The elaborate production of beeswax
In order to produce one kilo of beeswax, the construction bees eat the amount of nectar that would have been enough for around 10 kilos of honey. Wax is therefore more valuable than honey. Bees build their honeycombs out of wax. They are a nursery, a pharmacy and a pantry. They ensure the health and well-being of the entire bee colony.
The bees have 8 special glands on their belly to produce wax. They are located between the third and sixth abdominal rings. There the bee “sweats” out thin, white flakes that are barely visible and have the unimaginably low weight of 0.0008 grams. At first the wax is white, but then the bees push it with their hind legs to their mouthparts and knead it with pollen, propolis and glandular secretions, so that in the end the yellow color that is typical of beeswax is created.
Wax cycle in beekeeping
There is a separate wax cycle in beekeeping. Depending on whether beekeeping is done conventionally or ecologically, the beeswax from incubated cells is melted down and used for new dividing walls. Bioland beekeepers are only allowed to use capping wax or drone wax for dividing walls, which has never or only been incubated once, in order to keep residues and contamination as low as possible. At Demeter, only natural construction is permitted in the beehive’s brood chamber; prefabricated middle walls made of old wax are taboo. If the frames are removed later and the honey is thrown out, the honeycombs are left over. So that the beeswax of the bees is not wasted, the beekeeper melts it down to remove residues from brood and feed storage. Alternatively, the beekeeper can of course also make other products from wax, such as candles. Or he sells his wax, for example to manufacturers like us. For our beeswax cloths, we only obtain wax from organic beekeeping. That suits us proper beekeeping especially dear to the heart.
Our Beeswax cloths can be used for up to two years depending on care and use – longer than any candle burns.
Photo © Imkerei Heinrichsgarten®, Alexander Schlotter