Beeswax and Propolis for Pleasure and Profit

publication date: Jun 9, 2008
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Beeswax and Propolis for Pleasure and Profit


Selling honey is the usual way that beekeepers add profit to the pleasure they get from their bees, but bees don't just make honey.

There is world trade in bees wax, in particular wax production in Africa, for example Ethiopia is a leading wax producing country. Beeswax can demand high prices and a family in a developing country can add greatly to their income by selling wax. Currently the high demand for comb honey is creating a beeswax shortage which is affecting the price of wax.

Different types of wax are to be found around the world. Sometimes suppliers contaminate the beeswax with other cheaper materials such as sand, cereals or paraffin wax even house bricks! Beeswax varies from country to country in colour and quality. The best waxes are used for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, but some waxes are only useful for polishes and candles.

Propolis is well known to beekeepers as a sticky brown substance that is rather a nuisance in the hive, but evidence is growing for the medicinal properties of propolis.

Propolis, has a reputation in folklore as a medicine - is there as reason for the reputation?  Yes, there is scientific evidence for many of the reported uses of propolis in medicine such as in creams for wound healing and dermatitis, and in oral treatments for ulcers.

A whole new range of commercial propolis products is opening up. This leads to questions about contamination with lead, problems about making medical claims for a product and competition from companies 'jumping on the band wagon' but producing fake products (called knock-offs in the USA). All these problem issues need to be dealt with and there is a need to establish an international quality standard for propolis.

Several academic papers about propolis have been published in the Journal of ApiProduct and ApiMedical Science

Propolis can be extracted and processed in different ways such as extracting with ethanol, water, glycol or oil. It can be made into a paste or powder. Throughout all processes quality control (collection, extraction and storage) is essential.

If you want to know more about beeswax and propolis, the following may be of interest or visit our online shop.

Book:  Beeswax


Book: Bee propolis

Bee propolis, natural healing from the hive

Book: Medical Aspects of BeekeepingMedical aspects of beekeeping
CD: Hive productsHive Products
Poster: BeeswaxInformation poster on Beeswax