Bees wax may not bee the best solution for coating your cheese. Bees come into contact with pesticides and fungicides on every run, its in the pollen and the nectar. They then store this in the wax comb. Inside the hive it is hot 92 degrees, more on a hot day and if the hive is in the sun. The pesticides easily transfer into the beeswax, concentrates and STAYS THERE [/b,]now available in unknown potentcies to leach into your lovely cheese. Bee keepers (ones who consider the bees and their environment) are changing out the wax every two years. It effects the quality of the brood growing in there and the honey. It should be done yearly but is too expensive and time consuming. Honey would be $75/lb.
Same for candle making, as you burn the beeswax you are releasing pesticides.
I am a bee keeper. [b]In the last 4 years my bees have been decimated twice due to pesticides and chemicals.
One educated neighbor sprayed over the fence, onto my bees, killing 46 out of 50 hives by October of last year.
I have been doing research and have developed a lineage of bees, (protocols, supplements and feeds) that only experience 7% - 10% losses in winter as opposed to the 40% - 60% the rest of the country is experiencing.
All my equipment is contaminated and I need to replace it and allow them to build up to make it through winter and I am VERY VERY quickly running out of time. I need your help.
Please visit, donate and spread the word? If the bees aren't here in 4 years, shortly after, neither will we.
Lee; Thank you for that scary information. I knew that bees are dying in large numbers and something must be done to stop it. It never entered my mind that the wax would hold the pesticides & such ... not sure what to do now... my second wheel of A-2 cheddar is in the press and will start air drying in the morning. Do I use my bees wax or petroleum based wax Petroleum products have all sorts of questionable things in them as well.. If I only had that cheese cave, I could just use cheese cloth and lard..... well got a few days to make up my mind, doubt that the cheese cave will be ready by then.
Thomas, the amount of pesticide in beeswax is highly variable. Do you know anything about where your beeswax was produced? Was it from a top bar hive or a Langstroth? Where was the hive located? Hives with frames get "uncapped" and then spun to remove the honey without disturbing the wax, so the wax can get pretty old.
I'm in my first summer of beekeeping, using a top bar hive. I've given the bees nothing but the hive and some honey when I first collected the swarm and placed them in my hive back in March. They seem to be thriving, I'm not planning to rob them until after the winter is done, but given their location in a pretty clean neighborhood, I think the beeswax will be clean enough for lip balm. I'm looking forward to that wax. . .
When you purchase beeswax, what happens is beekeepers from all over the U.S. sell their beeswax by the pound to different places. You don't know whether it is from a little local beekeeper or from migratory beekeepers. They mix huge batches together, melt it down, and filter and pour in different size molds that have a certain finished weight. Some of them are plastic molds, and the hot beeswax leaches out the BPA from the plastic.
The older the wax, typically the more time is has had to accumulate pesticides. Yes they filter it. It might come in with bits who knows what and triple filtered means that there are 3 sizes of usually SS mesh catching large to small particles. The youngest wax is usually capping wax, but that may or may not contain more pesticides depending o what the girls were eating when they made it and what they have come in contact with as they walk over it.
So capping wax is usually the whitest, but again not necessarily most pesticide free, (sometimes they bleach the wax). The smell of wax is intoxicating, and deceptive. You can't smell the pesticides. And me personally, no way would I use it in skin care products and apply it to delicate mucus membranes. The wax our great-grandmothers used is not the same wax we have today. And we never know where the girls have been since they can go up to five miles away on a foraging trip.
Coconut oil at room temp or cooler is solid, but definitely has a scent and taste, that can be bleached and unscented as well. That might bee a solution.
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
posted 4 years ago
I have used wonderfully fragrant beeswax to coat the cheese, and it worked great. There is a mystery I have not yet figured out, though, involving temperature of cheese and temperature of coating. When I used the beeswax, there were a few places where somehow the wax was not stuck to the surface of the cheese, kind of a blister of air, and there mold grew.
I've read about getting the wax hot enough to "kill" what's on the surface of the cheese, and of either having the cheese room temp or maybe it was cooler than normal aging temp, somehow involved in getting the wax to stick. I have nothing to contribute on these questions, just that they might add to this discussion, or find the expertise experience needed to solve the mystery here.
I am lucky to have available to me from a local bee man, wax from hives set 1 adjacent to a wilderness area, and 2 where the bees gather from a wild shrub called rabbit brush (which yields a butterscotch flavored honey). My guess is that these waxes are free of the contaminants coming from the spraying of agricultural crops the bees visit and pollinate. Does anyone have any recommendations about how and where to have this wax tested for unwanted and toxic residues?
On the question of using coconut oil, I would first try fragrant and flavorful coconut oil before going to the "processed to remove scent and flavor". In developing my cheese making skills, I try to keep in mind that cheese is older than industrialized processes, and that all the ancient cheese styles we are familiar with now, were developed before the industrial era, and developed under the local conditions the cheese is named for.
