Beeswax

Beeswax (cera alba) is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. The wax is formed into scales by eight wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments of worker bees, which discard it in or at the hive. The hive workers collect and use it to form cells for honey storage and larval and pupal protection within the beehive. Chemically, beeswax consists mainly of esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols.

Beeswax has been used since prehistory as the first plastic, as a lubricant and waterproofing agent, in lost wax casting of metals and glass, as a polish for wood and leather and for making candles, as an ingredient in cosmetics and as an artistic medium in encaustic painting.

Beeswax is edible, having similar negligible toxicity to plant waxes, and is approved for food use in most countries and in the European Union under the E number E901.

A beekeeper from Vojka, Serbia, making a bee hive frame.
Beeswax foundation
Commercial honeycomb foundation, made by pressing beeswax between patterned metal rollers
Beeswax
Beeswax cake
HonningSkraelle
Uncapping beeswax honeycombs
Bienenvolk-Gemuell
Fresh wax scales (in the middle of the lower row)

Production

The wax is formed by worker bees, which secrete it from eight wax-producing mirror glands on the inner sides of the sternites (the ventral shield or plate of each segment of the body) on abdominal segments 4 to 7.[1] The sizes of these wax glands depend on the age of the worker, and after many daily flights, these glands gradually begin to atrophy.

The new wax is initially glass-clear and colorless, becoming opaque after mastication and adulteration with pollen by the hive worker bees, becoming progressively more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollen oils and propolis. The wax scales are about three millimetres (0.12 in) across and 0.1 mm (0.0039 in) thick, and about 1100 are required to make a gram of wax.[2]

Honey bees use the beeswax to build honeycomb cells in which their young are raised with honey and pollen cells being capped for storage. For the wax-making bees to secrete wax, the ambient temperature in the hive must be 33 to 36 °C (91 to 97 °F).

The amount of honey used by bees to produce wax has not been accurately determined. The book, Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products, suggests one kilogram (2.2 lb) of beeswax is used to store 22 kg (49 lb) honey.[3]:41 According to Whitcomb's 1946 experiment, 6.66 to 8.80 kg (14.7 to 19.4 lb) of honey yields one kilogram (2.2 lb) of wax.[3]:35 Another study estimated that 24 to 30 kg (53 to 66 lb) of honey are produced per one kilogram (2.2 lb) of wax.[4][5]

Processing

When beekeepers extract the honey, they cut off the wax caps from each honeycomb cell with an uncapping knife or machine. Its color varies from nearly white to brownish, but most often a shade of yellow, depending on purity, the region, and the type of flowers gathered by the bees. Wax from the brood comb of the honey bee hive tends to be darker than wax from the honeycomb. Impurities accumulate more quickly in the brood comb. Due to the impurities, the wax must be rendered before further use. The leftovers are called slumgum.

The wax may be clarified further by heating in water. As with petroleum waxes, it may be softened by dilution with mineral oil or vegetable oil to make it more workable at room temperature.

Physical characteristics

Beeswax is a tough wax formed from a mixture of several chemical compounds.

Triacontanyl palmitate
Triacontanyl palmitate, a wax ester, is a major component of beeswax.
Wax content type Percentage
Hydrocarbons 14%
Monoesters 35%
Diesters 14%
Triesters 3%
Hydroxy monoesters 4%
Hydroxy polyesters 8%
Acid esters 1%
Acid polyesters 2%
Free fatty acids 12%
Free fatty alcohols 1%
Unidentified 6%

An approximate chemical formula for beeswax is C15H31COOC30H61.[6] Its main constituents are palmitate, palmitoleate, and oleate esters of long-chain (30–32 carbons) aliphatic alcohols, with the ratio of triacontanyl palmitate CH3(CH2)29O-CO-(CH2)14CH3 to cerotic acid[7] CH3(CH2)24COOH, the two principal constituents, being 6:1. Beeswax can be classified generally into European and Oriental types. The saponification value is lower (3–5) for European beeswax, and higher (8–9) for Oriental types.

Beeswax has a relatively low melting point range of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). If beeswax is heated above 85 °C (185 °F) discoloration occurs. The flash point of beeswax is 204.4 °C (400 °F).[8] Density at 15 °C is 958 to 970 kg/m³.

