.


Juhani Lundén



Kuva yllä: Juhani Lundén                                   Kuva alla: Lauri Ruottinen

48 kenno



I have a dream


Actually, I have a problem. A huge one.

I have no successor of my work, no guarantees of future continuation of my breeding work and I have failed to get more treatment free (=TF) beekeepers in Finland.

The more I think of this dilemma the more I have been considering one way to get things better:

48 h queen cells.


When I first read the BeeSource thread started by Seth Charbonneau about 48 h queen cells my reaction was that “why 48h cells, when a piece of comb with 6 h larvae on it will do the same”. But will it?

Let’s make a comparison, pros and cons:

48 h cells                                                                                                                                            Pro

-certainty of success even for a beginner

-safer shipment


-price per larvae higher


Pieces of comb with 6h larvae


-cheaper per larvae



-impossible for a beginner

-impossible without queen rearing skills

-destroyed combs


If we make the comparison with laying queens, the advantages of 48h queen cells are lower price and safer introduction to almost any hive without queen. That is an advantage specially with TF bees, which are expensive.


Treatment free beekeeping is a new idea. It is however, getting more and more popularity specially among new, young and starting beekeepers. Therefore 48 h cells are a better solution than 6h larvae on comb pieces.

Will dispersal of 48h cells solve my problem? No, but when more beekeepers can get and test varroa resistant bees then it is more likely that some of them will start building their enterprise as TF, and some of them will be a passionate breeder for generations to remember.



The cell production is pretty much covered in beekeeping books. Production of queen cells for sale/dispersal can easily be fitted among the production of your own queens.


Seth Charbonneau drilled holes in a block of foam and wrapped it in plastic. It was a copy of what Joe Latshaw uses.

photo 1


Sam Comfort used to use JZBZ queen boxes with the cells placed in protectors and seems to be moving to just putting the cell in a protector in a bag.

Sam Comfort cell and cage


John Kefuss model made of foam insulation. The cells are slightly pressed and thus make their own slots into the soft material.

John Kefuss cell shipment


My wooden, experimental, has not been in use. Was thinking of strapping some tape around.



In the end I´m with Sam: The easiest way is just put the cells with protectors in a plastic bag with some moisturized soft tissue paper or fabric.  In Finland there is a limit for the thickness of a letter. An express letter is fast and cheap way to ship, delivery guaranteed for the next day.


The ideal solution would be to combine the 48h cell production and markets with teaching of queen rearing skills among a beekeeper’s club and with a suitable area for controlled mating.

The biggest problem to make Treatment Free Beekeeping a real option for all is not the absence of varroa resistant bees, but the dispersal of good genetic material.

In 48h cells we might have the answer.


Juhani Lundén



Here is some reading:



Seth’s original opening post and replies:


Beekeepers are racists. Not about humans I hope; but about bees they keep.  If you ask a beekeeper in Finland what kind of bees they have, the answer comes right away.

“I have Italian bees!”

“I have Carnica bees!”

“I have Nordic black bees!”  etc

The answer comes with no hesitation even if the bees have been free mated ever since they were bought, sometimes many decades earlier.

In the world of any other domestic animal you would be listed as a lunatic in no time if you insisted your animals to be of any particular race after several free matings.  “What a moron…”, someone would mumble, and people around you slowly walk away.

But back to meeting other beekeepers. You have by now got to know the bee race of your companion.  If you then kindly try to keep up the conversation and talk about importance of mating, the answer is ready:

There are only Italian bees in our neighborhood, they keep pure.”

“And they are yellow!”

In this argument it is best to stop the conversation to keep everybody happy unless this all has happened on a beekeeping course, which is often the case with me. People have come to that course to learn something, and if I drop them to reality concerning their beloved pets, I´m not the wise guy.  Just doing my job.

Yellow color is actually the most widespread color among the bee races of the world. Italian bees are not the only yellow bees in the world.

As unbelievable as it sounds the Nazi regime had influence in beekeeping too. The German society was brain washed from top to bottom with race ideology. There was an Aryan human master race (blond hair and skin, blue eyes, athletic, brave mind) and same thinking was applied to animals, like bees. There are still laws in some parts of Austria saying that you can keep only Carnica bees.


