The Nehalem Oregon "Beeswax Wreck" - a 1693 Manila Gallleon [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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07-14-2015, 10:01 AM
Archeology report on the "Beeswax Wreck" from the northern Oregon coast.
Dated to the ship, Santo Cristo de Burgos, a Manila Galleon lost in 1693.

The trade in Asian beeswax, likely indicates that insufficient (or entirely absent) Mexican wax was present in the Spanish colonial period, but does support the enormous incentive to import live bees to the colonies.

Report here:

07-14-2015, 01:01 PM
This is fascinating--thanks for posting!

07-14-2015, 02:04 PM
This must be the wreck noted in a History Detectives episode:

(This particular link has the video in Adobe Flashplayer, which is currently in some disfavor from security experts, so you may find it mysteriously disabled.)

07-15-2015, 01:34 PM
There is a sign with a lot of history and some good pictures (if my old memory servers) along Hwy 101 up from Tillamook. I stopped and looked at it coming from the Oregon State Bee convention last year at Seaside OR. I had never heard of it before. Too bad there were not pictures in the article.

08-11-2015, 01:19 PM
Very interesting piece of history, I had never heard of it. Thanks ����

aunt betty
08-12-2015, 06:55 AM
The amazing part of this story is that blocks of bees wax sat on a beach for 200 years or more and did not get consumed by wax worms. They must not like salty sand or something. No salt-life stickers on a wax moth. ;)

08-20-2015, 08:04 PM
The Lewis and Clark companion: an
encyclopedic guide to the voyage of discovery

By Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, Clay Jenkinson


Page 8

Beeswax: Used in combination with buffalo
tallow and charcoal to seal the stitches of
the hides used to cover the iron boat. But
"the stitches began to gape very much since
she has began to dry; I am now convinced
this would not have been the case had the
skins been sewed with a sharp point only."
Beeswax was used as part of a poultice given
by Captain Clark to treat an abscess on Jean
Baptiste's neck in June 1805. On march 9,
1806, Ordway mentions Clatsop Indians
bringing "bears wax" to trade. Whitehouse
mentions it correctly spelling it "bees wax" in
his entry for the same day. While exploring
the Columbia River in 1813, Alexander Henry
noted, "Great quantities of beeswax continue
to be dug out of the sand near this spot and the
Indians bring it to trade with us." The Spanish
galleon San Francisco Xavier, lost at sea near
Nehalem Spit in 1705, is the likely source of
the beeswax, which can still be found today
and has been, according to Ruth and Emory
Strong, radiocarbon dated to between 1485
and 1655. -references: Moulton, vols. 4, 11;
Strong and Strong; Wood and Thiessen.

See more Beeswax Wreck here:

History Detectives - The Beeswax Wreck Video

This video shows the type of bee that produced the
beeswax found in the beeswax wreck..
Apis dorsata - The Giant Honeybee honeybee

Anthropology Field Notes 5:
The Beeswax Shipwreck of Nehalem Video:

Beeswax Wreck Research Project Video

The Beeswax Wreck Project

Find part of galleon's beeswax cargo

08-20-2015, 08:05 PM
Delphos Daily Herald,
April 27, 1903, Delphos, Ohio

Oregon's Beeswax Deposits

Scientists Still at Variance in Their
Views of What the Substance Is.

Perhaps no solution of the question
whether the substance which the curious
have been collecting during many years
at a locality on the coast of Oregon near
the mouth of the Nehalem river is bees
wax, or the material known as ozocerite
will ever be possible. One would think
it should be possible; yet high authorities
still differ about it. Dr. A. C. Kinney of
Astoria, Ore., recurring to the subject,
says he is sure it is ozocerite, since he
has had several analyses made, all leading
to this result. But Prof. Diller of the
United States geological survey, who
made examination of the locality and the
"wax" some years ago, was by no means
sure what it was; yet his conclusion was
that, weather it was beeswax or ozocerite,
it was not a product of the locality,
but had been transported from some
other place. Careful examination of the
marks upon such pieces as he could find
or was permitted to examine failed to
convince him that any reliance could be
placed on the assumption that they were
trademarks. This conclusion would be a
strong point against the beeswax theory.

Ozocerite is a mixture of paraffin existing
in bituminous sandstones. It is
therefore a mineral product. Nothing, at
first thought, would appear easier than
to distinguish beeswax from mineral
wax; yet it is not always easy, and Prof
Diller says that if well-selected ozocerite
be placed before bees they will use it for
their honeycombs. This, however, might
prove nothing, for the bees, in the
absence of other material, might use this
natural paraffin, or anything they could
get that would answer their purpose.

What is mainly curious or strange
about this deposit is the apparent
impossibility of reaching a sure conclusion
weather the material is beeswax or
ozocerite. The consistency and melting point
of the two substances are about the
same. The odor, which is very weak,
if not wholly absent, gives no sure indication.
While Dr. Kinney is so positive it
is ozocerite, Prof, Stokes of the United
States geological survey, after careful test,
reached the conclusion that it is beeswax.
Here is his statement: "The substance is
sharply distinguished from ozocerite and
other paraffins by its easy decomposition
by warm, strong sulphuric acid and by
being saponified by boiling with alcoholic
potash, giving soaps which dissolve in
hot water, and from which acides throw
down insoluble fatty acids. In view of
this behavior, the material is evidently
wax, and not ozocerite." Who shall
decide when doctors so widely disagree?

But there is another enigma about it
There are two coal fields in the
Nehalem country, but Prof. Diller assures
us that nothing whatever occurs in
connection with the coal in either field that
resembles this wax, so it could not have
been derived from the coal measures of
that locality; and, moreover, the deposit
is so placed as to make it very certain
that it was not derived from the adjacent
land, but was transported in a body by
the sea and dumped in its present position.
So that, even if it be ozocerite, the
conclusion is that it was brought from
elsewhere. The subject is an interesting
one from the mysteries it involves.
-Portland Oregonian.

08-21-2015, 04:15 PM
My friend has a large chunk of this beeswax at his beach house in Manzanita. It's gorgeous stuff with an amazing patina. You could easily not notice it if it were on the ground.

Not much of it is found any more.

08-21-2015, 04:16 PM
My apologies for the double post.

08-21-2015, 06:48 PM
The amazing part of this story is that blocks of bees wax sat on a beach for 200 years or more and did not get consumed by wax worms. They must not like salty sand or something. No salt-life stickers on a wax moth. ;)

aunt betty, wax worms/wax moths are actually misnamed, since they actually eat pollen while chewing through comb. There is no nutritional value in the wax itself, wax being basically oil. Whereas pollen is a source of protein. So there is no reason why blocks of wax and candles would get eaten by moths or worms.