"For the rock song by Nirvana, see
Beeswax (song). "Beeswax is a natural waxproduced in the bee hive of honey bees of the genus "Apis". Beeswax is produced by young worker bees between 12 and 17 days old in the form of thin scales secreted by glands on the ventral surface of the abdomen. Worker bees have 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 size of these wax glands depends on the age of the worker and after daily flights begin these glands gradually atrophy. The new wax scales are initially glass-clear and colourless (see illustration), becoming opaque after mastication by the worker bee. The wax of honeycomb is nearly white, but becomes progressively more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollenoils and propolis. The wax scales are about 3 mm across and 0.1 mm thick, and about 1100 are required to make a gram of wax. [R.H.Brown (1981) Beeswax (2nd edition) Bee Books New and Old, Burrowbridge, Somerset UK. ISBN 0 905652 150] Western honey bees use the beeswax to build honeycombcells in which their young are raised and honeyand pollenare stored. For the wax-making bees to secrete wax, the ambient temperature in the hive has to be 33 to 36 °C (91 to 97 °F). To produce their wax, bees must consume about eight times as much honey by mass. It is estimated that bees fly 150,000 miles to yield one pound of beeswax (530,000 km/kg). When beekeepersextract 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 and the type of flowers gathered by the bees. Wax from the brood combof 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 has to be rendered before further use. The leftovers are called slumgum.
The wax may further be clarified by heating in water and may then be used for
candles or as a lubricant for drawers and windows or as a wood polish. As with petroleum waxes, it may be softened by dilution with vegetable oil to make it more workable at room temperature.
Beeswax is a tough
waxformed from a mixture of several compounds.
empirical formulafor beeswax is C15H51COOC30H61 [cite book |last=Umney |first=Nick |coauthors=Shayne Rivers |title=Conservation of furniture |year=2003 |publisher=Butterworth-Heinemann |page=164 |language=English] . Its main components are palmitate, palmitoleate, hydroxypalmitate[http://www.lipidlibrary.co.uk/Lipids/fa_oxy/file.pdf] and oleate esters of long-chain (30-32 carbons) aliphatic alcohols, with the ratio of triacontanylpalmitate CH3(CH2)29O-CO-(CH2)14CH3 to cerotic acid[http://www.lipidmaps.org/data/get_lm_lipids_dbgif.php?LM_ID=LMFA01010026] CH3(CH2)24COOH, the two principal components, being 6:1.
Beeswax has a high
melting pointrange, of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). If beeswax is heated above 85 °C (185 °F) discoloration occurs. The flash pointof beeswax is 204.4 °C (400 °F), there is no reported autoignition temperature. [cite web|url=http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-Beeswax-9927322|title= MSDSfor beeswax|accessdate=2007-10-23] Densityat 15 °C is 0.958 to 0.970 g/cm³.
Bee wax can be classified generally into European and Oriental types. The ratio of
saponification valueis lower (3-5) for European beeswax, and higher (8-9) for Oriental types. Hydroxyoctacosanyl hydroxystearatecan be used as a beeswax substitute as a consistency regulator and emulsionstabilizer. Japan waxis another substitute.
Uses as a product
Beeswax is used commercially to make fine
candles, cosmeticsand pharmaceuticalsincluding bone wax(cosmetics and pharmaceuticals account for 60% of total consumption), in polishing materials (particularly shoe polishand furniture polish) and as a component of modelling waxes. It is commonly used during the assembly of pool tables to fill the screw holes and the seams between the slates. Accordion makers use beeswax as an adhesive, when blended with pine rosin, to attach reed plates to the structure inside an accordion. Beeswax candles are preferred in most Eastern Orthodox churches because they burn cleanly, with little or no wax dripping down the sides and little visible smoke. Beeswax is also prescribed as the material (or at least a significant part of the material) for the Paschal candle("Easter Candle") and is recommended for other candles used in the liturgyof the Roman Catholic Church.
It is also used as a coating for
cheese, to protect the food as it ages. While some cheese-makers have replaced it with plastic, many still use beeswax in order to avoid any unpleasant flavors that may result from plastic. As a food additive, beeswax is known as E901 ( glazing agent).
The burning characteristics of beeswax candles differ from those of paraffin. A beeswax candle flame has a "warmer," more yellow color than that of paraffin, and the color of the flame may vary depending on the season in which the wax was harvested.
Beeswax is also an ingredient in
moustache wax, as well as dreadlockwax, and was used in the manufacturing of the cylinders used by the earliest phonographs.
As a skin care product 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. [cite journal
author = Peter J. Frosch, Detlef Peiler, Veit Grunert, Beate Grunenberg
year = 2003
month = July
title = 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 = Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft
volume = 1
issue = 7
pages = 547–557
doi = 10.1046/j.1439-0353.2003.03701.x
url = http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1439-0353.2003.03701.x
language = German
accessdate = 1/12/2008
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.
publisher = Blackwell Synergy ]
Beeswax was ancient man's first plastic, and for thousands of years has been used as a modeling material, to create
sculptureand jewelrymolds for use in the lost-wax castingprocess, or "Cire perdue".LOK Congdon (1985) Water-Casting Concave-Convex Wax Models for Cire Perdue Bronze Mirrors. American Journal of Archaeology, 89, 511-515] Lost wax castingof metals, practised by ancient Greeks and Romans, involved coating of a wax model with plaster, melting the wax out of the resulting mould and filling the space with molten metal. The technique is still used today by jewellers, goldsmiths and sculptors, in dentistryand even in the industrial manufacture of complex components by investment castingof metals.
The Romans sent messages on hinged pairs of wooden writing tablets coated with beeswax, the message being written into the smooth wax surface using a
stylus. After it had been read the message could be erased, and a reply written and returned.
Beeswax has been used since ancient times; traces of it were found in the paintings in the
Lascauxcave and in Egyptian mummies. Egyptiansused it in shipbuilding as well. In the Roman period, beeswax was used as waterproofingagent for painted walls and as a medium for the Fayum mummy portraits. Nations subjugated by Rome sometimes paid tribute or taxes in beeswax. In the Middle Agesbeeswax was considered valuable enough to become a form of currency. It was also used in bow making (see English longbow).
More recently it found use as a component of
sealing wax, and in cosmetics. Beeswax is also the traditional material from which to make didgeridoomouthpieces and the frets on the Philippine kutiyapi, a type of boat lute.
Beeswax has been used for hundreds of years as a sealant or
lubricantfor bullets in cap and ball and firearmsthat use black powder. It is often mixed with other ingredients such as olive oil(sweet oil) and sometimes paraffin. It can be used as an ingredient in the bullet lube used primarily in Black Powder cartridge firing weapons.
The wax can be dissolved in
turpentineand then used as a furniture finish, sometimes blended with linseed or tung oil.
*The saying "Tis none of your beeswax" meaning "none of your business" became popular in the 1920s after being spoken by Nanette in the 1925 musical comedy "
No, No, Nanette". Another saying is "Mind your own beeswax".Fact|date=April 2008
*"Beeswax" is the title of a song by the band Nirvana.
* [http://www.apitherapynews.com/ Apitherapy News]
* [http://www.chemsoc.org/exemplarchem/entries/2001/loveridge/index-page4.html The chemistry of bees] Joel Loveridge, School of Chemistry
University of Bristolaccessed Nov 2005
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