So, as you have already understood, bee wax is very cool…we can’t help loving it! We like it, bees like it! It’s good, it’s wonderful, it’s useful,…any good quality, it has! But in the end what does this famous bee wax contain? And then, is it always 100% pure bee wax or there could be someone that tries to cheat? Have you ever heard about paraffin? To be honest, me I had already heard about it but didn’t know exactly what it was. What about taking this occasion to find out more together? C’mon, ready, sat, go!
Bee wax is composed by…?
Bee wax is produced by bees, through some glands made for this purpose. More specifically, the body of the bee splits the glucose found in honey with an enzyme. Once this process is ended, some tiny drops of wax leave the body of the bee and get solid once in contact with the air. If analyzed in laboratory, the bee wax has a rather rich composition of chemical substances (hydrocarbons, alcohols, free acides,…) and it partially also contains what it is in the beehive.
And this so called paraffin?
As you may have guessed, the bee wax – the real one – is pretty expensive…think of how much work bees have to make to produce it and how low is the quantity collected from a beehive. Well, at a certain quality, quantity and ‘manpower’, the fair price! Unfortunately in some cases, someone adds low quality material to the pure bee wax, such as paraffin. Paraffin is a wax extracted from petroleum and it has a composition very similar to the one of the bees. It allows to sell bee wax, spoilt in this case, with a cheaper price.
Is paraffin harmful?
Researches haven’t 100% clarified so far wether paraffin is harmful for mankind or not. What is sure is that if, for example, you buy a candle thinking that is in 100% pure bee wax (that we do know is not harmful at all) and then you get one with some paraffin inside instead, this is a truly fraud. Do you agree? Moreover, if as far as man is concerned, we don’t have clear ideas about paraffin effects, for the bees and the superorganism we don’t have any doubt instead: we have to absolutely avoid it! When the beekeeper uses wax sheets for his honeycombs, he has to make sure that the supplier is a very reliable one. It must be pure bee wax, no exceptions!
What happens to the bees when wax is altered by paraffin?
Using wax sheets altered with paraffin (however, more products like these exist, such as stearin) increase the brood death rate. It can cause the state of abandon of the nest as well. Do you know what happens? The altered wax has a lower fusion point than the one of the pure bee wax (that, we told, is about 61- 66 degrees). This means that during the nice hot summer days the honeycombs get deformed, till they melt. It gets very difficult to work with this wax for the bees. But it’s not only this! The vibrations that go through the honeycomb are perceived in a different way from the bees if there’s paraffin. The superorganism does not get the info needed to keep on. It literally makes the family freaking out!
Have you understood the consequences of the paraffin? For sure, first of all, it must be avoided in the beekeeping field, then secondly, in general better to stay away from it to avoid frauds! When the beekeeper purchases wax sheets, like us, he has to make sure that it’s 100% pure bee wax. If the cost is less than 20€ per kilo, he has better to wonder why. If you try to save money by disregarding the product quality, this will have very bad consequences later. If you are interested in products realised with good bee wax, ask more about it, make sure that the people that are offering the product are trustworthy and really care of its quality and of bees.
Had you ever heard about paraffin before? Let us know in the comments below.