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Beeswax: Quality issues today

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This article concentrates on the main quality issues of Apis mellifera beeswax: production by bees and processing by beekeepers and manufacturers, overall chemical composition, as well as sensory and physicochemical characteristics. The main quality issues today are adulteration and contamination. Contamination from the environment being relatively small, the main contaminants are synthetic and persistent acaricides used in beekeeping. Measures for prevention of contamination are discussed. Information on beeswax economy, as well as on beeswax uses is given.
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Original article
46 | September 2004 | Bee World 85(3): 46–50 (2004)
New Zealand, a country that has many
serious weeds.9
Of course bees do provide enormous benefits
to mankind, and it is always going to be difficult
to persuade beekeepers that their bees could
be doing harm. However, we should not
regard bees as universally benign. The
precautionary principle argues that we should
prevent further deliberate release of exotic
bee species (such as of bumble bees in
mainland Australia). Unlike many of the other
impacts that man has on the environment,
introduction of exotic species is usually
irreversible. It would also be sensible to avoid
placing honey bee hives within environmentally
sensitive areas, particularly areas where the
native flora is threatened by invasion with
honey bee-pollinated weed species.
WENNER, AM (2001) Promotion of seed set in
yellow star-thistle by honey bees: Evidence of
an invasive mutualism. Ecological Applications 11:
(2001) Bumblebee commercialization will cause
worldwide migration of parasitic mites.
Molecular Ecology 10: 2095–2099.
3. GOULSON, D (2003) Effects of introduced bees
on native ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology
and Systematics 34: 1–26.
4. GOULSON, D; DERWENT, L C (2004) Synergistic
interactions between exotic honeybees and
exotic weeds: pollination of Lantana camara in
Australia. Weed Research 44: 195–202.
5. GROSS, C L; MACKAY, D (1998) Honeybees
reduce fitness in the pioneer shrub Melastoma
affine (Melastomataceae). Bioogical Consevation
86: 169–178.
L; MULLIGAN, G A (1992) The biology of
Canadian weeds. 100. Lythrum salicaria. Canadian
Journal of Plant Science 72: 1305–1330.
7. MCDADE, L A; KINSMAN, S (1980) The impact of
floral parasitism in two neotropical
hummingbird-pollinated plant species. Evolution
34: 944–958.
8. STANTON, M L (1987) Reproductive biology of
petal color variants in wild populations of
Raphanus sativus II: Factors limiting seed
production. American Journal of Botany 74:
9. STOUT, J C; KELLS, A R; GOULSON, D (2002)
Pollination of a sleeper weed, Lupinus arboreaus,
by introduced bumblebees in Tasmania. Bioogical
Conservation 106: 425–434.
10. THOMSON, D (2004) Competitive interactions
between the invasive European honey bee and
native bumble bees. Ecology 85: 458–470.
Ecology and Evolution Group, School of
Biological Sciences, University of
Southampton, Bassett Crescent East,
Southampton, SO16 7PX, UK
The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed
that beeswax originated in flowers, and this
theory predominated until the Renaissance.
In 1744 the German scientist Hornbostel26
reported that bees themselves produce the
wax. This report was ignored by the
scientific community until Hunter in 179228
and Huber in 181427 published their work. In
1903 the process of wax synthesis was
described in detail by Dreyling.20
In this mini-review the main quality issues on
beeswax will be discussed, without going into
details, which can be found in the cited
Wax production in beekeeping
Bees need wax as construction material for
their combs. They produce it in their wax
glands, which are fully developed in 12- to
18-day-old workers. In older bees the wax
glands diminish their activity, however, in
emergency situations wax synthesis can be
reactivated. The greatest quantities of wax
are produced during the growth phase of
honey bee colonies, under moderate climate
conditions during April to June in temperate
The main raw materials for wax formation
are carbohydrates, i.e. the honey sugars
fructose, glucose and sucrose.51The ratio of
sugar to wax can vary from three to 30 : 1, a
ratio of around 20 : 1being typical for
central Europe.51The stronger the colony,
the smaller the ratio, and the more
economical the wax production for the
colony. One Langstroth frame, containing
only 100 g of wax can hold between two and
four kg of honey.
Wax production and comb construction
activity in the honey bee colony are
determined by following factors:
Nectar flow: the greater the flow, the
more combs are needed for storage.
Brood rearing (egg laying): the more
eggs are laid, the more comb cells are
The presence of a queen: only colonies
with a queen build combs.
Temperature: temperatures higher than
15 °C favour comb building activity.
The presence of pollen as a protein
The wax economy of bees seems to function
according to the supply and demand
principle; there is no unnecessary wax
Apis mellifera produce wax in their specialized
wax glands, found on the ventral side of the
abdomen. A bee has four pairs of glands. The
liquid wax is delivered by these glands and
cools down immediately to form fine, white
wax scales. These scales are taken by the
hind legs and processed with the
Give me some wax that bees have made
And I will offer you in trade
A candle that is aromatic
Pure, unique and charismatic
by Grant D Morse
Beeswax: quality
issues today
This article concentrates on the main quality issues of Apis mellifera beeswax: production by bees and
processing by beekeepers and manufacturers, overall chemical composition, as well as sensory and
physicochemical characteristics. The main quality issues today are adulteration and contamination.
