Beeswax production is pretty amazing.
Between the 10th and 16th days of life, a worker bee’s special wax-producing glands mature and are most active. When bees in this stage of life consume honey, these glands convert the sugar from the honey into wax. Small flakes or scales of wax are expressed through eight tiny slits on the bee’s underside (what we would think of as its belly). The bees must collectively consume about 6-8 pounds of honey to produce just 1 pound of wax.
Honey bees use the wax to build comb, the structure of the hive. Bees take the newly formed wax flakes from their abdomens, and shape the wax into perfect hexagonal cells. These cells are where the queen lays eggs and where worker bees store pollen and nectar to turn to honey.
Beeswax becomes very soft if the temperature is too high and will melt at 149 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, bees are masters at temperature regulation, keeping the hive at a steady 93-96 degrees Fahrenheit all year round.
The color of beeswax can range from white all the way to brownish black, going through shades of yellow, orange, and red. The differences in color are due to the incorporation of pollen oils and propolis. Comb used for brood eventually becomes a dark brown. The color has no significance as to the quality of the wax.
Beeswax and Products
Beeswax is used in health and body care products. It provides essential fatty acids, vitamins, and protective properties. It will not clog pores and allows skin to breathe. Used as a base in cosmetics, it helps to ensure an even distribution of ingredients.
Beeswax is a natural, renewable resource. Beeswax candles emit a bright, healthful light within the same spectrum as the sun — plus negative ions that clean the air and invigorate the body. Beeswax burns longer, drips less, and smells wonderful, naturally.