Whether you’re a beekeeper or simply a curious person, you may wonder about honeybees and their intricate and remarkable behaviors. You’re probably familiar with honey, but that doesn’t mean you understand other bee products. Beeswax is an incredible substance, and it serves a few different purposes within a beehive. Although you may not understand much about it at the moment, it’s beneficial to know what beeswax is and why bees make it. Follow along to learn more about bees and beeswax.
What Is Beeswax?
Many people wonder what beeswax actually is—in simple terms, it’s what bees use to build the insides of their hives. Because bees love to build nice homes for themselves, you can think of beeswax as bricks and concrete for bees.
There are many more things to learn about beeswax, from its purposes to how bees make it. Explore everything you need to know about this spectacular bee product.
Where Does It Come From?
You may or may not be familiar with the honey-making process; either way, you might not know that beeswax comes directly from bees. That’s right—they make the substance with their bodies and use it for various purposes and tasks around their homes inside the hives. Whether you know quite a bit or only a little about bees, you’re probably interested in how exactly bees make beeswax; discover the intriguing process of making beeswax.
How and Why Do Bees Make It?
The process begins in a field full of nectar-rich trees, plants, or flowers. Bees forage local plants for nectar and pollen to make a few different products for their hives. With that said, a bee’s diet consists mostly of honey, which is why the colony makes as much as it possibly can during the spring, summer, and early fall seasons.
However, the colony can’t possibly eat all of the honey they make right away. Therefore, the bees need a place to put their surplus and save it for later. Because honey never spoils, it’s the perfect substance to save throughout the winter so the colony can survive. This leads to the need for beeswax. Believe it or not, bees use honey to create beeswax, which they then use to build combs to store their surplus honey.
Interestingly, honeybees have special wax-producing glands on their abdomens, which converts the honey they eat into wax. The wax exits their bodies through small pores, and it appears as small transparent flakes on their abdomens. You may be wondering why beeswax has a yellowish color—it’s because the wax must go through another process before it becomes usable.
Bees transfer these wax flakes to their mouths and chew on them. Their saliva helps soften the wax, and it’s also responsible for the color change you see in the finished product. Once they have soft, flexible wax, the bees can use it to build the honeycombs you see within their hives.
Purposes and Uses
Bees use beeswax as a building material for their hives since they need space to store their surplus honey. They also use these same wax cells for their larvae to grow and develop until they hatch into adult worker bees. You might notice that bees build their honeycombs in perfect hexagonal shapes, and you may wonder why. This shape is the most efficient when it comes to confined spaces, as it creates no wasted space. Any other shape—like circles, squares, etc.—leaves too much space between the individual cells, while hexagons leave only a thin wall between each wax cell.
Interesting Beeswax Facts
Now that you know how and why bees make beeswax, you may want to learn a few interesting beeswax facts. You can keep this information in your back pocket to share with your friends and family members at your next gathering. Bees are incredible insects, and they never cease to amaze people with their seemingly strange behaviors.
- Many people write “bees’ wax” because bees make the wax, but it’s actually all one word: beeswax.
- You may know that honey is commonly used as an alternative medicine, but you might not realize that beeswax is, too. It can work wonders to treat joint pain, wounds, burns, tonsillitis, and more.
- Beeswax can be slightly different depending on the bees that made it, but it usually has some antibacterial properties because it comes from honey.
- Many crayons for drawing and coloring contain beeswax as a primary ingredient.
- It takes about eight pounds of honey to produce a single pound of beeswax—those bees are busy!
- Like honey, beeswax never spoils or expires.
Other Uses for Beeswax
Although beeswax has many uses and purposes in the hive, you should also know that the substance has many other uses in the human world. Beeswax may be an ingredient in your hair products, such as conditioner or detangler. Furthermore, the beauty industry uses beeswax and other bee products in various makeup, skincare, and beauty products because of their potential for healing and repairing the human body.
You may have chapstick or lip balm containing beeswax because it makes the mixture incredibly smooth and comfortable for your lips. Additionally, many people use beeswax to make homemade lotions, soaps, and candles because it’s such an incredible, natural, healthy ingredient. Many cheese makers use beeswax as a coating for their finished products to prevent the cheese from spoiling before it gets to the market.
Now that you know what beeswax is and why bees make it, you have a few more pieces of knowledge to add to your bank of beekeeper or bee expert advice. Whether you keep bees now or you’d like to start doing so in the future, you should know that you can harvest beeswax from the hive just as you would with honey. With that said, you should avoid taking too much, or you may put your colony at risk. If you’re looking for pure beeswax for sale, Crystal’s Honey is here to help. Visit us online for all things bee- and honey-related.