Contamination from the environment being relatively small, the main contaminants are synthetic and
persistent acaricides used in beekeeping. Measures for prevention of contamination are discussed.
Information on beeswax economy, as well as on beeswax uses is given. September 2004 | Bee World | 47
mouthparts. A wax scale weighs about 1mg,
so that about one million scales are needed
to produce one kg of wax. More details on
the biology of beeswax are given elsewhere.24
The colour of the freshly produced beeswax
is white, later it turns to yellow. This yellow
colour originates from propolis and pollen
colorants. Beeswax has a characteristic
odour, originating from the bees, honey,
propolis and pollen.
Each year beekeepers should discard the old
combs, thus stimulating the bees to build
new combs. On the one hand this is a
hygienic measure, on the other hand it
serves the beekeeper to increase wax
production. The dark colour of old combs is
caused by larval faeces, pupal skins and from
propolis. Old combs must be exchanged
regularly at an interval of about two to three
years, to be melted down for the production
of pure wax. Small-scale wax melters for
home wax production are available, but most
beekeepers give their combs to wax
manufacturers, who also produce foundation
comb. The yield of pure wax depends on the
method of wax production and on the
proportion of old honeycombs used. Usually
yields from 30 to 50% are obtained, but they
can be nearly 100% if freshly built
honeycombs are used.
The practical details for production of
beeswax from combs is described
extensively elsewhere.17The quality of pure
beeswax obtained depends greatly on the
production methods used. There are two
wax extraction methods: melting – the most
frequently used method – and chemical
extraction. Wax can be melted by boiling
water, steam or by electrical or solar power.
Chemical extraction by solvents is feasible
only in a laboratory, where only small-scale
wax production is needed.
After melting and cleaning, beeswax normally
has a beautiful yellow colour. If it is dark for
any reason (e.g. from overheating or the
presence of metals) it can be brightened
simply by exposing it to the sun17or by
chemical means (see ‘Factors in producing
high-quality beeswax’). The use of
complexing agents which bind the metals has
also been proposed17but these chemicals are
problematic from a toxicological and
ecological point of view.
Wax blocks are dried and stored in a dark
and cool place. For best preservation of
colour and aroma, they can be stored in
wrapping-paper, placed on shelves or in
containers made of stainless steel, glass or
Details on beeswax manufacturing can be
found elsewhere.10, 17, 43, 50
Heating at too high temperatures and for too long may damage the wax and darken its
Wax should not be heated in containers made of steel, aluminium, zinc or copper
because these metals can discolour the wax turning it dark. Do not use lead containers
because of contamination. Stainless steel is most suitable.
Purify beeswax by melting it in a water-bath with water at 70-80 °C for at least 8 hours.
Use only the pure upper layer of wax.
Combs containing fermented honey should not be used as this gives the wax an ‘off’
Heat-resistant spores of American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae larvae) are not killed by
boiling wax in water. Only heating under pressure (1400 hPa) at 120 °C for 30 minutes
kills all spores.38
Water-wax emulsions can occur if hard water is used. Soft water with a low mineral
content should be used if such problems arise. However, in some cases, water-wax
emulsions can occur even with soft water. It is most important that raw molten wax in
contact with water is kept below 90 °C.
Use 2–3 g of oxalic acid per kg wax and 1litre of water to bind calcium, prevent
emulsion and to brighten wax at the same time.46
Wax brightens also by adding acids: 2 g citric acid or oxalic acid, or 1ml concentrated
sulfuric acid per kg wax and 1litre of water.
Wax can be bleached white by adding hydrogen peroxide. It is essential that all the
peroxide is used up in the bleaching process. Excess peroxide can cause problems in the
manufacture of creams and ointments.
After melting, the wax is not yet pure enough. For additional cleaning, heated water
tanks made from high-grade steel are suitable. The wax should remain for some time
(best left over night) in the water-bath at a temperature of 75–80 °C. Since wax is lighter
than water, it floats. The dirt that sinks to the lower layer of the wax must be scraped off
after cooling. Under industrial conditions liquid wax is cleaned by filtration. Wax can also
be purified by hot filtration.
Let the wax cool down as slowly as possible and avoid all movement of the container
during cooling.
The use of solvents to purify beeswax will result in a loss of some of the aroma
Component Quantity g/100g Number of components
major minor
Monoesters 35 1010
Diesters 14624
Triesters 3 5 20
OH-monoesters 4 6 20
OH-polyesters 8 5 20
Acid esters 1720
Acid polyesters 2 5 20
Total esters 67 44 134
Hydrocarbons 141066
Free acids 12810
Alcohols 15?
Others 6 7 ?
