Rüdiger Dietrich made this comment to my recycling post earlier:
I have one question for the wax recycling, but didn’t found a way to post the question in previous contribution. Could you please so kind and arrange this contribution accordingly?
My question is: The goal for the own wax cycle is to have control about the ingredients of the wax, that would be otherwise (if you buy) equivocal as acids or pesticides could be inside the wax or may even come from african feral bee swarms, where these bees have to die just for the wax….
However, if you melt for instance honey combs that had rape honey or even rape pollen insight, then pesticides used from the farmer will be found in your wax as well, woun’t it? How do you control this problem?
Wax in the nest
Your question raises the need for dealing somewhat with this issue. Wax in the nest have a lot of functions for the bees. One of them is to take care of chemicals and even pathogens not so good for the bees and hide them in the wax. With feral bees sooner or later the colony dies for a number of reasons. The Wax moth will deal with the old wax and it will not be recycled as we do, or the bees will finally tear it down and build new wax combs. This is good as when the wax will be too filled with bad stuff it will leak back into honey and brood cells with larvae food and larvae.
We have seen reports of investigations of old wax combs in USA which are holding a lot of residues from agricultural chemicals as well as miticide residues. WIth small amounts in the wax this is not something to be very concerned about, even if we don’t like it. Let me take an example.
Maybe ten years ago foundation wax from organic beekeepes in USA that was recycling their own wax making their own foundation was tested for residues. About 2 mg/kg fluvalinate was found. How could that happen? Not miticieds were used in the operation. Actually the operation was treatment free and still is. But some years before this test a big pack of foundation was bought from a big wax dealer in USA. Of course the most probable explanation is that the Fluvalinate residues came into the operation from the foundation bought.
In spite of these residues the operation has been thriving as a treatment free operation and a big lot of honey that was exported was tested for foreign chemicals and none was found.
What I’m saying is that a small amount of residues is tolerable for the bees and honey. Even if you don’t want it and should do everything you can to avoid it. But you don’t want that wax for making hand cream and lip balm. And probably you don’t want propolis harvested from such colonies. But honey seems to be okey.
Wax for foundation and hand creame
Cappings wax is what you should use for making foundation and hand creame. Cappings wax is a mixture of cappings and the outer part of the cell walls. The bottom part of the cell walls are made with the help of wax from the foundation. The rest is made from newly produced wax by the bees. And the wax is usually clean, if the bees havn’t been contaminated with chemicals from farmland.
Also wax form foundationless frames and Warréhives and TBH is clean if not contaminated from sprayed farmland.
Old comb’s wax
Wax from recycled old combs you use for foundation if you know it’s clean from pesticide residues. If it’s minor residues you can well use it for foundation as well. If it’s a lot of residues in the old combs you use the wax for making candles. when the wax burns the pesticides in the wax breaks down.
If you’re not sure about the residue content and you really want to know you can have it analyzed. Otherwise you can use it for wax candles.