What Is Beeswax? Unveiling the Secrets of this Natural Wonder

What Is Beeswax?

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Bees are well known for producing honey but they also make a whole host of other products; royal jelly, bee bread, and of course, beeswax. But what is beeswax and what is it used for?

Bees produce wax by processing honey and they secrete it from glands on the underside of their abdomens. This wax is then used to make structures within the hive called combs which are used for storing food and eggs.

But it isn’t just bees that use the wax they produce. Humans have also found many uses for it and it’s a popular ingredient in a lot of cosmetic products and home products like candles and polish.

In this post, I’m going to take a deep dive into the world of beeswax and tell you everything you need to know about it.

What Is Beeswax?

Beeswax is a substance that is made naturally by honey bees. It is secreted from glands on the bottom of their abdomens and is mainly made up of things like hydrocarbons, fatty acids, and esters.

When beeswax is cold, it is very hard and breakable. However, once it is warmed up, it softens and becomes much more malleable. This is good news for the bees since they need it to form honeycomb cells so it must be pliable.

Just like honey, beeswax never becomes bad so it can be used over and over by humans for a variety of uses. But I’ll look more at how humans use beeswax later in this article.

If you’re a fan of honey then you will have noticed that different honey comes in different colors and that’s down to the variety of flowers from which the nectar was sourced. Since beeswax is made from honey, it’ll come as no surprise that it can also vary in color. Some beeswax is almost white whereas some may be incredibly dark, almost black looking. But for the most part, beeswax will be some shade of yellow. The scent of the wax is also influenced by the flower type and quality used in its production.

How Is Beeswax Produced?

Honey bees have a very important social structure within the hive and each bee is given his or her own role. All of the worker bees are female and they have various responsibilities that change over the course of their lives.

For the most part, wax is produced by these worker bees and they do this between the ages of 12 and 18 days. On the underside of the abdomen, female worker bees have glands that secrete wax which is made by processing honey within the body.

When the wax is secreted, it comes out in tiny blocks which can then be warmed up and molded into the right shape for building honeycomb.

Interestingly, as the bees get older, their wax glands get smaller and at this point, their responsibilities change. They’ll now take on the role of foragers, heading out of the hive to gather nectar and pollen which they’ll bring back and pass on to the new generation who will now produce wax.

How Do Bees Use Wax?

While there are hundreds of thousands of beekeepers in the United States, bees don’t need humans to survive. In fact, they’re capable of building complex nests all by themselves and wax is the most important building block for this.

Once the wax is secreted, the bees can use their strong jaws to mold the substance into hexagonal shapes which make up the honeycomb. This is something of a natural engineering feat since the shape of the individual cells is perfectly designed to make maximum use of space and take an incredible amount of weight.

But this isn’t the only way that bees use their wax. It’s also used to seal cells in a process known as capping. Once an egg is laid within a cell, the bees will cap it with wax so that it is protected as it develops. Moreover, they’ll also store honey within the cells which are again capped with wax to keep moisture and contaminants out, proving that bees are incredibly self-sufficient.

How Do Humans Use Beeswax?

For thousands of years, humans have realized that beeswax is a very valuable substance. As such, it has historically been used for many different applications including food, food storage, and for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.

You’ll often see cheese or fruit wrapped in beeswax and humans have started making beeswax wraps as an eco-friendly alternative to things like cling film or aluminum foil. What’s more, beeswax is a very protective substance and will prevent any insects or contaminants from getting to the food.

In China, more than two millennia ago, beeswax suddenly became very popular and it is documented in ancient medical texts. The most famous is the Shennong Book Of Herbs which details the beneficial effects of the substance on various bodily functions such as circulation, the healing of wounds, and even energy levels. It was also recorded that beeswax has anti-aging properties and this is something that is still used today with the substance being featured in many skincare products.

Beeswax comes in three main types; Absolute, yellow, and white. White wax is a product of yellow wax after it has been filtered whereas pure yellow wax is what comes directly out of the beehive. If you have absolute beeswax then this is a result of yellow wax having been treated with alcohol.

In any case, there are many benefits to using beeswax so let’s take a look at some of the ways humans have put it to good use.

Candle Making

Beeswax candles have become incredibly popular and many people are now starting to make their own at home. If you love a craft project then this might be something you want to get stuck into and I have written a guide on how to make beeswax candles and other products here.

One of the major benefits of using beeswax candles instead of something made from paraffin is that they’re much better for your health. In fact, fewer and fewer companies are using paraffin and favoring products like beeswax or soy wax as they burn much more cleanly and don’t release toxins into the air that you could breathe in!

Not only this but paraffin candles also have the potential to damage things in your home. I had been burning a paraffin candle in my bathroom and it left a horrid black residue all over my white tiles and ceiling! Imagine that getting into your electricals and other household goods; it definitely will do them no good.