Total 100 74 at least 210
TABLE 1. Major and minor components of Apis mellifera beewax.47
Beeswax is an extremely complex material
containing over 300 different substances.47 It
consists mainly of esters of higher fatty acids
and alcohols. Apart from esters, beeswax
contains small quantities of hydrocarbons,
acids and other substances (see table 1). In
addition, approximately 50 aroma
components have been identified.22 The wax
produced by different subspecies of Apis
mellifera have the same composition, but
some of the components are in different
The composition of the wax differs between
Apis florea and Apis cerana, and also from Apis
mellifera wax.13Further detailed information
on composition and properties of beeswax
can be found in other publications.6,31,35
Quality control
Quality criteria
Beeswax is a natural product and no
additives are permitted. Examination of the
sensory characteristics (e.g. odour and
colour) of beeswax allows a simple, quick
quality check. Wax adulteration can be
detected by different methods.
Determination of sensory and
physicochemical characteristics according to
the Pharmacopoeia3(table 2) does not
guarantee that the wax has not been
adulterated, although in some cases they can
give hints on possible adulteration. Today
adulteration is mostly detected by gas
chromatography (GC) or liquid
chromatography to determine the
components of the wax.1,12,14,33,34,42,45 In the
special case of adulteration with carnauba
wax, a simple biological test can be also
The main contaminants of beeswax are
chemicals used in beekeeping, while
contamination from the environment seems
to be less important.7Traces of organic
pollutants have been found in beeswax.2,21,23,32
Only traces of some pesticides were
detected in a recent study on Swiss beeswax,
where 69 common pesticides were
examined.11 Beeswax is contaminated mainly
by lipophylic (fat soluble) acaricides in the
range between 0.5 and 10 mg/kg.8,44, 49 A long-
term monitoring study on Swiss beeswax
examining all major organic contaminants,
originating from beekeeping, has been carried
out in our research centre since 1991(fig. 1)
In this study the long-term behaviour of
synthetic substances used in beekeeping has
been studied. The investigations show that
the acaricide concentration in wax increases
with increasing number of acaricide
applications (e.g. of tau-fluvalinate) but
decreases very slowly after acaricide use has
ceased (e.g. bromopropylate). The half-life of
an acaricide in beeswax, i.e. the time which
will elapse for disappearance of the acaricide
depending on the initial acaricide
concentration, is about five years. Let us take
as an example bromopropoylate: this
acaricide is no longer in use in Switzerland
since 1991, when new and more efficient
acaricides like coumaphos and tau-fluvalinate
were introduced on the market.
Bromopropylate levels are diminishing
steadily and will probably drop below the
present limit of detection of 0.1mg/kg after
As beeswax is used in cosmetics and
pharmaceuticals, it should contain minimal
amounts of contaminants. Unfortunately,
there are no maximum residue limits (MRLs)
for contaminants. For beeswax used in
48 | September 2004 | Bee World
FIG. 1. Monitoring of organic pollutants from beekeeping in Swiss beeswax. Representative
samples of all wax produced in Switzerland was taken in the frame of a long-term
Parameter Requirements
Sensory and physical characteristics
Colour yellow to yellow-brown
Upon breakage* fine-granular, blunt, not crystalline
Odour honey-like
Consistency* Should not stick upon cutting
Melting point 61–65 °C
Density 0.950–0.965
Refractive index (at 75 °C) 1.440–1.445
Physicochemical properties
Acidic number 18–23
Esterification number 70–80
Peroxide number at least 8
Authenticity* no adulterants
Contamination* according to requirements or as low as possible
* excepted
TABLE 2. Properties and quality criteria for beeswax according to the Pharmacopoeia.3
organic beekeeping in countries like Italy,
Germany and Switzerland, MRLs of between
0.1and 1mg/kg for each acaricide have been
proposed. These limits will guarantee that no
measurable amounts of acaricides can diffuse
from wax into honey.
Other fat-soluble substances used in
beekeeping, such as p-dichlorobenzene, used
against wax moths, can also contaminate
beeswax (fig. 1).9,48
Another potential problem for the quality of
beeswax used for beekeeping is the presence
of American foulbrood (AFB) (Penibacillus
larvae larvae) spores. Indeed, only heating of
wax at 140 °C for 30 minutes will destroy
the spores.38 On the other hand,
experiments have shown, that only very high
contamination with spores might cause
AFB.41In this work it was concluded, that
normal contamination of commercial
beeswax with P. l. larvae spores is not likely
to cause AFB.
Preventive measures against contamination
Acaricides cannot be removed from wax
because of their different chemical structure.
The best strategy to improve wax quality is
to use non-toxic natural organic acids in
alternative varroa control.29 It has been found
that residues of synthetic acaricides can be
reduced rapidly below the detection limits by
exchanging the old contaminated foundations
by residue free ones.29 The contaminants,
used for the control of wax moths (e.g. p-
dichlorobenzene and naphthaline) can be
avoided by using alternative control
Storage of combs in a cool bright place at
5–15 °C with good air circulation.
Repeated storage for more than 10 hours
each time in a freezer.
Use of non-toxic chemicals like sulfur,
acetic or formic acid or application of
Bacillus thuringiensis for successful wax
moth control.
