Sunday 15 September 2013

What do we use beeswax for?

Over the years there have been millions of uses for beeswax.

The most important use for beeswax as a beekeeper is of course to give the honeycomb back to the bees so that they can re-fill it with honey.  It 'costs' the bees to recreate the honeycomb, so giving it back means that they can collect more honey next season. The bees will re-use honeycomb, but they will not take flakes or pieces of wax and re-use them, so once the wax is damaged, or removed from the honeycomb, it can be recycled into something else.  The list below is just some of these uses.

How do bees make honeycomb?

Bees build their home out of wax (beeswax!).  Unlike wasps, who collect the material to make their home, bees create the wax themselves.  Underneath the worker bee abdomen there are 4 pairs of glands.  The bee body, like all insects is made of a hard material.  So that the bee can flex its body, this ‘exoskeleton’ is made up of a number of hard overlapping plates, joined by flexible membranes.  The wax glands are hidden in the overlapping area between two of these plates, so that the wax appears as a small flake between the plates.