What is Beeswax?

Beeswax is a truly amazing substance! It has an almost indefinite shelf life – beeswax found in ancient Egyptian tombs has retained its pliability even after thousands of years. Its beautiful natural color and sweet scent need no chemical enhancement to add warmth and comfort to our homes.

Beeswax is made by worker bees. It is secreted from glands situated on the underside of the abdomen, and molded into the honeycomb that is used as storage space for honey and pollen, and as brood chambers for larval bees. Bees that build the comb gorge themselves on honey and hang together in clusters or chains across the area that is to be built up. After about 24 hours, they produce a drop of liquid wax. It soon hardens into a small white flake, which the bee moves to its mandibles where it is mixed with glandular secretions and chewed. The softened flake of wax is passed along to another worker who will mold it into shape and place it on the growing comb. It takes about four minutes to process a single flake from secretion to comb.

The rich color of beeswax is a result of the floral sources the bees forage on. Beeswax is almost pure white when first secreted, but gets its color from the pollen and propolis the bees gather. The natural variations in color range from almost white to almost black.

We obtain beeswax from the “cappings” of the honeycomb – the part of the comb that seals in the honey collected by the bees. Cappings are sliced off the comb to harvest the honey and are then melted to separate honey from the wax. About one to two pounds of wax is produced for every hundred pounds of honey.

Beeswax melts at 64C (About 147F), the highest melting temperature of any known natural wax. This characteristic means that beeswax candles have longer burning times than other types of candles. It also means that beeswax candles and ornaments may be displayed and enjoyed in almost any area of the home.

Over time, beeswax will develop a beautiful frosted look called “bloom”. This is caused by natural components of the wax migrating to the surface as a result of environmental conditions (mainly temperature). The bloom gives candles and ornaments an antique appearance that some people really like, but if it is not desired, it can be removed by rubbing softly with a terry cloth, or carefully warming the wax with a blow dryer set on “low”. The presence of bloom is one sure way to tell a pure beeswax candle!

The beauty and versatility of natural beeswax make it valuable in both home and industry. The fact that it is a hypoallergenic, renewable resource means you can feel good about using it and enjoying it as much as you like.