Nearly all commercial wax is produced by
Apis mellifera, mainly A. m. ligustica. It is
difficult to obtain reliable figures on wax
production, as the greater part of beeswax is
used in beekeeping for producing comb
foundation. Of all bee products the
economic importance of beeswax is second
after that of honey. It is estimated that its
production is about 1.5 to 2.5% of that of
honey.19Thus, based on FAO Comtrade
statistics, 1.19 million tonnes of honey were
produced in 1991, and between 17 850 to
29 750 tonnes of wax were produced during
the same period.30 The same source cites the
following figures on the trade of beeswax:
‘In world trade statistics beeswax is grouped
with other insect waxes. Nevertheless,
beeswax is a major component of insect
waxes, and the trade value can be safely
assumed to be that of beeswax. Based on
the information derived from the
COMTRADE database, total value of the
insect waxes traded internationally during
1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991was 23.63, 23.27,
26.08 and 23.35 million US$, respectively.
During 1992, major exporting countries
were China (14.9%), United Republic of
Tanzania (11.4%), Germany (11.1%), Canada
(7.0%), the Netherlands (6.3%), Brazil (6.1%),
Japan (5.7%), USA (4.8%) and Ethiopia (3.7%);
collectively accounting for 71% of the total
trade volume in insect waxes. Australia,
France, Chile, UK, Dominion Republic and
New Zealand were some of the minor
Comtrade statistics have mixed
refined/bleached wax and raw wax
production data. However, there are no
other statistical sources which do this
separation. The major exporting countries of
raw beeswax for the same year were: China,
Tanzania, Canada, Brazil and Ethiopia,
together with Australia, France, Chile, New
Zealand and the Central African Republic.40
In the main, beeswax exported from
Germany, the Netherlands, UK and USA was
re-exported refined/bleached wax, produced
out of the raw wax of the above countries.40
The USA is a major raw beeswax supplier,
consuming most of its own production, being
also a worldwide supplier of refined wax.40
According to Comtrade statistics the price
per tonne of beeswax in 1991was from
US$3300 to US$3600. 30 There are no new
figures on wax trade. Other earlier figures
on wax production and trade are given
elsewhere.19As a major part of the
commercial beeswax is now contaminated by
acaricides,44 there is an increased need on
the market for residue-free beeswax.
Besides its use for foundation, which is
probably the main use, wax is also used for
the following purposes: cosmetics (25–30%),
pharmaceutical products (25–30%), candles
(20%) and other purposes (10–20%).19
Beeswax is often preserved in archaeological
deposits and so there is plenty of evidence
for its early use.18Beeswax candles have been
used by early mankind in religious
ceremonies. Beeswax figures have survived in
royal Egyptian tombs dating from 3400 BC.19
Throughout history beeswax has been used
in commerce and business as a document
seal. One of the most important uses of
beeswax is in cire-perdue, or lost-wax
casting.18This technique is very old and was
known in different high cultures such as in
Sumeria, India, China and Egypt. Many of the
world’s most famous statues were produced
using the lost-wax casting process. Beeswax
is used in batik art. The word batik is of September 2004 | Bee World | 49
FIG. 2. Wax angels make music by candlelight. Wax was used for many different purposes
since ancient times. Today, making candles and figures out of beeswax is also very
Indonesian origin, where batik art was
invented. Beeswax has other minor uses:
used as an ingredient in the restoration of
pictures, polish materials, chewing gum,
nursery grafting, musical instruments etc.
Beeswax is added to paints, polish, cosmetics
and is used for coating food and tablets.
In cosmetics beeswax is used as an ingredient
of creams, ointments and lotions. It has
antibacterial properties36 and when applied to
the skin improves its elasticity and makes it
look fresh and smooth. Warm beeswax has
excellent warming properties when applied
against inflammation of muscles, nerves and
joints. The use of beeswax in apitherapy is
dealt with in detail elsewhere.16,39
More details concerning the different uses of
beeswax, as well as of its importance in use,
trade and history are given elsewhere.17,19,24,25,37
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(1999) A rapid bioassay for detection of
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hybrid, and European beeswax. Journal of
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6. BLOMQUIST, G J; JACKSON, L L (1979) Chemistry
and biochemistry of insect waxes. Progress in
Lipid Research 17: 319–345.
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50 | September 2004 | Bee World
Agroscope Liebefeld Posieux, Swiss Bee
Research Centre, Liebefeld, 3003 Bern,
... During the years 1997-2002, the cantonal food control authorities in Switzerland detected PDCB in approximately 30% of Swiss honeys [10]. Consequently, Swiss beeswax has been monitored for the presence of PDCB [8,11]. ...
... Analysis of commercial beeswax samples showed that the results obtained by the validated DHS-VTT-GC-MS method compare well with the results from the previous method using SPE followed by GC-MS/MS analysis as described by Bogdanov and colleagues [7,8,10]. Thus, future results obtained by analysis using DHS-VTT-GC-MS can easily be compared to the previous PDCB and thymol residue levels measured in Swiss beeswax [8,11]. Further, the recoveries of PDCB using the DHS-VTT-GC-MS method were significantly higher when compared to the previous GC-MS/MS method (49-57% [8]), in which part of the volatile PDCB is probably lost during the sample preparation with SPE. ...