Black bee and Carnica bee by Goetze 1942


A group of Finnish beekeepers visited a beekeeper near Vienna. His bees looked very much like Buckfast. I was working as the interpreter, and someone in our group said I should ask about the race. “These are Carnica bees”, the Austrian beekeeper answered with a wide grin on his face.

At that moment we understood the name of the game.


There is absolutely nothing wrong if someone wants to have pure race bees, but what is a pure race?

Race is a man-made definition. It is a definition of what have the bees in a particular geographical area looked and how they behaved in the past.  What color they were and how long hair, tongue, wings and wing veins they had.  Sometime in the past, originally and by nature, without human interference.

Who made these race definitions and when?  It depends. For instance, the definition of Italian bees was made year 1806 by Marquis Massimilliano Spinola (1780-1857). The definition of Carnica bee is much younger. It was made by a German entomologist August Pollman as late as 1879.  The oldest definition was made by Carl von Linné year 1758, the original black bee of Western Europe is named after him: Apis mellifera mellifera LINNAEUS.  Macedonian bees got their description 1988.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with definitions, but it is important to understand that they simplify complicated things. In the border area of different geographical races there were always intermediate forms, which fit neither of the races on two sides of the border.



History of race breeding

History of race breeding is short. Thanks to BeeSource user Bernhard Heuvel from Germany I found a very interesting writing made by Sigrun Mittl, Dipl.-Biol. from his web site

“Die Reinzuchtbelegstellen der Stämme der Dunklen Biene Apis mellifera mellifera und der Kärntner Biene Apis mellifera carnica zwischen 1934 und 1945 und die Geschichte der Zucht in dieser Zeit mit Ausblick in die Zeit danach – Teil 1”   *)


In the next paragraphs I quote some points of the early steps of race breeding in Europe according to this article in web.  According to the writer this article is based mainly on the original beekeeping journals of that time.


Problems arising

The first ones to notice problems ahead were German K. Hoffmann, the director of the Royal Bee Institute in Erlangen, and U. Kramer from Switzerland. They recognized the problem of bee imports from particularly Southern Europe to Central Europe which had been going on since 17. Century.  New bee races like Apis mellifera ligustica, A.m.carnica, A.m.anatolica, A.m.syrica had made the local black bee almost extinct by the late 19th Century.  Quote: “Die wilden Importe haben dafür gesorgt, dass die einheimische Dunkle Biene nahezu ausgerottet wurde.”


Hoffmann wrote 1909: “Beekeepers curiosity and unplanned search and import of new bees has created a situation where we have an increasing disease problem and our natural bees is bastardized.“

Dr. Kramer had already 1898 remarked that “The imported new bees are crossing with our local bees and jeopardizing its future”. He even wrote a book, “Race breeding for the Swizz beekeepers” where he emphasizes the importance of mating stations in order to maintain the purity of the local black bee.



Professor Enoch Zander (1914) writes: “Because of the massive bee imports of the last 50 years there is practically no pure bees left”.


These men were pioneers of pure race breeding. They saw the problem which partly was because bees were domesticated animals as well as wild animals. Their passion was the conservation of local indigenous bee. This all led to the formation of the first mating station and breeding program of the black bee Apis mellifera mellifera. Bees were finally seen as a part of the nature, not just domesticated animals.

The first mating station started to operate in summer 1908 in Ohrwaschl. This was largely due to the Erlangen Bee Institute which had been established the year before (1907). Both Zander and Hoffman were working there.

Picture of Erlangen Bee Institute,5.5064509,4.5z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x47a1fd4167086bef:0x4d21fd48bb2bc6cb!8m2!3d49.5622962!4d11.0719488


Hoffman wrote about their breeding plans: “The queen breeding will be done with our own methods and what we have learned from colleagues in America, Switzerland and Austria.”


Queen rearing skills were at that time no doubt in a higher level in US, but race breeding started in Europe.


