The present invention relates to apiculture components such as honeycomb
foundations, artificial honeycombs, beehive covers, beehive bottom boards, beehive
queen excluders, beehive queen cages, beehive cell cups and any other elements
and surfaces which are used in a beehive and which are accessible to the bees.
The present invention also relates to a method of operating a beehive.
Bees, like all other living things, are subject to disease, pests
and parasites. In the commercial production of honey it is necessary to maintain
the health of the bee colonies in order to maintain production and also to provide
honey of high quality. In relation to the treatment of bee diseases, nowadays fat
soluble substances are used, resulting in an increased accumulation of residues
in industrially sold beeswax. As the beekeepers are gathering and using the melted
wax again and again, from one year to the next, the problem is aggravating every
season. Furthermore, pathogens can be spread by using bee wax coming from abroad
which has been demonstrated for Paenibacillus larvae, causing American Foulbrood
disease in honeybee colonies.
Bee colonies which are infested by the mite Varroa Jacobsoni are inevitably
killed unless the beekeeper takes measures against them. One method of control
is by spraying, dusting or fumigating with acaricides in the beehive and an effectiveness
of 80 to 90 % has been reported. In order to increase the effectiveness even further,
DE-A-341 7674 suggests the introduction of the acaricide into the wax foundation
which will be drawn by the bees into a final honeycomb. One problem with this technique
is that is common to reuse bees wax from one year to the next and therefore that
the levels of chemicals such as insecticides, fungicides and antibiotics in the
wax may increase with time. There is the danger that chemicals used to ward off
insects may find their way into the honey and into the human food chain as well
as into beeswax candles. Further, the prolonged exposure of insects, bacteria and
fungi to insecticides, fungicides and antibiotics has the effect of selecting and
favouring those insects, bacteria and fungi which become resistant by mutation.
It is now well understood that the increasing prophylactic use of insecticides,
fungicides and antibiotics is accompanied by an increasing resistance to these
chemicals so that the pharmaceutical industry is perpetually in a neck-on-neck
race with the developing resistance. This has resulted in very conservative treatment
strategies when powerful insecticides, fungicides or antibiotics are involved.
However, when such chemicals are used only when there is definite evidence of infection
or infestation, there is always the possibility that there is not a 100 % eradication
of the pest or disease. This means that these pests and diseases may be carried
forward to the next years bee colonies. There has been a need for a solution to
this problem with beeswax for some time.
The success of a bee colony argues for cohesion of individuals in
social activity: as few as 50 bees will form a cluster, with or without a queen,
and the same number is sufficient for comb construction. The cluster provides a
mechanism for the regulation of the nest temperature and much of the colony's behaviour
is mediated through a large series of chemical and tactile interactions. The combs
are the result of stimuli acting on the bees and also provide direct stimuli to
the bees themselves. The beeswax is first elaborated (mandibulated) and modified
to form a comb wax of reasonable stiffness, strength and flexibility. The working
properties of the wax and its end-use are finely tuned to the thermal conditions
of the nest. One problem in commercially operated beehives is the mechanical stability
of man-made beeswax foundations which are drawn into the final honeycombs by the
bees. When the beehive temperature approaches the melting point of beeswax (about
62°C.) the mechanical properties of the beeswax reduce which can result in sagging
or collapse of the honeycomb. Various attempts have been made to use a more stabile
core to the foundations such as paper, aluminium or plastic onto which a thin layer
of beeswax is applied. For instance, the beeswax may be applied to a wire mesh,
a glass fibre mat (DE-A-4011168) or a fibre board (US 1,672,853). One reason why
artificial honeycomb foundations are provided is that energy generated from the
available food can be diverted into honey production rather than into beeswax production.
Hence, the bees honey production is increased. Despite these attempts to use artificial
and natural materials in beehives, foundations still usually consist of a thin plate
of beeswax which is mounted on a wooden frame and supported by metal wires. On
both sides punched or moulded hexagonal depressions serve as starting points for
the formation of honeycomb cells drawn out by the bees. One disadvantage with introducing
hard materials into the core of foundations is that the bees often reposition the
wax both on one foundation as well as between foundations. This means that when
sufficient bees wax has been removed by the bees the underlying hard material is
exposed and strips of beeswax may come free.
Attempts have been made to use plastic materials for foundations.
For instance, US 1,282,645 describes the use of baekelite as a foundation. However,
it is not clear from the historical records whether combs were ever successfully
drawn on the baekelite material. As far as it is known, a beeswax coating was used
over the baekelite but the odour of carbolic acid was not masked completely by
the wax and when the bees gnawed through the wax they were repelled. FR-A-1035428
discloses the use of microcrystalline waxes in a foundation but the composition
is not recorded as showing mimetic properties. More recently, in US 4,992,073,
the use of a mixture of 7.5 to 15% weight of beeswax and a polypropylene copolymer
has been proposed. Due to the fact that beeswax is included in this mixture, this
is not a completely synthetic foundation and the reuse of contaminated beeswax
cannot be eliminated by this known procedure. A similar problem occurs with the
beeswax mixture proposed in US 1,582,605 in which a foundation is proposed made
from blended vegetable wax and beeswax whereby the outer layer is preferably beeswax.
