Beeswax is the foundation of the hive. Honey bees build their comb from beeswax, and fill the hexagonal cells with honey, nectar, pollen, and brood.
Beeswax is produced by four pairs of glands on the underside of the worker’s abdomen. Queens do not have functioning wax glands & drones have none.
Worker bees’ glands become functional at about 12-18 days old. The wax is secreted as a liquid then it hardens into flat wax scales when exposed to air. To produce comb, the bees remove the wax scales from the underside of their abdomen with special hairs located on their hind legs. The wax scale is then passed to their mouth-parts where it is chewed until pliable and ready to be formed into hexagonal cells.
New beeswax is light yellow in color, but over time it darkens to a golden yellow. Beeswax turns brown from contact with bees, propolis, and brood rearing. Beeswax can be harvested & is used to make candles, lip balm, coating for medicines, electrical components, and varnishes.It is very laborious & taxing on workers to produce beeswax. They must consume large amounts of honey, bee bread, & nectar to stimulate wax production. Many factors such as weather, nectar flow, & feeding regime determine the time frame it takes for workers to draw out comb. Sometimes they will not fully draw out a comb. To have drawn comb is a very valuable asset. It saves your hive a lot of time & labor.