Updated: Nov 20, 2019
What is beeswax? How do the bees make it? How can it be used? Let's explore all of this and more....
Beeswax is made by honeybees. They sweat it out from special wax glands located on the bottom side of their abdomens. To make 1 kg of beeswax, it is estimated that bees need to eat about 7 to 9 kg of honey. The bees use the wax to build perfect hexagon cells that they use to store honey.
The bees fill each honeycomb cell with nectar they collect from flowers, which is mainly water with natural sugars. The bees then use their body heat to evaporate the excess water, condensing the nectar into honey. When the honey is ready, the bees will cap each cell with wax. We are able to harvest honey when the frames of honeycomb are at least 75% capped with wax. To give you an idea, below is a picture that we took that shows both capped and uncapped honey.
When we harvest honey, we put the frames of honeycomb in an extractor - a centrifuge that spins the honey out of the honeycomb. Before we can do that, we need to uncap the honeycomb: we use a knife to remove the thin layer of wax capping to reveal the honey underneath. We collect all the wax capping and render them as one of the last tasks of the beekeeping season.
To render beeswax, we rinse the wax cappings to remove any debris and remaining honey. Then we melt it and filter it. The clean wax is poured into big molds for storage. We can then use chunks of pure beeswax to make candles and lipbalm. As candles, beeswax burns brighter, longer and cleaner than synthetic or soy-based wax candle and has a naturally sweet smell.