How do bees make beeswax?

In the hive, small wax scales are secreted by young honey bees. For the wax-making bees to secrete wax, the ambient temperature in the hive has to be 33° to 36 °C. Over one million tiny wax scales are required to make a kilo of wax !

Honey bees use the beeswax to build hexagonal honeycomb cells in which their young are raised and honey and pollen are stored. The wax honeycomb is nearly white, but becomes progressively more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollen oils and propolis.

 

To produce their wax, bees must consume about eight times as much honey by mass. It is estimated that bees fly over 500,000 km to yield  a single kilo of beeswax.

 

Its colour varies from nearly white to brownish, but most often a shade of yellow, depending on purity and the type of flowers gathered by the bees.

 

Bees have three major uses for beeswax comb, and will use it for honey storage, pollen storage and in the nursery area of the hive.

 

If you want to read about how and why bees make honey, go to the honey section of our site.

 

Read more about the different honeybees and how bees defend the hive,

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Teams of bees building beeswax honeycomb

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Yellow, orange and purple cells of stored pollen

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Nursery area - the queen lays a single egg into each cell