Beeswax is another miracle of the beehive. Interestingly, honeybees are the only animals that not only build their home, but also produce the building materials. Honeycombs are built from scratch to serve as a house, a nursery, and a food pantry. Over the millennia, bees have learned that the hexagonal construction is the most durable and stable. Honeycomb hexagons hold the most honey and require the least wax. The honeycomb is also a great place for bees to metamorphose from larvae to adult bees.
What is beeswax? Simply put, it is a substance produced by bees of the genus Apis Mellifera. Beeswax contains over 300 different compounds. The main groups of beeswax compounds include alkanes, free fatty acids, monoesters, diesters, and hydroxy monoesters. A small part also consists of fatty alcohols and hydroxy diesters. However, the exact composition of beeswax is highly dependent on the location.
Beeswax is a complex chemical mixture secreted by the beeswax-producing glands of bees. Beeswax is secreted from eight beeswax glands located on the worker bee’s abdomen. Beeswax is secreted in thin flakes that look a bit like mica flakes and harden on contact with air. These flakes are transparent, colourless, tasteless, and very brittle. The colour changes over time, acquiring the typical lighter or darker yellow hue due to the dyes present in propolis and pollen. The typical beeswax scent varies depending on the specifics of the honey, the bees, the propolis, and the pollen. One gram of beeswax requires around 1 100 flakes. Beeswax is usually produced by younger worker bees that are between twelve and twenty days old. As the bee ages and begins to collect pollen and nectar, these glands begin to atrophy, albeit their ability to produce beeswax does not disappear completely. Swarming bees build beeswax honeycombs quickly as they are needed to house the larvae that is laid by the queen bee, as well as for food storage.
Bees produce beeswax from honey by initially swallowing the honey. 1kg of beeswax requires around 7 kg of honey. After ingesting the honey, the bee stays inside the colony for 24 hours until the bee’s body turns this honey into beeswax. Once the beeswax is excreted and comes in contact with air, it hardens into small flakes. The bee then grabs these wax granules with its legs to raise them to its lower jaw and chews until the beeswax softens. Bees use this softened beeswax to make a perfectly structured honeycomb. Honeycomb is used to store honey and pollen. It also houses the developing bee larvae.
Beeswax is a solid, water-insoluble substance with a very stable chemical structure that stays constant over time, as evidenced by the beeswax discovered in ancient tombs that still remains usable.
Freshly made beeswax is white. However, honeycombs made of this beeswax will darken over time. Generally, the honeycombs that house bee larvae are darker due to their propolis content. Once bees fill the honeycomb with honey, the beeswax acquires its characteristic fragrance. This scent depends on both the source of the nectar (the honey variety) and the length of time the honeycomb has been present in the beehive.
Each batch of beeswax has its own unique colour and fragrance properties. As a result, beeswax that has undergone the traditional filtration process to remove various impurities can vary from light yellow to dark brown. Bees secrete beeswax that is completely white and, in gluing the honeycomb cells, bees add propolis and pollen. Essential oils and dyes are absorbed from honey into the beeswax, resulting in beeswax that has the colour and the scent of honey.
Nearly white beeswax can be obtained by filtering the fresh honeycomb beeswax. It is still considered pure and natural beeswax. More vigorous filtration allows for lighter and brighter beeswax. However, the natural aroma of honey does disappear with increasing filtration.
Beeswax is white when it is first produced by bees. Depending on the source of the nectar, i.e., the plants from which honey was collected and the time of collection, beeswax darkens in colour and becomes more fragrant as bees continue to use honeycombs for honey storage. Much like honey or wine, each batch of beeswax has its own distinctive colour and aroma properties.
One of the main uses of beeswax is for making natural beeswax candles. Burning beeswax produces negative ions that circulate in the room and attract pollutants, much like a magnet attracts iron particles. Dust, odours, mould, bacteria, viruses, and other toxins in the air have a positive charge, which keeps them in the air. When the negative ions produced by burning beeswax candles meet the positively charged pollutants in the air, the charge of these particles is neutralised and they fall to the ground. So, beeswax candles can actually cleanse your air and reduce the inhalation of toxins. In addition to a cleaner and fresher smelling home, the difference will soon be noticed by people with allergies and asthma.
Beeswax candles burn cleanly and truly cleanse the air. Beeswax can be burnt in a non-ventilated room without fearing pollution. It has been observed that burning a beeswax candle in the bedroom 30 minutes before going to bed results in a more peaceful sleep.
Candles are usually made from paraffin, which is an oil by-product made of sludge that is left over from chemically distilling gasoline and oil. This product is then bleached and mixed with other toxic compounds for colour and fragrance. Afterwards, this oil by-product becomes a product that is sold to the general public. Burning paraffin produces toxic combustion by-products and many of them are known to be carcinogenic.
