Did you know that bees dance? Harmony and productivity or restlessness and hunger is indicated by their unique signals that to an untrained eye appear as random movements rather than complex conversations. Thankfully, beekeepers are able to interpret the dance and their in-depth understanding of these remarkable insects enables the production of beautiful beeswax.
Inside a hive, a single queen bee is the centre of attention for approximately 40,000 bees that inhabit that hive. The queen is the sole reproducer, so her fertility and health is crucial to the success of the hive. Typically she mates with the drones while in flight. Then during spring and summer she can lay up to 1,500 eggs a day. In an average 3-4 year life span this equates to hundreds of thousands of new bees.
Each egg is laid into a single cell of honeycomb and new larvae will hatch three to four days later. The non-reproductive female Worker bees, then step in to feed the larvae for nine days until they pupate. They then cap the cells and the pupa is allowed to develop for 16, 21 or 24 days respectively to produce a new queen, worker or drone.
Worker bees account for about 99% of the colony' population and during their short six week like span they earn their reputation of being busy. Along with feeding the larvae, their additional duties include: gathering nectar, pollen and water; making honey and wax; building and repairing the honeycomb; defending and cleaning the hive and regulating hive temperature to main incubation of new eggs.
To produce wax, the workers eat fresh honey and after approximately 24 hours their special glands convert the honey's natural sugar into beeswax. This wax is excreted in liquid form from glands on the bee's abdomen. As soon as this liquid makes contact with air it solidifies into flakes. The bee then chews, softens and moulds the wax into honeycomb. On single kilo of beeswax requires approximately 7kg of ingested honey.
Honeycomb laden frames are removed from the hives and the comb is cut away using a thin metal wire. The wax combs are transferred to large tanks where they are gently heated to first extract the honey. Once the honey has been removed the remaining wax is then thoroughly cleaned by dropping it into boiling water. After the water evaporates, the clean liquid wax is poured into moulds. When set, the wax is de-moulded and assessed. The washing process may occur multiple times depending on the cleanliness of the wax and the grade of wax being produced.
In cosmetics, beeswax is a highly valuable ingredient that offer protective and humectant properties that can soothe and soften the effects of dry skin. It is an excellent addition to your natural balms, body butters and creams.
It is also included in candles, surfboard wax, furniture polish, industrial lubricant, food manufacturing and even art!
We love using beeswax in our natural skincare products and we are sure you will love it too!