Why Australian Beeswax Should Matter To You
Everything you need to know about Aussie beeswax
A pure natural raw material like Australian beeswax should be pretty straight forward shouldn’t it? I mean it’s just an ingredient.
When I first started out making Apiwraps I thought it was an easy thing to find, grab, and use. But as I bought some from here and some from there, I realised they were completely different from each other. I admit there was detour down a path that included a 20kg sack of pellet beeswax that smelt like a chemical factory and I now realise was likely about 85% paraffin wax (it was sold to me by a candle supplier here in Australia as 100% pure beeswax pellets). I didn’t use it – and it’s still in the back of the shed waiting for it’s demise.
Suddenly, the step in this process that had seemed simple, meant hours more research and figuring out
What the heck was going on with Australian beeswax!
So, what did I discover?
1. Not all ‘Australian Beeswax’ is 100% Pure Beeswax
Australian beeswax that is sold from reputable sources should likely be 100% pure beeswax, but this is not granted.
Unfortunately beeswax which is sold for candles or other uses is not considered a food ingredient and therefore is not regulated. It’s actually very easy to ‘cut the wax’ with other types of wax that are much cheaper – and you’d never know.
So long as the amount of paraffin is less than 50% it’s very hard to tell the difference between a finished product that is made with pure wax or adulterated wax. The character of the wax and the smell are the easiest identifiers.
There have been cases of large retailers selling blocks of beeswax that have been identified as 50% paraffin in the past years. Also Australian candle makers selling soy wax candles that have a small amount of beeswax added and labelled as beeswax candles. No biggie if you love your soy wax candles – but if you have health concerns about burning hydrogenated GMO soy oil (laced with glyphosate) in your house it’s a bit of a concern.
Beeswax products imported from other countries will have sourced beeswax from suppliers who have maximised yields in this way and so the likelihood of imported products being free from paraffin is very low.
When I’m buying beeswax for Apiwraps now, after years of research and trial and error, I’m fortunate to have close relationships with only a few small family beekeeping operations. I’ve been able to ask lots of questions and really know who I’m buying from and what I’m buying. It’s lovely to see the differences in the colour and texture of the wax as the seasons change and the bees visit different flowers. Every batch of wax compound I make has to be tested and the ratios tweaked to account for the differences that each harvest brings.
2. Australian Beeswax Is Uncontaminated By Chemicals
In Australia, we’re lucky that we’re not fighting varroa or other pathogens that Europe and The USA have to contend with. The strict quarantine laws that protect Australia combined with the relatively large land areas for farming mean that we don’t have the density of bee colonies that can spread disease. One of the things that we do need to be aware of in Australia are AFB (American Foul Brood) and EFB (European Foul Brood) both bacterial diseases that are sometimes treated in commercial apiaries with an antibiotic nicknamed ‘lolly’.
When I questioned our beekeeper on his use of treatments he was surprised;
“Lolly! No way – we used that stuff once in the eighties. Dreadful stuff! It doesn’t work anyway – the best way to make sure you don’t get disease is to keep healthy strong bees and don’t mess with them too much.”
The wax we use is a little darker than some and has a rich lovely scent and excellent pliability which shows that it hasn’t been treated with chemicals in the cleaning process. Beeswax that is brittle and has a trace of sharp chemical smell to it may have been treated with chemicals to dissolve particles instead of being cleaned by manual filtering.
Imported beeswax will have taken on traces of antifungals, antivirals and antiparasitic drug treatments that are used in large scale commercial beekeeping.
By keeping our beeswax supply exclusively to small scale Aussie apiarists we’ve ensured that the wax we use is clean and free from any chemicals that might cross over. You can really only find out about this level of detail if you’re buying direct from a beekeeper. Or keeping bees yourself! That’s a great way to know too.
3. Honey bees are an important part of our farming community
The pandemic has shown us how valuable our Australian supplies are when international freight and transport systems are slowed up.
We’ve seen the memes out there of all the fruit and vegetables we’d have to live without if the honeybees were wiped out.
Bees are such an important part of our farming system! If the cry of ‘save the bees’ is going to make a difference, it’s our apiarists who are going to lead the way.
I’ve never met anyone more passionate about keeping healthy colonies on track. While urbanisation and monoculture farming is having an impact on native bee populations and other insect life, honey bees are carrying out an important role of their own.
4. So, this is why we’re so excited to help the Australian beeswax market, and here’s what you can do to help:
√ Buy local honey from your nearest farmer’s market.
√ Find beeswax candles from makers who use Australian beeswax.
√ Choose organic fruit and veggies whenever you can to support organic farming.
√ Never ever use glysophate around your home.
Oh! And use Apiwraps for your sandwiches, knowing that they’re made with beautiful, pure, clean beeswax sourced from small family beekeepers right here in Australia.
Want to talk beeswax on your podcast or blog? Contact us now to chat!