When natural beeswax is cold, it is brittle, its fracture dry and granular. At room temperature it is tenacious and it softens further at human body temperature. The specific gravity at 15 °C (59 °F) is from 0.958 to 0.975, that of melted wax at 98 to 99 °C (208.4 to 210.2 °F) compared with water at 15.5 °C (59.9 °F) is 0.822.[9]

Uses

Kurps in Warsaw-11-Niedzwiedzcy-Pasieka
Beeswax candles and figures

Candle-making has long involved the use of beeswax, which burns readily and cleanly, and this material was traditionally prescribed for the making of the Paschal candle or "Easter candle". Beeswax candles are purported to be superior to other wax candles, because they burn brighter and longer, do not bend, and burn "cleaner".[10] It is further recommended for the making of other candles used in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.[11] Beeswax is also the candle constituent of choice in the Orthodox Church.[12][13]

Refined beeswax plays a prominent role in art materials both as a binder in encaustic paint and as a stabilizer in oil paint to add body.[14]

Top five beeswax producers (2012, in tonnes)
 India 23,000
 Ethiopia 5,000
 Argentina 4,700
 Turkey 4,235
 South Korea 3,063
 World total
Source: UN FAOSTAT [15]

Beeswax is an ingredient in surgical bone wax, which is used during surgery to control bleeding from bone surfaces; shoe polish and furniture polish can both use beeswax as a component, dissolved in turpentine or sometimes blended with linseed oil or tung oil; modeling waxes can also use beeswax as a component; pure beeswax can also be used as an organic surfboard wax.[16] Beeswax blended with pine rosin is used for waxing, and can serve as an adhesive to attach reed plates to the structure inside a squeezebox. It can also be used to make Cutler's resin, an adhesive used to glue handles onto cutlery knives. It is used in Eastern Europe in egg decoration; it is used for writing, via resist dyeing, on batik eggs (as in pysanky) and for making beaded eggs. Beeswax is used by percussionists to make a surface on tambourines for thumb rolls. It can also be used as a metal injection moulding binder component along with other polymeric binder materials.[17]

Beeswax was formerly used in the manufacture of phonograph cylinders. It may still be used to seal formal legal or royal decree and academic parchments such as placing an awarding stamp imprimatur of the university upon completion of postgraduate degrees.

Purified and bleached beeswax is used in the production of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. The three main types of beeswax products are yellow, white, and beeswax absolute. Yellow beeswax is the crude product obtained from the honeycomb, white beeswax is bleached or filtered yellow beeswax, and beeswax absolute is yellow beeswax treated with alcohol. In food preparation, it is used as a coating for cheese; by sealing out the air, protection is given against spoilage (mold growth). Beeswax may also be used as a food additive E901, in small quantities acting as a glazing agent, which serves to prevent water loss, or used to provide surface protection for some fruits. Soft gelatin capsules and tablet coatings may also use E901. Beeswax is also a common ingredient of natural chewing gum.The wax monoesters in beeswax are poorly hydrolysed in the guts of humans and other mammals, so they have insignificant nutritional value.[18] Some birds, such as honeyguides, can digest beeswax. Beeswax is the main diet of wax moth larvae.

Use of beeswax in skin care and cosmetics has been increasing. A German study found beeswax to be superior to similar barrier creams (usually mineral oil-based creams such as petroleum jelly), when used according to its protocol.[19] Beeswax is used in lip balm, lip gloss, hand creams, salves, and moisturizers; and in cosmetics such as eye shadow, blush, and eye liner. Beeswax is also an important ingredient in moustache wax and hair pomades, which make hair look sleek and shiny.

