In this post, we'll answer some of Google's most popular beeswax-related questions. Enjoy!
What is Beeswax?
Beeswax is a glandular secretion of honeybees. Beeswax have wax glands that, when foraging conditions are good, nectar is available in abundance.
Middle-aged housebees (often 10 to 20 days old) produce wax from their wax glands, and this wax is used to build the structure of the comb. Bees have incredible engineering abilities, and their home is designed with that hexagonal structure that everyone knows.
They take the wax that is secreted in little scales, and they mold them and build the comb, the base of their home. The ability to store their food nectar and pollen takes place in these constructed cells. The whole life cycle from egg to larva to pupa takes place in those wax cells.
Beeswax is a byproduct of their natural biology, which is quite fascinating. They have the ability to manufacture wax within their bodies and then mold it into this highly efficient hexagonal design. Needless to say, it’s very efficient on space utilization.
The middle-aged housebees that make the beeswax don’t leave the hive until they get to a certain age. The younger bees don’t produce the wax because they’re, well… too young (they have other, minimal responsibilities). The older bees don’t produce the wax because they are the foragers. In other words, they're the ones that are gathering from the landscape.
How is Beeswax Made?
In the process of extracting honey, there's always some wax that comes with the honey.
The machinery has to slice off the wax seal of each cell so that the honey can flow out and you can extract the honey out of the comb. And so it's just a natural byproduct of the honey extracting process.
Back in the day, before machinery, they would pull out chunks of comb and they would press it out and then strain it. They would always have leftover wax because they'd flattened the comb and pressed the honey out. The problem was this obviously destroyed the comb that was built. Years later, they discovered ways of extracting honey that didn't destroy the comb.
Is Beeswax Edible?
Beeswax is edible, but it doesn't have too much nutritional value. Honey in the comb used to be a pretty popular thing. In fact, back in the days that was the primary way of people eating honey. This is because they didn't want to go through the steps of pressing the honey out. Instead, they would just eat the chunks of wax and comb right out of the hive (so to speak).
That said, it isn’t really digestible… it kind of passes right on through! But if you took just a chunk of comb and ate it, you could swallow the wax right down and it wouldn't be an issue. Generally you chew it up and spit out the wax because it ends up like chewing gum.
Where Can I Buy Beeswax?
The best way to find beeswax near you is to contact your local apiary (or beekeeper). Beeswax is naturally produced by bees during honey production, and apiaries are often willing to sell their beeswax to you for cheap.
Your local apiaries can be tricky to find, but here are some great resources to get you started.
Or, try Googling one of the following. A map with a list of local beekeepers should show up.
“[Your State] + Honey Locator”
“[Your State] + Beekeeper Locator”
“[Your State] + Apiary Locator”
You can also try your local farmer’s market, but you’ll run the risk of finding no beeswax. We recommend using the Local Honey Finder, and then reaching out to the beekeeper.
Where Can I Buy Beeswax Blocks Online?
When buying beeswax online, the best way to support a small apiary or beekeeper is to order from their website or Etsy store. Here are some options we found.
- Beeswax Co
- Dadant and Sons
- Beverly Bees
- Roark Acres
- Virgin Beeswax Bricks
- Sperry Beeswax (hey that’s us!)
Where Can I Buy Beeswax Pellets Online?
Based on what we found, here are some good options for buying beeswax pellets. Some people find it easier to melt beeswax pellets as opposed to blocks, and pellets are generally more expensive than blocks.
Tip: Avoid Amazon (if possible)
Sure, there is a plethora of beeswax for sale on Amazon, often sold by local apiaries. The problem with Amazon, however, is they take a massive cut of a seller’s profits, and don’t let the seller build their own audience (like a newsletter).
For many small businesses, Amazon is a necessary evil. They view Amazon as a necessity because their product gets an insane amount of viewers. However, they would earn more profit if all of those viewers shopped through their website.
If you want to support a local beeswax seller you found on Amazon, we recommend first seeing if they have a website. Ordering from their website means more from your purchase actually goes to the seller, and Amazon doesn’t take any cut.
If they don’t have a website, check if they have an Etsy store… Etsy takes a small cut too, but it’s smaller than Amazon. If they don’t have an Etsy store either, bite the bullet and order from them on Amazon.
So there you have it! Hopefully we answered a few of your beeswax questions! Oh, and one more thing...
If you’re in need of some beeswax, check out our beeswax for sale! We’ll ship them to you for free, and Becca Sperry (our founder) hand-pours each one right here in North Dakota.