... Thirty-five percent of the individual foundation samples from 2019 or 2021 contained PDCB, with a mean of 0.22 mg/kg, while 65% of the samples contained no PDCB above the quantitation limit of 0.05 mg/kg. Hence, the current residue levels are far below the values previously measured in Swiss beeswax produced during the years 1994-2002, when the annual average PDCB residue levels in Swiss beeswax were between 4.1 and 10.9 mg/kg [11]. Occasionally, higher values in recent years (up to a maximal value of 1.53 mg/kg; this study) might be caused by recycled wax that has been stored for several years, when PDCB was more commonly used, before the beekeeper brought the wax to the producer of the foundation sheets. ...
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A method based on dynamic headspace vacuum transfer in trap extraction, followed by gas chromatography coupled with a mass spectrometer (DHS-VTT-GC-MS), was validated for the fast quantitation of 1,4-dichlorobenzene (p-dichlorobenzene; PDCB) and thymol residues in beeswax. The quantitation limits (LOQ) were 0.05 mg/kg (PDCB) and 0.25 mg/kg (thymol). Recoveries above 80% were obtained for PDCB concentrations between 0.05 and 10 mg/kg and for thymol concentrations between 0.25 and 200 mg/kg. Analysis of beeswax samples showed a good correlation between the results obtained by DHS-VTT-GC-MS analysis and those of a previous method based on SPE extraction followed by gas chromatography and triple- quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) (R2 = 0.9770 for PDCB and 0.9666 for thymol). However, the sample preparation and chromatography were much shorter using the DHS-VTT-GC-MS method. Forty comb foundations samples produced in Switzerland in 2019 and 2021 were analysed using DHS-VTT-GC-MS. Fourteen samples contained PDCB above the LOQ of 0.05 mg/kg, ranging up to a maximum of 1.53 mg/kg. The mean concentration of the positive samples was 0.22 mg/kg. All samples contained thymol residues ranging between 3.9 and 84.4 mg/kg with mean and median concentrations of 22.7 mg/kg and 17.4 mg/kg. Residue levels of PCDB and thymol in Swiss beeswax were substantially below those measured 20 (PDCB) and 10 (thymol) years ago, respectively.
... The structuring of oleogels in a three-dimensional network is achieved by supramolecular assemblies of gelling molecules and the retention of a large amount of oil in the structure [1]. Food technologies use solid fats in different recipes to obtain food products influencing the rheological, textural and sensory properties [2][3][4]. The use of oil in its initial form greatly limits the possibility of being used to obtain food products because liquid oil can negatively affect the texture of the products. ...
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The aim of the study was to characterize the gelling effect of beeswax (BW) using different types of cold pressed oil. The organogels were produced by hot mixing sunflower oil, olive oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil and hemp seed oil with 3%, 7% and 11% beeswax. Characterization of the oleogels was done using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), the chemical and physical properties of the oleogels were determined, the oil binding capacity was estimated and the SEM morphology was studied. The color differences were highlighted by the CIE Lab color scale for evaluating the psychometric index of brightness (L*), components a and b. Beeswax showed excellent gelling capacity at 3% (w/w) of 99.73% for grape seed oil and a minimum capacity of 64.34%for hemp seed oil. The value of the peroxide index is strongly correlated with the oleogelator concentration. Scanning electron microscopy described the morphology of the oleogels in the form of overlapping structures of platelets similar in structure, but dependent on the percentage of oleogelator added. The use in the food industry of oleogels from cold-pressed vegetable oils with white beeswax is conditioned by the ability to imitate the properties of conventional fats.
... Soon after the mite's adverse effect on the bees, most of them are born with atrophied/deformed wings and have a smaller size (Bowen-Walker & Gunn, 2001).Besides varroa, another factor that impacts the bees' wellbeing, are pesticides applied to agricultural and horticultural landscapes to treat the mite and other pests that affect the plants(Table 1.6). Residues have been found in beehive matrices such as beeswax, bee bread, bee brood, honey, propolis, pollen, and on honey bees per se (AlNaggar et al., 2015;Bogdanov, 2015;Morales et al., 2020;Mullin et al., 2010;Orantes- Bermejo et al., 2010). A large-scale study conducted byMullin et al. in North America, discovered 121 different insecticides, acaricides, herbicides, fungicides, and their metabolites within 887 samples of different hive matrices(Mullin et al., 2010). ...
