Beeswax Candles: Why I no longer make them

Bee-on-New-England-Aster

Many people visit this website by searching for “beeswax candles” on Google, or because you used to buy beeswax candles from me. I originally made and sold only two products: beeswax candles and three kinds of soap. Then I began making other things and added them to my shop.

It’s life…things change

One of the most profound changes for me was becoming a vegan rather than only vegetarian. Learning more about the dairy, chicken egg and bee product industries was the impetus. Isn’t it interesting that when one searches for information rather than accepting what you grew up with, one’s thinking often changes?

Aside from no longer eating dairy cheese, my biggest challenge came after learning more about bees and the production of honey. Beeswax candles were my biggest shop revenue source. Most vegans do not use beeswax or honey. My perspective changed after learning more about bees: they make their hives, combs and honey for their own ‘families,’ not for humans to take; rather obvious when you think about it. Therefore I choose not to use beeswax any more, and to use plant alternatives to honey.

Some information sources about bees and beeswax

Native Bees of North America “The honey bee, remarkable as it is, doesn’t know how to pollinate a tomato or an eggplant flower, while some native bees are masters at this. The same thing happens with a number of native plants, such as pumpkins and watermelons, blueberries and cranberries, which are more efficiently pollinated by native bees than by honey bees.”

The Vegan Society: Why honey isn’t vegan

Pros and cons: From slate.com

The Kind Life: Alicia Silverstone

Ethical bee keeping: Dylan Kendall

Alternatives

Beeswax alternatives include candelilla wax (this is what I use in the skin creams and lip balms I make), sustainably-harvested carnauba wax, non-GMO soy wax and bayberry wax. Alternatives to honey include maple syrup, organic agave nectar, pure organic cane sugar and coconut nectar.

About cheese

Cheese has addictive qualities, which is why it’s so difficult for many to become truly vegan. After about three weeks, the addiction disappears and it tastes mostly like pure fat. That was my experience. I also tried some commercial vegan cheese alternatives. Although I understand that there are some good ones available elsewhere, in my area there are very few and I don’t like them. However…I found some interesting alternatives I can make myself. More about that in a future blog post.

Native bee on squash flower
Only native bees pollinate squash & some other vegs

8 Replies to “Beeswax Candles: Why I no longer make them”

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

    Hello again Jane, To deconstruct and examine just one excerpt from the Vegan article:
    a) “Honey bees are specifically bred to increase productivity.” Untrue! Productivity and cleanliness are innate in Apis mellifera. In a wild setting, hives which manage themselves well survive the winter; those which do not, die. “Tame” bees are no different: “Survival of the fittest” is not a new concept.
    b) “Already endangered, this selective breeding narrows the population gene pool and increases susceptibility to disease and large-scale die-offs.” To which I say, before the advent of NeoNics, honey bees (and other pollinators) were never “endangered”. Insecticides kill insects. It’s what they’re created to do. Why is anyone surprised that insect pollinators are being killed by insecticides?
    c) “These diseases are then spread to the thousand of other pollinators we and other animals rely on, disputing the common myth that honey production is good for our environment.”: OMG, SO much misinformation and half-truths! Where are they getting this information? Who and where are the sources quoted? Honey bees are not a native species and, like many other useful things, have been moved around the globe, from one home to another, by Man’s migration for millennia… There are no “new” diseases of Apis mellifera and as social, hive-dwelling insects honey bee diseases are very much species specific, so have NEVER been transmitted to any other species of pollinator.
    But now I reiterate that what IS new and HAS been affecting Pollinator health – and by which I mean ALL Pollinators’ health – be they insectae or mammalian (you’ve heard about the new fungal disease killing off bats in massive numbers?) – are the effects (both immediate and cumulative) of neuro-toxic NeoNictinoid insecticides. Contrary to manufacturer’s claims, these insecticides are not breaking down, but instead lie dormant under the snow cover and are indeed showing up years later in subsequent generations of (non target) species growing in soil contaminated from previous crop applications.
    And again I stress that, because they are systemic, by extension we humans, as the end-users must also be inadvertently ingesting/ absorbing these neuro-toxins through the variety of methods these poisons are applied… Be it through seeds coated before planting, or sprays applied to nursery plants in greenhouses or treatments on our animals to repel and kill parasites; these Systemic neuro-toxins work by being absorbed and spread throughout the organism to which it is applied: be it plant or animal and THIS is what “increases susceptibility to disease and (creates) large-scale die-offs” in Pollinators… And to us, who knows?

  2. Thanks for all your comments, Deb. I agree with most of what you say, but not all. My biggest disagreement is that “no harm is done to the animals who produce extra milk for human consumption.” This will be part of a future blog post. What I most definitely agree with is that we all need to learn all we can about our natural world and all its creatures.

