Beeswax is a natural product that is generated from honey bees. Bees utilize beeswax to create hives, protect their young, and supply storage for honey. Beeswax and honey are acquired together, though honey is an ingredient that causes debates among vegans.
Beeswax is an animal product, so it isn’t vegan, though some vegans find no issue with using ethically sourced beeswax.
We’ll cover more about whether beeswax is vegan or not in this post, including what ethical beeswax is and the beeswax products that vegans should avoid using.
More About Beeswax
Honey bees create beeswax and honey. Bees use honey as their main source of food, as well as a defense against pesticides and pathogens.
Bees store their honey inside beeswax. This is a natural material that’s secreted from the glands of female bees. These young bees work together to heat the hive. Once the hive reaches 95°F, the bees start secreting clear wax which becomes solid as it touches the air.
The bees refine the wax with propolis and pollen, transforming it into regular yellow beeswax. They also use their mandibles to turn them into the hexagonal cages we know as honeycombs.
These cells act as a housing for the bees’ offspring and their winter food supply. Every cell acquires a beeswax cap after they have been filled with honey, to ensure that the contents are safe from harm.
Industrialized beekeepers collect beeswax in addition to honey, taking any additional wax away from the frame around the honeycomb.
A blunt, hot knife is used to take off the cap from the honeycomb, getting the frame ready to extract the honey. The wax is cleansed and purified to use in several products, like cosmetics and candles.
Why Is Beeswax Unsuitable For Vegans?
The majority of vegans do not use or eat products made from animals. This often includes beeswax, as this does come from small insects.
Vegans don’t use beeswax for the same reasons why they don’t eat honey, so they won’t use any medications, cosmetics, or musical instruments that use beeswax.
These individuals believe that beeswax, as a derivative of honey, is sourced by exploiting animals. Even though bees are smaller, they are still beings that are used in commercial industries.
Bees cross-pollinate around a third of edible crops in the United States and generate 150 million pounds of honey every year. Studies have shown that commercial production decreases life span and increases oxidative stress in bees.
Furthermore, hives consisting of large populations of bees can be exterminated if it’s too expensive for manufacturers to keep hives alive in the winter.
Some individuals consider how veganism beliefs relate to bee agriculture. If vegans did not support any forms of bee labor, vegan diet plans would be very different from today.
There would be no apples, almonds, or green beans to enjoy, as well as oilseed crops, like rapeseed, sunflower, and cottonseed.
Due to this complex connection, a few vegans believe that beeswax (and honey) sourced from smaller beehives support vegan values, even though they don’t meet the technical specifications of the word ‘vegan’.
Honey cannot be obtained without beeswax. Honey manufacturers may be careful when they handle honeycomb, but this process can still kill or injure bees.
Despite this, some believe that setting the endpoint at bee coproducts gets the wrong idea of what veganism entails.
People that are interested in veganism can find the importance of these byproducts too difficult, which can put them off of the lifestyle.
Furthermore, the ‘ethical’ beeswax harvest taken from smaller farms is much smaller, so most beeswax products on the market are made using industrial processes.
Beeswax Products To Look Out For
Beeswax is used to make a lot of products. If you are vegan and are abstaining from beeswax, here are some products to be wary of.
Beeswax is often thought of as an environmentally friendly substitute for petroleum-based candles. Beeswax candles burn slowly and don’t produce a lot of smoke.
Beeswax is often used to make makeup, lotions, and deodorants, as it has a lower melting point. It performs as an emulsifier and emollient, so the products retain a softer texture.
Known for its antibacterial properties, beeswax was often used in the past as an ointment and healing salve. In the modern age, pharmaceuticals use the substance as a time-release agent in drugs. This helps to release smaller, controlled amounts of medication into a person’s system over time.
Used as an anti-sticking aid and a preservative, beeswax is often used in processed foods and baked goods. You’ll often see it as a coating on licorice and candy.
Beeswax comes from bees, so it is not vegan-friendly. Bees can also be injured and killed as beeswax is harvested, even if the utmost care is used to derive the wax.
However, some vegans believe that the vegan lifestyle would be impossible without bee labor. These individuals may support ethical beeswax, which is sourced from smaller bee farms.
If you are vegan, you will need to decide if ‘ethical’ beeswax aligns with your values surrounding veganism, or if you want to completely abstain from beeswax products.