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Cytochromes P450 is a group of heme-containing enzymes with diverse catalytic activity that can be used for the biodegradation of environmental chemicals. Cytochrome P450cam (CYP101A1) from the soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida is known for hydroxylating camphor. Here, I have investigated the dehalogenation ability of two P450cam mutants, ES6 (G120S) and ES7 (V247F/D297N/K314E), in comparison to the wild-type (WT) enzyme. Six hexachlorinated persistent organic pollutants (POP), namely endosulfan (ES), ES diol, ES lactone, ES ether, ES sulfate and heptachlor, were tested since they are similarly structured to the native substrate. The mutated enzymes were capable of converting the selected substrates to phenols and o-quinones, which were detected using a colorimetric assay with 4-aminoantipyrine (4-AAP). Kinetic studies and statistical analysis were carried out and it was found that both ES6 and ES7 are significantly more active than the WT, with the highest activity noticed against ES ether and heptachlor. The western honey bee, Apis mellifera, is a vital pollinator of the ecosystem, however, its being threatened by the ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor. This pest is becoming immune towards commercially available pesticides, thus, new control agents have been previously synthesized that showed miticidal effects. Fortunately, insect cytochromes P450 are known to be responsible for the metabolism of such xenobiotics. Here, I have tested the ability of three potent dialkoxybenzene compounds, namely 1-allyloxy-4-propoxybenzene (3c{3,6}), 1,4-dipropoxybenzene (3c{3,3}) and 1,4-diallyloxybenzene (3c{6,6}), to get degraded by honey bee cytochromes P450. The formation of the dealkylated products was detected in abdomen extracts using a colorimetric assay with 4-aminoantipyrine (4-AAP). Kinetic studies and statistical analysis showed a downregulation of detectable P450 activity in the treated vs. the untreated extracts. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) quantitative assays were carried out and three dealkylated products were found, hydroquinone (HQ), 1-hydroxy-4-propoxybenzene (2c{3}) and 1-hydroxy-4-allyloxybenzene (2c{6}).
... The darker color means an increase in these pigments, with increasing negative effects on the quality of beeswax [25,26]. The factors that are involved in the darkening of beeswax include high temperature heating, and heating in containers that contain aluminum, steel, copper or zinc [27]. Other factors that are involved in the determination of the beeswax color and physical properties include the floral origin, environmental pollution and honeybee species [28][29][30] ...
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Beeswax is a natural product that is primarily produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. It has many uses in various kinds of industries, including pharmacy and medicine. This study in- vestigated the effect of storage and floral origin on some physicochemical properties of four bees- wax samples. The floral origin of the beeswax samples was determined microscopically and the investigated physical properties were the melting point, color, surface characteristics and thermal behavior. The studied chemical constituents were the acid value, ester value, saponification value and the ester/acid ratio. The FT-IR, SEM, EDX, XRD and TGF techniques were applied to meet the objectives of this study. The physical properties of the beeswax were affected by the storage period and floral origin. The melting point of the beeswax samples significantly increased with the in- crease in the storage time, from 61.5 ± 2.12 °C for the 3 month sample to 74.5 ± 3.54 °C for the 2 year stored sample (p-value = 0.027). The acid values of the 3 month, 6 month, 1 year and 2 years stored samples were 19.57 ± 0.95, 22.95 ± 1.91, 27 ± 1.91 and 34.42 ± 0.95 mgKOH/g, respectively. The in- crease in the acid value was significant (p-value = 0.002). The ester values of the studied beeswax samples significantly increased with the increase in storage time as follows: 46.57 ± 2.86 mgKOH/g for the 3 month stored sample, 66.14 ± 3.82 mgKOH/g for the 6 month stored sample, 89.77 ± 0.95 mgKOH/g for the one year stored sample and 97.19 ± 1.91 mgKOH/g for the 2 year stored sample (p-value≤ 0.001). Similarly, the saponification value and the carbon percentages increased with the increase in storage time. Unlike the results of the chemical components, the oxygen percentage de- creased with the increase in storage time as follows: 11.24% (3 month), 10.31% (6 month), 7.97% (one year) and 6.74% (two year). The storage and floral origin of beeswax significantly affected its phys- icochemical properties in a way that qualify it to act as a phase changing material in the thermal storage energy technology.
... Beeswax is a natural product composed of a mixture of lipophilic compounds constructed and moulded in hexagonal shape by worker honeybee mandibles (Bogdanov, 2004) to build the combs for honey and pollen storage and brood cradle. However, the production of beeswax, in general, is not the goal of beekeepers, therefore, manufactured wax sheet foundations, from recycling old combs, are provided to honeybees to extend and form the cells. ...
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To make beekeeping sustainable, the management of bee colonies to produce bee products financially viable without compromising the life of bees must implement acceptable practices such as the treatment of hives with appropriate products. Occasionally, the use of acaricides to treat the hives against varroosis is uncontrolled and can accumulate in the hives endangering the bee colonies. In this work, a screening of seven acaricides was carried out in different apiaries in Andalusia (Spain). Their distribution in beeswax, brood, honey, and bee, was evaluated in different times considering the influence of the environment (agricultural, urban and forest) surrounding the colonies. It was found that beeswax was highly polluted but honey, brood and bees had acceptable levels, below their respective MRL or LD50, past a certain period after varrocide treatments. The landscape management around the hives treated with products against Varroa does not influence the hive contamination. Acaricides banned for their use against Varroa, such as chlorfenvinphos, cypermethrin and especially acrinathrin, were found in the hives analysed.
