Wax harvesting

Honeybees are amazing…first of all, there are 60,000 or so females living together under one roof.  That could be the end of the story really…but I’ll go on.  Every bit of every day is about being busy.  They warm the hive or cool the hive.  They gather nectar or raise newly hatched bees.  Sometimes they die protecting the hives from…well…me.  I think one of the most interesting things they do, however, is make wax.

(click each of the pics – you will see more detail in the expanded view)

Bees mainly produce wax during the early bit of their lives…in particular, from days 10-16.  They eat honey which is necessary for the wax glands to produce.  It takes 6-10 pounds of honey to make one pound of wax.  Small flakes of wax protrude from the underside of the bee’s abdomen when the glands are in production.  The bees pull the flakes and chew them so they can be molded into whatever shape they need.

The cool part is that bees can also recycle wax!  Bees are the ultimate green community!  I had some extra honeycomb that I pulled from a hive that I had been working on earlier.  I always leave the bits of wax out for a period after I remove it so the bees can have a go at it.  This most recent batch has been particularly tasty I guess because bees have been all over it for 2 weeks snatching bits of old wax.  They bite chunks of the wax off of the old honey comb and chew it until it can be shoved into their pollen baskets to be carried back to the hive.

I have often seen bees work with wax I leave out for them, but I have never seen them work so long and hard on a single “pull” of wax.  It really is sort of inspiring how they use what they have and make do.  I think there is a lesson there for everyone…

8 thoughts on “Wax harvesting

  1. I just want you to make some wax candles out of all the extra wax you have around the house. Seems like I bought you the equipment to do that about 3 years ago. Hmmm……

  2. That is really amazing. Just think, baby humans at 10-16 days old can’t even see 10 feet in front of their face.
    So cool, all this bee stuff you know about. Thanks for sharing.
    Oh, get to making some candles for the lady of the house!

  3. Wonderful… It is incredible isn’t it? I wish the honeyflow was still strong here. I haven’t had enough wax to make candles and such, but one of these days! 🙂

  4. Seriously bees are just about the most fascinating creatures!

    In fact hubby is lying in bed right now with a poultice on his neck from one of his little girls that found her way inside his suit.

    Are you ever worried about developing an allergy to bee venom? We know someone that no longer keeps bees because of a deadly allergy that has just recently developed. Kim

  5. Kim – I was a little worried at first but I have been stung literally hundreds of times and my reactions have become much less than they were at first. I guess it has put my mind at ease. I know it is always a possibility, but my reduced reaction has put my mind at ease. Heck, I just stung 9 times all at once in the hands on Wed catching a swarm (w/o gloves…trying to show off) but it didn’t even bother me really…weird, eh?

  6. Beau – I was super worried about honey flow at first but I think it has been a pretty good year…we’ll see in a few weeks when I work up the energy to harvest!

  7. Ceecee – I do need to make candles. Em got me all the stuff and I have been a real wiener and haven’t done a thing with it…pitiful!

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