A suitable vegetable wax is considered to be carnauba wax and a satisfactory mixture
is said to be 30% carnauba wax and 70% pure bees wax.
Despite the many proposals for synthetic or partially synthetic foundations,
a completely satisfactory result has not been obtained and foundation manufacture
is nowadays still very similar to that of one hundred years ago. The foundations
may not be too thick or too hard or the bees will not accept them. However, thin
foundations must be structurally sound and able to carry the load of the fully
drawn comb full of honey at temperatures experienced inside a beehive, e.g. 35
- 37°C. Any materials used must also be of relatively low price to remain economically
viable. Additional thermal and mechanical loadings may be placed upon the foundation
during honey extraction and post-extraction sterilising processes which are usually
carried out at such a high temperature that they melt and remove any beeswax which
has been applied to the underlying structure. This means that any inner foundation
support (e.g. wire) has to be recoated with beeswax which increases the costs of
the final foundation. Last but not least, the bees must also accept the material
used in the foundation.
One further aspect of life in a bee-hive influences the choice of
suitable materials. It is believed that communication within the hive is carried
out by chemical substances which form a "chemical language". Pheromones are one
group of such chemicals which are sometimes called "social chemicals". Within the
beehive these chemicals may be transmitted by contact, i.e. they may be rubbed
off the bees onto beeswax and other bees and transported around the hive. Any material
within a beehive must support this language. Any foreign materials must not block,
mask or modify any of these chemical messengers otherwise important commands within
the language my be distorted or eliminated.
In the literature reference can often be found to so-called "beeswax
substitutes". These materials are used in chemical formulations such as cosmetic
or pharmaceutical products as a replacement for natural beeswax. These beeswax
substitutes have nothing to do with materials used in beehives as described in
the present invention nor in apiculture in general. Webster's New International
Dictionary defines the word "mimetic" as "characterised by or exhibiting biological
Waxes derived from petroleum are well known and include hydrocarbons
of three types: paraffin, semi-microcrystalline, and microcrystalline. The quality
and quantity of the wax separated from the crude oil depend on the source of the
crude oil and the degree of refining to which it has been subjected prior to wax
separation. Paraffin, semi-microcrystalline, and microcrystalline waxes may be
differentiated using the refractive index of the wax and its congealing point as
determined by ASTM D 938 or DIN ISO 2207. In addition, petroleum waxes can be distinguished
by their viscosities. For example, semi-microcrystalline wax has a kinetic viscosity
at 98.9°C. of less than 10 mm2/s (=cSt), while microcrystalline wax
has a kinetic viscosity at 98.9°C. of greater than or equal to 10 mm2/s
Microcrystalline wax usually contains substantial portions of hydrocarbons
other than normal alkanes. It is usually obtained from the highest boiling fraction
of a crude oil. Microcrystalline waxes display both chemical and physical properties
quite different from paraffin wax. At similar melting points, the microcrystallines
have a much higher molecular weight than the paraffins. Microcrystalline waxes
have a very delicate crystalline structure, the crystals of which may be of a fine
needle or short plate type.
In the manufacture of conventional microcrystalline waxes, the bottoms
stream from a vacuum tower or "bright stock" is deasphalted to produce a heavy
deasphalted oil which is then extracted to partially remove aromatics. Hydrocarbonaceous
feeds from which underwaxed bright stocks may be obtained usually contain aromatic
compounds as well as normal and branched paraffins of very long chain lengths.
These feeds usually boil in the gas oil range. Typical feedstocks are vacuum gas
oils with normal boiling ranges above about 350° C. and below about 600° C., and
deasphalted residual oils having normal boiling ranges above about 480° C. and
below about 650° C. Reduced topped crude oils, shale oils, liquefied coal, coal,
coke distillates, flask or thermally cracked oils, atmospheric residua, and other
heavy oils can also be used as the feed source. Other sources may be the mineral
ozocerite or lignite.
Typically, the hydrocarbonaceous feed is distilled at atmospheric
pressure to produce a reduced crude (residuum) which is then vacuum distilled to
produce a distillate fraction and a residue fraction. The vacuum residuum fraction
may then be hydrocracked using standard reaction conditions and catalysts in one
or more reaction zones. In general, refineries process at least one distillate
fraction and one residuum fraction to produce several base stocks. Typically, several
distillate fractions and the residuum of a vacuum distillation operation are refined.
These fractions have acquired various names in the refining art. In particular,
the residuum fraction is commonly referred to as "bright stock".
