Beeswax is this substance that we have been using throughout human history. Its texture has made it extremely versatile and useful from early humans all the way through to today. In prehistoric times, beeswax was used as a lubricant and to help waterproof a variety of structures. Today, we still use beeswax in many products and for a multitude of uses. We bet you aren’t even aware of all the things you can do with beeswax!
In this article, we will explore how beeswax is made and what honey bees use it for. Then, we will share some of the most common and perhaps surprising ways you can use beeswax in your day-to-day life.
How is beeswax made?
As the name implies, beeswax is a wax that is produced by honey bees. The female worker bees secrete the substance from specialized glands on their abdomens. The wax starts out as a clear and colorless substance, but begins to change as it is mixed with saliva, pollen and other natural bee oils.
In general, it is the younger worker bees who are responsible for making wax. As the bees get older, their wax producing glands become less effective and efficient/ Eventually, they no longer have the ability to produce beeswax.
Worker bees use the wax in the construction of the honeycomb cells. The cells are built in intricate hexagonal patterns. They are purposely hexagonal in shape so they can make the maximum use of the space they have. The cells contain stores of honey in addition to being incubators for the larvae. Because of the texture of beeswax, it is perfect for keeping the hive strong and solid.
What is beeswax used for?
Inside the hive, beeswax is the building block of the strong and sturdy structure to house the tens of thousands of bees inside the colony. It also forms the space where valuable stores of food reside as well as safe spaces for new bees to develop into adult honey bees.
Outside the hive, beeswax can be melted down, filtered and used in a wide variety of ways by human beings. Here are just some of the interesting uses for beeswax.
Lip balm: Lip balms and other cosmetic products often use beeswax as a primary ingredient. The consistency of beeswax makes it ideal for keeping moisture locked into the skin. Because of this, it is frequently used in moisturizing products and is especially good for helping soothe chapped lips.
Body butter and creams: As we just mentioned, beeswax has properties that help it lock in moisture. This is why beeswax is a popular ingredient in many body butters and creams. Skin products containing beeswax are highly moisturizing and especially effective for extremely dry patches of skin on the hands or feet.
Candles: If you are in the market for candles, you know that they can get quite expensive. Consider making your own candles using beeswax. Not only is making your own candles a fun creative endeavor, but it can allow you to monitor the ingredients so you know that you are burning a safe, non-toxic candle.
Furniture polish: Since prehistoric times, humans have been using beeswax as a lubricant. Beeswax can be an easy solution for squeaky door hinges or windows that just won’t slide. It can also give your wooden furniture a refreshing glean. By combining a bit of beeswax with a natural oil like olive or coconut, you can rub the mixture on furniture with a cloth to polish, making it look brand new again.
Beeswax food wraps: Instead of wrapping your food in plastic wrap or tin foil, consider a beeswax wrap. Beeswax food wraps can be washed and reused so they are friendly to the environment. Many of them are also compostable, leaving no waste and contributing to your local ecosystem.
Shoe care: Beeswax can also help you breathe new life into an old pair of shoes. Using a clean dry cloth and some beeswax, you can make your own shoe polish. Apply beeswax all over the shoe, heat and wipe off the excess to instantly waterproof your shoes.
Beeswax is just one of the amazing substances produced by honey bees. Not only is it a vital component in the construction of a honey bee hive, beeswax also provides people with eco-friendly products we can use in the kitchen, the closet, the bathroom and in our creative endeavors.
Beeswax can be purchased online, from your local beekeeper or even in some specialty grocery stores. We encourage you to incorporate the use of beeswax into your daily life and appreciate all that honey bees can do.