Honey Bees in the Garden: Beeswax

Posted by @Mindy03 on
Did you know that candles and cosmetics are made with beeswax? Beeswax has many more little known uses; let's take a look at this important gift from the tiny honey bee.

Beeswax is made by honey bees; they raise their young in it and they also store their food in it.  An empty section of beeswax is very lightweight and smells like honey.  2011-08-02/Mindy03/a3bc16

The honeycomb that the bees raise their brood in is darker than the comb they use for storing nectar and pollen. It is made from the same material, but the brood comb also contains foreign particles such as pollen, propolis or even parts of young bees.

There is also bur comb, which is the comb honey bees make wherever there is more space than they like.  Bur comb is pure wax made entirely by the honey bees.

Most wax is used to make foundations in the hive.  Wax foundations make it easier for the bees to make the honeycomb used for their brood or for food storage.

Worker bees have eight wax-producing mirror glands on the inner sides of the sternites (the ventral shield or plate of each segment of the body) on abdominal segments 4 to 7.           

Once the worker bee begins daily flights, she stops producing wax.                                    

2011-08-02/Mindy03/cb1c1bNew wax scales are initially glass-clear and colorless, becoming opaque after mastication by the worker bee. The wax of honeycombs is nearly white, but becomes progressively more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollen oils and propolis.   The wax scales are about 3 millimetres (0.12 in.) across and 0.1 millimetres (0.0039 in.) thick. Approximately 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 must be 33 to 36 °C (91 to 97 °F). To produce their wax, bees must consume about eight times as much honey by mass.                                                      

Beeswax is as familiar to everyone as honey is.  Its use in candles, soaps and cosmetics is well known, but there are thousands of other uses for beeswax.  Here are a few of them:                                                       

*Beeswax is used in mustache creams to stiffen mustaches into desired shapes.                                     

*It coats bronze, copper and iron to prevent moisture from tarnishing them.

*It's a lubing agent used by jewelers who make fine filaments out of gold and silver.
*NASA combines beeswax with certain enzymes to clean up oil spills.

*It's used in certain candies such as gummy bears and jelly beans.
*It's used in making crayons.

*It coats whips made from light nylon parachute cord to make them heavier and water resistant.
Isn't it amazing how much the hard work of a tiny honey bee provides for us?  The next time you see a bee at work, remember candles, cosmetics, and food as well as other useful items that contain beeswax.
Resource:  Wikipedia

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
uses for beeswax by RickCorey Aug 13, 2011 10:26 AM 8
Wonderful by wren Aug 13, 2011 10:24 AM 14

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