The wax is formed by worker bees, who secrete it from eight wax-producing mirror glands on the inner sides of the sternites (the ventral shield or plate of each segment of the body) on abdominal segments 4 to 7. The sizes of these wax glands depend on the age of the worker and after daily flights these glands begin to gradually atrophy. The new wax scales are initially glass-clear and colorless (see illustration), becoming opaque after mastication by the worker bee. The wax of honeycomb is nearly white, but becomes progressively more yellow or brown by incorporation of pollen oils and propolis. The wax scales are about 3 millimetres (0.12 in) across and 0.1 millimetres (0.0039 in) thick, and about 1,100 are required to make a gram of wax.
Honey bees use the beeswax to build honeycomb cells in which their young are raised and honey and pollen are stored. For the wax-making bees to secrete wax, the ambient temperature in the hive has to be 33 to 36 °C (91 to 97 °F). To produce their wax, bees must consume about eight times as much honey by mass. Typically, for a honey beekeeper, 10 pounds of honey yields 1 pound of wax. It is estimated that bees collectively fly 150,000 miles, roughly six times around the earth, to yield one pound of beeswax (530,000 km/kg).
When beekeepers extract the honey, they cut off the wax caps from each honeycomb cell with an uncapping knife or machine. Its color varies from nearly white to brownish, but most often a shade of yellow, depending on purity and the type of flowers gathered by the bees. Wax from the brood comb of the honey bee hive tends to be darker than wax from the honeycomb. Impurities accumulate more quickly in the brood comb. Due to the impurities, the wax has to be rendered before further use. The leftovers are called slumgum.
The wax may further be clarified by heating in water. As with petroleum waxes, it may be softened by dilution with vegetable oil to make it more workable at room temperature.
Physical characteristics 
|Wax Content Type||Percent|
An approximate chemical formula for beeswax is C15H31COOC30H61. Its main components are palmitate, palmitoleate, and oleate esters of long-chain (30-32 carbons) aliphatic alcohols, with the ratio of triacontanyl palmitate CH3(CH2)29O-CO-(CH2)14CH3 to cerotic acid CH3(CH2)24COOH, the two principal components, being 6:1. Beeswax can be classified generally into European and Oriental types. The saponification value is lower (3-5) for European beeswax, and higher (8-9) for Oriental types.
Beeswax has a relatively low melting point range of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). If beeswax is heated above 85 °C (185 °F) discoloration occurs. The flash point of beeswax is 204.4 °C (399.9 °F). Density at 15 °C is 958 to 970 kg/m³.
Natural beeswax (quoting Thorpe 1916 p737): When cold it is brittle; at ordinary temperatures it is tenacious; its fracture is dry and granular. The sp. gr. at 15° is from 0.958 to 0.975, that of melted wax at 98° - 99° compared with water at 15.5° is 0.822. It softens when held in the hand, and melts at 62° - 66°; it solidifies at 60.5° -63°.
Uses as a product 
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- Beeswax is mainly used to make honeycomb foundation for reuse by the bees.
- Purified and bleached beeswax is used in the production of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals:
- As a coating for cheese, to protect the food as it ages. As a food additive, it is known as E901 (glazing agent).
- As a skin care product, a German study found beeswax to be superior to similar "barrier creams" (usually mineral oil based creams, such as petroleum jelly), when used according to its protocol.
- Beeswax is an ingredient in moustache wax, as well as hair pomades.
- Beeswax is an ingredient in surgical bone wax.
- Although only about 10,000 tons are produced annually, a variety of niche uses exist:
- As a component of shoe polish
- As a component of furniture polish, dissolved in turpentine, sometimes blended with linseed or tung oil
- As a component of modeling waxes.
- When blended with pine rosin, beeswax serves as an adhesive to attach reed plates to the structure inside a squeezebox.
- Used to make lip balm.
- Used to make Cutler's resin.
