The secret of beeswax

2022-02-28 13:23:00
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Summary :Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. The beeswax 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 alcohol.

Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. The beeswax 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 alcohol.

The secret of beeswax


The approximate chemical formula of beeswax is:C 15 H 31 COOC 30 H 61. Its main components are palmitate, palmitoleate, hydroxypalmitate and long-chain fatty alcohols.

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%


The beeswax 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.

The new wax is initially clear and colorless, becomes opaque after chewing, and is contaminated with pollen from the hive worker bees, gradually turning yellow or brown with the incorporation of pollen oil and propolis. Wax scales are approximately 3 mm (0.12 in) wide and 0.1 mm (0.0039 in) thick, and it takes about 1100 to make one gram of wax. Worker bees use beeswax to build honeycomb cells. For wax-making bees to secrete wax, the ambient temperature inside the hive is 33 to 36 °C.

The secret of beeswax


When beekeepers extract the honey, they cut off the wax caps from each honeycomb cell with an uncapping knife or machine.

Beeswax may arise from such cappings, or from an old comb that is scrapped, or from the beekeeper removing unwanted burr comb and brace comb and such. Its color varies from nearly white to brownish, but most often is a shade of yellow, depending on purity, the region, and the type of flowers gathered by the bees. The wax from the brood comb of the honey bee hive tends to be darker than wax from the honeycomb because 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, and is derived from old breeding rubbish (pupa casings, cocoons, shed larva skins, etc), bee droppings, propolis, and general rubbish.

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.

The amount of honey used by bees to produce wax has not been determined exactly, but according to Whitcomb's 1946 experiment, 6.66 to 8.80 kilograms (14.7 to 19.4 lb) of honey yielded one kilogram (2.2 lb) of wax.

Beeswax has a relatively low melting point range of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). Discoloration can occur if beeswax is heated above 85 °C (185 °F). Beeswax has a flash point of 204.4 °C (400 °F).

When natural beeswax is cold, it is brittle, and its fractures are dry and granular. It is tough at room temperature (usually taken around 20 °C (68 °F)) and softens further at human body temperature (37 °C (99 °F)).

The introduction of beeswax is over. We will talk about the use of beeswax in the next issue.

The secret of beeswax





Bee Hive Industry Co., Ltd. is located in Henan Province, the largest beekeeping base. We provide one-stop services such as beeswax raw materials, propolis, beekeeping tools, and beekeeping technical consultation. Welcome your inquiry.



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