By: Michael Jordan,
“The BEE Whisperer”
Beeswax is a wonderful natural product that can be used for so many purposes and can make so many wonderful things. It has a beautiful rich yellow color and a sweet honey scent. Beeswax is produced by honeybee “worker” bees. Beeswax is a voluntary secretion from the fourth to seventh ventral plates of the bees’ abdomen. The wax originates in a liquid state in the wax secreting gland and is passed into depressed cavities, where it is molded into shape by the segment bearing down on it from above. This liquid solidifies and forms small scales about 3.0mm across and 0.1mm thick, which the bees withdraw from the wax pockets. Funny, how most cosmetics are made from Bee Dander!! You would think that rubbing colored dandruff on your lips and face would be gross, but woman do it every day.
Normally only young bees of between 10 – 17 days old secrete these wax scales. However some older bees can and do produce wax, dependent upon the state of their wax gland development. During the winter, for example, physiological growth may be considerably retarded so that the glands develop slowly or not at all.
To produce wax, bees must consume considerable quantities of stores to enable wax secretion to take place. When building or repairing comb the bees hang vertically in festoons. The wax scales are picked off by their hind legs, and then grasped by the forelegs. The wax scales are then manipulated in the mandibles where a strong salivary juice is added, hence rendering the wax more ductile, so that it can be positioned and molded as required. It is estimated that for one pound of wax produced by bees, they consume about 10 pounds of stores. Therefore, secretion of wax takes place during a heavy honey flow or when vast quantities of food are available. It is suggested that one pound of beeswax consists of 500,000 wax scales. To make sure the bees produce wax, many beekeepers feed the bees sugar water.
Pure beeswax, though usually pale yellow in color, is sometimes nearly white, and the difference in color is due to pollen consumed by the bees. By adding color to sugar water, you can make colored wax and honey. Beeswax retains its ductility and tenacity under greater ranges of temperature than any mineral, plant or insect wax.
The reason beeswax is a bit pricey is because for every 100 pounds of honey harvested, a beekeeper will get only one to two pounds of beeswax. It’s not easily come by, but maybe that’s also why beeswax is so very, very wonderful. Beeswax has a melting point of 143-148 degrees so is easy to use, but very stable for long term storage. Two of the best things I have seen beeswax used for: One is for your teeth, the other is bullets! If you ever lose a filling in your tooth, just melt some beeswax and fill in the cavity till you get to the dentist. This will stop all infection and will plug the hole off for a long time. Wax bullets? Well, if you have lead castings or molds, you can cast wax bullets. Wax bullets are great for target practice and home protection. Wax bullets are also great for target practice due to the fact that you can re-use the wax, and it is cheap to reload this way. Wax bullets for home protection will hit your target in the 10 to 20 feet range, without going through the wall.
I am going to give you 10 great uses for beeswax. Try them out and see how many beehives you want after discovering all these great uses! Over the years, I have seen over 47 different things beeswax is used for and I am sure you will find a lot more!
1. Lip balm
Combined with some soft liquid, and brittle oils, beeswax makes a brilliant lip balm.
There are many lip balms recipes out there. Here is a quick one:
2 1/2 tsp. grated beeswax
7 teaspoons castor oil, jojoba, or sweet almond oil
1 teaspoon honey
5 drops of essential oil — (lemon, peppermint, orange, lime, tangerine or you can leave it natural or use any of your favorite flavors).
Place a small heat-proof glass container (Pyrex is great for this) in a small pan with about an inch or two of water in it, or use a double boiler. Melt the oil and beeswax together. Remove from heat when melted and whisk in your honey. When the mixture is nearly cool, add your essential oil, mix thoroughly, and pour into your lip balm containers. This recipe will fill 3 low profile lip balm containers, about ¼ ounce each. Note: When using a dropper to fill your lip balm pots or tubes, use a plastic one! Glass droppers cool the mix too rapidly and clog up your dropper.
2. Archery Wax
Wax protects archery strings from the environment. Dirt, rain, clothing or any number of contaminants come into daily contact with the string. The wax forms an effective barrier protecting the string from these outside forces. If there is not enough wax present, the string may be receiving damage from many areas. These are internal as well as external, so be sure to keep your archery strings in good condition with a good coat of wax on them.
3. Wood Polish
A one-to-one mixture of melted beeswax and olive oil makes a great natural polish for wooden furniture or cutting boards. Rub it on, let it soak in overnight, and then buff it off. To wax wood: For structural elements that need to look good but take no wear (such as exposed ceiling beams), heat equal parts beeswax, linseed oil, and turpentine. Apply with a burlap rag while the mixture is still warm. No need to buff off.
4. Lotion (Beeswax is used to thicken lotions).
A simple recipe to make your own lotion is:
1/2 oz Beeswax
1 1/4oz Coconut oil
Vitamin E capsule (optional)
2 drops essential oil (use any of your favorites)
Melt and mix.
Add wax to make thicker or less to make thinner, depending on your own preference.
Pysanky is an ancient and beautiful form of folk art from the Ukraine. It consists of decoration of eggs using beeswax and dyes. Hot beeswax is applied to the egg using a kistka. The kistka is a tool whereby hot wax can be essentially drawn onto the egg. Kistka can be purchased, or built by the user. Some are simply a stick with wire holding a tiny stick perpendicular at the end of the larger piece. The design begins by drawing on a plain white egg with hot beeswax. These lines will protect the white when egg is dyed. When the designs to be white are complete, the egg is dipped into yellow dye and then dried. The kistka is used to draw the designs to remain yellow and then the egg is dipped into the next dye bath. The process continues, alternating waxing designs and using dyes that progressively get darker. Once the black dye (the last to be applied) is dry, hold the egg over the side of a candle flame and gently continue to wipe off the melted wax revealing the beautifully designed multicolored egg. The final process is to seal the egg with a coating of shellac or varnish. Adding color wax to make art is very old. 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.
6. Drawer and Window Lubrication Nuts, Bolts and Screws
A thin coating of beeswax will keep old wooden drawers and windows sliding nicely.
To unstick a drawer: A thin coat of beeswax on wooden rails makes the wood drawers on Granny’s old bureau slide smoothly. It does windows, too. Use wax to lubricate sashes. Free frozen nuts. Help loosen a rusted nut by lubricating the bolt’s threads with melted wax. Lube screws. Rub wax over the threads of screws to make them drive smoothly and resist corrosion.
Beeswax makes the BEST candles. They are smokeless, burn evenly, and you can pour them into shapes or do dip and dry. Adding even a small amount of beeswax when making paraffin candles improves their performance. You can also coat your strike-all matches with beeswax to make them waterproof.
8. Bookbinding Thread and Dental Floss
Coating a length of thick thread with beeswax strengthens it and adds enough glide to make great bookbinding twine. You can also coat sewing thread with beeswax and make dental floss.
9. Moustache Wax
I am writing this in No Shave November, so there’s no way I’m not mentioning this one! Melt some beeswax at about a three-to-one ratio with any liquid oil to make yourself some stylin’ goo for your ‘stache. Add some eucalyptus or menthol or any other “manly” fragrance.
10. Waterproof leather.
Combine equal parts beeswax, tallow, and neatsfoot oil (available online). Warm the mixture and use a rag to rub it on your work boots or gloves. Melt wax down and place over tents, pants, and camping gear to make water repellant.
“Make a buzz, have a Bee Hive. When you Talk about Green Technology there is nothing greener then a Beekeeper!” – Michael Jordan –