Beeswax is ?

What is beeswax

Beeswax is the wax secreted by four pairs of wax glands in the abdomen of bees (worker bees). Bees secrete liquid wax from wax glands. The wax scales are white and opaque and have irregular pentagonal shapes. 1kg of beeswax contains about 4 million wax scales. Bees need 50 wax scales to build a worker hive, and 120 wax scales to build a male hive. A strong bee colony can secrete 2kg or more of wax scales to build a nest spleen in one spring and summer.

Beeswax is in a solid state at room temperature and has a special fragrance of honey and powder. The colors are light yellow, medium yellow or dark brown and white. The section is in the form of crystals of tiny particles. Chewing sticky teeth, white after chewing, no oily taste. The specific gravity is 0.954-0.964, and the melting point is 62-67°C. Studies have found that beeswax is soluble in organic solvents such as benzene, toluene, chloroform, slightly soluble in ethanol, but insoluble in water, but under certain conditions, beeswax can form an emulsion with water.

The main chemical components of beeswax (beeswax) can be divided into 4 categories, namely esters, free acids, free alcohols and hydrocarbons. It also contains trace amounts of volatile oil and pigments. The components of yellow and white beeswax are basically the same. Beeswax is said to contain an aromatic colored substance called paramethoxin. In ancient times, in the production activities of harvesting honey in Changbai Mountains, humans initially used beeswax as a product, and later gradually learned about beeswax and created a method for separating beeswax, dividing it into honey and beeswax. Because the separated beeswax is mostly yellow, it is also called "yellow wax". The history of beeswax is as long as the history of honey, which can be traced back to the ancient times when humans harvested honey.

Source of beeswax

Beeswax is a fatty substance secreted by the wax glands in the abdomen of worker bees about two weeks old in the colony. In the colony, the worker bees use their own wax to repair the nest spleen, ovary cover and feed room cover. The comb spleen is a place for bees to store food, nurture bees and roost. Therefore, beeswax is not only a product of the bee colony, but also a necessary material for its survival and reproduction.

Only the worker bees in the colony have 4 pairs of wax glands, and the queen and drone have no wax glands. Wax glands are specialized by epithelial cells of the body wall. They are located on the last 4 segments of the worker bee's abdomen, with a transparent chitin mirror membrane outside. When the wax gland secretes wax, the liquid wax secreted out through the cell pores leaks onto the mirror membrane, and after contact with air, it condenses into white transparent wax scales. Worker bees use their hind feet to poke wax scales, transfer them to their upper jaws via their forefoot, and mix with the secretion of the upper jaw glands through chewing. Under the condition of nest temperature, they become plastic beeswax for building nest houses.

The amount of wax secreted by worker bees is related to season, climate, age and feed. When the bee colony reproduces vigorously and the honey powder from the outside is continuously being taken into the nest by the bees, the enthusiasm for wax secretion and spleen formation is high. When secreting wax, the honey sac must first be filled with honey. The honey is secreted into a complex liquid wax after a series of biochemical changes in the honey sac. According to measurements, worker bees secrete 1kg of beeswax and need to consume more than 3.5kg of honey. Young worker beeswax glands are underdeveloped and have no ability to secrete wax to build the spleen; outgoing collection bees and old beeswax glands degenerate, and generally no longer secrete wax; only 13-18 days old internal service beeswax glands are developed and secrete most wax; The amount is reduced; the clumped bees do not secrete wax during the winter.

Collection of beeswax

The collection of beeswax is mostly done in spring and autumn. Beekeepers strengthen the management of the bee colony to promote more wax secretion and more spleen building. Then the old comb spleen that has been used for many years, the spleen that has been built, the wax cover of the hive, the foundation and the cut off when the honey is shaken are cut off. The honey covers are collected and extracted manually. Generally, the honeycomb after removing the honey is put into a water pot and heated to melt to remove the upper layer of cocoon, bee carcasses, foam and other impurities, filter it while it is hot, let it cool, and the beeswax will condense. It becomes yellow wax when it becomes lump, floats on the water, and takes it out. After the yellow wax is refined and decolorized, it becomes white wax.

Storage of beeswax

Beeswax has no special requirements for storage conditions, but due to the influence of the physical properties of beeswax, many things must be noted in the storage process to avoid loss.

Beeswax is a fatty substance and is solid at room temperature. Therefore, beeswax can be stored at room temperature to achieve long-term permanent storage. Generally, it should be placed in a dry, ventilated, and cool place, not in direct sunlight, and strictly prohibited. Long-term sun exposure will not only reduce the color of beeswax, but also slowly melt and decompose beeswax until it is completely decomposed and volatilized. Beeswax is a flammable substance, so it must be stored away from fire and power sources to prevent fire.

Beeswax should be stored properly. Although the composition of beeswax is quite complicated, it is easy to store because it does not contain biologically active substances. Because beeswax has the sweet and fragrant smell of pollen and nectar, it is easy to be eaten by insects and rats; some nest insects like beeswax, so it must be sterilized, sealed in bags and stored in a cool place. Do not put beeswax in the same place as volatile items, because beeswax can easily absorb a variety of volatile chemicals, causing pollution and poisoning. Avoid contact with metal utensils such as iron, copper, zinc, etc., because these metals can discolor the beeswax and cause heavy metal pollution.

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