Bee Wax

Beeswax is a product of the beehive. For every 100kgs of honeycomb, you can get about 8kgs to 10kgs of beeswax.
Honeybees secrete beeswax in the form of thin scales. 12- to 17-day-old worker bees produce them through glands on their ventral (stomach) surface. Honeybees use beeswax to build honeycomb cells in which they raise their young and store honey and pollen.

To produce wax, bees must consume about eight times as much honey by mass. Estimates are that bees fly 150,000 miles to yield one pound of beeswax or 530,000 km/kg.


Beeswax is extracted from combs of bees. It is used to make candles, shoe polish and water proofing materials. In a newly installed KTBH (Kenya Top Bar Hive), the wax is applied on top-bars to attract bees to the hive and also acts as comb foundation. Beeswax is also used to encase human drugs to prevent degradation by stomach enzymes. It is also used in the cosmetic industry.

How to extract wax from combs


Step 1

Mix combs and water in a sufuria (aluminium pot) and heat. Wax melts at about 62 to 64° Celsius, so there is no need to boil. Boiling damages the wax and can be dangerous. Overheated wax can burst into flames. Do not use iron, brass, zinc, or copper containers for heating wax as it can discolour the finished product.


Step 2

Pour melted combs and water into an extraction bag. You can use cotton for sieving. (You can also use the small bags maize seeds come in after you clean thoroughly).


Step 3

Smear sides of a second sufuria with soapy water to prevent wax from sticking to its sides.


Step 4

Filter wax into the second sufuria. Use two sticks (such as two top bars) to squeeze the bag containing melted combs to extract wax. The yellow wax will come out along with water; waste will remain in the filter bag. If the combs contained bee brood, you can feed these to poultry as they would be cooked by then.


Step 5

After filtering, wax separates from water and floats to the top.


Step 6

Remove wax after leaving it to cool in the sufuria, with lid on to keep away dust, for 12 hours.


Step 7

Scrape dirt from the bottom of wax cake when cooled.


Step 8

Store wax blocks in a cool dry place. Never store near pesticides/chemicals as it may absorb them.

Your wax block is now ready for sale or for further use. Wax currently sells in Kenya at a price of about KSH100 to 150 per kilogramme or more depending on the demand.



How to make beeswax candles:


The basic elements of a candle are the solid wax as fuel for the flame and a wick, which serves to bring the molten wax to the flame. Oil lamps work on the same principle, but they need a container to hold the liquid fuel.

The best material for the wick is a fibre which burns with very little ash at low temperatures. Pure cotton thread is the best. Several thin cotton threads should be braided or plaited together until the desired thickness is reached. Twisting of the threads is not recommended, since they might unwind during burning and then create an irregular flame consuming much more fuel. Commercially produced candle wick can often be purchased in speciality shops.

The wick needs to be in the centre of the candle for even burning. The diameter of the wick in proportion to candle diameter is important to maximize the light obtained from the quantity of wax and to prevent wax dripping down the side of the candle. Thicker candles need thicker wicks, but thick candles with a relatively thin wick burn longer and give less light, since the flame is shaded by the remaining edges of the candle. The precise ratio depends on the purpose of the candle and should be determined by experiment.


There are various pigments available from specialty suppliers for colouring wax and some natural dyes will also work. Regular paint pigments are often insoluble in fat or burn incompletely and so should not be used. Normal food colouring does not work very well as it will leave residues, might clog the wick or produce stains. If only applied as a thin outer layer it may be acceptable but special fat soluble pigments give much better results.


Melting wax

© S. Fontana, Biovision


Melted wax in moulds

© S. Fontana, Biovision


How to make beeswax furniture/ shoe polish:



  • 200g Beeswax

  • 100g Turpentine

  • 50g Baby oil

1) Grate beeswax into flakes.
2) Gradually add turpentine to soften wax.
3) Add oil and mix.
4) Store in a tin with a tight-fitting top or in a jar.

Tipp: To soften the thread for easier sewing of shoes, leather and other thick materials, pull thread through small block of beeswax. The wax stiffens and smoothes the thread.


  • Author: 11
  • Publication Date: 2014-06-20 12:35:36
  • Article Category: Bee Keeping
  • Number of Views: 33

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