Tag Archives: vegetarian

Beeswax in lipbalm – ethical considerations for vegans

I’m ethical and mostly vegan, but I use beeswax (produced by highly evolved social insects) to make cosmetic products, because it’s simply the best base for skin care balms and cosmetics, and possibly the only wax with healing as well as protective qualities. We humans have been using it for skin care for time immemorial, as seen in ancient Egyptian pyramids.

Wild Bee Comb by wingswormsandwonder.com
Wild Bee Comb by wingswormsandwonder.com

In an ideal world, I would use only beeswax that is excess to the needs of the hive, collected from the outermost combs of happy hives, sustainably farmed on my countryside smallholding.

I myself don’t have such a smallholding, but I know some one who does.

One might argue that skilled beekeepers can extract beeswax with no harm to the hive, and that bees desperately need safe places (such as ethical farms) to live in this relentlessly exploited world – but there is no doubt that most beeswax “on the market” is extracted using modern industrial bee farming techniques that are are brutal, destructive and probably damage many of the health giving properties of bee products: honey, beeswax, and propolis.

Greenman has tried every kind of alternative wax ranging from hemp oil wax, to Candellila, to petroleum products, to synthetic waxes made from industrial olive oil production (see here for discussion of my researches). But I insist on organic purity and functional excellence.

There is no other wax that matches beeswax, with its tiny platelets formed by the rubbing action of millions of bees, and its mysterious healing qualities. Melting point, consistence at room temperature are handling considerations. But where real, pure, humanely farmed beeswax really comes into its own is in its healing and protective qualities. It naturally forms a waxy protective barrier, but also helps heal. How this healing happens is not scientifically proven, but my intuition and common sense points to the presence of propolis in the hive. Propolis is a powerful healing agent made by bees and used for the protection of the hive.

The beeswax we use at Greenman is as pure as you can get, coming from virgin African forests – and Soil Association Certified Organic.

It’s also humanely farmed, using traditional methods, and brings sympathetic trade to traditional communities in rural Africa. I enjoy working with this beeswax, as I come from Africa and have seen log-hive beekeepers at work in Western Zambia’s rain forest. I support the effort to give traditional cultures an alternative to being destroyed by globalised neoliberal capitalism, even if only a partial alternative.

Other ingredients in Greenman lip balm include:

Bees were traditionally kept in hollow logs, not only in Africa but around the world, with excess honey and comb cut from the outer comb, sometimes without upsetting the bees at all, or after driving the bees deep into the hive with smoke. When hives became old or diseased and the bees left or colonies died, they were cleansed with fire – no pesticides or antibiotics were used, and as a result, Africa remains free of the industrial bee-farming diseases such as varroa mite (recent reports say this is changing in Africa). Modern hives are now used by traditional bee farmers, but the traditional purity is assured by the integrity of traditional African farmers, who have used organic, herbal methods of pest control since time began, and the UK’s Soil Association Certificate.

Other ingredients in BeeBalm help protect and heal skin:

  • Tea Tree Oil, a great, proven anti-viral, anti bacterial anti-fungal and all-round antiseptic that helps heal cold – damaged skin.
  • Cocoa-butter is for moisturising luxury and hints of chocolate.
  • Wheatgerm oil is for anti-oxidant, vitamin E healing.

It’s all packed into a cute oval shaped lipstick that you can see the golden balm through. I keep a tube in my pocket, and have done so for the past 12 years, and use it for every little skin blemish that comes along.

To experience BeeBalm yourself (or PureBee for sensitive skin): follow the link to our ebay shop and we’ll post a tube to you:

Or click here for link to Greenman’s stockist in Brighton: the Honey Shop https://wp.me/p52YDP-6P

Finally, a link to a video by Gaia Beekeeping, showing what a beehive in a log looks like

Thanks! Russell for Greenman Bodycare