The aim was to re-establish and maintain the original black bee. Prof. Zander oversaw the documentation. He kept the Pedigree, breeding records of breeders and drone lines, and their evaluations, and published information about how the work had progressed.  For years Zander tried to do this with several different strains like Siegfried, Wilhelmina, Dora and others, but the 1928 made he the decision to concentrate only in the breed “Nigra”.

Here´s an example of his notes from year 1918: “Queen rearing has been done, despite many problems, with utmost carefulness and with excellent results. Nigra line Nr75 was used as a drone line, queen number 346, 8. Generation and daughter of Nr248, born 1915, and it made 52,2 Pounds of honey 1916- and 100-Pounds honey 1917, and still 1918 is the best colony of all.”

The work of Zander and Hoffman finally lead to the country wide recognition.  Mating stations were formed all over Germany, “Reichsfachgruppe Imker” was formed 1934 (-> until the end of war 1945). It was the predecessor of the Deutsche Imkerbud, which we know today. Opposition was heavily supressed.


The leaders, including prof Zander, started to use Nazi language, weather conviction or sympathy we will never know.


Mating stations in Germany 1935


Juhani Lundén



About pure races, to be continued…

To me as a beekeeper, if we talk about real things, or pure races in this case, nothing would be more clear than the fact that Italian bee is a pure race. I´d be happy to be wrong about Iberian bee, it might as well be a hybrid, as it seems, BUT ITALIAN BEE IS A HYBRID?

This study just demonstrates so well the fact that race is a human definition, nothing more. Bees have lived millions of years without knowing anything about races.

There might be a lesson to learn for us humans in this


Hybrid origins of honeybees from Italy (Apis mellifera ligustica) and Sicily (A. m. sicula).

Author information

Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations, Campus International de Baillarguet, 34980 Monferrier-sur-Lez, France.


The genetic variability of honeybee populations Apis mellifera ligustica, in continental Italy, and of A. m. sicula, in Sicily, was investigated using nuclear (microsatellite) and mitochondrial markers. Six populations (236 individual bees) and 17 populations (664 colonies) were, respectively, analysed using eight microsatellite loci and DraI restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of the cytochrome oxidase I (COI)-cytochrome oxidase II (COII) region. Microsatellite loci globally confirmed the southeastern European heritage of both subspecies (evolutionary branch C). However, A. m. ligustica mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) appeared to be a composite of the two European (M and C) lineages over most of the Italian peninsula, and only mitotypes from the African (A) lineage were found in A. m. sicula samples. This demonstrates a hybrid origin for both subspecies. For A. m. ligustica, the most widely exported subspecies, this hybrid origin has long been obscured by the fact that in the main area of queen production (from which most of the previous ligustica bee samples originated) the M mitochondrial lineage is absent, whereas it is present almost everywhere else in Italy. This presents a new view of the evolutionary history of European honeybees. For instance, the Iberian peninsula was considered as the unique refuge for the M branch during the quaternary ice periods. Our results show that the Apennine peninsula played a similar role. The differential distribution of nuclear and mitochondrial markers observed in Italy seems to be a general feature of introgressed honeybee populations. Presumably, it stems from the social nature of the species in which both genome compartments are differentially affected by the two (individual and colonial) reproduction levels.


Kestävämpiä mehiläisiä -projekti

Aloite kaikille niille mehiläishoitajille, mehiläishoitajien ryhmille ja yhdistyksille, jotka haluaisivat paremmin varroa punkkia kestäviä mehiläisiä, mutta eivät tiedä miten asiassa voisi edetä:


Varsin yksimielisesti mehiläishoitajat mielellään näkisivät, että heidän hoidokkinsa kestäisivät punkkia, ja miksei muitakin tauteja, paremmin. Joillakin on myös tilanne, että nykyisin käytössä olevat torjunnat ovat syystä tai toisesta menettäneet tehoaan, mikä on ilmennyt siten, että torjuntoja on vuosikymmenten kuluessa jouduttu lisäämään tai monipuolistamaan. Nykyinen jatkuvien torjuntojen tie on kierre, jossa tilanne vähitellen pahenee ja syynä siihen pidetään virusten ärhäköitymistä.  Onkin todistettu, että punkkia kestävien mehiläisten yksi salaisuus on viruskestävyys. Myös saastuneiden sikiöiden kennojen aukaisu ja sikiöiden poistaminen on yksi selviytymiskeino. Mehiläisten geneettinen kestävyys on ainoa pitkäkestoinen ratkaisu.