The term "microcrystalline wax" generally refers to deoiled (to less
than about 5 wt % oil) wax having a melting point varying from about 140° F. to
180° F. which is recovered from this deasphalted, extracted oil by dewaxing and
deoiling. The wax obtained by such a process is characterised by a poor odour,
a dark colour and it contains aromatic impurities as shown by ultraviolet absorption
tests. Thus, the wax must be further refined in order to yield useful products.
For example, microcrystalline wax may be contacted with solid absorbent materials
such as bauxite or clay to absorb the aromatic compounds therefrom which impart
unfavourable properties to the wax.
Various improvements in the refining of microcrystalline waxes have
been made over the years. The most notable of these processes have been directed
towards catalytic refining of the wax in the presence of hydrogen, also known as
hydrofining. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,052,622 discloses taking a crude oil
residua and simultaneously deasphalting and extracting the aromatics from it via
the Duo-Sol process to obtain a waxy petroleum residue which is then hydrofined
by passing the wax, in the presence of hydrogen, over a catalyst of nickel oxide
on bauxite. The hydrofined product is then dewaxed via a conventional solvent dewaxing
process using toluene and MEK as the dewaxing solvent.
To produce a refined wax that meets U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) standards, the produced waxes may be further refined by contacting with a
solid absorbent and then acid treated to achieve the necessary FDA colour, odour,
and colour stability requirements. For instance, a process for producing high quality,
high molecular weight microcrystalline wax from hydrocracked underwaxed bright
stock is known from US 4,608,151. The process comprises three steps. In the first
step, a hydrocracked underwaxed bright stock is hydrodenitrified using, for example,
a sulphided nickel-tin or nickel-molybdenum hydrotreating catalyst having a siliceous
or alumina matrix. In the second step, the bright stock, having a reduced catalyst
poison content, is hydrofinished using, for example, an unsulphided nickel-tin
or palladium hydrotreating catalyst having a siliceous or alumina matrix. In the
third step, the waxy oil is solvent dewaxed using a conventional dewaxing solvent
such as a mixture of methyl-ethyl-ketone (MEK) and toluene. It has been found that
this three-step process produces a high quality, high molecular weight microcrystalline
It is an object of the present invention to provide accessories for
beehives such as honeycomb foundations, artificial honeycombs, beehive covers,
beehive bottom boards, beehive queen excluders, beehive queen cages and beehive
cell cups, which reduce the risk of transfer of diseases and pests from one year
to the next.
Further, it is an object of the present invention to provide beehive
accessories such as honeycomb foundations, artificial honeycombs, beehive covers,
beehive bottom boards, beehive queen excluders, beehive queen cages, beehive cell
cups which do not contain natural beeswax and which are lower in cost than previously
known beehive accessories.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide beehive
accessories such as honeycomb foundations, artificial honeycombs, beehive covers,
beehive bottom boards, beehive queen excluders, beehive queen cages, beehive cell
cups which are acceptable to the bees and are adequate for the thermal and mechanical
loads on the beehive accessories during operation of the beehive colony as well
as during ancillary processes such as honey extraction.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention includes the use of a synthetic or semi-synthetic
beeswax mimetic substance in an apiculture accessory, the mimetic substance comprising
a microcrystalline wax characterised in that the microcrystalline wax has a mean
carbon chain length of 33 ± 4, more preferably 33 ± 3, most preferably 33 ± 2 atoms.
The present invention may provide an apiculture accessory for use
in a beehive, the accessory comprising a semi-synthetic or synthetic beeswax mimetic
substance, the mimetic substance comprising a microcrystalline wax, characterised
in that the microcrystalline wax has a mean carbon chain length of 33 ± 4, more
preferably 33 ± 3, most preferably 33 ± 2 atoms.. The bees wax mimetic substance
may consist essentially of a microcrystalline wax. The apiculture accessory may
have a virgin surface of the accessory exposed to the bees comprising the microcrystalline
The present invention includes the method of reducing pests, disease
or parasites in a beehive including at least one apiculture accessory comprising
beeswax or a beeswax mimetic substance, the method comprising the step of: replacing
the one apiculture accessory at periodic intervals with the same accessory made
using virgin beeswax mimetic substance, the beeswax mimetic substance comprising
a microcrystalline wax having a mean carbon chain length of 33 ± 4, more preferably
33 ± 3, most preferably 33 ± 2 atoms. Preferably, the apiculture accessories in
accordance with the present invention are replaced with virgin ones after any bee
disease or infestation and/or after a certain period, e.g. at yearly intervals.
Any apiculture accessory in accordance with the present invention
may include, for instance, any kind of suitable reinforcement, e.g. a wire frame
or mesh, about which the beeswax mimetic substance is placed, for example by moulding.
