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Part 3: The Bee Trail

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Besides Honey - What else do bees make?


It's common knowledge that bees like to make delicious honey! But did you know about other products from bees?


  • Beeswax - Used to create the honeycomb structure. 1lbs of beeswax requires a bee to visit over 30 million flowers!

  • Propolis - Bee Glue! Used to fix small gaps in the hive, and thought to be an antibacterial seal to prevent diseases in the hive.

  • Bee Bread - A tasty bee food, often provided to larvae. Also used by Olympic Athletes!

  • Royal Jelly - Special food for the Queen larvae.

Read on for more details...





Beeswax

Honeybees creating honeycomb from bees wax

Made from the honeycomb of the honey bee, beeswax is the purest and most natural of all waxes. For each pound of beeswax provided by a honey bee, the bee visits over 30 million flowers. To produce one pound of wax requires the bees to consume about eight to ten pounds of honey. They secrete the beeswax from the underside of their abdomens, and then use the wax to construct a honeycomb.


The youngest bees cluster in large numbers to raise their body temperature. Wax-producing glands under their abdomens slowly secrete slivers of wax about the size of a pinhead. Other worker bees harvest these wax scales and take them to the part of the hive requiring the new wax. Bees use about 6 lb of honey to produce 1 lb of wax. Bees can produce 8 wax flakes in around 12 hours so that gives you an idea of how patient and arduous they are in building comb for their babies and food.


Propolis

Propolis collected from a hive.

Propolis or bee glue is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is used for small gaps, while larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax. Its' colour varies depending on its botanical source, the most common being dark brown. Propolis is sticky at, and above, room temperature. At lower temperatures, it becomes hard and very brittle. It is thought to provide an antibacterial seal to the hive to prevent diseases.


Propolis also has great medicinal qualities and can be added to alcohol to make tinctures to treat various ailments.


Bee Bread


'Edible grade' pollen or 'bee bread' is a mixture of plant pollen and honey which bees mould into granules and store in their honeycombs. Plant pollen can make you sneeze and have a runny nose and eyes if you are allergic to it but people eat bee bread to help try and stop this.


Many Olympic athletes eat bee bread in a bid to strengthen their immune system. It increases oxygen intake, boosts performance and helps them recover quicker after training.


Royal Jelly

Larvae in Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is the food fed to queen bee larvae. It is a creamy white colour and is very rich in proteins and fatty acids. It is produced by the mouth glands of young bees. Each queen needs only a teaspoon of royal jelly to thrive.




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