Check out our beeswax uses page
Beeswax has its origin in the honey consumed by the bees
and transformed by them into a fatty matter through a process of digestion
and secretion. It is an organic production, not a mechanical one.
Beeswax is a voluntary secretion from the fourth to seventh ventral
plates of the Bees abdomen. The wax originates in a liquid state in the
wax secreting gland and is passed into depressed cavities, where it is
molded into shape by the segment bearing down on it from above. This
liquid solidifies and forms small scales about 3.0mm across and 0.1mm
thick, which the Bees withdraw from the wax pockets.
Normally only young Bees of between 10 - 17 days old secrete these wax
scales. However some older Bees can and do produce wax, dependant upon the
state of their wax gland development. During the winter for example,
physiological growth may be considerably retarded so that the glands
develop slowly or not at all.
To produce wax, Bees must consume considerable quantities of Stores to
enable wax secretion to take place. When building or repairing comb, the
Bees hang vertically in festoons. The wax scales are picked off by their
hind legs, then grasped by the forelegs. The wax scales are then
manipulated in the mandibles where a strong salivary juice is added, hence
rendering the wax more ductile, so that it can be positioned and molded as
required. It is estimated that for 1lb of Wax produced by Bees, they
consume about 10lb of stores. Therefore secretion of wax takes place
during a heavy honey flow or when vast quantities of food are available.
It is suggested that 1lb of beeswax consists of 500000 wax scales.
Pure beeswax, though
usually pale yellow in color, is sometimes nearly white, and the
difference in color is due to pollen consumed by the bees. Beeswax
retains its ductility and tenacity under greater ranges of temperature than
any mineral, plant or insect wax.
Pure Beeswax - Home page