We've had quite a few kids into the hive recently which gives me the occasion to wax lyrical about all things honeybees, beeswax and honey. The thing that usually has the most misconceptions surrounding it is what beeswax is exactly. So, here are a few things you may not have known about beeswax...
- Beeswax is produced by wax glands on the underside of the abdomen of a bee. It is clear liquid when exuded and becomes wax upon contact with air.
- Worker bees are usually allocated to wax production between 12 - 18 days of age! (is there something there for Gen Y perhaps?!) The bees collect the wax with their legs and then chew it to soften it and make it malleable (to make the honeycomb structure in which they store flower nectar to ripen into honey.
- Beeswax is clear/white when exuded. Discolouration occurs when the wax is stained by honey, pollen, propolis (or by beekeepers overheating the wax). To read more about why Queen B candles are so light in colour, read our blog post on Why The White Wax Queenie?
- A bee makes around 10 nectar gathering trips per day (and can carry 25 - 5- milligram's of water or nectar per trip). Flower nectar is simply 'unripened' honey. It takes 82kgs of nectar (ie around 165,000 trips) to make 1kg of honey. In the course of those 165,000 trips, worker bees will fly around 4 million kms' (100 times around earth).
- Bees consume a lot of energy in the production of wax using around 8 - 10kgs of honey to produce 1kg of wax.