When a swarm arrives at a new nest site, one of the first things they do is to start producing wax honeycomb. They need to draw it out in order for the queen to lay eggs in the hexagonal cells and as the colony develops, the bees live on the wax and store their food in it too.

Honeybee wax production
Honeybee caught on camera producing wax from her glands under the abdomen.

It's typically the young bees (around 12 - 20 days of age) that produce the wax. Beeswax is produced by honeybees from 4 pairs of glands under the abdomen. It's specific gravity is around 0.95 which means that it floats on water; it's not soluble in water. When bees are actively producing honeycomb, they cluster together in chains and they always hang the wax vertically. Wax doesn't have any nutritional value to us, so if we eat any, it just passes through. If you really want to know, wax consists predominantly of hydrocarbons, monohydric alcohols and fatty acids and melts at around 64C.

In managed hives, most beekeepers use wax foundation, which is beeswax pressed into a hexagonal pattern that we then put into wooden frames. This encourages the bees to produce comb in an orderly manner so we can manage them well; for example checking for disease or to modify their swarming instinct. It also allows us to remove 'frames' in order to extract honey.

Recovered wax is filtered in a two-stage process, first to get rid of all the large bits, then a second filter results in absolutely natural beeswax which is cast into blocks.

If you wish for any beeswax, please get in contact!

Wax blocks, ready for melting and re-use.