The beeswax mimetic substance may be applied, for instance, to any kind of sheet
of material useful in a beehive such as wire mesh, plastic, paper, fibre or cardboard
sheet. The apiculture accessories in accordance with the present invention may
be, for example, artificial honeycombs, honeycomb foundations, beehive covers,
beehive bottom boards, beehive queen excluders, beehive queen cages or beehive
The microcrystalline wax is preferably a pure white wax. Mimetic substances
in accordance with the present invention may comprise or consist essentially of
unbranched (normal-) or branched (iso-) hydrocarbons or mixtures of the two. The
mimetic substances in accordance with the present invention may also include saturated
and do not necessarily exclude unsaturated hydrocarbons, however, the preferred
manufacturing method will remove substantially all unsaturated hydrocarbons. These
could be added separately, however, at a later stage. A beeswax mimetic substance
in accordance with the present invention may be a homologous series of hydrocarbons.
A preferred mimetic substance in accordance with the present invention is a microcrystalline
wax which preferably has an ozokerite structure The majority of the molecules (greater
98%) of a microcrystalline wax in accordance with the present invention suitable
for mid-European climates and for the bee apis mellifora carnica preferably
have an equivalent hydrocarbon molecular chain length range as determined by high
temperature capillary gas chromatography of 20 to 55. The most common equivalent
chain lengths preferably lie in a range 28 to 36. The median equivalent chain length
is preferably 31 ± 4, more preferably 31 ±2. These values are specifically useful
for beehives used in mid-European climates. The skilled person will appreciate
that modifications to these values, either up or down, may be necessary to accommodate
different ambient temperature conditions, e.g. as may be experienced in the tropics
or in countries closer to the poles, or as may be required to match the beeswax
of other varieties of bees. The distribution of equivalent hydrocarbon chain lengths
in the preferred microcrystalline wax in accordance with the present invention
for mid-European climates as determined by high temperature capillary gas chromatography
may be represented approximately by a Poisson distribution or a combination of
Poisson distributions but the present invention includes distributions anywhere
between Gaussian and triangular. The mean equivalent hydrocarbon chain length is
preferably between C30 and C38, or more preferably with between C30.5 and C36.5
in which the standard deviation of the distribution is between 3.5 and 6.5 carbon
A food-grade material in accordance with the present invention is
a material suitable for inclusion in food for human consumption, e.g. as specified
in the Food Chemical Codex, National Academy Press, 1996 or by the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration. It is preferred if the microcrystalline wax used as the beeswax
mimic is a refined microcrystalline wax which meets the cleanliness and purity
requirements necessary for use in foods.
The dependent claims define individual embodiments of the present
invention. The present invention will now be described with reference to the following
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Fig. 1 is an analysis of beeswax produced by different bees.
Fig. 2 shows the results of gas chromatography for test materials.
Fig. 3 is a graph showing the results of gas chromatography on a beeswax mimetic
substance in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
Fig. 4 shows the results of gas chromatography on two wax samples which were
not very suitable as a beeswax mimetic substance.
Fig. 5 shows a sample trace from a gas chromatographic of a beeswax mimetic
substance in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
Figs. 6A to C shows the results of gas chromatography on a beeswax mimetic
substance in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
The present invention will be described with reference to certain
embodiments and drawings but the present invention is not limited thereto but only
by the claims.
The present invention relates to a material which is accepted by bees
as a replacement or substitute for, or an imitation of beeswax. In order to distinguish
over so-called beeswax substitutes which are used in chemical, pharmaceutical and
cosmetic formulations and which are remote from the applications in accordance
with the present invention, a material which is mandibulated and worked by bees
indistinguishably from and exchangeably with beeswax and which supports the bees'
chemical language will be called a "beeswax mimetic substance" or a "beeswax mimic".
The term "mimetic" as used in this invention means that the bees work with the
substance as if it were beeswax and, when both materials are present in the beehive,
for example as part of a foundation, the bees make no significant difference between
the two. This means that a beeswax mimetic substance is used interchangeably by
the bees, a damaged portion of a piece of mimetic waxy material or beeswax being
repaired, for instance, by either some of the mimetic waxy material or some beeswax
or a mixture of the two. In effect the bees experience (see, feel or any other
sensory function) the beeswax mimetic substance as if it were beeswax as far as
this subjective characteristic of the mimetic substance can be determined by objective
observation of the behaviour of the bees. Mimetic substances in accordance with
any embodiment of the present invention may be described as behavioural beeswax
Further, to function as a successful beeswax mimetic material it should
be mixable with, and have the consistency of, natural beeswax. Hence, a material
as described in US 4,992,073 is not a beeswax mimetic substance in accordance with
the present invention as the polymer/beeswax mixture is a hard, intractable material.
Due to the fact that the bees use their mandibles to work the wax and that these
organs are very sensitive, bees appear to be able to detect fine grades of wax
hardness in dependence upon temperature, crystal size and "feel" of any wax. In
addition it is believed that bees secrete chemicals which they use to work and
mould the natural beeswax. Hence any beeswax mimetic substance should preferably
behave similarly with respect to these secretions. The present inventors do not
know of any previous successful synthetic beeswax mimetic materials although a
large number of synthetic materials have been tried in beehives in the past.