... Beeswax (Figure 8) contains about 300 different components, such as 12-16% hydrocarbons (pentacosane, hentriacosane, heptacosane, nonacosane, and triacosane), 35-45% hydroxymonoesters and linear wax monoesters (basically derived from oleic, 15-hydroxypalmitic, and palmitic acids), 12-14% free fatty acids, 1% fatty alcohols, 15-27% esters and diesters of fatty acids, and some exogenous molecules (residues of pollen and propolis) [156]. Its composition may vary depending upon the different families and bee breeds [157]. Minerals (including Ca, Fe, Mn, P, Cu, K, Na, and Zn) and vitamins (including A, P, B6, B4, and B1) are also beeswax components. ...
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Bee products have been extensively employed in traditional therapeutic practices to treat several diseases and microbial infections. Numerous bioactive components of bee products have exhibited several antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, antiprotozoal, hepatoprotective, and immunomodulatory properties. Apitherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses the bioactive properties of bee products to prevent and/or treat different diseases. This review aims to provide an elaborated vision of the antiviral activities of bee products with recent advances in research. Since ancient times, bee products have been well known for their several medicinal properties. The antiviral and immunomodulatory effects of bee products and their bioactive components are emerging as a promising alternative therapy against several viral infections. Numerous studies have been performed, but many clinical trials should be conducted to evaluate the potential of apitherapy against pathogenic viruses. In that direction, here, we review and highlight the potential roles of bee products as apitherapeutics in combating numerous viral infections. Available studies validate the effectiveness of bee products in virus inhibition. With such significant antiviral potential, bee products and their bioactive components/extracts can be effectively employed as an alternative strategy to improve human health from individual to communal levels as well.
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For beekeeping to be sustainable, the management of colonies for the production of bee products must be economically viable without endangering the lives of bees, and must include acceptable practices such as the treatment of hives with appropriate products. Occasionally, the use of acaricides to treat the hives against varroosis is uncontrolled and can accumulate in the hives, putting the colonies at risk. In this work, a screening of seven acaricides was carried out in different apiaries in Andalusia (Spain). Their distribution in beeswax, brood, honey, and bees from colonies in different surroundings was evaluated at different times. It was found that beeswax was highly contaminated but honey, brood and bees had acceptable levels, below their respective MRL or LD50, after a certain period following varrocide treatments. Acaricides banned for their use against Varroa, such as chlorfenvinphos, cypermethrin and especially acrinathrin, were found in the hives analysed.
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Bees produce beeswax, which is used to make honeycombs is biodegradable, sustainable, compostable, eco-friendly. In addition to honey and pollen, honey bees use comb to store nectar and rear their young. More than 300 things are made with beeswax, such as candles, shoe polish and vehicle and floor polishes. Beeswax can also be used in the food processing and packaging, wax crayons, metal casting and modelling, food processing, and cosmetics industries. In addition to these, embalming, papyrus preservation, and artwork conservation are all possible uses for honey beeswax. Beeswax has numerous industrial, pharmacological, and medical uses that demand an understanding of its chemical makeup. Similar to honey, beeswax is considered effective in the treatment of bruising, inflammation and burns. Beeswax’s antibacterial properties have recently been the subject of inquiry, despite the fact that there are currently few studies on the subject. For example, beeswax has been proven to significantly reduce affectivity of disease casing bacteria like: Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and Salmonella enterica . This study discusses the characteristics, composition, and adulteration of beeswax, as well as its medicinal effects as an antibiotic and in skin therapy.
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The conventional approach for preparation of core-sheath fibers is coaxial electrospinning. Single-spinneret electrospinning of emulsions is a much less common method to obtain core-sheath fibers. Core-sheath structure may be generated by electrospinning of homogeneous blend solutions; however, reports on such cases are still scarce. Herein, the preparation of nanofibrous composites from poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), poly(L-lactide) (PLA) and beeswax (BW) by single-spinneret electrospinning of their homogeneous blend solutions in chloroform is reported. The produced fibers had core/double-sheath structure with a PEO core, PLA inner sheath and BW outer sheath. This original fiber structure was evidenced by transmission electron microscopy, selective extraction of BW or PEO, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The PLA/BW double sheath led to hydrophobicity of the PEO/PLA/BW mats. The tensile tests revealed that PEO/PLA/BW mats had substantially improved mechanical behavior as compared to PEO, PLA and PEO/BW mats. PEO/PLA/BW mats can be used as drug carriers as evidenced by the one-pot incorporation of the model drug 5-nitro-8-hydroxyquinoline (NQ) into the fibrous materials. Microbiological tests showed that PEO/PLA/BW/NQ had antimicrobial activity. Therefore, the new materials are promising for wound healing applications.
