Gifts of the Bees - Beeswax
Today we’ll cover the fifth gift of the bees, closing out the week with beeswax. I wrote about making aromatherapy beeswax candles recently, in case you'd like to watch the short video.
Only bees around 12-18 days old make beeswax. They gather together to generate heat in the hive and consume vast quantities of honey. Then they excrete tiny slivers of wax from wax producing glands under their abdomens.
Other worker bees take the small scales of wax and work them into place in the honeycomb, creating the infra-structure as they go. They also use it to cap honeycomb cells that contain honey. It has been noted that honeybees usually stop producing beeswax right after summer solstice around June 21 every year.
Think of the “cost” to bees of making beeswax. The average lifespan of a worker bee is around 40-45 days, and one bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its whole lifespan.
To make 1 pound of beeswax, bees must fly the equivalent of circling the earth 6 times to collect the amount of pollen needed for 1 pound of beeswax. The nectar of about 2 million flowers must be collected to make 1 pound of honey and it is said to take 8 pounds of honey to produce 1 pound of beeswax.
Do these busy bees know somewhere deep inside that their work is a selfless act for the well being of their species and their hive? Do they know they won’t benefit from their own hard work?
Looking at these facts about bees raises the question do bees die of exhaustion? Bees seem to be some of the most selfless and responsible creatures on the planet. Their lives are dedicated to building, maintaining and creating. What’s in it for them, apart from survival of the species?
We could say their selflessness is a labor of love, because that’s how we humans think, but do bees feel love? Or do they do it because they are born programmed to do it, without any other motivation? Their beeswax-making process is a secretion from their own bodies… they give of their very essence on all levels.
In closing out the 'bee gifts' week, let's remember that although we help ourselves to the treasures of the bees, they do not make honey, royal jelly, propolis, beeswax or gather pollen for us. We help ourselves to their supplies of these precious commodities that they need for their own survival and to ensure their way of life, which grows more perilous every year.
Let's ponder this, and turn up the gratitude we feel for our precious fuzzy little friends. Let's start to see these bee commodities as the rare gifts that they are.
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