What is Beeswax?

Beeswax Tealight Candles

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Beeswax is produced by the honey bees. It is secreted from eight wax producing glands on the worker bee’s abdomen. The wax is secreted in thin scales, looking a bit like mica flakes. They are clear, colourless, tasteless and very brittle.

Extracting Beeswax Cappings
Extracting beeswax cappings with hot knife

To form the beeswax into honeycomb, the bees will hang in strings and as wax is extruded from the glands of the wax producing bees it is passed between the legs and mouths of the bees that form the chain, being chewed and molded into shape along the way.

The bees will then use this wax to build the familiar hexagon -shaped honey cells. It is during this process that the wax starts to develop its colour and opacity.

Beeswax consists of at least 284 different compounds, mainly a variety of long chain alkanes, acids, esters, polyesters, and hydroxy esters, but the exact composition of beeswax varies with hive location. It has a specific gravity of about 0.95 and a melting point of over 60C.