What a beehive is made of

What is a beehive made of?

Beehives with hexagons

Have you ever wondered what exactly is a beehive made of? It’s quite simple and cool. BEESWAX! Honeybees make beeswax from eight wax-producing glands on their abdomen or belly. First, they eat a little of their own honey then use the sugar content of the honey and convert it into wax. Once the wax is made they use their “feet” to collect it or scrape it from their belly, chew it up a bit, then form perfect hexagon cells, all being created from their little feet. They make sheet after sheet with a precise spacing of about 1/4″ between sheets. That way they can walk between and tend to the needs of the hive. The spacing also helps maintain a proper temperature.

The hexagon cells have the simplest purpose… to store their precious possessions, brood (developing babies), honey (their food), and pollen (their nutrition). I liken it to little Tupperware containers one right after the next. The honeybees just stand on top of the comb.

Why are beehive cells in the shape of a hexagon?

Over a thousand years ago a Roman scholar proposed that the hexagon shape in a beehive allows for more shared walls, resulting in less time and energy spent on creating each cell. More recently there has even been mathematical proof known as “Honeycomb Conjecture” that shows the more compact shape of a hexagon in a honeycomb cell the less energy and beeswax is needed to produce it. Bees figured it out on their own!

Fun Bee Facts

To produce 1lb of beeswax honeybees need to consume 7 lbs of honey! AMAZING! Beeswax is thought/known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is a wonderful ingredient in skin care products and lip balms, it has a waterproofing effect that allows the product to last! Beeswax makes amazing candles! When burned it emits negative ions known to purify the air and give off a great all natural smell. Most people have never opened up a hive and had the experience of its smell.

Take a peek at this photo I was able to capture and look for the wax glands!

Wax glands on bees
Wax glands on bees