Olen vuodesta 2001 alkaen riskeerannut koko mehiläishoitourani yhden kortin varaan: ensin vähensin ja sitten 2008 lopetin torjunnat kokonaan, lujasti uskoen siihen, että kaikki pesäni eivät kuolisi. Näin myös kävi, mutta läheltä piti.

Nyt mehiläisemojamme viedään useisiin Euroopan maihin. Muutamat suurtuottajat Etelä-Euroopassa kasvattavat kymmeniä tuhansia jälkeläisiä Lundén Resistant Queens -siitosemoista.


Emojen tuotantokapasiteettimme on erittäin rajattu, koska pesämäärämme on vieläkin hyvin pieni. Hunajatulot ovat romahtaneet pesämäärän mukana, verrattuna vuosikymmenen takaiseen, vaikka pesäkohtainen sato ei juurikaan ole huonontunut. Kustannukset olisi kuitenkin katettava jotenkin, ja siksi emojen hinta on nostettu Suomessa ennennäkemättömälle tasolle, 500 euroon emolta.

Hinta voi tuntua korkealta, mutta on otettava huomioon ne uhraukset, joita niiden aikaan saaminen on aiheuttanut. Jo viisi vuotta sitten laskin, että menetykseni tämän projektin ansiosta ovat n. 300 000 euroa. Siitosemomme ovat keinosiemennettyjä ja niille myönnetään takuu: jos emo kuolee varotoimenpiteistä huolimatta asetuksessa tai pian sen jälkeen, niin uusi emo lähetetään korvauksetta.


Ehdotan seuraavanlaista konseptia:

  • Mehiläishoitajien rinki ostaa minulta vähintään 2 siitosemoa
  • Emojen toimitukset tapahtuvat heinä- syyskuussa 2020
  • Seuraavana kesänä 2021 mehiläishoitajien rinki kasvattaa yhdestä emosta tytäremoja ja toisesta emosta kuhnureita, jotka tulen keinosiementämään vakiohinnalla, joka kattaa myös matkakulut.
  • Tämä toiminta voi jatkua seuraavina vuosina, sillä erolla, että myöhemmin on enemmän mahdollisuuksia siitosyksilöiden valintaan. Myös risteytyksiä ringin hoitajien omien mehiläisten kanssa voidaan harkita.

Emot maksavat siis sen 500€ kappaleelta ja se sisältää arvonlisäveron. Keinosiemennystä on yleensä tehty tuntilaskutuksella, mutta jotta tämä toimintatapa yleistyisi olen aluksi valmis ottamaan riskin: hinta olisi kiinteä 40€/emo, joka sisältää matkakulut ja arvonlisäveron.  Vain sillä ehdolla, että siemennettäviä emoja olisi vähintään 10 kpl ja että apunani on yksi henkilö, joka on tottunut emojen käsittelijä.

Yksi pulma on matkassa: siemennettävälle emolle pitää antaa CO2 kaasutus edellisenä päivänä. Tämä pulma voitaisiin ratkaista siten, että tulisin jo edellisenä päivänä ja yöpyisin jonkun kotona tai vaihtoehtoisesti jossain läheisellä, edullista aamiaismajoitusta tarjoavalla tilalla rinkiläisten kustannuksella. Minuutin kaasutus on helppo tehdä itsekin, mutta vaatii n. 100€ arvoisen regulaattorin SodaStream pulloon. Näitä voi tilata Kari Pirhoselta p. 044-5337022.

Oma riskini on kaksiosainen: Ensinnä se todennäköisempi, että kuhnurit ovat laadultaan huonoja. Silloin aikaa tuhraantuu paljon laskettua enemmän. Ja toiseksi se epätodennäköinen, että joku mehiläishoitajien porukka Ivalon Lapista innostuu asiasta, jolloin palkkioni kuluu matkakuluihin. Mutta jostain on lähdettävä liikkeelle.

