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What's beeswax

 

Honeybees Create Beeswax

Scientifically speaking, beeswax is a natural substance secreted by worker honey bees (female honey bees) from glands on the underside of their abdomens. This secreted beeswax is known as a beeswax scale. A single beeswax scale is roughly 3 millimeters in diameter and just 1/10th of a millimeter in thickness; it takes roughly 1000 - 2000 of these scales to make just a single gram of beeswax.

Beeswax Scale

Wax scales are formed on the anterior part of each of the last four normal sternites (sternal plates), found on segments 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the abdomen of the worker honey bee. Eight wax glands are located over these sternal plates of the abdomen (4 on each side). The wax is secreted as a liquid and solidifies into scales upon contact with the plates.

It Takes Honey To Make Beeswax

Bees feed on their honey in order to produce beeswax scales. Studies varies slightly, but on average it takes the consumption of roughly a ratio of eight to ten parts honey to make one part beeswax. While secreting the wax bees do no other work in the hive. Worker honey bees use this secreted wax to assemble their elegantly designed honeycomb, the image most people conjure when they think of bees and honey.

The honeycomb shape (6 sided) is structurally stronger than a square or circle shape. The beeswax honeycomb is a most vital foundation for all bee colonies; this honeycomb is used by the honey bees to store their young (larvae), as well as an efficient storage area for their honey and pollen.

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Golden Yellow Beeswax

The beeswax most people are familiar with is a light golden yellow color. This beautiful color is achieved from the pollen and propolis that naturally stain the beeswax. If excessive amounts of pollen oils and propolis are present in the beeswax it can even become a dark brown.

When you see white beeswax candles the pollen and propolis has been removed from the beeswax. White beeswax is achieved either naturally or with the use of chemicals (bleach or hydrogen peroxide are common methods). Using chemicals to "bleach" beeswax is common for cosmetic applications, though most reputable beeswax candle manufactures use non-chemical methods to remove pollen and propolis to acquire a white beeswax.


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