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Paraffin Wax and It’s uses in Beekeeping

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Paraffin Wax Candles
photo credit: filhodejaneiro via photopin cc

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:- Bio standards 5.3.1a

Peters Wax Dipper
Peters Wax Dipper

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
  • Supers
  • Hive lids
  • Nucleus boxes
  • Feeders
  • Metal queen excluders
  • Bee escape boards without plastic or fine mesh inserts

Paraffin wax Stores Heat!

photo credit: sevensixfive via photopin cc
photo credit: sevensixfive via photopin cc
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

  • Candle-making
  • 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

photo credit: Aristocrats-hat via photopin cc
photo credit: Aristocrats-hat via photopin cc

I know at lease one organic Beekeeper that dips his boxes and then paints the boxes and has had 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.

photo credit: jc-pics via photopin cc
photo credit: jc-pics via photopin cc

Well that's my thoughts, we would be keen to hear from you. Do you use Parafin Wax in your beekeeping?

Gary Fawcett

Gary enjoys designing new kiwimana products which we sell through our on-line shop.He is passionate about saving the Bees and encouraging urban beekeeping.Gary loves to write about issues that affect the Bees and our environment.He is also into tramping/walking in the beautiful New Zealand bush.

6 thoughts on “Paraffin Wax and It’s uses in Beekeeping

  1. I am shocked they include it in organic status. Shows how much organic is a low standard when it allow petroleum products.

    1. Yes I have never understood that either.

    2. Yes I have never understood that either.

  2. We found that beeswax candles with a thin paraffin core burnt a lot better than pure beeswax candles

  3. We use hot wax (parafine) dipping on regular basis. For each new piece of equipment (wooden) and when necessary for old ones. And always for stuff where bees died with signs of nosema disease etc. – as a desinfection.
    We use it for ten years, it took fire at least three times. Always OK (thank!)- I have powder extinguishers around the work place and the dipper is placed under open sky only. First time I was surprised, afterward I knew what is it about and it was better. I would recommend the “mind training” for this situation – to imagine what will happen and what should my reaction be.
    There are some photoes: http://vcelky.cz/fotobanka-23.htm.
    The inspiration for start with hot wax dipping we get from New Zealand – thanks a lot, today I think it was very good decision.

    Jakub
    Czech republic, Europe
    180+ colonies

  4. I am shocked that this is promoted as safe for humans or bees. When paraffin is heated even at candle temperatures it gives off toxic vapours like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and at times aldehydes and ketones. A breathing apparatus should be used when heating it. The toxins can accumulate in organs such as liver and kidneys and it impacts on the immune system. Why you would want it near bees I do not know and it is possibly contributing to bee disease while protecting a box from rotting.

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