“Unique among all God’s creatures, only the honeybee improves the environment and preys not on any other species.” Royden Brown
The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
One single bee usually visits between 50 to 1.000 flowers a day, but can visit up to several thousand, visiting 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
Bees from the same hive visit about 225,000 flowers per day.
About 2 million flowers are visited to make one pound of honey.
A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey.
To produce one ounce of honey bees travel an average of 1600 round trips at 6 miles per trip at an average of 13 to 15 mph.
It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
During honey production periods, a bee’s life span is about six weeks.
Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
Honey bees communicate with one another by “dancing” to communicate the location and the directions to distant food sources that are 100 yards to 2-3 miles from the hive.
It is estimated that unless a person has an allergy 1,100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal.
The honey bee’s wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus making their famous, distinctive buzz. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
Honey bees have six legs, two compound eyes made up of thousands of tiny lenses (one on each side of the head), three simple eyes on the top of the head, two pairs of wings, a nectar pouch, and a stomach. The bee’s brain is oval in shape and only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things and is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency.
Honey bees have 170 odorant receptors, compared with only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. Their exceptional olfactory abilities include kin recognition signals, social communication within the hive, and odor recognition for finding food. Their sense of smell is so precise that it could differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carried pollen or nectar from metres away.
A hive contains approximately 40 to 45,000 bees.
A colony of bees consists of 20,000 to 60,000 honeybees and one queen.
Worker honey bees are female, live for about six weeks and do all the work.
The average hive temperature is 93.5 degrees (91 to 97 degrees). During winter, honey bees feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months. They form a tight cluster in their hive to keep the queen and themselves warm.
The queen bee can live up to five years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2500 eggs per day, at a rate of 5 or 6 a minute, about 175,000 to 200,000 eggs are laid per year.
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).
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.
Beeswax production in most hives is about 1.5% to 2% of the total honey yield.
Beeswax has many and varied uses. From a relatively small production of about 10,000 tons a year, a number of different niches are catered to.
Primarily it is used by the bees in making their honeycomb foundations. Apart from this use by bees themselves, the use of beeswax has become widespread and varied. Purified and bleached beeswax is used in the production of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
The three main types of beeswax products are: yellow, white and beeswax absolute. Yellow beeswax is the crude product obtained from the honeycomb, white beeswax is yellow beeswax that has been bleached and beeswax absolute is yellow beeswax treated with alcohol.
Small amounts of beeswax have food and flavoring applications, and are edible in the sense of having similar toxicity to undigestable plant waxes. However, the wax monoesters in beeswax are poorly hydrolysed in the guts of humans and mammals, and are therefore of no significant food value.
In food preparation it is used as a coating for cheese; by sealing out the air, protection is given against ageing. Beeswax may also be used as a food additive E901, in small quantities acting as a (glazing agent), which serves to prevent water loss, or used to provide surface protection for some fruits.
Soft gelatin capsules and tablet coatings may also see the use of E901. Beeswax is also a common ingredient of natural chewing gum.
There has been a growing use of beeswax in skin care and cosmetics. 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 used in lip balm, lip gloss, hand creams and moisturizers; and in cosmetics such as eye shadow, blush and eye liner.
Beeswax is an important ingredient in moustache wax, as well as in hair pomades, which make hair look sleek and shiny.
Beeswax is an ingredient in surgical bone wax, which is used during surgery to control bleeding from bone surfaces. Used as an ancient form of dental tooth filling.
Candle-making has long involved the use of beeswax which is highly flammable, and this was the material traditionally prescribed (in large part), for the making of the Paschal Candle or “Easter Candle”. It is recommended for the making of candles used in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. [See the Occult and Cursed Objects List on this blog]
The oldest survived beeswax candles north of the Alps, from the Alamannic graveyard of Oberflacht, Germany dating to 6th/7th century AD.
Used to coat hemp strands in the making of Hemp Wick; an alternative use to Lighters.
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. In producing Javanese batik.
Shoe polish and furniture polish can both use beeswax as a component, dissolved in turpentine or sometimes blended with linseed oil or tung oil.
Modeling waxes can use beeswax as a component.
Used as a modelling material in the lost-wax casting process, or cire perdue.
Formerly used in the manufacturing of the cylinders used by the earliest phonographs.
Beeswax blended with pine ‘rosin’, can serve as an adhesive to attach reed plates to the structure inside a squeezebox.
Used by percussionists to make a surface on tambourines for thumb rolls.
Used to form the mouthpieces of a didgeridoo, and the frets on the Philippine kutiyapi – a type of boat lute.
Beeswax can also be used as a metal injection moulding binder component along with other polymeric binder materials.
Used to make Cutler’s resin, an adhesive used to glue handles onto cutlery knives.
Used in bow making (see English longbow).
Used to strengthen and preserve sewing thread.
As a component of sealing wax.
For wax tablets used for a variety of writing purposes.
In Encaustic paintings such as the Fayum mummy portraits.
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.
Beeswax was the among the first plastics to be used, alongside other natural polymers such as gutta-percha, horn, tortoiseshell and shellac.
For thousands of years beeswax has had a wide variety of applications, it has been found in the tombs of Egypt, in wrecked Viking ships and in Roman ruins.
Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused.