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Common Beeswax Questions and Answers
Beeswax is a well-known substance. Most people know exactly what you are talking about when you say the word “beeswax”. It has many uses in and around the home. In fact, the countless beeswax uses go far beyond candles. Still, as popular as beeswax is – that are still many common beeswax questions and answers that we must ponder.
What is Beeswax?
Beeswax is a natural wax. Honey bees in the scientific genus Apis produce beeswax. The chemical composition of beeswax is mainly esters of fatty acids and different long chain alcohols.
A valued building block of the hive, the bees depend on this wax. The interior structure used by the colony to store food and rear young is most entirely of raw beeswax.
Honey bees do not collect wax. Honey bees make wax from special wax glands on the underside of their abdomen.
Worker bees are female and they are the ones that produce wax. They must consume a lot of food in order to activate their wax glands.
Worker bees of any age can make beeswax. However, the young adults between the age of 12 days to 18 days are usually the best producers.
This is why a colony needs a lot of young bees and plenty of food coming in to produce beeswax comb.
Honey bees store honey and pollen (bee bread) inside the thousands of honeycomb cells in a hive. They do not store water but gather it as needed.
Honeycomb cells are also used to rear young (baby bees) throughout the warm season.
The numbers given for honey vs wax production can vary. But, the general consensus is that bees consume 7#-9# of honey to produce 1# of beeswax.
When the beekeeper harvests honey from the hive, the wax cappings are cut off to allow extraction of liquid honey.
These wax cappings are the most valuable beeswax in the hive because they are made of new wax. The remainder of comb can be reused by the colony.
No, beeswax does not go bad. It will remain stable for thousands of years.
Yes, beeswax is edible and can be consumed by humans. However, the nutrition value is debatable.
Most resources say that beeswax is not digestible and passes through the body as roughage.
No, beeswax will not melt in the sun unless you live in a very hot location.
It may however become pliable if the temp is over 100 degrees F. Don’t leave beeswax in a car on a hot day.
Beeswax is easily melted at a temperature of 147-150 degrees F. The safest way to melt and clean beeswax is using the double boiler method.
Steam is not the best way to melt beeswax as it changes the wax structure-removing some of the aroma. Melting beeswax in the microwave is not recommended. Beeswax has a flash point of 490-525 degree F.
Beeswax is not considered vegan by many followers of the discipline. They feel that the bees are exploited in the process of beekeeping and producing wax. They same holds true for honey not being allowed.
However, some vegans consider beeswax to be acceptable because it does not contain any dead animal products.
You can buy beeswax online from many retailers. And, if you know a local beekeeper, you may be lucky enough to purchase some local raw beeswax.
Beeswax is a truly wonderful gift from the hive. These frequently asked beeswax questions and answers are just the beginning. Continue to learn more about this valuable resource from the hive.