Worker bees develop wax glands on their abdomen and are most efficient at wax production during the 12th through the 18th days of their lives. From about day 18 until the end of its life, a bee’s wax glands steadily decline. After producing wax for a few days, the wax glands begin to degenerate and by the time the bee is ready to leave the hive to become a forager, the glands have completely degenerated.
Honeybees consume 5 to 8 pounds of sugar/honey to produce one pound of wax. It takes 12 hours to produce 8 wax flakes from the glands.
Beeswax can become too soft and if the temperature is too high or it becomes brittle and difficult to manage if the temperature is too low. The honeybees maintain their hive at a temperature of around 95 degrees which is perfect for the manipulation of beeswax.
Honey bees are masters at HVAC. Workers have the ability to unhinge their wings from their wing muscles and by vibrating those muscles, the bees produce heat used to keep the brood and the clustering adults warm. Because wing muscles are attached to the thorax, close-up thermal images of nurse bees reveal some with glowing thoraces. These hot bees are known as “heater bees.” Where capped brood is present, a single heater bee presses her thorax down on a wax capping, transferring her heat to the developing pupa, one-on-one. How hot is a Heater Bee? This action can bring the bee's body temperature up to about 111°F, which is 16°F higher than their normal body temperature.
Head-down bees are not trying to find honey. The tight grouping of head-down bees covered by insulating bees is a heat-conserving and energy-efficient design that is continually fed by the retrievers that bring food (fuel) to the quivering bees. Retrievers are adept at what they do and can collect honey from distant areas when conditions are right. Healthy, well-fed, head-in-the-cell bees are a normal part of a winter cluster.
In the past, the bees in these cells were thought to be cleaning or resting, but with the aid of infrared photography, you can see that the bees are producing large amounts of heat.
If bees get illness due to disease or parasites, malnutrition, queen failure, poor genetics, predation, or any number of mishaps they bees can not function in the proper way to keep the cluster warm. The colony will get too small to generate enough heat and it will die regardless of food availability. Cold bees enter a state of torpor and their muscles no longer work. When the bees are that cold, they simply cannot operate.
The honey bee is hardly at risk of extinction. There are more honey bees on the planet today than at any time in history. Scientific American, Alison McAfee, a honey bee researcher at North Carolina State University, notes: “For some reason, maybe because they are small, honey bees are not generally viewed as the massively distributed livestock animal that they are.”
North America’s native bees, on the other hand, are in trouble—and these insects bear little resemblance to the familiar honey bee. Unlike honey bees, more than 90 percent of our nearly 4,000 native bee species live not with other bees in hives but alone in nests carved into soil, wood or hollow plant stems. Often mistaken for flies, the majority are tiny and do not have queens or produce honey.
Honey gets its color from the nectar that a hive gathers to make it. Because plants blossom at different times of year and bees collect nearly year-round, a single hive can produce radically different colors of honey from season to season.
Honey is a super-saturated solution of primarily two sugars: glucose and fructose. Just like with your powdered lemonade, it is a natural process for some of the sugars in a super-saturated solution to eventually come out of solution. All raw honey will crystallize due to glucose
Colonists brought honey bees from Europe to North America beginning in the 1620s as a source of wax and sugar. With the advent of modern agriculture in the 1930s—when huge farms displaced habitats that housed crop-fertilizing native pollinators someone had the idea that you can box up honey bees and move them around the country to pollinate crops.