How do Honey Bees make Beeswax?

wax-glands

How do Honey Bees make Beeswax ?

Worker bees which live only around 35 days in summer, make wax from about the 10th day of their lives to the 16th. When workers are roughly 10 days old, they develop special wax-producing glands in their abdomens.  The glands convert the sugar in the honey into wax, which seeps through small pores in the bee’s body leaving tiny white flakes on its abdomen. These bits of wax are then chewed by the bees. The chewed wax is added to the construction of the honeycomb.

The wax of honeycomb starts off clear to white, but becomes progressively more yellow or brown with the incorporation of pollen oils, honey and propolis. When secreted from one of the segments of the bees abdomen, the wax scales are about 3 millimetres across and 0.1 millimetres thick, and about 1100 (wax scales) are required to make a gram of wax.

For the wax-making bees to secrete wax, the ambient temperature in the hive has to be 33 to 36 °C (91 to 97 °F). To produce their wax, bees must consume about eight times as much honey by mass. It is estimated that bees collectively fly 150,000 miles, roughly six times around the earth, to yield one pound of beeswax (530,000 km/kg).

Advertisements