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Пчелиный воск , Beeswax is a valuable product that can provide a worthwhile income in addition to honey. One kilogram of beeswax is worth more than one kilogram of honey. Unlike honey, beeswax is not a food product and is simpler to deal with - it does not require careful packaging which this simplifies storage and transport. Beeswax as an income generating resource is neglected in some areas of the tropics. Some countries of Africa where fixed comb beekeeping is still the norm, for example, Ethiopia and Angola, have significant export of beeswax, while in others the trade is neglected and beeswax is thrown away. Worldwide, many honey hunters and beekeepers do not know that beeswax can be sold or used for locally made, high-value products. Knowledge about the value of beeswax and how to process it is often lacking. It is impossible to give statistics, but maybe only half of the world’s production of beeswax comes on to the market, with the rest being thrown away and lost. WHAT BEESWAX IS Beeswax is the creamy coloured substance used by bees to build the comb that forms the structure of their nest. Very pure beeswax is white, but the presence of pollen and other substances cause it to become yellow. Beeswax is produced by all species of honeybees. Wax produced by the Asian species of honeybees is known as Ghedda wax. It differs in chemical and physical properties from the wax of Apis mellifera, and is less acidic. The waxes produced by bumblebees are very different from wax produced by honeybees. Pure waxes from different species of stingless bees are also very different from the other types of beeswax. It is much darker in colour – dark brown, and when it is warmed, it stretches without breaking. It is also sticky and much more difficult to break than beeswax from Apis mellifera. BEESWAX PRODUCTION Beeswax is made by young worker honeybees. It is secreted as a liquid from four pairs of wax glands on the ventral surface of the abdominal tergites (plates on the underside of a bee’s body). The liquid wax spreads over the surface of these plates, and, on contact with air, the wax hardens and forms a single wax scale on each tergite, which can be seen as small flake of wax on the underside of the bee. A worker honeybee produces eight scales of wax every 12 hours. The size of the wax glands depends upon the age of the worker: they are at their largest when the bee is about 12 days old and decline steadily after the eighteenth day until the end of her life. About one million of these wax scales are needed to make one kilogram of wax. Bees use the stiff hairs on their hind legs to remove the scales of wax and pass them on to the middle legs, and then to the mandibles (jaws) where wax is chewed, and salivary secretions become mixed with the wax. When it is the right consistency, the new wax is used for comb construction or used to seal honey cells. Bees are stimulated to produce wax when there is a surplus of honey to be stored and a lack of honeycomb in which to store it. Around eight kilograms of honey are consumed by bees to produce every one kilogram of wax. When a swarm of bees settles to establish a new nest, the first thing they do is to start building beeswax combs. To be able to produce the beeswax and build with it, the bees need a high temperature, and the production of the first comb takes place inside the congregation of bees, where the temperature is highest. The bees building a comb join together and make what are known as ‘garlands’ or ‘festoons’ – chains of bees. Hanging like this they secrete the wax. When the beeswax is ready on a bee, she moves up the chain to the place where the building is going on, fetches one of the wax scales with her hind legs and brings it to her mouth where it is chewed and mixed with secretions before it is used for building. This is repeated until all eight wax scales are used. During the comb construction, the building bees vibrate the comb by knocking it with their upper jaws. In this way, they seem to be able to judge the thickness of the comb and this guides them to know if some wax has to be gnawed off or if more has to be added.

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