13 Jun What’s the buzz?
Summer is a very busy time for bees collecting nectar and pollen to feed the hive but how do these fascinating little creatures produce wax?
When worker bees are between 12 and 20 days old they develop special wax glands, eight of them, in their abdomens. These special glands convert sugars from honey the bees have eaten into a clear colourless substance which is deposited in flakes on the hive parts. The workers actively engaged in this activity literally engorge themselves with honey and hang in festoons at or near the site of comb building. The wax flakes are then collected by the hive worker bees and chewed until a perfect consistency for building the honeycomb cells in which they raise their young and store their food, all the while keeping the hive at a constant temperature, 33 degrees Celsius to 36 degrees Celsius so the wax is easily manipulated. Too hot in the hive and the wax drips, too cold and it gets brittle.
An estimated 2.7 kilos of honey will make approximately 0.45 kilos of beeswax.