Beeswax from various bees has been examined by gas-liquid chromatography
Fig. 1 (Tulloch 1980). Variations in the chain lengths of the major components
can be seen. Further, there are differences between beeswaxes from different types
of bees. One bee type, A. mellifera has been analysed chemically in detail-
see Table 1.
Chemical analysis of beeswax (Tulloch 1980) Constituent fractions Number of components in fractions % Major Minor Hydrocarbons141066 Monoesters351010 Diesters14624 Triesters3520 Hydroxy monoesters4620 Hydroxy polyesters8520 Acid esters1720 Acid polyesters2520 Free acids12810 Free alcohols15? Unidentified67? TOTAL10074210
Table 2 gives further information with respect to the major components
of this beeswax as determined by the same author.
What is noticeable about table 1 is that beeswax is a complex natural
substance including over 280 individual components. The largest group includes
various types of esters. From tables 1 and 2 there is no clear picture as how a
beeswax mimetic substance could be produced other than by a commercially unrealistic
attempt at complete synthesis.
The present invention is based on the very surprising realisation
that it is possible to produce a waxy material relatively economically which has
the mechanical and thermal properties which allow foundations to be made therefrom,
which the bees readily draw into satisfactory honeycombs, while providing a honeycomb
having sufficient strength so that there is no sagging. It is anticipated that
once the skilled person appreciates the elements of the present invention, that
other waxy materials may be found which exhibit the required thermo-mechanical
and (bio-)chemical properties. In accordance with the present invention the problem
of pest and disease transfer from one year to another may be avoided by remaking
and replacing at least some of the apiculture components of the beehive at regular
time intervals, e.g. each year, from a hygienic, low priced, food-grade beeswax
mimetic substance. This is a major advance as it avoids the traditional dependence
on natural beeswax and therefore breaks the chain of disease and pest transfer
from one year to the next, from one hive to another or from one country to another.
In particular the availability of a low price beeswax mimic allows the redesign
of traditional beehives so that structures which may harbour diseases and pests
are removed each year and replaced with pristine components.
The terms "synthetic" or "semi-synthetic" as used in the present invention
include waxes derived from natural sources, e.g. crude oils, which have gone through
an extensive industrial process of refinement so that the final product can no
longer be described as "natural". The synthetic or semi-synthetic materials described
with reference to the present invention are therefore different from natural beeswax
conventionally used in making apiculture accessories. Such beeswax may be "refined"
or purified to remove debris before use but the final material is still substantially
the same as the natural starting material.
A beeswax mimetic substance in accordance with an embodiment of the
present invention at least suitable for use in mid-European climates and for the
apis mellifora carnica bee includes a refined microcrystalline wax preferably
having the properties in Table 3. A preferred microcrystalline wax at least for
mid-European climates and for the bee apis mellifora carnica is commercially
available under the trade name Apicera™ and is available from Paramelt, Heerhugowaard,
Holland. It is assumed that the same material may find advantageous use as a beeswax
mimetic substance at least in temperate zones throughout the world. When microcrystalline
waxes having all the desired properties are not available, it is included within
the scope of the present invention to use mixtures of microcrystalline waxes. By
modifying the relative proportions of two or more microcrystalline waxes it is
possible to prepare a wax having the optimum combination of properties.
Several different batches of Apicera™ were used to prepare wire supported
foundations in accordance with conventional methods, e.g. moulding. No difficulty
was experienced in moulding foundations using equipment usually used for moulding
foundations using beeswax. It is not anticipated that there is any limitation on
the present invention with respect to the design of the foundations. Any conventional
design may be used, hence the present invention is not limited to wired foundations.
Also, the present invention is not limited to foundations. The beeswax mimetic
substances of the present invention may be used to form half-cell or full-cell
combs. However, due to the cost and extra difficulty of producing such fragile
structures they are not preferred.
The wired foundations made using Apicera™ wax were introduced
into beehives in frames. Either all the frames were made with the synthetic wax
of some were introduced alongside foundations made with beeswax. The bees populating
the hives were apis mellifora carnica. In all cases the synthetic foundations
were drawn out to normal, healthy, functioning honeycombs with hexagonal cells.
Larval development, pollen storage and production of honey was studied over a two
year period. No difference could be found between the honeycombs drawn from natural
beeswax and those from the synthetic mimic. Further, all other aspects were completely
normal and the honey was of identical quality. No evidence could be found that
the bees' chemical language was disturbed in any way, in any stage of the formation
of a hive, e.g. during queening, raising of the brood, etc. It was also noticed
that the bees used the synthetic mimetic substance or the beeswax indiscriminately
indicating that the synthetic material really acted as a mimic, i.e. the bees could
sense no difference. Further, honey was extracted by normal and all the honeycombs
behaved in the same way indicating that the combs drawn from the synthetic mimetic
substance were of equal strength. The honey extracted was examined by high temperature
capillary gas chromatography to determine if any of the synthetic wax was removed
by the honey extraction process. No indications of hydrocarbons from the wax could
be detected in the extracted honey. Despite this it is preferred if the synthetic
wax used for the foundations is food grade quality so that if any wax does get
accidentally included in the honey, there is no loss of quality of the honey.
