So, we thought it would be a good idea to explain a little more about our bees and the miracle they create that is beeswax.
What Are Bees?
How Many Species Of Bee Are There?
There are over 16,000 known species of bee in seven recognised biological families including honey bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees. Most are social, living in colonies, but some (e.g: Mason bees, Carpenter bees, Leafcutter bees) are solitary.
These solitary bees are the ones most likely to live in your uMeltz Bee Hotel.
Where Can Bees Be Found?
Why Are Bees in Danger?
The decline in wild bees is due to their loss of habitat. Statistics indicate that we’ve lost in the region of a quarter of pollinators in the past 50 years.
You can read more about the loss of bees in an article by our friends at The Royal Society of Biology.
What Are Honey Bees?
Honey bees are super pollinators. This means that they’re excellent at helping other plants grow, transferring pollen between the male and female parts of the plant.
What Do Honey Bees Eat?
What’s A Beehive?
It’s the place a honey bee colony calls home. A bee family may occupy a man-made wooden box, an empty hollow log or other enclosed structure. The ability of bees to find new places to build their hives is truly fascinating. If conditions change or the colony outgrows their current location, they will search out a new hive to call home. This is when bees can be seen to swarm.
How Many Bees Live in A Beehive Colony?
Honey bee colonies consist of a single queen, hundreds of male drones and 20,000 to 80,000 female worker bees. Each honey bee colony also consists of developing eggs, larvae and pupae.
What’s A Queen Bee?
One queen runs the hive. Her “job” is to produce the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behaviour of the other bees. She will lay upwards of 2,500 eggs a day during her reign over the hive.
How Does A Queen Become A Queen?
When the queen bee dies, workers will create a new queen by selecting a young larva (the newly hatched baby bee) and feeding it a special food called “royal jelly“. This enables the larva to develop into a fertile queen. Clever!
What’s A Worker Bee?
Worker bees are all female, and their roles are to forage for pollen and nectar, build and protect the hive, and clean and circulate air through the hive by beating their wings. Workers are the bees you’ll most likely see flying around outside.
What’s A Drone?
These are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, when the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kicked out!
Can All Honeybees Sting?
Honey bees can sting people and other animals. In honey bees, worker bees and queen bees sting where male honey bees, aka drones, can’t since they don’t have the necessary biological instrument.
Bees will only sting if they feel threatened. It’s always best to stay very calm around a bee with no fast hand flapping movements, this will only add to the risk of being stung, which we all know is pretty painful.
The bee will always come off worse when she stings you (unless you’ve got a severe allergy against bee stings which can be life threatening) since her stinger is attached to her internal organs, and this is why she will certainly die once she has stung you.
Do Bees Communicate?
Through smell and the medium of dance (seriously). Each bee has 170 odorant receptors, which means they have one serious sense of smell! They use this to communicate within the hive and to recognise different types of flowers when looking for food. Honey bees are also brilliant dancers! To share information about the best food sources, they perform their ‘waggle dance’.
When the worker returns to the hive, it moves in a figure-of-eight and wags its body like a sexy compass to indicate the direction of the food source.
How Long Do Bees Live For?
The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks. A queen bee can live up to five years.
How Much Honey Does A Honey Bee Make?
During its life, a honey bee will make around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey.
Why Do Bees Make Wax?
Bees make wax with their special wax-glands, which they develop when they’re about 10 days old. The wax-glands produce this waxy substance and then secrete flakes onto wax mirrors located on their abdomen. Beeswax is a natural substance that the honey bee uses to build their homes, create new cells for the brood, seal cracks in the hive, and also as a coating for food stores.
What Do We Use Beeswax For?
So many things to list and it’s not just candles and wax melts. Beeswax is used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and an eco-friendly way to wrap food.
Is Beeswax Eco Friendly?
Absolutely. Not just the wax itself, but minimal processing is involved, so less impact on our planet.
All of our beeswax is sourced in the beautiful Suffolk countryside in what can only be described as the most perfect, idyllic (but top secret) setting.
What Is The Role Of A Beekeeper?
A beekeeper (ours is called Paul), is a manager of bees. They maintain and monitor the hives, and once the honey is ready to be harvested, will remove and process it. During the process of removing the honey, he removes the waxy cap, placed over the honey by the bee once each of the tiny cells is full.
How Do We Collect Honey And Beeswax?
After the beekeeper removes the combs from the hive and the wax coverings off the combs, it’s time to extract the honey.They do this using a mechanical extractor (a spinner) which spins in both directions to ensure every bit of that gorgeous honey comes out and there’s no wastage. They then purify the honey by straining it and skimming any impurities away.
At that point, the honey is ready to be jarred and sold and the wax cappings which have been set to one side are now ready for cleaning to make your beautiful beeswax candles and wax melts.
How Do We Clean The Beeswax?
Following a quick rinse it’s placed in water and slowly brought to the boil. As the water cools, the clean wax rises to the top of the pan and the dirty wax to the bottom. This process is usually followed three times to achieve that perfect clean glossy wax you see when you’re melting your uMeltz candles and melts.
Does Beeswax Go Out-Of-Date?
No. Like honey it contains a natural, powerful protective substance called Propolis, which shields beeswax from going bad. When stored correctly it can last a very long time.
And that's the story about our bees and their fantastic beeswax.
Protect, love and respect our bees. Without them the world will be a very different place.
uMeltz lovingly clean all our locally sourced beeswax by hand to create our melts and candles.