Updated: May 11
Ever think about where beeswax comes from? Wonder how it is made? Discover new and interesting facts about beeswax and modern day uses.
Figure 1: Beeswax & Natural Beeswax Candles
How is Beeswax Made?
Did you know that it takes 8lbs of honey to make 1lbs of beeswax? Crazy! The worker bees convert the honey to beeswax. Bees huddle together to increase the temperature in the hive to at least 91.4 F which enables the wax glands in their abdomen to convert the sugar from honey into beeswax. This is secreted through small pores to form scales on their abdomen. You can actually watch a beekeeper in the video below observe a worker bee making beeswax.
Figure 2: A woker bee making fresh wax
After the wax hardens, the worker bee will scrape it off with her abdomen with her back legs. The bees will chew the wax until it is moldable and then carefully shape it into a circle. But isn't honeycomb hexagon shaped? Yes, but that happens as a result of packing a bunch of circle shaped wax cells together. Pressed together, they form flattened sides, six of them to be exact. This compacting of circle shaped cells turns the honeycomb into a large pattern of connected hexagons. The worker bees will use their mouths to measure the thickness of the honeycomb as they build it, so they can adjust the amount of wax required for the construction of that cell. The fresh, new beeswax is bright white and over time it will turn a golden color and eventually look dark brown. While honeybees are incredibly hygienic creatures, their wax does change colors with lots of use, just like floors in our home.
Figure 3: Pollen Packed Honeycomb or Bee Bread
Uses for Beeswax
Beeswax is just like furniture in the beehive. It is used to store honey for the winter. It is also used to store fermented pollen called bee bread that is full of protein that larva and baby bees will need to grow nice and strong. Provides a perfect spot for the queen bee to lay her eggs to so that the hive can grow more foragers and store more honey for the winter. Humans use beeswax when extracting honey to make candles or add to a number of cosmetic products that make them even more amazing! Beeswax is also the secret ingredient in the Luxurious Solid Beeswax Lotion Bar. As an ingredient in handcrafted soap, beeswax has some incredible benefits, just check out the Cinnamon Oats & Honey Soap.
Cheese makers use it as a coating to prevent spoilage, how cool is that? Beeswax also finds its way into medicines, electrical components, and varnishes.
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"Production and Trade of Beeswax," Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, accessed online May 27, 2016.
The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden , Kim Flottum, Quarry Books, 2010
Commercial Products, from Insects, Irwin, M.E. & G.E. Kampmeier. 2002.