Beeswax is a natural wax produced by worker bees in the hive. There are three main beeswax products: yellow beeswax (the crude product made from honeycomb), white beeswax (made by bleaching yellow beeswax), and beeswax absolute (made by treating yellow beeswax with alcohol). It is produced by abdominal glands which secrete wax. Honeycomb wax is initially nearly white in colour but becomes more yellow and brown over time as pollen and propolis become incorporated. Beeswax is used in the hive to make the incredible hexagonal honeycombs in which the young larvae are raised as well as for the storage of honey and pollen. Once cells are are full of honey they are sealed which effectively closes the cell and allows the honey to be preserved. Additionally as larvae develop the brood are eventually sealed to enable them to complete their development prior to emerging as a mature bee.
What are the health benefits?
Beeswax is used for a range of medical conditions. For example, it has been used for high cholesterol, as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic (for pain relief), for diarrhoea, and even hiccups. It is also used widely in skin care products and lip balms.
How is it taken?
The route of administration and dose depends on the indication and individual. When used topically, it has a moisturising effect. It can also be applied to skin in areas of skin damage or minor burns (seek medical advice before use). It may also act as a thickening agent when applied to hair. For most people, beeswax is very safe. However, not enough is known about it’s use in pregnancy and breastfeeding so it should be avoided in this situation.
How is it made?
Beeswax is usually harvested during the process of honey extraction. This involves firstly cutting off the wax caps from the honeycomb cells with an uncapping knife. The honey is then extracted using a centrifuge honey extractor typically which empties the cells of their honey contents leaving just beeswax behind. The beeswax is then cut off the frame and heated in boiling water from which it is eventually skimmed off and made into a wax cake. The wax cake undergoes further purification until the final beeswax is formed.
Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before trying any new health or medicinal product.