To Eat Beeswax or Not

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Beeswax is a natural substance made by honey bees. We humans use beeswax for many different purposes. However, I am often asked – Is beeswax edible? Here, I want to share with you my thoughts on eating beeswax and whether or you should consider it. I will focus on understanding why beeswax can be considered an edible substance, its potential health benefits, and important safety considerations.

Large sheet of raw honeycomb suitable for eating.

Beeswax is one of my favorite products from the beehive. Honey bees make beeswax from special glands on their body. It is used for honey storage, brood rearing and more. Wax comb filled with honey contains the purest, freshest honey you will ever taste.

Can Humans Eat Beeswax?

It is not uncommon for us today to question activities that people have been doing for years? Likely a good thing in some situations. But, what about eating raw beeswax from a hive?

Humans have been eating beeswax comb for thousands of years with no ill effects. While anyone can be allergic to almost anything, it is rare that beeswax consumption should cause problems.

Traditional Way to Enjoy Honey

There was a time in the US, when consumers wanted to purchase a whole piece of wax filled with honey-instead of liquid in jars.

Why was this method of buying honey so popular? It was because of unscrupulous businesses. Some greedy beekeepers would “stretch” the harvest by adding corn syrup.

The practice faded as rules and regulations were put into place for food sold to consumers. Sadly, the experience of buying honey by the full frame almost passed out of existence.

Some people prefer the taste of honey straight from the comb. Biting into a chunk of fresh honeycomb is the purest way to enjoy honey.

Beekeeper harvesting full honeycomb from hive image.

Important Facts About Beeswax Consumption

To understand why beeswax is edible, we must take a closer look at what it actually is. Raw beeswax is produced by female honey bees and shaped into sheets of thousands of hexagonal wax cells.

During a honey harvest, beekeepers harvest sections of honeycomb filled with fresh honey. The experience of having cells of fresh honey “explode” on your taste buds is quite an experience.

What is Beeswax Made of?

Beeswax is primarily composed of long-chain fatty acids and alcohols. The exact composition can vary a bit due to the breeds of bees involved, the region or climate and other factors.

The complex chemical structure of beeswax includes over 300 different compounds. It is a unique and versatile substance.

Regulatory Perspectives on Beeswax

Under food and safety regulations, beeswax is consider generally safe for human consumption in moderate amounts. These regulations give guidelines for products that may contain some raw beeswax such as chewing gum or candy.

Using Common Sense

One of the keys to enjoying eating beeswax is to remember one word – moderation. As with many types of foods – large quantities of beeswax may be difficult for the digestive system to process.

This could cause digestive discomfort. Also, anyone who has specific allergies (such as being allergic to honey), should exercise caution and consult their doctor.

Beeswax with honey cut into sections for consumption.

Is Beeswax a Healthy Food?

Well, now we are getting into that grey area. The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Some studies show consuming raw honey in the comb promotes good heart health.

In addition to soothing sore throats, honey has an anti-inflammatory properties. Manuka Honey is praised by the honey industry for having above average healing properties.

Some researchers claim that the long chain fatty acids, long chain alcohols (esters) can provide health benefits. Still more honey lovers swear that honey with comb (or without) helps with allergies.

Whether it has special medicinal properties or not – I can tell you that eating fresh beeswax comb is good for my soul! This is because it is an absolute delight.

In fact, my Daddy always said that honeycomb was “the poor man’s chewing gum.” As a child, they would chew pieces of beeswax. Once all of the honey was gone, they would swallow the wax.

Most studies report beeswax alone to have very little nutritional value. But, you will be getting the nutritional value of the honey, pollen etc. in the wax cells.

The jury is still out on this one. Eating it may be healthy, or not, but reasonable amounts wont hurt you either.

Who Should Not Consume Beeswax

Raw beeswax is a sweet nutritious treat but not every one should consume it. As with raw honey or any raw food product, infants under the age of 1 should not eat raw beeswax.

Individuals with compromised immune systems should also forgo this treat. And of course, those with specific allergies may find beeswax consumption inadvisable. It is possible to be allergic to honey!

But, most of the population should not see any bad effect from eating beeswax. If you have any questions, always consult your doctor first.

Why Honey in Beeswax Costs More

Today, most beekeepers use honey extraction to separate comb from liquid honey. This is a measure of economy because the beeswax can be re-used by the bees. Therefore, the bees produce more honey.

When you find jars of honey with pieces of comb inside, this is called “chunk honey“. This product is more expensive for the beekeeper to produce – the bees have to replace the comb.

FAQs

What are you eating when your consume beeswax comb?

When you enjoy a sweet piece of fresh honeycomb, you are eating more than just beeswax. You are consuming honey, traces of pollen, propolis and other natural substances.

How much beeswax is safe to eat?

Everything in moderation is a good guideline for those of you who love to eat beeswax. Too much of anything is not usually good for you.

It would be possible to “over-do-it” with wax consumption. Eating mass quantities of it over a short period of time can lead to gastrointestinal issues. You do not want to gorge on it. But, you would not normally consume enough beeswax for that to be a major concern.

Where to buy honeycomb?

You can find pieces of raw beeswax filled with honey in natural food stores. You can even order it online . Perhaps you have a beekeeper in your town or city?

How to store beeswax comb?

Do NOT put your comb in the refrigerator. This is not necessary and will actually cause the comb to be sticky and brittle.

In fact, the refrigerator is the worse place to store any honey. Surprisingly, you can freeze honey. If you have several pieces of honeycomb to save for later, wrap tightly with plastic wrap to protect from moisture.

When you are ready to enjoy, remove a piece from the freezer, thaw and enjoy. Please don’t put your honey in the microwave – that’s criminal – or should be.

Final Thoughts

Beeswax is a natural wax that is edible and safe to consume for most people. And, there are many interesting ways to enjoy eating honeycomb by itself or paired with other foods.

Unless you adhere to a strict no honey vegan lifestyle, adding honey to your diet is a good idea. You may come to learn that it is one of life’s little pleasures.