One major advantage of the microcrystalline beeswax mimetic substance
in accordance with the above embodiment of the present invention has been found
to be that it has a low microbiological loading in its normal form. Hence, foundation
produced with the wax using normal manufacturing conditions does not introduce
known bee pathogens into a hive. This is in contrast to natural beeswax, e.g. that
obtained from abroad to supplement indigenous supplies of beeswax.
In addition to the above experiments two further microcrystalline
waxes were tested in identical foundations and in an identical way to the foundations
according to the present invention as described above. Neither of these waxes performed
well in the hives. The waxes were chosen so that their molecular weight distributions
were a little lower and a little higher than that of Apicera™ wax. All the
samples were analysed by high temperature capillary gas chromatography. The equipment
was first calibrated using a range of hydrocarbons of known carbon chain length.
The output of the gas chromatograph is shown graphically in Fig. 2. It shows several
discrete lines, each one of which corresponds to one of the known hydrocarbons
in the mixture. Then samples 1 to 7 were analysed in the same equipment. The results
are summarised in Table 4 and shown graphically in Fig. 3 for samples 1 to 4 of
mimetic substances in accordance with the present invention. Samples 1 to 4 were
from different batches of Apicera™ wax all of which had performed well in
the beehives and all of which are beeswax mimetic substances in accordance with
the present invention. The results from samples 5 to 7 are given in Table 5 and
shown graphically in Fig. 4.
Gas chromatography results for samples 1 to 4 Chain length group carbon chain length range sample 1 % sample 2 % sample 3 % sample 4 % Average Stand. Deviation 1C20-241.833.734.042.183 ± 11.1 2C25-2917.3416.9717.3818.1917.5 ± 100.5 3C30-3441.9236.9537.5939.0638.9 ± 152.2 4C35-3919.718.7418.6618.2218.8 ± 100.6 5C40-446.947.527.267.907.4 ± 40.4 6C45-493.493.923.844.413.9 ± 20.4 7>=C508.7912.1711.2310.0410.7 ± 51.43
Samples 5 and 6 were samples of microcrystalline wax with a slightly
lower molecular weight and a slightly higher molecular distribution than Apicera™
wax, respectively. Both of these alternative waxes had performed very badly as
foundations in the beehives. Sample 7 was an additional check sample to confirm
the results from sample 6.
An output of the gas chromatograph for sample 2 is shown in Fig. 5.
The outputs of all samples 1 to 4 were very similar to that shown in Fig 5. It
can been seen that the trace includes a series of well spaced peaks. Generally
the difference between each peak relates to the difference in chain length of the
hydrocarbon of one atom. By comparison with the calibration of Fig. 2, it can be
seen that the a very large percentage (in fact it is over 98%) of the compounds
of the microcrystalline wax have a chain length range equivalent to C20 to C55.
From Table 4 and Fig. 3 it can be seen that the most common (= median) equivalent
chain lengths for a suitable wax lie in a range 28 to 36 atoms. The median equivalent
chain length for a suitable wax is preferably 31 ± 4, more preferably 31 ± 2 atoms.
The mean equivalent chain length of a suitable wax is 33 ± 4, more preferably 33
± 3, and most preferably 33 ± 2 atoms. These values are specifically useful for
beehives used in mid-European climates. The present invention includes modifications
to these values, either up or down, for example, to accommodate different ambient
temperature conditions, e.g. as may be experienced in the tropics or in countries
closer to the poles, or as may be required to match the beeswax of other varieties
of bees. The distribution of equivalent hydrocarbon chain lengths in the preferred
microcrystalline wax in accordance with the present invention shows a generally
symmetrical form about the mean with a high molecular weight tail above an equivalent
length of C50. It is not anticipated that the minor quantities in the tail affect
the performance of the wax but the present invention does not exclude such an effect.
The molecular weight distribution of a wax which is a suitable for use as a beeswax
mimetic substance in accordance with the present invention may be represented by
a Poisson distribution or a combination of Poisson distributions. The distribution
may also lie close to a Gaussian or a triangular distribution having a mean equivalent
hydrocarbon chain length of between C30 and C38, or more preferably with a mean
of between C30.5 and C36.5 in which the standard deviation of the distribution is
between 3.5 and 6.5 carbon atoms.
