Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher Starr

Beeswax

  • Ann HarmanEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_173-1

Waxes are a very variable class of compounds, mostly carbohydrates, produced by a broad array of plants and animals. In particular, many insects secrete wax from tegumental glands. This then covers the body and, as in many plants, serves as a protection against excess water uptake or water loss at the body surface. Waxes usually have melting points above 40°C, so that they are solid at most ambient temperatures. A given wax has a great many components (Ref. 2: Table 5.1), and within a species it may show considerable geographic variation in its composition.

In the three groups of eusocial corbiculate bees (bumble bees, stingless bees, and honey bees), certain tegumental glands have developed to produce wax in relatively large quantity. In honey bees, for example, workers have four pairs of wax glands on the undersides of abdominal segments 1–7 (Fig. 1) [ 2]. In all of these corbiculate bees, we find a radical innovation in the use of the wax that they synthesize as a major...
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References

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    Coggshall, W. L., & Morse, R. A. (1984). Beeswax, production, harvesting, processing and products. New Haven: Wicwas Press. 192 pp.Google Scholar
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    Hepburn, H. R. (1986). Honeybees and wax: An experimental natural history. Berlin: Springer. 205 pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Roubik, D. W. (1989). Ecology and natural history of tropical bees (p. 514). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Sanford, M. T., & Dietz, A. (1976). The fine structure of the wax gland of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Apidologie, 7, 197–207.  https://doi.org/10.1051/apido:19760301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Snodgrass, R. E. (1984). Anatomy of the honey bee. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Flint HillUSA