- Used in Eastern Europe in egg decoration. It is used for writing, via resist dyeing, on batik eggs (as in pysanky) and for making beaded eggs.
- Formerly used in the manufacturing of the cylinders used by the earliest phonographs.
- Used by percussionists to make a surface on tambourines for thumb rolls.
- Metal injection moulding binder
- Beeswax can also be used as a metal injection moulding binder component along with other polymeric binder materials. An example is the EVA/beeswax binder formulation discussed by A. Ali.
Historical uses 
Beeswax was ancient humans' first plastic and for thousands of years had wide variety of uses, including:
- As a modeling material in the lost-wax casting process, or cire perdue.
- For wax tablets used for a variety of writing purposes.
- In Encaustic paintings such as the Fayum mummy portraits.
- Used in bow making (see English longbow).
- Used to strengthen and preserve sewing thread.
- As a component of sealing wax
- Used to make cuir bouilli (hardened leather).
- To form the mouthpieces of a didgeridoo, and the frets on the Philippine kutiyapi - a type of boat lute.
- As a sealant or lubricant for bullets in cap and ball and firearms
- To stabilize the military explosive Torpex - before being replaced by a petroleum-based product.
- In producing Javanese batik.
- Used to coat hemp strands in the making of Hemp Wick; an alternative use to Lighters.
- An ancient form of therapeutic dentistry/filling.
In the phrase "mind your own bee's wax," meaning "mind your own business", where it is probably a corruption of the word business.
See also 
- Apis mellifera
- Encaustic painting
- Paraffin wax
- Carnauba wax
- Bone wax
- Brood comb
- Brown, R, H. (1981) Beeswax (2nd edition) Bee Books New and Old, Burrowbridge, Somerset UK. ISBN 0-905652-15-0
- Umney, Nick; Shayne Rivers (2003). Conservation of Furniture. Butterworth-Heinemann. p. 164.
- "[[MSDS]] for beeswax". Wikilink embedded in URL title (help). No reported autoignition temperature has been reported
- A Dictionary of Applied Chemistry, Vol. 5. Sir Edward Thorpe. Revised and enlarged edition. Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1916. "Waxes, Animal and vegetable. Beeswax"
- Peter J. Frosch, Detlef Peiler, Veit Grunert, Beate Grunenberg (July 2003). "Wirksamkeit von Hautschutzprodukten im Vergleich zu Hautpflegeprodukten bei Zahntechnikern - eine kontrollierte Feldstudie. Efficacy of barrier creams in comparison to skin care products in dental laboratory technicians - a controlled trial.". Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft (in German) (Blackwell Synergy) 1 (7): 547–557. doi:10.1046/j.1439-0353.2003.03701.x. PMID 16295040. Retrieved 1/12/2008. "CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that the use of after work moisturizers is highly beneficial and under the chosen study conditions even superior to barrier creams applied at work. This approach is more practical for many professions and may effectively reduce the frequency of irritant contact dermatitis."
- 'Altar Candles", 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
- Uwe Wolfmeier, Hans Schmidt, Franz-Leo Heinrichs, Georg Michalczyk, Wolfgang Payer, Wolfram Dietsche, Klaus Boehlke, Gerd Hohner, Josef Wildgruber "Waxes" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2002. doi:10.1002/14356007.a28_103.
- 'Metal Injection Molding Process (MIM)", 2012 EngPedia
- Along with other natural polymers such as gutta-percha, horn, tortoiseshell and shellac,
- LOK Congdon (1985) Water-Casting Concave-Convex Wax Models for Cire Perdue Bronze Mirrors. American Journal of Archaeology, 89, 511-515
- Egyptology online
- Ormeling, F. J. 1956. The Timor problem: a geographical interpretation of an underdeveloped island. Groningen and The Hague: J. B. Wolters and Martinus Nijhoff.
|Look up beeswax in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- The chemistry of bees Joel Loveridge, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol [accessed November 2005]