Bees are an essential part of our food chain. They pollinate flowers, fruit trees, and our crop fields. Other species also help with the pollinating, but honey bees are known to go to over 2,000 flowers a day. Up to eighty percent of all flowering plants are pollinated by honey bees.
Beeswax candles are bad because they are costly and not vegan friendly. Also, beeswax candles made from unethically harvested beeswax are bad for the environment. However, there are benefits to the bees, humans, and our environment when beeswax from responsibly managed hives is harvested.
In the process of pollination, honey bees produce honey and beeswax. Depending upon your source for beeswax, using beeswax candles can be viewed as being a bad choice. Continue reading for information on harvesting beeswax and thoughts to consider in your decision to use or not use beeswax.
Cost of Beeswax
Other types of wax are less costly than beeswax candles. The cost difference between beeswax and paraffin wax can be significant. Paraffin wax is a synthetic material. Since paraffin wax can be mass produced, the cost per pound is on the lower side for candle making.
The process of making beeswax is natural. Only bees can produce beeswax. There is not any way to rush the process. Bees expend a tremendous amount of energy in the production of honey and wax. To make about a pound of wax, honey bees need to produce about eight pounds of honey.
The honey bee population has declined dramatically over the past decade. Bees are needed to pollinate. Almost ninety percent of plants in the world rely on pollinators. There is tremendous pressure on beehives to pollinate. This role is more vital than producing honey or beeswax. This stress on hives could cause the price of beeswax to rise.
For your money spent on beeswax, many do not feel it is worth it when considering its value in its scent. Beeswax has a natural, yet gentle, scent of honey. For candle makers seeking strong fragrances, beeswax candles do not have a powerful scent. You can add fragrances and/or essential oils to the beeswax. However, those new scents will be tinged with honey, which lessens their potency.
Additionally, for the extra cost, some beeswax candles will bloom. Candle bloom is when the wax gets a white, powdery looking coat. Sometimes the candle gets a crystal, frosty look to it. While the candle bloom confirms that your candle is one hundred percent beeswax, some people do not like the rustic, weathered look of a candle bloom.
Not Vegan Friendly
Many people are seeking more natural products, which is why beeswax is often explored. Vegans, as part of their beliefs, do not ingest or utilize products from animals. Bees produce beeswax. Therefore, vegans will not use honey.
Beeswax is produced in conjunction with the making of honey. Though beeswax is created in nature, most vegans will refrain from the use of beeswax. Vegans do not believe that any animals should be used for human consumption and pleasure. Some in the vegan community believe that the process of gathering beeswax is inhumane, adding to the concerns of the creation of beeswax candles.
However, others look at any plants that bees help pollinate using labor from the bees. This view causes a conundrum to some in the vegan community. Abstaining from all products that bees support would dramatically reduce the options of foods available to vegans. Therefore, some vegans are amenable to using bee by-products from small local beekeepers.
Production of Beeswax
As a by-product of their role as pollinators, bees produce honey and beeswax. They consume honey as their source of nourishment. Beeswax is an essential part of the beehive. Construction of the beehive is from the secretion of wax from the glands of the female worker bees.
Clear wax is exuded from the bees. It transforms to a solid form upon contact with the air. Bees chew the wax to make it more pliable. As they chew, pollen and propolis are added to the wax. This causes the wax to change into a more yellowish color. The next step is to shape the wax into hexagonal cells, which we refer to as honeycomb shapes.
Honeycombs fulfill multiple roles in the hive. The bees store their food for the winter in the wax. The wax is also home for the bee’s offspring. After each cell is filled with honey, the winter food supply is capped with beeswax.
Process of Harvesting Beeswax
Some sources will report that the beehive is melted to obtain the beeswax, Then, the wax is boiled in water. After that step, the wax is cooled. Once the beeswax has solidified, then it is useable for candles and other items.
However, most beekeepers do not destroy their hives to harvest the beeswax. Gathering the beeswax is part of the steps involved in collecting the honey. Steps taken by many beekeepers during the harvest are not intended to injure the bees.
Before the collection of honey commences, most beekeepers don their bee suits. This protects the beekeeper and the bees. Both the beekeeper and the bees have boundaries and protection, which calms the bees. Next, beekeepers smoke the hive. The smoke does not harm the bees. It interferes with the bees’ sense of smell. Otherwise, the bees would be in a state of agitation, which would be stressful for them.
With the bee’s quieter and less stressed, the beekeeper is able to access the hive. Once in the hive, the beekeeper checks on how much honey has been accumulated. Inside the hive, beekeepers will have already placed honey supers, which are extra hive boxes. These are put in stronger hives that have been producing honey throughout the season. Beekeepers remove the honey super. It is filled with honey and capped with wax.
Not all of the honey or beeswax is removed from the hive. Only the excess is taken. The remaining honey is left for the bees to feed on. The hives are reassembled. A beekeeper has about fifteen to twenty minutes to complete this process while the bees are lulled by the smoke.
Effective beekeepers will make certain that they leave enough honey in the hives for the continued health of the colony. Bees are considered under the umbrella of agriculture. With this point of view, honey and beeswax are part of the food supply.
Strong hives that have access to a plentiful supply of plants and flowers will produce enough honey and wax to fill multiple frames a season. Therefore, a healthy hive is not adversely affected by the harvesting of honey and beeswax.
Benefits of Harvesting Honey and Beeswax
If honey and beeswax are not harvested from the apiaries, the bees continue to gather honey and wax in the hive. In fabricated hives, the bees will eventually run out of room. The accumulation of honey and wax will fill all the frames in the hive. At this point, about half of the hive will swarm.
Worker bees communicate to each other the need to find a new location. To prepare for leaving the hive, the bees will consume nectar or honey from the hive. The current queen leaves with the worker bees in the swarm. Those who abandoned the hive, due to overcrowding, infections, or other problems, will agree on a new location. If a beekeeper can catch them before they leave the area, they create a new hive.
Bees remaining in the hive select a new queen. The former queen will have laid eggs for the new queen to use when she takes over the hive. From the one hive, there are now two.
Harvesting honey and beeswax can lessen the chance of swarming. Done in an ethical way, which reduces the risk of injury to the bees, harvesting can benefit the beehive
Frequently Asked Questions
What is pollen?
Pollen is the fertilizing element of flowering plants. Usually a yellowish color, pollen is a fine powdery material. Grains of pollen produce male gametes, which need to be transferred to the female part of the plant. The scientific name for pollen grains is microgametophytes.
What is pollination?
During the process of pollination, grains of pollen move from the male anther to the female stigma of a flower. This will produce seeds, which allows the plants to reproduce. In the seeds are pollen grains needed to create a new plant and for the plant to produce fruit.
What do pollinators do?
Pollinators move the pollen from flower to flower often to eat or gather nectar. As this is happening pollen grains attach to the pollinator. When the animal or insect travels to another plant, the pollen detaches from the pollinator and is dropped onto the stigma of the flower.
Who are pollinators?
Pollinators are different birds, bats, and insects. Most pollination is performed by insects such as bees, butterflies, flies, and wasps.
Why has the population of pollinators declined?
The population of pollinators has declined due to reduction in their habitat, pesticides, invasive plants, and diseases.
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I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.