Bees and building wax

Wax construction :

Bees are beneficial insects that produce many useful substances, including honey and wax, and wax is a natural material produced by the bee family to which honey bees belong (scientific name: Apis mellifera), it is secreted from four pairs of special glands located under the belly of the workers, each of which is known as the wax gland, and the worker bee is able to produce wax when the wax glands mature, which happens when it reaches the age of 12-18, and the wax is liquid when it exits the wax glands, but it hardens in the form of thin scales when it comes into contact with air, and the bee needs raw carbohydrates to produce wax, so it consumes fructose sugar, glucose sugar, and sucrose sugar contained in honey.

Bees need wax to build the comb, which forms the main structure of the bee colony, and the wax comb consisting of hexagonal cells is the place where bees live and perform all their daily tasks, in addition, it is the place of keeping honey and pollen, which is the food stock of the Hive, and the place of raising young or what is known as brood, and to build the comb, the worker bee uses the hairs on its hind legs to scrape the wax after it hardens, passes it to the middle legs and from there to the jaw, where the Bee applies wax to soften it, and then uses it to build cells the hexagonal shape of which the wax comb consists, and it is worth noting that bees build wax combs only The presence of a queen for the colony, and the number of Combs built by bees depends on how much the hive needs storage space, the number increases with the increase in the number of eggs laid by the Queen, and the increase in the amount of nectar collected by the workers.

Properties of beeswax :

Here are the most important properties of beeswax:

Color: the color of the new wax is usually white, and sometimes reddish-orange yellow, but the color of the wax darkens when it comes into contact with pollen or propolis, which bees use to close the cracks of the hive.

Solubility: wax does not dissolve in water, but dissolves in organic solvents such as benzene, ether, or chloroform, and dissolves in oils and fats when exposed to heat.

Melting point: wax consists of insoluble crumbs but melts when exposed to a high temperature of 62-65 degrees Celsius.

Texture: cold wax is in the form of a fragile, easily crumbly mass, but shrinks and becomes denser when exposed to low heat.

The importance of the hexagonal shape of the hives :

The workers make a lot of effort to produce what they need from wax to build the comb, and the extent of the effort can be imagined if we know that the worker bee takes 12 hours to produce 8 wax shells, while it needs 1000 wax shells to produce one gram of wax, so the bees were guided to build the comb in the form of hexagonal cells, and the hexagonal design is characterized by consuming the least possible amount of wax to build cells with a wide storage space characterized by strength and durability, without leaving spaces between them at once, in addition, the construction of hexagonal cells does not require this means that bees can use their time and effort to perform other necessary tasks.

Uses of beeswax :

Man has known beeswax since ancient times and used it to embalm the dead, make candles, dolls, and masks, in addition to many diverse modern uses, including:

  • Wax is used in the manufacture of cosmetics including sunscreens, deodorants, depilatories, hair creams, lipsticks, and eye shadows, due to its ability to improve the appearance and homogeneity of creams and lotions, it has antibiotic properties, in addition, it does not provoke allergic reactions.
  • It is used in the composition of food colorings, food preservatives, and as a wrapper for sweets made from chocolate, baked goods, fruits, and nuts due to being an inert substance that does not interact with the human digestive tract and passes through the body without changing unless it is stored near toxic chemicals and pesticides.
  • It is used to package medicines that are in the form of pills to facilitate their ingestion and to delay the release of the pharmacological substance into the body.
  • Warm wax is used to increase the elasticity of the skin, and for the treatment of inflammation of muscles, nerves, and joints.
  • When chewed, it is useful for strengthening the gums and increasing the amount of saliva. It is used for painting cars and polishing furniture, floors, leather, and shoes.
  • Used for painting nails to increase their ability to penetrate wood without much effort.
  • It is used to make molds including those used by the dentist.
  • Used for waxing sewing threads and needles to facilitate and speed up sewing.