Honeybee Wax Scales

To make wax, honeybee workers consume nectar or honey and digest the sugars. The sugars recombine to make the complex carbohydrate known as “Beeswax.” Scientists have not fully analyzed the components of beeswax, as it is intensely complex.

Bees excrete wax between scale layers on their abdomen.

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Colored photo of wax being excreted from abdomen is from www.extension.org.

Below are two photos of the layering of the plates and how one lays on top of the next. Photos are from the book Bee by Rose-Lynn Fisher. (This book is SO cool!)

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Body magnified 75X

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Bee abdomen, magnified 23X.

Other workers remove wax scales and use them to build wax comb. The workers hang on each other as they build wax and remove wax from the abdomens from bees above them. The hanging down is called festooning.

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The photos below were taken September 29, 2014. In these photos, bees sloughed off wax scales, which fell onto the bottom board. Bees were probably not building comb at this point. Workers will use scales later when they are building comb.

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Posted in Bee Biology, Beekeeping, the Honey Company and tagged , , , .

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