Since I keep hearing the disturbing news about how bee colonies are shrinking and honey bees are being killed off by some unseen force by the millions, I thought it a good and timely discussion to talk about an ingredient we use in a few of our products. I’m talking about pure, unadulterated beeswax.
We get ours from a bee keeper down south here in the US, and when we get the shipments in, I cannot tell you how WONDERFUL it smells. You can smell it right through the box it’s shipped in.
It smells like sweet honey, and it really is the most naturally pleasing smell in the world. No “artificial fragrance” of honey could ever compare to the real thing that’s for sure.
So, what exactly IS beeswax? Why do bees make it, and what purpose does it serve for them and their colonies in nature?
Bees are actually a really fascinating insect. Not only do they make some of the most incredible tasting “nature’s candy” in the honey they produce, but they are also an interesting culture. As you probably already know, the bee’s primary purpose in nature is to pollinate plants.
They actually do this by groupings. They will do one type of plant for a while then another, and they actually have a whole communication system to let the other bees know what they’ve done for that day. The worker bees, that is.
The worker bees make up most of the bee colony, and they are all female. There are male bees as well, but their only purpose is really to mate with the queen bee.
The Queen Bee
There is one Queen bee in the colony, and all the bees basically work all day long to support and nourish her since she lays all the eggs that produce all the baby bees. A baby bee takes about 3 weeks to gestate, and interestingly enough, this is the same time they have on this earth (three weeks is a very short life span to us, but to them it’s normal) and they spend most of it working all day long to support their colony.
Bee colonies are basically a whole ecosystem of their own, and they rely mostly on the work of these little worker bees (hence the saying goes that you’re a worker bee if you’re a hard worker).
Beeswax – one of natures best cosmetics
So what is beeswax, and why do bees produce this stuff that feels so good on our lips and acts as a natural binder and hardener for our natural deodorant? Well, beeswax is a natural combination of mostly esters and long chain alcohols.
Basically, the wax is a natural structure-enforcing secretion that the worker bees make from special glands where they secrete it. It reinforces the honey combs where the young are raised and also provides support to the overall structure of the honeycombs where the pollen is stored. Generally beeswax starts out a whitish color and becomes progressively more yellow as the nutrients are stored within it.
When beeswax hardens, it becomes extremely hard and must be heated to become more pliable. This make it an excellent, truly all-natural base for many of our cosmetic and personal care products. It also has naturally protective capabilities since it forms a protective barrier between your skin and the elements.