Bees, Beekeeping and Honey

Beeswax

Honey bees live together in a colony, their structure is made entirely of beeswax. It is secreted by young bees between 12 and 18 days old and produced from the glands on their abdomen. A large amount of honey is consumed by the bees to produce beeswax, around 6kg to make 1kg. They remove the flakes of wax from their abdomen, chewing it until it is soft and then moulding it into a six sided hexagonal cells or honeycomb.

Beeswax is recovered from harvested honey by firstly removing the excess honey from it (cappings spinner) and then melting it down (Solar wax melter) but further refining is needed to produce a clean product. Melting at 65°C, it solidifies at 63°C, floats on water and is brittle at cold temperatures. Man has used it for many purposes, these are for the cosmetic industry - creams, lotions, lip balms. Candles, furniture polish, waterproofing and adhesives are other examples. The beekeeping industry is the 3rd largest user of beeswax, that is to make comb foundation.

Honeycomb build from beeswax

Beeswax cappings