A short intro to beeswax to accompany a photo I took of one of our bees pollinating an avo flower.
The expression "mind your own beeswax"comes from the 18th century when the dreaded small pox left nasty scars on people's skin if it hadn't managed to kill you. To cover their disfigurement, women (and most probably men) would apply beeswax to their faces in an attempt to improve their complexion. The innovation of 18th century cosmetics! Lovely clogged pores with beesy aroma; one shudders at the thought. The story goes that if people got too close to a woman's face or stared too hard at her covered up pox marks, she would tell them to "mind their own beeswax."
Beeswax is indeed a transformative by-product of honey. Like honey, it's 100% natural and made by bees. It's composition is mainly esters, fatty acids and long-chain alcohols. The female worker bees make it in the eight wax-producing glands on their abdomen and when excreted, it forms into scales. Although colourless at first, it soon becomes opaque as it solidifies. It then turns a darker colour, almost yellowy brown, as pollen and propolis gets absorbed.
Worker bees use it to form cell structures in the hive for honey storage and larval and pupal protection. Humans, on the other hand, cut the wax out when extracting the honey. They then clean it by a process using heated water before making it into a variety of products. Even as far back as the Vikings, humans were using it as a kind of gluey plastic to seal ships.