Our high-quality beeswax has many applications:
- It is used in beekeeping for building new honeycombs;
- Candle manufacturing;
- Beeswax is used in medicine to manufacture capsules, gels, creams, and lozenges due to its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, emollient, and moisturising properties.
- The cosmetics industry uses beeswax to make glosses, lipsticks, creams, haircare products, soaps, ointments, emulsions, deodorants, and depilators due to its emollient, moisturising, and protective properties.
- In the food industry and the dietary supplement industry, beeswax is used in cheese production, confectionery, and various food packaging production due to its preservative and water-retaining properties and the ability to reduce adhesiveness.
Only the freshest, lightest, and most aromatic beeswax is recommended for the purposes of preserving and improving human health in the food, medical, and cosmetics industries. Beeswax that is dark or even black is completely unsuitable for this. It also should not be used for making candles due to them having little to no healing and energetic properties.
When buying beeswax, please note that it should be 100% pure beeswax. Labelling laws allow for beeswax that is only 51% to be labelled as ‘pure beeswax’.
Over time, a white powdery cast, known as bloom, appears on the surface of pure beeswax and that is how you can tell its purity. This is a natural process that happens as softer beeswax of a lower melting temperature starts appearing on the beeswax surface.
Beeswax should not be stored in a humid place next to very fragrant products. It is recommended to store it in a well-ventilated room at a temperature below 20 degrees. If beeswax is stored properly, it does not lose any of its valuable properties for over 10 years.
The melting point of beeswax is 60°C to 68°C. At below 18°C, beeswax is brittle and at 35°C to 40°C, it turns into a soft and flexible mass. The relative density of beeswax at 15°C is between 0.958 and 0.970 g/cm3, and the electrical resistance ranges from 5×1012 Ωm to 20×1012 Ωm. The thermal conductivity of beeswax is 2/5×10−3 Jcm/s °C cm2. Beeswax is inert and very ductile. It is water-insoluble and resistant to many acids. However, it melts with heat, as well as in most organic solvents and fatty oils.
Beeswax consists of:
- 70-75% consists of 24 types of complex ethers (monoesters, diesters, triesters, hydroxy monoesters, and hydroxy polyesters);
- 13-15% of free fatty acids (acid esters, acid polyesters);
- 12–16% of carbohydrates;
- 0.1-2.5% of alcohols and water;
- minerals from propolis, honey, and pollen; it is very rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly carotene (vitamin A).
Advantages of the key quality parameters of lithuanan beeswax
|Name of parameter||Unit of measurement||Most common in the market||Requirement of our company‘s standart|
|Carbohydrate content||%||> 18,5 ÷ 23||Max 16,0 ÷ 17,0|
|That includes the amount of paraffin and other artificial waxes in the carbohydrates||%||> 4,0 ÷ 8,5||Max 2,0 ÷ 2,5|
- Carbohydrate content does not exceed 16.0–17.0%.
- Lithuanian beeswax is not contaminated with pesticides. Pesticide residues comply with the Ph. Eur/EC Regulation No. 396/2005.
- All key technical parameters meet the requirements of the beeswax standard approved by the company.
- It has an excellent, intense fragrance of honey and pollen, which is unique to our region. It comes in light to bright yellow, greenish, and brown colours.
- It is melted and cleaned meticulously and does not contain emulsion or mechanical impurities.
Our beeswax is ideal for producing beeswax sheets in beekeeping and as a high-quality raw material for the medical and food industries due to its composition, quality parameters and low pesticide contamination. The product’s ingredients may list primary or secondary ingredients. It is undoubtedly perfect for producing natural candles, because burning beeswax candles releases a lot of essential oils that ensure a pleasant aroma and comfort for a lovely atmosphere in the room.
Our beeswax can be used in the medical, food, and cosmetics industries that require very high technical performance.
Why is beeswax so beneficial?
Natural beeswax has potent bactericidal properties, it can heat deep tissue, soften and reduce scars and stretch marks, brighten the skin, preserve a youthful skin, and soothe skin irritation.
Beeswax forms a protective film and prevents moisture evaporation from the skin, it has nourishing, softening, and brightening properties.
Beeswax offers excellent benefits for the health and beauty of the skin, which is why it is popular in alternative medicine and cosmetology. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamin A. Being a completely natural product, it does not cause allergic reactions and is suitable for the most sensitive skin.
In medical settings, beeswax is used for inhalations, wax therapy, physiotherapy, thermotherapy, the treatment of dermatological issues, otolaryngology, gynaecology, and dentistry.
Beeswax has a potent bacteriological effect and can be used to treat burns. It can eliminate poisoning symptoms and toxins due to offering more potent effects than activated charcoal. It helps restore peristalsis and adjust the balance of the microflora.
Beeswax is a great remedy for dysbacteriosis.
It is recommended to chew honeycomb honey without swallowing to treat throat and oral pathologies.