Beeswax (NL:Bijenwas)

I thought I’d add a quick post about how to source beeswax as I found it difficult to find when I first moved to Amsterdam.  It’s an incredibly useful product and buying it from beekeepers who work in a natural and sustainable way can help to support their work and thus the dwindling bee population.  I use it for candle making and when concocting herbal salves, ointments or lip balms so I keep a few kilos in stock. If you are only planning to add it to ointments occasionally, you will not need to buy much and a small block may last you for years.

There are lots of small scale Beekeepers (NL: Imkers) in the Netherlands and most are happy to sell fairly small amounts of beeswax to private individuals.  They generally sell the wax as a “cake” which is a brick or cone shaped block containing about 1Kg of beeswax.  Most often the wax I buy directly from beekeepers contains a few extra bits and pieces such as bee wings. They are easy to spot and remove if you don’t want them in your products but they don’t seem to have any adverse effects if left in.  Local beekeepers seldom alter the colour of their wax, this is another advantage of buying from them.  You can order beeswax from several herb and candle maker suppliers online, sometimes it is sold in pellet form which is really easy to use and sometimes it is available in different shades.  Since learning about the impact that intensive beekeeping can have on the bee population, I now prefer to buy unadulterated beeswax locally and from well managed sources.

How to find a source of beeswax in the city:

  • Visit the farmer’s markets and ask the candle makers or honey sellers if they can sell you a block of beeswax or if they can suggest a local source.  You may need to order it from them.  I find the honey seller at Noordermaarkt very helpful.
  • Ask furniture restorers if they can sell you a block of beeswax or if they have a local source.
  • Try health food shops; you could purchase a single pure beeswax candle to grate into ointments.  Not as economical as buying a whole block but it could be useful.
  • Contact the beekeepers directly.
  • Here are a couple of organisations who try to work with bees in a sustainable way, reducing the stress they are under and thus increasing their resilience to pests and diseases such as Varroa mites:
    Natural Beekeeping Network

    Friends of the Bees
  • Get an urban beehive?  Permaculture Magazine published a useful article about beekeeping in issue 38.  Here’s a link to a text only version of the article.  They have published others on the topic including a step by step guide on how to build your own hive. I don’t quite have space for a hive at the moment but city bee hives can be very successful.  In some countries urban dwellers are not allowed to keep bees, in others they are welcome.  Today I found a very interesting blog by a secret urban beekeeper in USA.  There is a lot of interesting information online for those who are interested.
  • Bijenpark Amsterdam is an organisation that promotes Amsterdam beekeeping.  They are based on the city outskirts, I’m not sure how they manage their bees but they may be a very useful contact.

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