How Do Bees Make Wax?

The How, What & Why of Bees Wax Production Explained!

How do bees make wax featuring a worker bee kneading max to make honeycomb


In a nutshell, bees make wax with secretions from glands on their abdomen. That secretion then hardens into flakes which the bees then use to construct honeycomb. And yes, Honeycomb is made of beeswax!

As we further study our wonderful new bee colonies here at Easthampstead Park, we find ourselves more and more captivated by this phenomenon.

This remarkable substance, crafted by nature's diligent architects, serves as the foundation for their intricate hives and is a testament to their ingenuity and industriousness. 

Please join us as we embark on a fascinating journey to explore the intricacies of beeswax creation, its place in the realm of vegetarianism, and its edibility.

We hope you enjoy the read!

Key Article Takeaways

- Beeswax is produced by worker honey bees.
- Secreted from specialised glands, shaped by bees' mandibles.
- Vital for constructing honeycomb cells.
- Widely used in various industries for its unique properties.

How Do Bees Make Wax featuring a beekeeper holding some wax from a hive

Wax-Producing Wizards: Worker Bees and Their Specialised Glands

Within the bustling beehive, a dedicated workforce of worker bees assumes the pivotal role of beeswax production.

These industrious insects possess specialised glands located on their abdominal segments, known as wax glands or wax mirrors. 

When activated, these remarkable structures secrete minuscule flakes of wax, which the bees meticulously collect and manipulate.

The wax glands in worker bees become active when the bees are around 10 to 20 days old. 

At this stage, they consume large amounts of honey, which fuels the production of wax. 

The bees then hang in clusters to maintain a temperature around 33 to 36 degrees Celsius, ideal for wax secretion.

Each bee can produce about eight wax flakes in 12 hours. These tiny flakes are less than 3 millimetres long but essential for building the hive. 

The process is energy-intensive, requiring about 8 kilograms of honey to produce 1 kilogram of wax.

Sculpting Artisans: Moulding Beeswax into Architectural Marvels

Once the wax flakes are gathered, the worker bees employ their mandibles, akin to skilled sculptors, to manipulate and shape the malleable material.

Through intricate movements and precision, they construct the iconic hexagonal cells that comprise the honeycomb. 

Each cell is a marvel of engineering, designed to house the precious nectar, pollen, and the future generation of bees.

The hexagonal shape is not just aesthetically pleasing; it’s also the most efficient structure, maximising space while using the least amount of wax. This efficiency is crucial for the hive's sustainability and productivity.

Worker bees use their legs and mandibles to warm the wax flakes and knead them into a soft, pliable state. 

This allows them to mould the wax into the perfect hexagonal cells that form the honeycomb structure. Each cell's uniformity and precision highlight the bees' incredible ability to work together harmoniously.

The Versatile Wonder: Beeswax's Multifaceted Roles

Beyond its architectural significance, beeswax serves various essential functions within the hive. 

It acts as a protective barrier, sealing cracks and crevices, ensuring the hive's structural integrity. Additionally, beeswax plays a crucial role in regulating the hive's temperature, offering insulation and aiding in the delicate process of honeycomb ventilation.

Bees also use propolis, a resin-like mixture, in combination with beeswax to reinforce and protect their hive. This mixture has antimicrobial properties, helping to maintain a healthy environment inside the hive.

Outside the hive, beeswax’s unique properties have made it a prized material in various industries. 

Its antibacterial, waterproof, and non-toxic nature makes it valuable in cosmetics, candles, food wraps, and even as a lubricant in musical instruments.

Is Beeswax Edible?

Yes it is certainly edible. However, while beeswax is not toxic, it is generally not recommended for human consumption due to its indigestible nature.

Beeswax might cause digestive issues if consumed in significant quantities, but eating small quantities of bees wax shouldn't present a problem.

However, it is used in small amounts in some food products like cheese coatings and as a glazing agent for certain fruits.

In the culinary world, beeswax can be used for sealing homemade jams and preserving foods. 

But consuming large amounts can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. It’s always best to enjoy beeswax’s benefits in non-edible forms, appreciating its role in nature and its applications in various products.

Is Beeswax Vegetarian?

Interestingly, beeswax is generally considered vegetarian by most standards, as it is a natural product derived from the labour of bees and does not involve the direct exploitation or harm of animals. 

However, opinions may vary among strict vegetarians and vegans.

Vegetarianism typically excludes the direct consumption of animal flesh, while veganism avoids all animal products. 

Since beeswax is a by-product of bee activity, it’s acceptable to many vegetarians. Vegans, however, may choose to avoid it, considering the ethical implications of bee farming and the impact on bee populations.

At Easthampstead Park, we respect diverse dietary choices and aim to provide comprehensive information to help you make informed decisions about the products you use.

Which Bees Actually Produce Beeswax?

Not all bees in the hive produce wax with this specialised task falling to the worker bees, the female bees who perform various roles throughout their lives.
Worker bees transition through different duties, such as nursing, guarding, and foraging, before taking on the task of wax production.

Queen bees and drones do not produce wax. The queen's primary role is to lay eggs, while drones are responsible for mating with the queen. 

The worker bees, driven by their strong work ethic and collective effort, are the true architects and builders of the hive.

Our partners at have observed that the efficiency and cooperation among worker bees are crucial for the hive's success. 

Their dedication to their roles ensures that the hive remains productive and sustainable, allowing the colony to thrive.

How Do Bees Make Wax | ANSWERED!

As we conclude our exploration of the creation of beeswax, we are left in awe of the remarkable ingenuity and precision exhibited by these industrious insects. 
Their ability to harness the power of nature and transform it into architectural masterpieces is a testament to the wonders that surround us.

At Easthampstead Park, we value the drive to gain knowledge in order to apply it towards the conservation of the environment and wildlife. 

May this journey inspire a renewed appreciation for the marvels of the natural world, the incredible creatures that inhabit it, and the ethical considerations that come with their products. 

If you'd like to come visit our bees then please don't hesitate to contact us - perhaps consider coming for lunch or afternoon tea at the same time!

We hope this blog has been insightful as well as helpful.

How do bees make wax featuring large yellow hanging globes of wax from a hive

How Do Bees Make Wax | FAQs

Q. How is beeswax produced?
A. Beeswax is produced by worker honey bees through specialised glands on their abdomen.

Q. What is the primary purpose of beeswax in a beehive?
A. Beeswax is essential for constructing honeycomb cells for honey, pollen, and larvae.

Q. Is Beeswax considered vegetarian?
A. Yes, beeswax is generally considered vegetarian as it doesn't involve harming animals.

Q. Is there a chemical formula for BeesWax?
A. Of course, the exact formula for BeesWax chemically is actually C15 H31 CO2 C30 H61

Q. What are the unique properties of beeswax?
A. Beeswax is versatile, water-resistant, antibacterial, and retains scents, making it valuable in various industries.

Bees require lots of water for wax production - check out our article on How Do Bees Drink right here!