What is Beeswax?
Beeswax is the building material of the Honey Bee. It is produced from four pairs of glands situated under the abdomen of the worker bee. The beeswax is produced by the bees when they are gathering nectar and is used to build the honey comb in which the nectar is stored.
Why is most beeswax yellow?
Pure beeswax is white in colour but most people will be more familiar with yellow to orange coloured beeswax. The colour is due to natural staining from pollen and propolis gathered when the bees are producing the beeswax. The beeswax colour will vary depending on the type of nectar source that the bees are gathering.
How is beeswax produced commercially?
Beeswax is produced as a by-product of producing bulk honey from managed beehives in Apiaries. The beekeepers harvest the full combs of honey from the beehives and take them back to their processing facility (commonly called the Honey House). Here the beeswax cappings that the bees have sealed the full cells of honey with, are removed using an uncapping machine. This exposes the honey ready for extraction from the comb by use of a centrifugal extractor. The resulting raw cappings are separated from the honey and are then melted and cast into blocks, usually by the beekeeper. For every 1000 kgs of bulk honey produced, there is approx 18 kgs of crude cappings beeswax produced as a by-product.
Composition of Beeswax.
Beeswax is a complex substance consisting of Monoesters, Hydrocarbons, Diesters, Free Acids, Hydroxy Polyesters, Unidentified components, Hydroxy Monoesters, Triesters, Acid Polyesters, Acid Esters, Free Alcohols.
Shelf life of Beeswax.
Pure beeswax whether in blocks or Comb Foundations, has an almost indefinite shelf life if stored in cool dry conditions. Samples which are thousands of years old have been tested and found to have almost identical properties to freshly produced beeswax. It is not attacked by insects or wax moths (wax moths only attack beeswax containing impurities).
This is a powdery appearance which naturally forms on the surface most beeswax after a period of time. The time it takes to appear depends on the storage conditions. If stored above 15 deg C, bloom will take some months to appear if at all. Bloom can be removed by warming the beeswax. Bloom has no detrimental effect on the beeswax. Comb foundations which have bloom on their surface are readily accepted by the bees with no effects.