Historical uses

Candles Oberflacht
Beeswax candles, Alamannic graveyard (Oberflacht, Germany), 6th/7th century AD
Beeswax as Dental Filling on a Neolithic Human Tooth - Journal.pone.0044904.g001
Beeswax as Neolithic dental filling

Beeswax was among the first plastics to be used, alongside other natural polymers such as gutta-percha, horn, tortoiseshell, and shellac. For thousands of years, beeswax has had a wide variety of applications; it has been found in the tombs of Egypt, in wrecked Viking ships, and in Roman ruins. Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused. Historically, it has been used:

See also

References

  1. ^ Sanford, M.T.; Dietz, A. (1976). "The fine structure of the wax gland of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.)". Apidologie. 7 (3): 197–207. doi:10.1051/apido:19760301.
  2. ^ Brown, R, H. (1981) Beeswax (2nd edition) Bee Books New and Old, Burrowbridge, Somerset UK. ISBN 0-905652-15-0
  3. ^ a b Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products, Coggshall and Morse. Wicwas Press. 1984-06-01. ISBN 978-1878075062.
  4. ^ Les Crowder (2012-08-31). Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health. Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN 978-1603584616.
  5. ^ Top-bar beekeeping in America Archived 2014-07-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Umney, Nick; Shayne Rivers (2003). Conservation of Furniture. Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 164.
  7. ^ "LIPID MAPS Databases : LIPID MAPS Lipidomics Gateway". Lipidmaps.org. Archived from the original on 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
  8. ^ "MSDS for beeswax".. No reported autoignition temperature has been reported
  9. ^ A Dictionary of Applied Chemistry, Vol. 5. Sir Edward Thorpe. Revised and enlarged edition. Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1916. "Waxes, Animal and vegetable. Beeswax", p. 737
  10. ^ Norman, Gary (2010). Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees. California, USA: BowTie Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-933958-94-1.
  11. ^ 'Altar Candles", 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
  12. ^ [1], Use of Candles in the Orthodox Church
  13. ^ Uwe Wolfmeier, Hans Schmidt, Franz-Leo Heinrichs, Georg Michalczyk, Wolfgang Payer, Wolfram Dietsche, Klaus Boehlke, Gerd Hohner, Josef Wildgruber "Waxes" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2002. doi:10.1002/14356007.a28_103.
  14. ^ 1895-1979., Mayer, Ralph (1991). The artist's handbook of materials and techniques. Sheehan, Steven. (Fifth edition, revised and updated ed.). New York. ISBN 978-0670837014. OCLC 22178945.
  15. ^ "Statistics from: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division". UN Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13.
  16. ^ 'Raw Beeswax Uses", MoreNature
  17. ^ 'Metal Injection Molding Process (MIM)" Archived 2012-05-10 at the Wayback Machine, 2012 EngPedia
  18. ^ Beeswax absorption and toxicity. Large amounts of such waxes in the diet pose theoretical toxicological problems for mammals.
  19. ^ Peter J. Frosch; Detlef Peiler; Veit Grunert; Beate Grunenberg (July 2003). "Wirksamkeit von Hautschutzprodukten im Vergleich zu Hautpflegeprodukten bei Zahntechnikern – eine kontrollierte Feldstudie. Efficacy of barrier creams in comparison to skin care products in dental laboratory technicians – a controlled trial". Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft (in German). 1 (7): 547–557. doi:10.1046/j.1439-0353.2003.03701.x. PMID 16295040. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that the use of after work moisturizers is highly beneficial and under the chosen study conditions even superior to barrier creams applied at work. This approach is more practical for many professions and may effectively reduce the frequency of irritant contact dermatitis.
  20. ^ Congdon, L. O. K. (1985). "Water-Casting Concave-Convex Wax Models for Cire Perdue Bronze Mirrors". American Journal of Archaeology. 89 (3): 511–515. doi:10.2307/504365. JSTOR 504365.
  21. ^ Egyptology online Archived 2007-08-08 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Ormeling, F. J. 1956. The Timor problem: a geographical interpretation of an underdeveloped island. Groningen and The Hague: J. B. Wolters and Martinus Nijhoff.
  23. ^ "Oldest tooth filling may have been found – Light Years – CNN.com Blogs". Lightyears.blogs.cnn.com. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
  24. ^ "Don't Use Your Teeth". Archived from the original on 2013-12-14. Retrieved 2013-12-13.

External links

Beekeeper

A beekeeper is a person who keeps honey bees.

Honey bees produce commodities such as honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, and royal jelly, while some beekeepers also raise queens and other bees to sell to other farmers and to satisfy scientific curiosity. Beekeepers also use honeybees to provide pollination services to fruit and vegetable growers. Many people keep bees as a hobby. Others do it for income either as a sideline to other work or as a commercial operator. These factors affect the number of colonies maintained by the beekeeper.

