It’s None of Your Beeswax! Well, Maybe It Is…

Ever wonder where beeswax comes from? Well, hold onto your hat as Emma explores the origins of beeswax. You may be surprised about what she discovers, and where she goes with this new information. Her journey started in the middle of winter. It’s that time of year, the air is cold, crisp, and dry. Your lips are like two sheets of sandpaper.

Where does beeswax come from? Photo credit Debbe Krape via honeybeesuite.com
Bee Secreting Wax Photo credit Debbe Krape via honeybeesuite.com

Beeswax is playing a bigger role in your life than you ever could have imagined. No matter how much Lip Balm you apply to your lips, they refuse to comply. Before you know it, those faint, little lines begin to reappear as winter’s cold air attacks, leaving your lips shriveled up like a prune. But, not to fear for beeswax actually serves as a seal for the lips, defending against air and anything else that could dry them out!

In recent weeks, we did our annual filtering at the Honey House.

Many don’t know though that beeswax is used in cosmetic products such as Body Balm and Body Butter. It is also commonly utilized in candles, medicines, varnishes, electrical parts, and even as a coating for the cheese to prevent mold. A lot of natural car waxes also contain beeswax. Clearly, beeswax can be used for a vast range of things, but where does beeswax come from?

Beeswax fresh from mold
Freshly drawn beeswax at our Honey House in Owings Mills, Maryland

Young honeybees are in charge of producing the wax. Beneath their “bellies,” the young honeybees have four special glands that excrete liquid wax, the way that we humans sweat. Once exposed to air, the wax begins to harden. As the honey bees grow older, they lose this ability as their wax glands become inactive. Beeswax is an essential byproduct that the bees create for their hive: it’s used to build comb that stores honey and provides living space for new bees.

Beeswax is formed mainly of plant resins, and, unlike some synthetic waxes, is safe to eat and use cosmetically. It has many industrial uses, too, from candle making to encaustic painting to food storage.

Beeswax holds the hive together.

Beeswax forms the main structure of a hive, holding everything together and providing a space for the bees to live and work. In a hive, all of the bees work together to make life flow like honey: from worker bees who construct the comb to foragers who collect nectar and pollen, everyone has a job to do. I think that we can learn a lesson from the honeybee, and find a way to be more cooperative and resilient.

macro image of corner of honeycomb
Macro image of beeswax filled with honey. Raw honeycomb.

At first glance the beeswax seems horrible, secreted from the underside of an insect!

However, if you take the time, it can become something useful like Lip Balm. And while lip balm definitely will not repair the world, it does solve chapped lips. You have to start somewhere.

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Emma S. is guest blogging here for us at the Honey House while on winter break from college. We’re so lucky to share her perspectives on bees, wax, love, and happiness.

Bee Culture

Where does beeswax come from?

5 thoughts on “It’s None of Your Beeswax! Well, Maybe It Is…”

  1. Beeswax is no more like poop than sweat or spit. It is a glandular excretion, not the end waste products of the digestive system.

    • thanks Wes. Our writer took a little artistic license on this one and she was so cute about it, we let it slide. :) Thanks for weighing in.

  2. Thank you so much Kara for your beautiful post. Everything can be put to some use, nothing has to be wasted. Cheers to you on this New Year. With blessings to you and our beloved bees!

  3. You, Kara, make wax in your ears, like all humans. It has a purpose, and is not a waste product. Equating beeswax to poop is ridiculous. It is not cute, and detracts from your message. It is secreted by bees purposely for use in construction of comb, and only when they want to. I would never say that you have poopy ears, but maybe you have a poopy head.

    • Wayne, DUDE. In all artistry there is such a thing as creative license. My favorite writer shared this as her idea about where beeswax comes from. In that she is now in medical school and completely brilliant, I’m going to respect her position on this matter. It would be easier to respect your position on this matter if you took a different approach.

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