Beeswax is a material made of wax secreted by honeybees, primarily to build their honeycomb. The bees use it as a barrier against water and coldness.
It has many other uses, too: candles, soap making (cleansing), skincare products like lotions and lip balms, furniture polish, shoe polishes, and car waxes.
But what exactly is beeswax? Is harvesting it harming our bees? Here are some interesting facts about this natural substance that you may not have known!
What is Beeswax?
In the simplest terms, it is a wax formed in the abdominal segments of worker bees, which discard it in or at the hive. Within the hive, workers typically use it for honey storage, and protection of larvae. Chemically, it consists of fatty acid esters and various long-chain alcohols.
How is Beeswax created?
Worker bees create beeswax by secreting it from glands on the underside of their abdomens. The wax scales form a thin sheet and then gather into small pellets. These pellets form honeycomb to be stored in cells within hives for future use.
So how do we, as humans, get access to it? When beekeepers harvest honey, the honey extraction process leaves surplus wax from the combs. Beekeepers save this wax, melt it and store it for future use. Actually, some beekeepers earn more money from wax than from actual honey sales!
Alternatively, you can also use honeycombs and turn them into beeswax. See here how:
What is Beeswax used for?
Beeswax has many benefits and applications. Here are our favorites:
The advantages of candles made of beeswax are that the wax will not smell, is waterproof, and is long-lasting. It’s also safer than using other types of materials like paraffin wax or soy oil.
For centuries, people use beeswax as an anti-inflammatory agent and to soothe skin conditions such as eczema. It has antibacterial properties that can help heal wounds too.
It has been a staple in skincare because not only does it work to spread and cling to creams, it absorbs excess water quickly to provide hydration. You’ll also find this wax as an ingredient in anti-aging products that promote collagen production and lightening the skin!
Are bees killed for beeswax?
No, they are not. Bee workers produce an excess of beeswax naturally. So using this wax means we are neither taking away their source of food nor harming them. Instead, only an excess of their production is extracted.
Is beeswax the same as honey?
No, beeswax is not the same as honey. Technically, beeswax and raw honey are the only two components of a honeycomb. So while you can’t harvest honey without harvesting the wax, it is still something very different. Worker bees produce this wax themself to build the honeycomb cells that protect their honey.