What is first-rinse water?

When you write a post and ten people write back and say, “What the heck are you talking about?” you know you screwed up. So, what the heck is first-rinse water, why do you keep in the fridge, and why would you even bother? Sorry, sorry. My bad.

After beekeepers crush and strain honeycomb, they like to save the wax for other uses such as making candles, cosmetics, lotions, soaps, or whatever. The first thing you have to do is clean the wax to get rid of all the honey that is still sticking to it.

Honey readily dissolves in water, so you can wash the wax by pouring clean water over it and swishing it around for a while until most of the honey dissolves. Once you are done, the water you drain from the wax is strongly flavored with honey. The less water you use, the stronger the flavor.

Instead of pouring it down the drain, you can save this flavored water and use it in cooking. It can be used in place of plain water in things like bread, muffins, cakes, applesauce, tea, stir fries, salad dressings, or any recipe that calls for both water and a sweetener. It gives the food the necessary sweetness and just a hint of honey flavor. Being the frugal type, I can’t bear to throw this stuff away . . . just think how many bee lives it took to produce it.

Now, to properly rinse your beeswax, you will probably change the water several times. Only the water from the first rinse will be sweet enough to notice, so it is the only water worth keeping. It is what I called “first-rinse water” in yesterday’s post.

Since honey dissolved in water can grow yeast and mold, I store the rinse water in a lidded jar in the refrigerator where it will easily keep for several weeks. If you want to keep it longer you could freeze it in an ice cube tray and then put the cubes in a freezer bag.

By the way, some of these ideas came originally from HB at Backyard Bee Hive Blog. HB is a beekeeper and cooking school instructor with some yummy ideas. Her blog is loaded with beekeeping advice and recipes she developed for using her own home-grown honey. Be sure to check it out.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

Janet Wilson
Reply

I did not rinse the drained cappings, I put them in an empty super, on top of the inner cover, for the bees to clean up. They did a great job, although I only had room for about 1/4 of the crushed comb to go in at a time. I still have a bucket of drained comb and cappings which will have to wait for spring to be cleaned up…I froze the bucket in the freezer for a few days to kill wax moth eggs.

krista
Reply

Thanks for explaining this…I processed my own wax for the first time this year and was wondering about the rinse water. I was curious if it is safe to feed back to the bees?

Rusty
Reply

Krista,

If it came from your hives it is safe to feed back to your bees.

HB (@Hello_Kitty_)
Reply

Thank you for the shout out, Rusty. You’ve surpassed Google in site referrals!

Janet, beekeeping is just a tad different with a top bar hive. Now that I have a Warré, I just might give future cappings to that hive to clean up instead, and hold onto the space in my freezer.

GrayGuy
Reply

Could this be fed to bees? Is there enough honey in water?

Rusty
Reply

Sure, you could feed it to bees in place of regular water. It doesn’t have enough honey in it to be used as feed, although you could certainly mix it with sugar if you were making syrup. Basically, it’s just faintly sweetened water.

Leave a comment

name*

email* (not published)

website