I am trying to let a particular style of cheese develop under the conditions I have here. Temp and humidity are out of "recommended" but something will develop under those conditions. Likewise, the coconut oil coating might make a distinctive part of the flavor when used.
My experience so far is that what I use as a coating does not contribute much to the overall flavor, just a hint, possibly a mysterious component to an overall cheese experience. One that would intrigue the palate of those who did not know coconut oil was used...
Butter is also worth considering for sealing the surface of the cheese.
Thekla; Did you dip or paint the wax on ? I'm wondering if a dipped cheese could trap air somehow ? I have written to where I purchased my wax to try to determine if it is from a single keeper or if it is as lee stated a conglomeration of many waxes from many locations. I too live adjacent to a wilderness area and the local honey is from Knapp weed, should be no pesticides there. If the wax I have turns out to be a bulk mixing I will contact my local beekeeper's to see about getting wax from them. Meanwhile i'll keep on the lookout for a used wine cooler or a cheap used deep freeze to make my cheese cave. I'm afraid digging in a root cellar isn't in the cards at this time.
Not all who wander are lost... J.R.R. Tolkien
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
posted 4 years ago
I dipped, but had to turn it over and dip again. then, being a nervous nellie, I brushed some on to "make sure" there were no gaps in the coverage. The brushing on allowed for cooling and made a big chunky thick covering. If brushing, I recommend a hotter wax.
I think if you can talk directly with the bee keeper, you have a better chance of knowing what you are getting. Even with the beekeeper I know, he also has hives in the local alfalfa, which is probably NOT organic, and if he pools all of HIS wax, then it is not likely to be as clean.
I've been thinking the way to get premium wax would be to deal with the beekeeper directly, find out what it would take to get the beeswax from the particular hive and honey type. I think it would be easier to deal directly with the beekeeper who is already keeping his varietal honeys separate, because s/he is recognizing there is a difference. Maybe I would have to take the wax unwashed and full of bee parts and debris if I wanted the varietal beeswax. Then learn the processing of wax, or find a beekeeper so small they ONLY had pure organic wax, but keepers that small usually want all their wax.
You should be able to have bees wax tested at just about any chemistry analysis lab, the county extension service should be able to give you a list of laboratories that do these tests.
Another option would be to find a local university, talk with the head of the chemistry department, they may agree to do your tests if you can provide enough data on collection sites, time of year, types of plants, researchers should be interested in this.
I heard back from where I bought my wonderful smelling bees wax. It came from 2 keepers in central Washington, (plenty of pesticides there) also they use their bees all the way down to northern California. I'm contacting a bee keeper north of here who may not transport his hives south. I've been searching for information about this. I'm starting to think the best a person can hope for is a local wax with less pesticides than main stream wax. I found a study that they attempted to do on this and could not complete for lack of a clean control, free of pesticides ! Seems that a big source is "mite" control and just about all bee keepers use it. Not to mention the pesticides & fungicides. On amazon I located a company that is selling "USDA certified organic wax" This should be clean ... RIGHT well they want $20.00 for a whopping 14 oz's !!! proud of their product. Then you read the questions & feedback. Hmm seems they source their wax from keepers in numerous country's that are certified by the USDA ?? USDA certified and regularly inspected for pesticides overseas ? I find this hard to believe. Then in the feed back I start finding posts that say it smells horrible ... company responds that will go away when you heat it WHAT !!! My "possibly contaminated wax" smells heavenly before, during and after heating. Several buyers left their purchase sitting open for a month hoping the smell would dissipate... no such luck... they threw out that very expensive "organic" wax ! I don't want to make body care products, I just want to seal my cheese. Paraffin wax is petroleum product, don't really want that in my cheese. If the pollutant levels in bees wax are high enough to hurt me & my cheese then the bees would be dead! For me until I can build/ buy a cheese cave, I will use bees wax. Starting with my wax from central Washington and hopefully switching to local wax from the cabinet mountain wilderness area. In our "roundup"ready world just about all food that we buy mainstream is going to be contaminated with something. Grow your own , buy locally , Know your farmer !
Not all who wander are lost... J.R.R. Tolkien
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
I think your best source is a local, small scale, top bar beekeeper. You might want to look for local beekeeping groups. Online, you could start by looking for top bar beekeepers, then ask them if they know anyone who will ship some wax. Of course, it still matters where the bees forage, and some TB beeks use miticides, so there are more things to figure out still.
(Top bar hives end up producing a lot more wax [oops - wax not honey] because they don't have frames, just flat pieces of wood from which the bees hang combs in that lovely upside down Arch shape.)
You still need to use caution when you see the "Organic" label. The USDA does not do the testing themselves, instead there are contractors that do the certifications and any testing.
This leaves a huge opening for things to not be as they should be. The USDA.gov site has the complete run down on what that "certified organic" label allows.
You might be very surprised and what is allowed to be used on organic farms.