In 2016 several beekeepers reported problems related to the poor development and mortality of the bee brood after the insertion of new wax foundations which had been produced on an industrial scale. After analysis, it appeared that the used beeswax contained much higher levels of stearic and palmitic acid, which pointed to the addition of stearin. The addition of stearin was reported not only in Belgium, but also in Germany and the Netherlands. 

Literature data on the effects of stearin on the development of the bee brood is limited. Which is why the Federal Public Service for Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment commissioned the Flemish Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) in Melle (Belgium) to carry out this independent study (.PDF).

The results show a high level of mortality from the bee brood in the case of added stearin, which means that this type of wax is not suitable for use in apiculture. 

Since the summer of 2016 the FPS for Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has been closely monitoring this issue, and measures have been taken to take the contaminated products out of the market. Talks also took place with representatives of the beekeepers associations. The FPS will also ask the European commission to take extra legal measures about the import of beeswax intended for apiculture from third countries. The goal is to protect our beekeepers, our producers of wax foundations as well as our bee populations.

The contaminated wax essentially originates from China.


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