The Birds and the Bees

Okay, we admit it.  We wanted to catch your attention, we aren’t really going to discuss the birds and the bees.  Just the bees.  Beeswax, specifically.  For our vegan friends, be aware that no bees are harmed, it’s just a byproduct.

Bees fly up to 3 miles away from their hives, collecting pollen wherever they go.  They take this back to their hive to make honey.  Worker bees produce wax in their abdominal glands and leave in or around the hive.  The wax is then used for various structural purposes in the hive: making cells to store honey, comfort for larvae, and protection. Once beekeepers extract the honey they have cera alba a.k.a. beeswax.

Since ancient times beeswax has had a LOT of uses.  Ever heard the phrase “mind your beeswax”?  We actually learned of the origin of the phrase while on a White House tour but you can learn about it here.  Beeswax has been used for centuries in salves, candles, sealants, etc.

According to Wikipedia,   “…it has been found in the tombs of Egypt, in wrecked Viking ships, and in Roman ruins. Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused.”

Beeswax is used in the modern food industry to coat cheese during the aging process,  seal in food to maintain freshness, and as a glaze.  It is edible but does not have any real health benefits when consumed.  The thought of chewing on beeswax isn’t all the appealing, anyway.

As a natural, hypoallergenic emollient, beeswax really shines when used for all the things that we love most: health and beauty products.  It serves as an excellent barrier (think petroleum jelly but without the whole crude oil byproduct part) for the skin and lips.  When applied topically, the Vitamin A in beeswax, combined with its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, make it an excellent choice for treating acne, dry skin, eczema, stretch marks, and stimulating hair growth.

Our favorite thing about beeswax?  What it can do for allergies.  It’s used by many to help alleviate allergy symptoms since it’s natural properties protect the skin from airborne allergens.  When applied topically it serves as an excellent barrier (while still moisturizing the skin).  When used in a candle, it may benefit allergy sufferers since it is believed that the candles emit negative ions that “clean” the air of many allergens.  This is supposedly done when the negative ions bind with the positive ions (in this case the allergens) and neutralize each other.  I’ve seen no scientific studies proving or disproving this, but it’s a nice thought.  See why we choose beeswax for our candles.

Unless the beeswax is USDA Certified Organic, there is no way of knowing if the bees use pollen laden in toxic pesticides (to be fair, that’s not an absolute guarantee, either). This ends up in the wax and inside your body since what you breathe is absorbed into the body.  No one wants to breathe in vanilla-scented pesticide so logically you would want to make sure your beeswax was as pure as possible.

You may not want to spend more money on organic beeswax and essential oils but it could save your health.  Read product labels and descriptions carefully.  Ask questions about how the product is made and where the ingredients come from.  Above all else, educate yourself.  You are the consumer and you deserve better.

Author: thebotanicalengineer

I am an herbalist, aromatherapist, and crafter of fine herbal products.

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