Gas chromatography results from wxes which were less successful in the beehive experiments Chain length group carbon chain length range sample 5 sample 6 sample 7 1C20-241.655.335.31 2C25-296.3748.7948.71 3C30-3423.3638.438.36 4C35-3942.526.576.63 5C40-4419.840.840.89 6C45-495.820.070.1 7>=C500.44
A notable aspect of the above results of samples 1 to 4 compared to
samples 5 to 7 is the apparent specificity of the bees to a narrow molecular weight
range of waxes suitable as beeswax mimetic substances. The differences between
samples 5 to 7 and 1 to 4 are small. It is this specificity of the bees which has
probably prevented the production of a suitable beeswax mimic up to now. However,
once the teachings of the present invention have been understood, and in particular
that a synthetic beeswax mimic is even possible, the skilled person may devise
other chemical mixtures and compounds which may act as beeswax mimics. All these
modifications are included within the scope of the present invention as they derive
from the present invention.
A more detailed analysis has been made of the beeswax mimetic substance
Apicera™ using high temperature capillary gas chromatography. The purpose
of these experiments is to identify the normal (unbranched) from the branched (iso-)
forms of the homologous series of hydrocarbons which male up the microcrystaline
wax Apicera™. It is assumed that because of the manufacturing process for
microcrystalline wax as outlined above as one possible manufacturing method, the
mixture of hydrocarbons includes substantially only unsaturated hydrocarbons. The
results for the total hydrocarbon count, normal and iso- hydrocarbon forms are
shown in Figs. 6A-C. Fig. 6A shows the percentage of all hydrocarbons in the mixture
against carbon chain length in a beeswax mimetic substance in accordance with the
present invention. Fig. 6B shows the percentage for normal hydrocarbons against
carbon chain length in this mixture. Fig. 6C shows the percentage of iso-hdrocarbons
against carbon chain length in this mixture. Above a chain length of 74 atoms there
may be a small proportion of undetected ios-hydrocarbons. It is noticeable that
the iso-hydrocarbon distribution has a most common chain length (34 atoms) which
is higher than the normal distribution (30 atoms). The average for the normal distribution
is 29 carbon atoms, the average for the iso-form is 39 atoms and the average for
the total distribution is 33 carbon atoms. All three percentage distributions approximate
a Poisson distribution with λ approximately equal to the average chain length
of the respective distribution. The normal to iso- hydrocarbon ratio is about 60
to 40 in the mixture.
The present invention is not limited to the narrow molecular weight
ranges described above. In accordance with the present invention beeswax mimics
may be devised for other bee types or to work at different ambient temperatures.
Hence, the present invention is not limited to the specific materials mentioned
above but includes within its scope the concept of a synthetic beeswax mimic as
such. From this concept it is expected that families of beeswax mimics may be formed
once the requirement for a specific narrow molecular weight range wax to form a
beeswax mimetic substance is understood.
Verwendung einer synthetischen oder halbsynthetischen Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz
in einem Bienenzuchtzubehörteil, wobei die Nachahmungssubstanz ein mikrokristallines
Wachs umfasst, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das mikrokristalline Wachs eine
mittlere Kohlenstoffkettenlänge von 33 ± 4, bevorzugter von 33 ± 3, am meisten
bevorzugt von 33 ± 2 Atomen hat.
Verwendung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz im Wesentlichen
aus einem mikrokristallinen Wachs besteht.
Verwendung nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz
ein lebensmitteltaugliches mikrokristallines Wachs ist.
Bienenzuchtzubehörteil für die Verwendung in einem Bienenstock, wobei das Zubehörteil
eine halbsynthetische oder synthetische Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz umfasst,
wobei die Nachahmungssubstanz ein mikrokristallines Wachs umfasst, dadurch
gekennzeichnet, dass das mikrokristalline Wachs eine mittlere Kohlenstoffkettenlänge
von 33 ± 4, bevorzugter von 33 ± 3, am meisten bevorzugt von 33 ± 2 Atomen hat.
Bienenzuchtzubehörteil nach Anspruch 4, wobei die Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz
im Wesentlichen aus einem mikrokristallinen Wachs besteht.
Bienenzuchtzubehörteil nach Anspruch 4, wobei eine jungfräuliche Oberfläche
des gegenüber den Bienen exponierten Zubehörteils mikrokristallines Wachs umfasst
oder im Wesentlichen daraus besteht.
Bienenzuchtzubehörteil nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 6, wobei das mikrokristalline
Wachs ein lebensmitteltaugliches Wachs ist.
Bienenzuchtzubehörteil nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 7, wobei das Zubehörteil
künstliche Honigwabe, Honigwabengrundstock, Bienenstockabdeckung, Bienenstock-Bodenplatte,
Bienenkönigin-Ausschließer, Bienenkönigin-Käfig oder Bienenstockzellbecher ist.
Verfahren zum Reduzieren von Schädlingen, Krankheiten oder Parasiten in einem
Bienenstock mit wenigstens einem Bienenzuchtzubehörteil, das Bienenwachs oder
eine Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz umfasst, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden
Schritte umfasst: Ersetzen des einen Bienenzuchtzubehörteils in periodischen Intervallen
mit dem gleichen Zubehörteil, das mit virginaler Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz
hergestellt wurde, wobei die Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz ein mikrokristallines
Wachs mit einer mittleren Kohlenstoffkettenlänge von 33 ± 4, bevorzugter von 33
± 3, am meisten bevorzugt von 33 ± 2 Atomen umfasst.
