The bee wax. You can hear often about it you too? But what does ‘bee wax’ mean? That it’s created by bees? No, I can’t believe it, among the thousands of things that they can do, they produce wax as well? It can’t be! …Or maybe yes?
Yep, bee wax is really made by bees
As far as bee products are concerned, so far we have spoken mainly of honey. Nevertheless, they don’t produce only this. Among the different tasks that bees carry out (they are truly hard workers!), there is the production of wax as well. And stay careful, it’s not for scrap, something that they produce and neither realise it, not at all…Wax is essential for bees! And have you ever noticed? We often hear about it, but not so many people know it so well. I had the occasion to go deepen into the topic through different books that I have read and some very interesting webinars. Now everything is definetely clearer, and I must admit that…mamma mia, so many thing I didn’t know!
Let’s see a bit the general features of bee wax
With regard to the colour, generally it is yellow. Nevertheless, it can vary from white to brown. This depends on different factors: on how much is ‘old’, on what it enters in contact in the beehive,… while the consistence is solid, almost greasy and after a while that you have it in your hands, it gets malleable. Its smell…I simply love it, so good! It reminds me a bit of the honey one. It doesn’t float and it doesn’t mix with water, it can melt at approx. 61/66 degrees.
Where does it come from??
It comes right from the bees! It’s a product totally coming from animal origin! The bee has glands made for this purpose. These start to work between the 10th and the 18th day of life of the bee, then they become smaller and they generally do not used anymore (only in case of emergency). Bee wax is produced by these glands and, like little drops, they run out from the bee body through the segments of its abdomen. As soon as they are in the open air, the drop of wax become solid, the bee can work it with its mandibles, making it richer with pollen and propolis (why not? 🙂 ).
What do bees do with the bee wax?
So much effort to produce wax! But what about the energetic waste…? if you consider that for one gramme of bee wax, the bee has to use up 6/7 kilos of honey, well…she must really need it, otherwise she would probably be glad to live without it! This is also a reason why when bees swarm, they take with them much honey too! It’s not mere food, it’s a truly energetic fuel to produce the wax that they need so much…but do they need it for what? If for example the beekeeper put the wax sheets, what do the bees do with more wax?? It’s true many beekeepers, us too, use the wax sheets, but they are only sheets. The bee needs a cell where to stock propolis, pollen, nectar, or where the beequeen can lay eggs. This waxsheet is a base that gives an input from where to start, but then the whole structure is missing and there they still need much wax.
So these are their little ‘bricks’?
Correct! Consider the honeycomb like a house. If you add the wax sheet, you already provide the foundations, otherwise bees will take care of it. Each little scale of bee wax is a tiny brick that is going to give a shape to the final honeycomb. Each single bee with active glands brings its brick and gives its contributions in building everything. As usual, there is always balance and a wonderful perfection that creates a truly masterpiece! If you have a closer look at a honeycomb, whether you have passion for beekeeping or not, you can’t help getting enchanted by it. By its scent, its colours, the precision of the hexagonal cells. A wasp nest for example is very different. It’s much more rough, rudimentary and it’s not made with wax. The wasp looks for rests of wood and create its nest by putting them together with its saliva. The bees’ honeycomb comes from a social animal with a special evolution. For sure, bees had a much longer and deeper evolutionary path than the wasps one (no offence).
…do you think so you too? And the temperature of the honeycomb, the one for which they put so much effort the whole year for thermoregulating, it’s exactly the temperature needed for getting the wax malleable enough to work it without any issue. The cells, at the beginning round, become hexagonal through the energy coming from the different cells one next to the other. Another extraordinary thing: the thickness of any honeycomb cell is always the same (0,07 mm). That’s incredible, isn’t it?
Have you now understood why the beewax is so important?
It’s essential to create that place in which the superorganism will develop. With this truly construction material, not only bees build their nest and stock their food. Not only?? What else? Thanks to the bee wax composition, vibrations and pheromones circulate easily, hence, it’s perfect for the information flow among the bees. Moreover, it’s certainly a first barrier against pathogens since it contains propolis as well, that is a powerful anti-bacterial.
Had you ever imagined how much is behind the bee wax? How many wonderful things bees, these tiny little beings, can do! Nature, its balance and its perfection. How much did you know about bee wax before reading this article? We would like to read a comment of yours here below, tell us everything! 🙂