Beeswax (film)

Beeswax is a 2009 American mumblecore film written and directed by Andrew Bujalski. The film examines a few days in the life of twins, played by real-life sisters Tilly and Maggie Hatcher.

It premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and had a limited theatrical release in the United States on August 7, 2009.

Burt's Bees

Burt's Bees is an American personal care products company that markets its products internationally. The company is a subsidiary of Clorox that describes itself as an "Earth friendly, Natural Personal Care Company"

making products for personal care, health, beauty, and personal hygiene. Its products are distributed globally.Burt's Bees manufactures products with natural ingredients, using minimal processing, such as distillation/condensation, extraction/steamed distillation/pressure cooking, and hydrolysis, to maintain the purity of ingredients. In addition, every product has a "natural bar" which gives a percentage of natural ingredients in that product, often with detailed ingredient descriptions.Originating in Maine in the 1980s, the business began when co-founder Roxanne Quimby started making candles from Burt Shavitz's leftover beeswax.

This eventually led to the bottling and selling of honey by the two co-founders, a practice that slowly diminished as the company evolved as a corporation. Eventually, other products using honey and beeswax, including edible spreads and furniture polish, were sold, before a move into the personal care line. In late 2007, Clorox purchased Burt's Bees for $925

million USD.

Cold cream

Cold cream is an emulsion of water and certain fats, usually including beeswax and various scent agents, designed to smooth skin and remove makeup. The emulsion is of a "water in oil" type unlike the "oil in water" type emulsion of vanishing cream, so-called because it seems to disappear when applied on skin. The name "cold cream" derives from the cooling feeling that the cream leaves on the skin. Variations of the product have been used for nearly 2000 years.

Cold cream is mainly used for skin treatment (such as a facial mask or lip balm), due to its moisturizing properties. It can also be used to remove makeup and as shaving cream.

Encaustic painting

Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid or paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used. The simplest encaustic mixture can be made from adding pigments to beeswax, but there are several other recipes that can be used—some containing other types of waxes, damar resin, linseed oil, or other ingredients. Pure, powdered pigments can be used, though some mixtures use oil paints or other forms of pigment.Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface. Today, tools such as heat lamps, heat guns, and other methods of applying heat allow artists to extend the amount of time they have to work with the material. Because wax is used as the pigment binder, encaustics can be sculpted as well as painted. Other materials can be encased or collaged into the surface, or layered, using the encaustic medium to stick them to the surface.

Honey extraction

Honey extraction is the central process in beekeeping of removing honey from honeycomb so that it is isolated in a pure liquid form.

Normally, the honey is stored by honey bees in their beeswax honeycomb; in framed bee hives, the honey is stored on a wooden structure called a frame. The honey frames are typically harvested in the late summer, when they will be most filled with honey. On a completely filled frame, the cells will be capped over by the bees for storage; that is, each cell containing honey will be sealed with a capping made of beeswax.

Honeyguide

Honeyguides (family Indicatoridae) are near passerine birds in the order Piciformes. They are also known as indicator birds, or honey birds, although the latter term is also used more narrowly to refer to species of the genus Prodotiscus. They have an Old World tropical distribution, with the greatest number of species in Africa and two in Asia. These birds are best known for their interaction with humans. Honeyguides are noted and named for one or two species that will deliberately lead humans (but, contrary to popular claims, not honey badgers) directly to bee colonies, so that they can feast on the grubs and beeswax that are left behind.

Horse and Rider (attributed to Leonardo)

Horse and Rider is a beeswax sculpture depicting a rider on a horse, sometimes attributed to Leonardo da Vinci c. 1508–1511. It was intended to be used as a model for a life-size sculpture, commissioned by Charles II d'Amboise, French Governor of Milan from 1503–1511. Charles II d'Amboise died in 1511, Leonardo died in 1519 and the monument to d'Amboise was never completed nor cast in bronze.

Incesticide

Incesticide is a compilation album by the American rock band Nirvana. It consists of their 1990 non-album single "Sliver", B-sides, demos, outtakes, covers, and radio broadcast recordings.