Verfahren nach Anspruch 9, wobei die Bienenwachsnachahmungssubstanz im Wesentlichen
aus dem mikrokristallinen Wachs besteht.
Use of a synthetic or semi-synthetic beeswax mimetic substance in an apiculture
accessory, the mimetic substance comprising a microcrystalline wax characterised
the microcrystalline wax has a mean carbon chain length of 33 ± 4, more
preferably 33 ± 3, most preferably 33 ± 2 atoms.
The use according to claim 1, wherein the beeswax mimetic substance consists
essentially of a microcrystalline wax
The use according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the beeswax mimetic substance is
a food grade microcrystalline wax.
An apiculture accessory for use in a beehive, the accessory comprising a semi-synthetic
or synthetic beeswax mimetic substance, the mimetic substance comprising a microcrystalline
wax, characterised in that the microcrystalline wax has a mean carbon chain
length of 33 ± 4, more preferably 33 ± 3, most preferably 33 ± 2 atoms.
The apiculture accessory according to claim 4, wherein the bees wax mimetic
substance consists essentially of microcrystalline wax.
The apiculture accessory according to claim 4, wherein a virgin surface of the
accessory exposed to the bees comprises or consists essentially of the microcrystalline
The apiculture accessory according to any of the claims 4 to 6, wherein the
microcrystalline wax is a food grade wax.
The apiculture accessory according to any of claims 4 to 7, wherein the accessory
is one of artificial honeycombs, honeycomb foundations, beehive covers, beehive
bottom boards, beehive queen excluders, beehive queen cages and beehive cell cups.
A method of reducing pests, disease or parasites in a beehive including at least
one apiculture accessory comprising beeswax or a beeswax mimetic substance, the
method comprising the step of: replacing the one apiculture accessory at periodic
intervals with the same accessory made using virgin beeswax mimetic substance,
the beeswax mimetic substance comprising a microcrystalline wax having a mean carbon
chain length of 33 ± 4, more preferably 33 ± 3, most preferably 33 ± 2 atoms.
The method according to claim 9, wherein the beeswax mimetic substance consists
essentially of the microcrystalline wax.
Utilisation d'une substance synthétique ou semi-synthétique mimétique de la
cire d'abeille dans un accessoire d'apiculture, la substance mimétique comprenant
une cire microcristalline, caractérisée en ce que la cire microcristalline
a une longueur moyenne de chaîne carbonée de 33 ± 4, plus préférablement 33 ± 3,
le plus préférablement 33 ± 2 atomes.
L'utilisation selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle la substance mimétique
de la cire d'abeille consiste essentiellement en une cire microcristalline.
L'utilisation selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans laquelle la substance mimétique
de la cire d'abeille est une cire microcristalline de qualité alimentaire.
Un accessoire d'apiculture pour utilisation dans une ruche, l'accessoire comprenant
une substance semi-synthétique ou synthétique mimétique de la cire d'abeille, la
substance mimétique comprenant une cire microcristalline, caractérisé en ce
que la cire microcristalline a une longueur moyenne de chaîne carbonée de 33
± 4, plus préférablement 33 ± 3, le plus préférablement 33 ± 2 atomes.
L'accessoire d'apiculture selon la revendication 4, dans lequel la substance
mimétique de la cire d'abeille consiste essentiellement en une cire microcristalline.
L'accessoire d'apiculture selon la revendication 4, dans lequel une surface
vierge de l'accessoire exposé aux abeilles comprend ou consiste essentiellement
en la cire microcristalline.
L'accessoire d'apiculture selon l'une quelconque des revendications 4 à 6,
dans lequel la cire microcristalline est une cire de qualité alimentaire.
L'accessoire d'apiculture selon l'une quelconque des revendications 4 à 7,
dans lequel l'accessoire est choisi parmi des gâteaux de miel artificiels, des
fondations de gâteaux de miel, des couvercles de ruches, des planchers de ruches,
des expulseurs de reine de la ruche, des cages pour la reine de la ruche et des
cuvettes de cellule de ruche.
Une méthode pour réduire les nuisibles, la maladie ou les parasites dans une
ruche comprenant au moins un accessoire d'apiculture comprenant de la cire d'abeille
ou une substance mimétique de la cire d'abeille, la méthode comprenant l'étape
consistant à remplacer cet accessoire d'apiculture à intervalles périodiques par
le même accessoire fabriqué en utilisant de la substance mimétique de cire d'abeille
vierge, la substance mimétique de cire d'abeille comprenant une cire microcristalline
ayant une longueur moyenne de chaîne carbonée de 33 ± 4, plus préférablement 33
± 3, le plus préférablement 33 ± 2 atomes.
La méthode selon la revendication 9, dans laquelle la substance mimétique de
la cire d'abeille consiste essentiellement en la cire microcristalline.