Letter: Lasting pleasure of a beeswax candle

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was pleasing to see Anna Pavord ('Feast your eyes on gold, fire and ice', 19 December) draw attention to the value of candles in Christmas decorations and particularly to the attractive aroma of those made from beeswax.

However your writers are somewhat misinformed. Julie Aschkenasy ('Highlights among the low lights', 28 November) implies that beeswax originates from 'the humble bumble bee'. In fact useful quantities of beeswax are obtained only from colonies of honeybees; their appearance and life history are quite distinct from those of bumble bees and consequently they belong to a different genus (Apis not Bombus).

Beeswax candles are mostly produced by beekeepers. Those made from rolled foundation are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and therefore with a wide range of burning times. However, contrary to Anna Pavord, even the smallest and most inexpensive commonly sold (about 12cm long by 2cm diameter), if correctly made and with the right wick size, will burn for at least three hours - adequate to last well beyond the Christmas pudding and even the port.

Candles produced by dipping or moulding, including those referred to by Anna Pavord as church candles, can be made either from beeswax or paraffin wax, but it is worth bearing in mind that beeswax is a renewable resource.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN STOAKLEY

Scottish Representative

The Bee Farmers Association of the United Kingdom

Peebles, Borders

21 December

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