I am working on rendering beeswax today, and so am inspired to write about why our beeswax is special.
How do the bees make beeswax?
Beeswax is a central element of the beehive. It is the structure and home of the bee colony. The queen lays her eggs in cells made of beeswax, and the larvae are raised to adulthood inside a cell. The bees also store all of their honey and pollen within the wax cells. All of the female worker bees have specialized glands on their abdomens that secrete very thin sheets of wax, which is used as building material. Rudolf Steiner makes the argument that this beeswax secretion is natural and good for the bees.
Wax in our hives
We use foundationless frames in our hives, so that the bees build all of the wax themselves. Using plastic or wax foundation is common in the beekeeping industry, and gives the bees a bit of a “head start” when it comes to drawing out frames. But we prefer to follow Steiner’s advice and let them build everything from scratch. This gives the bees power to determine the shape they want to build, and the size they want to make each cell. Wax foundation is generally an amalgamation of wax from industrial beekeeping, and can be contaminated with disease.
photo credit: http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=21875.0
Why is our wax special?
We raise our bees without the use of hive treatments such as antibiotics or miticides, whose use is common practice in United States apiculture. We also keep our bees on organic farmland. Chemicals and pesticides tend to accumulate in wax, so using the cleanest methods we can helps keep our beeswax pure. We also source beeswax from other local beekeepers we trust, who keep their bees on pristine lands and without the use of toxic hive inputs. We never purchase wax from distributors, instead opting to process it all in house, by hand, ourselves. That way, we can be assured of the quality.
We get our wax right after the honey harvest. We use what is cut from the honeycombs when harvesting the honey. It goes through a process of melting, water baths, and filtration to remove honey and impurities. When it’s finished, we pour it into molds. At this point it has an indefinite shelf life, and is ready for use in our skin care products.
Beeswax and herbal medicine
Beeswax has been trusted for centuries for use in herbal formulations for the skin. When combined with oil, it achieves a wonderful consistency that is firm at room temperature, and absorbs seamlessly into the skin. Beeswax is a magical substance, and works in harmony with herbs and high quality oils to provide it’s soothing, protective elements to the skin.
We use our wonderful beeswax in our lip balm, salves, and soap. It smells amazing, and is so fun to work with. It’s a labor of love! And we love the bees for helping us make it available to more and more people.