National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


Mind Your Own Beeswax

Grade Level(s)

6 - 8

Estimated Time

Ten 45-minute class periods


Through project-based learning, students will solve the problem of excess beeswax, a byproduct of honey bees, by developing a useful beeswax product and marketing their product to be sold in a local boutique or farmers market.


Milestone 1: Entry Event

Milestone 2: Planning and Design

Milestone 3: Prototype

  • How Burt's Bees Lip Balms are Made video
  • Hot plate or stove top
  • Small sauce pan
  • Glass jars (8 oz or 236 mL)
  • Glass jars (4 oz or 118 mL)
  • Hot pad
  • Measuring spoons (tablespoon or mL)
  • Water
  • Wax paper
  • Beeswax pellets*
  • Coconut oil*
  • Shea butter*
  • Pipettes*
  • Stir sticks*
  • Flavor oil*
  • Lip balm tubes*
  • Portion cups,* 1 per team
  • Cotton swabs, 1 per student
  • Team notebook

*These items are included in the Beeswax Lip Balm Kit, which is available for purchase from

Milestone 4: Marketing Plan and Final Product Presentation

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)


beeswax: a substance secreted from glands located on the underside of a worker bee's abdomen

byproduct: something that is made in addition to or that is left over from the production of the desired good

cell: a hexagonal wax chamber built from beeswax for brood rearing and storage of honey and pollen

hive: a home to a colony of bees

honeycomb: six-sided wax cells in a beehive

Background Agricultural Connections

Mind Your Own Beeswax is a Project-Based Learning (PBL) plan. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.1 A quality PBL experience requires seven essential elements. 

  1. Challenging Problem or Question: The project is framed by a meaningful problem to be solved or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  2. Sustained Inquiry: Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of posing questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  3. Authenticity: The project involves real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact, or the project speaks to personal concerns, interests, and issues in the students' lives.
  4. Voice and Choice: Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  5. Reflection: Students and teachers reflect on the learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, and obstacles that arise and strategies for overcoming them.
  6. Critique and Revision: Students give, receive, and apply feedback to improve their process and products.
  7. Public Product: Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying, and/or presenting it to audiences beyond the classroom.2


When people think about products from honey bees, they typically think about honey first. Honey is the only food produced by insects that is eaten by humans on a wide scale. A valuable byproduct of honey production is beeswax. Beeswax is used to make candles, artists' materials, lubricants, polishes, and cosmetics. It is a substance secreted from the glands located on the underside of a worker bee's abdomen. Bees require the protein from pollen and the carbohydrates from honey to create beeswax. It takes 6-10 pounds of honey to make one pound of wax, which is enough to construct 35,000 cells within a hive. The wax is used by the bees to form cells within the hive for honey storage and to protect eggs, larvae, and pupae through the process of metamorphosis. To form the beeswax into honeycombs, the bees chew and mold the wax into hexagon-shaped cells.

Honey bees use the nectar they gather from flowers to make honey, which is stored in the hive's cells. The bees cap off each cell with wax to prevent moisture loss. When beekeepers harvest honey, they collect the frames from the hive and use a hot knife to remove the wax cappings. The wax is taken to a capping tank and the frames are placed in an extractor to spin out the honey. Heat is applied to the wax cappings, causing the honey and wax to liquify and separate. The residual honey is then filtered out. Most commercially available beeswax comes from wax cappings.


Career Highlights
This PBL plan introduces students to the following career opportunities: apiary worker/beekeeper, accountant, marketing specialist, graphic designer, business manager, general and operations managerretail salesperson, customer service representative, advertising and promotions manager, advertising sales agentsecretary. Explore the career profiles to discover job outlooks, education requirements, and average salaries.


Interest Approach – Engagement

At the beginning of the project, students are introduced to key content using a compelling situation that provides context and serves as a catalyst for an authentic problem or challenge. In Project-Based Learning (PBL), this authentic problem/challenge is referred to as an "Entry Event." Students use the Entry Event to initiate inquiry by reflecting on their prior knowledge of the key content, generating questions that they need to know the answers to in order to successfully complete the project or process that will solve the problem, and identifying what their next steps might be to answer their questions. These questions are used in an ongoing way throughout the project to track learning and guide inquiry.3 While students may have several questions, one driving question needs to be agreed upon that, when answered, should address the initial situation. Refer to Milestone 1 for Entry Event procedures.


In PBL, projects are organized into milestones. Each milestone represents a significant stage of the project. Click on each milestone below to access instructional procedures. 

Milestone 1: Entry Event (approximately 1 day)

Milestone 2: Planning and Design (approximately 2 days)

Milestone 3: Prototype (approximately 3 days)

Milestone 4: Marketing Plan and Final Product Presentation (approximately 4 days)

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:

As a final wrap-up, review and summarize the following key points:

  • A valuable byproduct of honey production is beeswax.
  • Beeswax is a substance secreted from the glands located on the underside of the worker bee's abdomen and requires the protein from pollen and the carbohydrates from honey to be created.
  • Beeswax is used by bees to form cells within the hive for honey storage and to protect eggs, larvae, and pupae through the process of metamorphosis.
  • Beeswax is used to make candles, artists' materials, lubricants, polishes, and cosmetics.

We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!


Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Culture, Society, Economy & Geography

  • Distinguish between careers in production (farmers and ranchers) with those that directly involve consumers (business and nutrition) (T5.6-8.b)

Food, Health, and Lifestyle

  • Identify sources of agricultural products that provide food, fuel, clothing, shelter, medical, and other non-food products for their community, state, and/or nation (T3.6-8.i)

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

  • Identify science careers related to both producers and consumers of agricultural products (T4.6-8.g)

Education Content Standards


Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Cluster Skills

  • CS.05.02
    Examine and choose career opportunities that are matched to personal skills, talents, and career goals in an AFNR pathway of interest.

Career Ready Practices

  • CRP.10.1
    Identify career opportunities within a career cluster that match personal interests, talents, goals and preferences.
  • CRP.10.4
    Identify, prepare, update and improve the tools and skills necessary to pursue a chosen career path.


Economics Standard 14: Entrepreneurship

  • Objective
    Identify the risks and potential returns to entrepreneurship, as well as the skills necessary to engage in it. Understand the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation to economic growth, and how public policies affect incentives for and, consequently, the success of entrepreneurship in the United States.

Economics Standard 2: Decision Making

  • Objective
    Make effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.

Common Core Connections

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards

    Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
    Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
    Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.


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