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Paraffin Wax is white wax that is derived from petroleum. Its often used in the making of candles.
What are the uses for Paraffin wax in Beekeeping
The biggest use of Paraffin wax by beekeepers is as a preservative to help protect their bee hive boxes from the elements.
Which surprised me, being a petroleum based substance that it meets the organic honey standards in New Zealand. Thanks to deejaycee from the New Zealand beekeepers forum for confirming this and provided this link:- BioGro Organic Standards – Module 13
The process for dipping your beehives in Paraffin wax involves using what is called a “Paraffin wax dipper”. The wax is heated up to a liquid form and each hive is dipped in the dipper for around seven minutes. This helps preserve the boxes.
This process can be extremely dangerous and Paraffin dippers can be very expensive to get built. So a wax dipper is probably not economical for a hobby beekeeper with a few hives. If you know a commercial beekeeper you may be able to hire out his dipper for your use.
Paraffin wax dipping is also used to disinfect hive parts from an American Foul Brood virus infected hive. Items need to be dipped for 10 minutes at a minimum temperature range of 150 – 160 Celsius.
The following parts may also be dipped:-
- Wooden bottom boards
- Hive lids
- Nucleus boxes
- Metal queen excluders
- Bee escape boards without plastic or fine mesh inserts
Paraffin wax Stores Heat!
Another interesting fact about Paraffin wax is that it stores heat, and is used in the production of dry wall in the building industry. The wax heats up during the day the wax melts and stores heat. At night when the wax hardens the heat is given off.
I wonder if that helps Paraffin wax dipped hive boxes give the bees some heat at night. I would be interested to hear your thoughts if you use dipped boxes?
Other uses for Parafin Wax
- Coatings for waxed paper or cloth
- Anti-caking agent, moisture repellent, and dustbinding coatings for fertilizers
- Solid propellant for hybrid rocket motors
- Surf Wax for all you surfers out there
I know one organic Beekeeper that dips his boxes and then paints the boxes and has good results with the boxes not rotting.
We have heard of fires caused by wax dippers, you have to be careful because if the wax gets too hot the vapour can ignite.
Well that’s my thoughts, we would be keen to hear from you. Do you use Parafin Wax in your beekeeping operation?
- Candles in the dark flickr photo by Peter Becker shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
- Man Burn flickr photo by Duncan Rawlinson – Duncan.co – @thelastminute shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license
- Surf flickr photo by nazgulhead shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license