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The contamination sources of the bee colony can roughly be divided into environmental and apicul-tural ones. The environmental sources can be further divided in agricultural and non-agricultural ones. The following environmental sources were examined: heavy metals, radioactivity and pesticides. The contamination of bee products by these sources is relatively small and the levels found are non-toxic for humans. The bees seem to have a filtering effect, leaving honey relatively free of toxic contaminants. The contamination of pollen, wax and propolis is greater than that of honey. Pollen quality is mostly endangered by pesticides. The apicultural sources include varroacides, antibiotics, paradichlorobenzene etc. Synthetic varro-acides are the most important sources for contamination, as they have to be used for long-term varroa control. The acaricide levels, found in the different products after treatment with the different acar-icides, decrease in the following order: brood combs > honey combs » sugar feed ~ honey. The contamination level of the brood combs, found in our study, is: bromopropylate > coumaphos and fluvalinate. Non toxic acaricides as organic acids and thymol will not endanger honey quality, if applied after the prescriptions. During honey control activities of the Swiss Canton Laboratories, residues of antibiotics, used for the control of American foul brood were found. The measurements in 1999 to 200 1 showed that one third of the imported honey contained antibiotics, while 6 to 9 % of the Swiss honeys were contaminated, mostly by sulfathiazole. Some beekeepers use paradichlorobenzene (PDCB) for the control of wax moth. This substance was found in about 30 % of all analysed Swiss honeys. Residues coming from wood protectants of bee hive, honey harvest and storage are also dis. cussed. The results show that the main contamination danger for bee products originates in a lesser extent from the environment, than from the apicultural practice. Antibiotics are the most likely contaminants of honey. Acaricides are the most important contaminants of wax and propolis.
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Para-dichlorobenzene (PDCB) is an insecticide used in beekeeping for wax moth control. Analysis of PDCB residues were carried out on Swiss retail market honey samples by the cantonal food control authorities in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002. 173 Swiss honeys and 287 imported samples were analysed. On average, 30% of the Swiss honeys contained PDCB, 13% of them being above the Swiss tolerance value of 10 mug/kg. On the other hand, only 7% of the imported honeys were contaminated. The minimum values were 2 mug/kg, the maximum ones 112 mug/kg. Long-term monitoring of Swiss beeswax, carried out from 1993 to 2000, showed that most of the comb foundation beeswax produced in Switzerland is contaminated by PDCB with values ranging from one to 60 mg/kg. The results show that the reason for this contamination is the use of PDCB for the control of wax moth. These residues can be avoided as wax moth can be controlled successfully with alternative methods, carried out according to good apicultural practice.
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Alternative varroa control methods have occasionally been applied with success since the appearance of varroa. Their advantage is that no acaricides causing persistent residues have to be used. In the long term the good quality of the bee products can be guaranteed only under this condition. It is important, therefore, that as many beekeepers as possible decide to use alterative varroa control in the near future. The treatment concepts described below will support them in making their decision.
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In Switzerland the acaricides Folbex VA (bromopropylate, BP), Perizin (coumaphos, CM), Apistan (fluvalinate, FV) Bayvarol (flumethrin, FM) are used for varroa control. We studied the contamination level of BP, CM and FV in brood and honey combs, sugar feed and honey after field trials. In samples of recycled pure beeswax and propolis, gathered by beekeepers, we examined the level of all four acaricides. All samples were analysed by gas chromatography with ECD detection. After one normal acaricide treatment in autumn the brood comb was contaminated by BP, CM and FV with residues ranging from 1.8 to 48 mg/kg. The residue level in the honeycomb wax was on average 5 to 10 times lower than in the brood combs. The residues in the combs increased with increasing number (Folbex) or longer duration of treatment (Apistan). The residues in the sugar feed and honey were much lower than in the combs and were all below the Swiss MRL (maximum residue limit). In a laboratory experiment we examined the behaviour of the acaricides during the recycling of old combs into new beeswax. The acaricide concentration in the new recycled wax was on average 1.7 times higher than in old combs under all conditions (longer boiling times or higher temperatures). Since 1991 we have been studying the contamination level of the acaricides in all recycled Swiss beeswax. All commercial samples contain BP, CM and FV in varying amounts. Between the years 1993 and 1996 the residues varied between 2.4 and 4.3 for BP, 0.7 and 1.3 for CM and 1.9 and 2.9 for FV. No flumethrin (FM, a.i. in Bayvarol) above the detection limit of 0.25 mg/kg was found. All but one propolis sample (n = 27) gathered in 1996 contained FV (average 9.80 mg/kg), 10 contained BP (average 1.17 mg/kg) and two of them FM (average 2.54).
Proboscis extension was used to test the ability of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) to detect beeswax adulterated with carnauba wax (Copernicia cerifera Arruda Camara). Subjects were exposed to either 100% beeswax (honeycomb) (e.g., no carnauba wax), 100% beeswax (melted) (e.g., as commercial beeswax cake), 90%, 80%, 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20%, 10% beeswax/carnauba mixtures, 0% beeswax (i.e., 100% carnauba wax), or unscented air. Maximum responding was observed in bees exposed to the scent of honey comb or melted beeswax cake. The addition of as little as 10% carnauba wax was readily detected and resulted in reduced proboscis extensions. Few proboscis extensions occurred to bees exposed to unscented air or 100% carnauba wax. The results indicate that the proboscis extension reflex can be used as a rapid, inexpensive, and reliable bioassay for the detection of adulterated beeswax. The bioassay will be useful in developing countries where chemical and physical methods are unavailable for detecting adulterated beeswax and can serve as an initial component in a comprehensive program of adulteration detection. An equation that predicts the probability of a proboscis response given the percent of adulterated wax is presented.