Fresh From The Hive: Beeswax And Bee Bread

On Monday when we did our weekly maintenance check of the hive, we had to remove some small pieces of comb that weren't positioned properly on the bar:

Some, like the one above, had a bit of honey in them. Other pieces had big bee larvae, and still others had just tiny, new eggs. It's hard to take pictures once the bees get mad about you messing with their babies, but I'll try harder in the future. 

Different pieces of comb also showed some variation in the color of the beeswax:

The white is brand new wax, and it's quite soft and fragile--you can see it's all crushed around the edges from our hands, despite pretty careful handling. The larger one is more golden. Wax color depends a lot on what kinds of pollen the bees are foraging for--it gets mixed in when they produce the wax. 

We also had a bit of bee bread in the large piece. You can see two pieces here on the edge of the comb, which has been partially torn away:

Bee bread is pollen mixed with a bit of honey and fermented in the comb by the bees. They scrape the pollen off the forager bees' legs and use their heads like little battering rams to pack it in. It's a major source of protein for the bees. This bee bread is probably mostly made up of maple pollen.

Bee bread is eaten as a health food by humans, too. It's supposedly good for allergies (much like raw honey) and has antiseptic properties, nutrients, and all kind of other good stuff. It tastes floral (duh), and not really very sweet, but you can taste that mellow, ferment-y flavor too. I think it tastes like Amish Country smells: it brought back a really specific sense memory for me of old farmers market stalls, maybe in Kutztown.

As for the wax, I'll save it to use next time I need to make more lotion or cold cream. I don't think it will amount to much once I melt it down, but if we keep collecting bits that the bees build wrong, I'll eventually have enough be useful.


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