Production and Trade of Beeswax
What is Beeswax
Beekeeping for Wax Production
Newly produced wax is clear white, but after manipulation by the bees, it turns pale yellow. A new honeycomb is nearly white and it will retain this colour if it is only used to store honey. If the comb is used for brood, it will turn darker the longer it is used. This is due to the larvae’s cocoons spun inside the cell before pupation. Some excrement from the larvae is also sealed in the cells. The coloration of beeswax (shades of yellow, orange and red through to brown) is due to the presence of various substances, especially pollen. This difference in color is of no significance as far as the quality of the wax is concerned, but subjectively light coloured wax is more highly valued than dark coloured wax.
If wax is dark because it has been over-heated then its value is much lower. The finest wax is from cappings. i.e. the wax seal bees use to cover ripe honeycombs. This fresh ‘virgin wax’ is pure and white coloured.
In the past, it was common to bleach wax (using bleaches such as sulphuric acid or hydrogen peroxide), but this practice is now considered unnecessary and damaging to the natural wax. Pure wax has a good aroma. A broken wax block will show a grainy surface. That is not the case if it has been adulterated with paraffin, fat or other oil. When you chew pure wax, it will not stick to the teeth, and when rolled between fingers it will soften and not stick. Beeswax will become more transparent and slightly greasy to the touch when mixed with paraffin.