BEESWAX (CERA ALBA):
Beeswax is a natural wax produced in the bee hive of honey bees of the genus Apis. It is mainly esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols.
The wax is formed by worker bees, which secrete it from eight wax-producing mirror glands on the inner sides of the sternites (the ventral shield or plate of each segment of the body). The wax of honeycomb is nearly white, but becomes progressively more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollen oils and propolis.
1 kg wax can be harvested from a colony with 30-70,000 bees. When freshly secreted, beeswax is white and colorless.
Honey bees use the beeswax to build honeycomb cells in which their young are raised with honey and pollen cells being capped for storage. For the wax-making bees to secrete wax, the ambient temperature in the hive must be 33 to 36 °C.
When beekeepers extract the honey, they cut off the wax caps from each honeycomb cell with an uncapping knife or machine. The wax may further be clarified by heating in water. As with petroleum waxes, it may be softened by dilution with vegetable oil to make it more workable at room temperature.
Candle-making has long involved the use of beeswax, which is highly flammable, and this material traditionally was prescribed, for the making of the Paschal candle or “Easter candle“. It is further recommended for the making of other candles used in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. Beeswax is also the candle constituent of choice in the Orthodox Church.
Modeling waxes can also use beeswax as a component. Pure beeswax can also be used as an organic surfboard wax.
Bee wax is very important in Eastern Europe eggs decoration art : it is used for writing, via resist dyeing, on batik eggs (as in pysanky) and for making beaded eggs.
An approximate chemical formula for beeswax is C15 H31 COOC30 H61.
Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused.
FOOD / COOKING:
The three main types of beeswax products are yellow, white, and beeswax absolute. Yellow beeswax is the crude product obtained from the honeycomb, white beeswax is bleached yellow beeswax, and beeswax absolute is yellow beeswax treated with alcohol. In food preparation, it is used as a coating for cheese; by sealing out the air, protection is given against spoilage.
Beeswax may also be used as a food additive E901, in small quantities acting as a (glazing agent), which serves to prevent water loss, or used to provide surface protection for some fruits.
Beeswax is also a common ingredient of natural chewing gum.
In foods and beverages, white beeswax and beeswax absolute are used as stiffening agents.
Small amounts of beeswax have food and flavoring applications, and are edible in the sense of having similar toxicity to undigestable plant waxes. However, the wax monoesters in beeswax are poorly hydrolysed in the guts of humans and mammals, so are of no significant food value. Some birds, such as honeyguides, can digest beeswax.
MEDICINE / HEALTH:
Beeswax’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergenic, and germicidal antioxidant properties make it beneficial for wound healing. Even after processing, beeswax still remains a biologically active product, retaining some anti-bacterial properties. It is reported that beeswax contains some vitamin A, which is necessary for normal cell development.
Like the honey it houses, beeswax has therapeutic properties. It is particularly effective in healing bruises, inflammation and burns.
As medicine, beeswax is used for lowering cholesterol and for relieving pain. It is also used for swelling (inflammation), ulcers, diarrhea, and hiccups. There is also some evidence that it might help protect the stomach.
Bee wax is full of a substance called Propolis. Propolis is the substance that bees use to stop their hives from becoming infected with bacteria and viruses. Propolis is a complex substance that is made by the bee as it journeys around different plants and trees.
Beeswax is an ingredient in surgical bone wax, which is used during surgery to control bleeding from bone surfaces.
BEAUTY / COSMETICS:
Beeswax is used in lip balm, lip gloss, hand creams, and moisturizers; and in cosmetics such as eye shadow, blush, and eye liner. Beeswax is an important ingredient in moustache wax and hair pomades, which make hair look sleek and shiny.
Beeswax gives a rich emollient quality to creams, which is very useful for dry skin. Deeply moisturizing, it also creates a waterproof barrier on the skin. Beeswax effectively softens skin and creates a long-lasting protective coating against the elements. It also is a naturally nourishing moisturizer.
It was part of the first cosmetic cream, created by Greek physician, Galen, in 150 AD. The cream consisted of beeswax and olive oil with water (or rose water) beaten into it. Because it cooled the skin, it was dubbed ‘cold cream,’ but it also soften and moisturize, too. Beeswax soothes and protects the skin from dryness without inhibiting its ability to breathe. It also serves as an emulsifier.
These waxes also increase the thickness of the lipid (oil) portion of solid and stick-like products such as lipstick, giving them structure, allowing for a smooth application, and keeping them solid.
When used in eye makeup, the waxes stiffen but do not harden the product, and the flexibility and plasticity of the waxes facilitate application. These waxes may also function in depilatory products to remove unwanted hair mechanically.
The oil-gelling properties of beeswax are also helpful for stabilizing water-in-oil emulsions for skin and hair applications and for texturizing effects. Beeswax is also used as a means of enhancing texture and adding volume in mascara and make-up.
Beeswax absolute is used as a fragrance in soaps and perfumes.