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Honey Bees in the Garden: Beeswax

By Mindy03
August 12, 2011

Did you know that candles and cosmetics are made with beeswax? Beeswax has many more little known uses; let's take a look at this important gift from the tiny honey bee.

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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 11, 2011 6:16 PM CST
I rub beeswax on wooden handles of garden tools and kitchen knives, for a grip that's almost sticky. The friction is so high that, if it's a tool that has to slide in one of your hands, like an axe or splitting maul handle, beeswax can encourage blisters faster than other finishes.

Usually I also soak a little mineral oil into the wood to protect it from water, but that leaves a slippery grip, which the beeswax corrects.

Paraffin wax is cheaper, but leaves a hard, slick surface that doesn't improve the grip. But it does protect aganst splinters and blisters somewhat, if the handle has to slide as you use the tool.

To protect metal, a thin coat of paraffin may last longer than motor oil or mineral oil. One way to get a thin layer of wax is to rub on some Johnson Paste Wax, or make your own with paraffin dissolved in mineral spirits.
[Last edited by dave - Aug 12, 2011 2:13 AM (+)]
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Aug 12, 2011 7:38 AM CST
Thanks Rick I hadn't run across any information on using it for gardening tools. And if I had to buy it I think I would go the cheaper paraffin wax for tools and save the beeswax for furniture inside the house. But if you are a beekeeper it's pretty cheap Whistling
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 12, 2011 4:43 PM CST
>> if I had to buy it I think I would go the cheaper paraffin wax for tools and save the beeswax

A friend got me a chunk of "raw", uncleaned beeswax. I thought that just meant "dark".

But it's really dirty and gritty. So I mostly use a little one-ounce chunk I bought from a guy who sells "designer honey".

If I'm rubbing a whole lot of wax into a long handle, I also use mostly paraffin (after letting some mineral oil soak in for a day or two. it might be clever to leave the handle out in hot sun, or 'melt the wax in' over a hot light bulb or hair dryer on "hot". I usually just wait a while, then rub it well with a waxy cloth to smear it into pores.

But then, if I want a really good grip, I'll rub just a little beeswax over the paraffin every few months. I got the habit from wooden knife handles, where it makes more sense.

I got the tip about waxing metal from a woodworking group where they leave expensive machimnes in drafty humid workshops. Buffing Johnson's Paste Wax onto metal surfaces prevents rust, and leaves a hard slippery surface for wood to slide over.

Apparently there is a "cabinet makers version" and a "floor wax version", where the floor wax version has grit in it, which is nasty for handles or woodworking machines.

Corey
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Aug 12, 2011 6:16 PM CST
Interesting about the Johnson's Wax. I didn't know they made two kinds but then I've not bought any in a long time.

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 12, 2011 7:20 PM CST
That was based on information from a USENET woodworking newsgroup, and several people confirmed it.

When I went to buy some, I only saw one kind, and couldn't tell which it was. Fortunately, it had not griottiness at all, even rubbed on wooden furniture.

But I thoguht I would mention it in case someone used it on an axe handle and then abraded their palm and fingers!

Corey
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Aug 13, 2011 3:56 AM CST

Plants Admin

Adding to Rick's list of beeswax uses, paddle wax which is used to provide a better grip on slippery kayak and canoe paddles are beeswax based. Traditionally Native Americans used beeswax for this purpose. It works very well in extremely cold and wet conditions. I've read that the traditional material used by the Inuit hunters of Labrador was less appealing, a mixture based on caribou dung.
Evan
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Aug 13, 2011 5:38 AM CST
Ewwww Evan on the caribou dung. I'm learning all kinds of interesting stuff from you two.
Name: Lee
Willis, Texas
Better to give than to git!
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Region: United States of America Permaculture Birds Hummingbirder
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TweedleLeeDee
Aug 13, 2011 8:14 AM CST
Thanks, Margaret....for the great article! Another example of the many "miracles" around us in the garden/natural world.

If you haven't already........
I recommend that y'all click on the "propolis" highlight in Margaret's article........also check out "Royal Jelly" in Wikipedia to find out about other remarkable products the honeybee produces,...as well as the amazing properties of them....what the bees do with them and what we do with with them! Thumbs up
How about our baby 3 legged frog?
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Aug 13, 2011 10:26 AM CST
Thanks Lee, I'm glad everyone is enjoying the articles.

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