Varroaa kestäviä mehiläisiä on ympäri maapallon. Niitä on syntynyt itsekseen ja niitä on syntynyt ihmisen jalostamana. Varroaa kestävä mehiläinen jalostuu itsekseen noin kymmenessä vuodessa, jos torjunnat lopetettaan. Tämä on se helppo osa tätä ongelmaa.  Vaikeaa on se, miten varroaa kestävien mehiläisten levittäminen kaikkien hoitajien keskuuteen käytännössä tapahtuisi.  Tätä asiaa ei kovin moni maailmanlaajuisestikaan ole vielä miettinyt.

Tämä projekti olisi ensi askelia kohti mehiläishoitoa ilman punkintorjuntaa koko Suomessa.


Näen tällaisella toiminnalla monia muitakin positiivisia puolia.

-Se tuo mahdollisuuden päästä käsiksi kohtuullisella kustannuksella Suomen olosuhteissa parhaaseen varroaa kestävään mehiläismateriaaliin. Tuo mahdollisuus aukenee myös niille, jotka eivät vielä kasvata itse emojaan.

-Se lisää mehiläishoitajien yhteistyötä ja yhteisöllisyyttä. Jatkossa ”emorinki” voisi olla pontimena muuhunkin yhteistyöhön, esim. oman puhdasparitusalueen perustamiseen.

-Se lisää emoringin jäsenten emonkasvatustaitoja, joita voidaan pitää kannattavan mehiläishoidon kulmakivenä.


Ruovedellä 30.10.2019

Juhani Lundén


Kuva alla: mehiläiset poistavat kuhnuritoukkaa kennosta

bees removing a drone larvae


Smelting and circulating beeswax


Beeswax is one of the key components in beekeeping, bees work and live on it every day. This is the reason why I have decided to have my own wax circulation. I don´t want to use any other wax but my own. The risk for chemical, for instance fluvalinate, remainders is small but existing. In recent years there has been paraffin scandals, too.      Luckily, in Oitti there is a company called “Lahtisen Vahavalimo”, a family business founded in year1908. This company is probably one of the few still around, which has got a golden medal from Viipuri country fair of their high-quality beeswax foundation. Dating back in those days when Viipuri was part of Finland…

Lahtisen Vahavalimo has a service that you can get your own wax melted, purified, disinfected and pressed to foundation, whatever size you choose, if you have about a lot of 100 kg. They make only 5,3 mm foundation.

All structurally worn out and excessively dirty frames are smelted. It depends on the beekeeper where to draw the line: bees clean all frames how bad they might look like. Personally, I have a practice that if there is unhatched brood in the frame, these frames will all be smelted. But little poop here and there will just be scraped away with a hive tool, likewise small areas of mold.

Honey cappings are smelted of course too, and if you are making candles it is worth doing capping wax separately, it is the most attractive and best smelling wax.


All frames which have been in circulation too long, and therefore have become very dark because of the cocoon rests of bee larvae, are melted. The frame in the picture is not dark enough.

My stainless-steel wax smelter has a 100-liter water tank, wood is burned underneath. The steam is conducted to the container above. It holds about 100 frames at a time, and when in full swing, it takes one hour for one round.



The smelted frames are scraped clean with a hive tool. Many beekeepers wash them in hot water with caustic soda, I don’t anymore.  Washing makes them brighter, but it is not worth the trouble. But you must remember my attitude towards diseases: I need varroa mite pressure, Nosema apis pressure and AFB/EFB pressure to be able to breed a bee which handles them all. I do not pamper my bees.



The scraped frames need to be dried thoroughly before storage. I used to stack them crosswise on top of each other, but that was no good, they got moldy. Now I keep the boxes on their sides for weeks, even months, depending on the weather.


The smelted wax is drained into 20-liter containers and cooled under insulating blankets for two days. Then the blocks are cleaned by scraping the dark layer, dirt and pollen residues, from underneath the wax block.  The frame container is lifted aside for cleaning. Water is drawn off to avoid wintertime freezing damage.


This time my half days work yielded 24 kg wax.

Juhani Lundén