Natural Beeswax candles in the shape of a bunny and other shapes

For Your Skin

People have been using beeswax as a skin care product for many years and more beauty companies are jumping on the bandwagon. It’s even more beneficial if you use it with a combination of other products from the hive such as honey.

Diaper Rash

If you’ve got little ones then you’ll know that diaper rash can be an incredibly painful condition and you’ll want to get it cleared up as quickly as possible. By mixing beeswax with honey and olive oil, you can create an effective treatment that creates a moisture barrier and will clear that rash right up.

What’s more, this same mix is ideal for people that suffer from skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Plus, you can make it at home so it’s a really affordable treatment option.


We all want super soft skin but if you’re anything like me, you’ll have spent an unnecessary fortune on gimmicky skin care products. They promise the earth but rarely deliver and that’s because they don’t contain natural ingredients.

But beeswax is entirely natural and is well known for its moisturizing properties. So much so that you’ll now find a plethora of skin care products with beeswax as the main ingredient.

It is excellent at repairing the skin so if you have chapped or dry patches, applying a little beeswax will work wonders. The reason for this is that it’s not only softening but it also has the ability to lock in moisture, keeping your skin smoother, softer, and more moisturized.

One of the reasons that beeswax is so effective for softening the skin is that it is high in vitamin A. Not only is this excellent for rehydration but it also promotes healthy cell regeneration which means that it’s perfect for aiding in the healing of wounds.

While I think beeswax is brilliant for repairing dry skin, I would always recommend using it as a preventative measure. Applying a beeswax-based lotion to the skin every day will help to prevent future incidents of dryness.

Treat Acne

I know a lot of people that have tried every method under the sun for acne to no avail. In reality, they could have used beeswax which has been proven time and again as one of the most effective at-home treatments for this common skin condition.

For starters, the substance is a natural anti-inflammatory as well as having antiseptic properties. On top of this, the presence of vitamin A does amazing things for the skin and all without clogging the pores and making the condition worse.

After you have successfully treated acne, you may notice that your skin doesn’t feel smooth or hydrated. But by using beeswax, you’ll benefit from much softer skin that feels a lot healthier. Ongoing use of the product may also prevent future breakouts.

Stretch Marks

For people that have had children or lost or gained weight, stretch marks can be a real problem. They occur when the skin is stretched too quickly and appear as unsightly marks which can be quite red or may appear silvery. In any case, they’re often a cause of embarrassment and I know people that are forever chasing a cure.

But it’s beeswax to the rescue once again and that’s because the product helps to retain water which can have a direct impact on the visibility of stretch marks. Plus, with all that vitamin A, beeswax has the ability to encourage collagen production which can help to improve the elasticity of skin.

It’s perfectly easy to make your very own stretch mark treatment at home using a blend of beeswax, shea butter, royal jelly, and coconut oil. Just like other homemade products, this is often a much more affordable and effective option.

For Your Lips

There are so many lip products available on the market today that contain beeswax and that’s because it is so effective in keeping your kisser soft and smooth. In the event of very cracked lips, beeswax is ideal for restoring moisture and softening the delicate skin of the lips.

Not only this but homemade beeswax lip balms will help to provide some relief from the soreness of chapped lips. All you need to do is mix some wax with honey, coconut oil, vitamin E oil and a blend of your most loved essential oils and you’ve got a product that will keep your lips soft, smooth, and hydrated.

For Your Furniture And Home

If you work with wood then beeswax is an essential product to get your hands on. Whether you’re restoring an old wooden dresser or making a piece of wooden furniture from scratch, beeswax will help to treat the wood.

This natural product restores shine, protects the wood from moisture, and will even stop squeaky drawers from making a noise when you open them.

If you have furniture that’s looking in need of a little TLC then rubbing a little beeswax furniture polish onto it will bring it back to its former glory. The great thing is that, while there are plenty of products in your local store, this is also incredibly easy to make at home.

All you need to do is add one part beeswax to three parts of your chosen oil (coconut and olive oil work particularly well) and you’re good to go. You’ll need to heat the wax to soften it before adding it to the oil and then allow the mixture to harden before using it. You can even add a few drops of essential oils to give your polish a beautiful aroma.

Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, you can even use beeswax to bring the shine back to your leather goods like bags, belts, and shoes so it’s a fashion lover’s savior!

Is Beeswax Edible?

Just like all of the other things you can harvest from a beehive, wax is edible. Of course, you’ll need to buy it in edible form and I would never recommend chowing down on a product that contains beeswax, like furniture polish or lip balm.

You’ll often see jars of honey being sold with pieces of wax inside which makes for a beautiful texture and something a little different than just smooth honey.

Final Thoughts

Have you ever wondered what is beeswax? It’s a natural substance produced by glands on the underside of worker bee abdomens. This is used in the hive to create structures known as honeycomb but it’s also been used by humans for many years to treat skin conditions and many other applications.