The album was released on December 14, 1992, in Europe, and December 15, 1992, in the United States. It eventually reached number 39 on the Billboard 200.

Lip balm

Lip balm or lip salve is a wax-like substance applied topically to the lips to moisturize and relieve chapped or dry lips, angular cheilitis, stomatitis, or cold sores. Lip balm often contains beeswax or carnauba wax, camphor, cetyl alcohol, lanolin, paraffin, and petrolatum, among other ingredients. Some varieties contain dyes, flavor, fragrance, phenol, salicylic acid, and sunscreens.

Loka, Koper

Loka (pronounced [ˈloːka]; Italian: Lonche) is a small village in the City Municipality of Koper in the Littoral region of Slovenia.

Pomade

Pomade (; French pommade) is a greasy, waxy, or a water-based substance that is used to style hair. Pomade generally gives the user's hair a shiny and slick appearance. It lasts longer than most hair care products, often requiring multiple washes to completely remove. The original pomade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries consisted mainly of bear fat or lard. Lanolin, beeswax, and petroleum jelly have been used extensively in the manufacture of modern pomades. Stiffening properties of pomades make sculptured hairstyles such as the pompadour possible; while long lasting moisturizing properties make it popular with individuals with Afro-textured hair.

Propolis

Propolis or bee glue is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is used for small gaps (approximately 6 millimeters (0.24 in) or less), while larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax. Its color varies depending on its botanical source, with dark brown as the most common. Propolis is sticky at and above 20 °C (68 °F), while at lower temperatures, it becomes hard and brittle.

While foraging, worker bees primarily harvest pollen and nectar, while also collecting water and tree resin necessary for the production of propolis. The chemical composition and nature of propolis depend on environmental conditions and harvested resources.

Surfboard wax

Surfboard wax (also known as surfwax) is a formulation of natural and/or synthetic wax for application to the deck of a surfboard, bodyboard, or skimboard, to keep the surfer from slipping off the board when paddling out or riding a wave. It is also used to increase grip on the paddle of a surf kayak or dragon boat.

Surfboard wax is generally composed of a mixture of paraffin, beeswax or other hard waxes; petroleum jelly can also be added to create a softer wax. Often exotic scents like coconut or bubblegum are added to give the wax an attractive scent. There are also natural alternatives available containing only organic substances like beeswax, vegetable oils (such as coconut or hemp oil), pine resin, tree pulp and natural essential oils. Many different commercial brands and varieties of surfboard wax optimized for different climates and water temperatures may be found at a surf shop.

Votive candle

A votive candle or prayer candle is a small candle, typically white or beeswax yellow, intended to be burnt as a votive offering in an act of Christian prayer, especially within the Anglican and Roman Catholic Christian denominations, among others. In Christianity, votive candles are commonplace in many churches, as well as home altars, and symbolize the "prayers the worshipper is offering for him or herself, or for other people." The size of a votive candle is often two inches tall by one and a half inches diameter, although other votive candles can be significantly taller and wider. In other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, similar offerings exist, which include diyas and butter lamps.

Wax

Waxes are a diverse class of organic compounds that are lipophilic, malleable solids near ambient temperatures. They include higher alkanes and lipids, typically with melting points above about 40 °C (104 °F), melting to give low viscosity liquids. Waxes are insoluble in water but soluble in organic, nonpolar solvents. Natural waxes of different types are produced by plants and animals and occur in petroleum.

Wax paper

Wax paper (also waxed paper or paraffin paper) is paper that has been made moisture-proof through the application of wax.

The practice of oiling parchment or paper in order to make it semi-translucent or moisture-proof goes back at least to the Middle Ages. Paper impregnated or coated with purified beeswax was widely used throughout the 19th century to retain or exclude moisture, or to wrap odorous products. Gustave Le Gray introduced the use of waxed paper for photographic negatives in 1851. Natural wax was largely replaced for the making of wax paper (or paraffine paper) after Herman Frasch developed ways of purifying paraffin and coating paper with it in 1876. Wax paper is commonly used in cooking for its non-stick properties, and wrapping food for storage, such as cookies, as it keeps water out or in. It is also used in arts and crafts.

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