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CHAPTER XIV.

BEES-WAX.

BEES-WAX is a solid, compact, unctuous substance, usually of a yellow color.

"Bees-wax may be said to be a concrete animal oil, holding the same relation to the fixed oils that resin does to the essential oils."

Prime wax is of a bright yellow color, and an agreeable odor," which is most perceptible on burning a portion of it. The best is procured from new combs that have never been used for breeding purposes. Another test by which to judge the quality of wax " is to pass the thumb nail forcibly over its surface; if good, the nail will pass with a kind of jerk ; but if no obstruction be felt, the wax may be looked upon as adulterated with suet or some similar substance.

"White wax is nothing more than the yellow wax that has been exposed in thin flakes or shreds to the action of the sun and air. There is an apparatus for melting and reducing the wax into shreds or ribbons, but the process of conversion under any circumstances is tedious and dependent on the weather."

The following " says Mr. Parks, in his Chemical Essays," is the usual process as it is conducted in England. Common bees-wax is melted upon hot water ; and when in a fluid state it is laded out of the copper, together with a part of the water, into a wooden vessel, and in this it is allowed to remain a few hours for the impurities to subside from it. The purified wax is then put, while still hot, into a colander full of holes, through which it runs and falls upon a revolving metallic roller, which dips into cold water contained in a vessel placed underneath. As the melted wax runs through the colander upon the revolving roller, the motion of the cylinder forms it into thin shavings, which cool as they come in contact with the water, and in an accumulated heap into the water below. These shavings of wax being now in a suitable form for absorbing oxygen, are taken out of the tub and exposed in a field to the action of the atmosphere, till they become sufficiently white."

USES OF WAX Edit

" In some countries, bees-wax is very extensively employed in religious ceremonies of the inhabitants." It is also much used in the arts. To the nurseryman and orchardist it is invaluable.

" The use of wax in making candles, ointments, etc., is well known. The house-wives of this and other countries employ it to prevent bed ticks from losing their feathers ; they spread the ticking on a table and well rub its inner surface with a lump of wax ; to spread it equally, and to cause it to enter into the tissue of the fabric, it is polished by a vigorous friction with a ball of solid glass or the bottom of a bottle.

According to Buffon, the bees-wax of tropical climates is too soft for any but medicinal purposes. Bevan gives the following:

ANALYSIS OF WAX Edit

  • Carbon 81,79.
  • Oxygen 5,54.
  • Hydrogen 12,67.

HOW WAX IS OBTAINED Edit

The bees-wax of commerce is obtained by melting such combs as are only fit for that purpose. This is done after the honey has been drained from them ; the usual method is as follows: Have ready a vessel of a size suited to the quantity of comb to be rendered; place it over a slow fire; fill it about one-third full of water; as soon as it reaches the boiling point, drop in the combs arid press them down, and as they melt, stir the mass till it is thoroughly melted ; a follower, to fit inside of the boiling vessel, is made by fastening a wire screen to a ring or hoop ; this is to be placed on the top of the melted combs and heavily weighted down, causing the wax to rise to the top, while the offal is pressed to the bottom. A tub or other vessel, half full of clear, cold water, is to be ready, into which the wax is to be removed with a dipper, as it rises through the follower. Add more water from time to time, and continue to boil and stir, and lade out the wax as long as any rises. The debris in the vessel may then be thrown away as useless. Remelt the wax, adding water as at first. Have at hand a deep dish, pan, or other vessel ; grease the bottom and sides, to cause the cake to part freely when cold. Strain the wax through a fine wire screen or coarse open cloth, into the receiving vessels, and then set them away till cold. When taken out, it is fit for market. A press, suited to the purpose of rendering wax, might be made, so as to save time and labor.

QUANTITY OBTAINED FROM A HIVE Edit

The quantity of wax obtained from diiferent hives varies ; a fair average, however, is about two and a half pounds to a hive containing two thousand and two hundred cubic inches in the clear.

WAX AN ARTICLE OF COMMERCE Edit

" Bees-wax forms a considerable article of commerce.The principal supplies are derived from the Baltic, the Levant, the Barbary coast, and North America."

Humboldt informs us that upwards of eighty thousand pounds' worth is annually imported from Cuba to New Spain, and that the total export from that island in 1803, was worth upwards of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds. Upon this subject, an English writer, after lamenting the increasing neglect of bee culture in that country, says:

There is hardly beeswax enough produced in England to answer the demand for lip salve alone ; but importations from America supply all our wants.

" The demand for bees-wax has been constantly increasing, while the supply has been decreasing the result is, that prices have advanced, with no prospect that there will ever be an over supply of that article."

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