Mind your own Beeswax

Posted on: 08 Nov 2017

Our hives are buzzing with colonies of talented little bees making our pure Tasmanian honey and beeswax. Although honey is our bread and butter, we are continuously fascinated by the creations of our skilful bees – most notably, beeswax.

Why bees make beeswax

Bees naturally produce beeswax to build their hexagonal combs to raise their offspring and store pollen and honey in the hive.

How bees make beeswax

Bees have an enormous job on their hands (or feet), pollinating our food supply, supporting the reproduction of wild flowering plants and making sweet, sweet honey. Not only that, but they have to fit out their own hive! Bees collect nectar from flowers and return it to the hive where it is either turned into beeswax or honey. Beeswax is produced by worker been who secrete the wax from glands in their abdomen.

The worker bees consume honey then eliminate the sugars through tiny pores to create the wax to build their homes. When the sugars are released, the wax appears as small flakes on a worker bees abdomen. Initially, the flakes of beeswax are clear, however, after it is chewed by the bee it becomes opaque. The wax takes on a yellow or brown colour once pollen and propolis (bee glue) are added to the mix.

Worker bees have a lifespan of around 35 days, and it is believed their wax production is most efficient on days 10 and 16.

Beeswax can become too brittle or melt in extremely hot or cold temperatures, so bees have a way of keeping the hive a steady 35 degrees celsius to ensure the wax is as malleable as possible for construction purposes.

We think all that multitasking proves how amazing bees are, but maths and science might just be their strongest suits. The hexagonally shaped cylinders constructed to make honeycomb are proven by mathematicians to be the most effective shape. The 6-sided shape allows bees to use as little wax as possible to store maximum amounts of honey, whilst employing one of the strongest shapes possible for their construction.

Uses for beeswax

Not only is beeswax essential in the hives of our bees but, like honey, it has many uses for us humans.

Beeswax does not deteriorate over time and, as such, has been found in the design of ancient tombs.

Not building an ancient tomb? There are many contemporary uses for beeswax as well, including:

  • Candles
  • Crayons
  • Woodfiller
  • Tack cloth
  • Cosmetic products including soaps, creams and lip balms
  • Fruit coating
  • Leather
  • Waterproofing
  • Furniture polishes
  • Sealing on jams and jellies
  • Lubricant for screws, nails, windows, doors, tools etc
  • Food storage

So if you see a bee today, take a second to say thanks for the wax!

Categories: Beeswax, Honey, Tasmanian Honey Company