    (BTW, The Vegan Society doesn’t say that “ethical” beekeepers feed sweeteners; they’re referring to “unethical practices.”)

    1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

      A blanket statement harms those of us who DO believe in ethical treatment of living beings. The Agri-Business model is a far cry from what I consider to be farming; a fair and ethical way of life for every living being in that eco-system. We all need to learn how the living world functions; and like it or not, the life cycle and food chains are a part of that understanding and we are a part of The Whole.
      To paraphrase Dusty Springfield: “… (Going ever) round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
      Never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel…”

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

    And lastly, for the latest information on NeoNics, their effects on pollinators and the most up-to-date information on what’s going on here currently; as well as info on the swarm collecting, pollinating, honey-producing, bee-health promoting beekeepers here in Ontario, from the OBA/ Ontario Beekeepers Association: http://www.ontariobee.com
    PS, (It’s not just for Beekeepers, anyone can sign up for the monthly newsletter)

  4. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

    Wow, I totally resent this assertion on the Vegan website. Ethical Beekeepers DO NOT remove honey from the brood nest and replace it with sugar. Sugar syrup is to be used only in the emergency situation of the hive having used up all of its honey stores before plants are available to forage from in the spring. Just as with people, well-fed bees are heathy bees and only an idiot would feed their hives industrially produced sweeteners.

  5. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

    After reading the article under ethical beekeeping I have a little more to add/ clear up… Neonicotinoid Insecticides (NeoNics) are neurotoxic to insects and are applied to corn and soy seed as a coating which then grows within the plant and ALL parts of these crops grown with systemic pesticides contain these neuro toxins: from root to stem, leaf to flower, pollen, nectar and seed… These neurotoxins are the cause of “Colony Collapse Syndrome”
    By the way, neonics are also what people apply to their pets’ necks to repel fleas, ticks and other parasites. They’re also being used by some in the (plant) nursery business.
    Please, be aware. Look at the big picture, ask questions, think about what is truly important. Do unto other life forms that which is best for all. Walk softly upon this good earth and leave only footprints behind… Bee well, Deb.

    1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

      Oh dear, me again; ) I’m assuming the “rescue hives” mentioned in the article are swarms that she’s collecting… Swarming is a natural process for bees. As one location becomes too crowded, the hive as a whole decides it’s time to swarm(move out) and, after some major preparations will go looking for a new location; but normally – unless actually forced out of their home en masse – they leave queen cells, young bees and most of their honey stores behind to carry on. Sadly, sometimes the locations they choose are not amenable to their new host. Calling your local beekeeper will usually result in finding someone who is only too happy to gather up the errant bees and take them home. : )

  6. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

    Hello Jane, Please pardon the essay I’m about to submit…
    I’m sorry Jane, but just as certain plants are pollinated at night by moths and earwigs, honey bees are physically adapted to gather nectar and pollen from certain types of plants while bumble bees gather from others (like, and as you mentioned, red clover & the nightshade family); Wild, Solitary, Squash Bees, Mason Bees, Sweat Bees and Wasps; Bats, Orioles & Hummingbirds all specialise in others. While there is some overlap between species, it just wouldn’t work very well if they all gathered the exact same things…
    “Wild” species of bees produce only enough honey to supply their larvae as dictated by nature, as needed (as they grow and enough to over-winter for the next year’s progeny). Honey bees, on the other hand, have been living in concert with man for millennia – just as dogs, cattle and horses have – and been selected by man for specific traits – and are DRIVEN (by their nature) to produce as much honey (naturally contained in wax comb structures) as they possibly can…
    While most of these other things you mention: candelilla wax is from Mexico and requires nasty solvents to manufacture;
    carnauba wax comes from Brazil and uses ethyl acetate to manufacture; Soy “wax” is fully-hydrogenated soya oil so has a low melting point and can mean that candles will melt in hot weather (like right now): and must be contained.
    Bee’s wax is 100% natural, sustainable and its removal does no harm to the bees which produce it nor does harvesting the honey it contains. If honey bees were not a managed species, we would still be unaware of the horrendous side-effects of NeoNicotinoid insecticides have on (ALL of) the pollinators which come into contact.
    The “alternative” sweeteners you mention: Agave comes from the same cactus as Tequila and is grown in Mexico or South Africa – tropical climates.
    Cane sugar from China, India & Indonesia: (again, from the tropics) Maple syrup and honey are the only locally available, infinitely sustainable, natural sweeteners – unless you can find a source from local sugar beets.
    And finally, cheese… We humans are driven to crave that creamy “mouth-feel” in food because the body requires oils to produce nerve cells. It is biologically imperative that we eat fats and oils and, as with harvesting honey, with ETHICAL, sustainable agricultural practices – no harm is done to the animals who produce extra milk for human consumption.

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