The Magic of Beeswax.
So as well as producing the wonderful substance that is Raw Irish Honey, our Incredible little Bees also produce the wondrous substance that is Pure Beeswax.
This the worker Bees produce from eight wax producing glands in the abdominal segments on the underside of their abdomen.
The wax is produced as "Scales" which the workers will transfer from their abdomen with their legs to their mandibles to mold and manipulate, to form the super strong structure that is wax comb.
About 1 million scales of wax are required to make 1 kilo of wax, about the amount required to construct a small bees nest.
New Beeswax when produced is clear, curing to pristine white. After manipulation it usually takes on a golden yellowish hue due to having a certain amount of pollen and propolis mixed with it.
They mix the fresh wax with salivary secretions and when at the right consistency they use it to make fresh wax comb for storage of Honey, Pollen or for raising new Brood in, or will use it to seal over the same cells of stores or young brood.
Bees will recognize when wax is needed to be produced, the stimulus being a lack of space as the queen increases her llaying rate or as a nectar flow starts and their is a sharp increase in nectar being gathered.
It is a costly commodity for the bees to produce taking approximately 8 kilos of honey to produce 1 kilo of Beeswax and the ratio of Honey to Beeswax produced in a managed hive is 75:1.
This fresh comb is a wonder of engineering, each cell being hexagonal six sided and the optimum design in relation to shape and dimensions, to maximize strength and storage space. To store what is ultimately a heavy crop of honey if the hive is successful during the season.
The cells at the top of the structure that will bear the weight are capable of carrying 1300 times their own weight ! .
Not a bad feat of engineering for a humble little Bee !
As you can see Beeswax is a precious commodity. the small amount of excess wax can be harvested from the hives and rendered down for all sorts of uses, from Candles to Cosmetics to Polishes.