Einstein is rumored to have predicted that if bees disappear from our planet, mankind will soon perish. Although it is not proven whether the great scientist said this or not, our scientists are worried.
Wild bee populations are being wiped out by a parasitic mite and beekeepers are working hard to protect their farmed bees from the same fate.
As the bees vanish we take a look at the bee and the issue of beeswax, ethics and skincare.
Beeswax (or cera alba as it is listed on ingredients labels) is an ingredient used by both commercial skin care manufacturers and many natural and organic skin care producers.
Beeswax is obtained from the honeycomb of bees in the hive and used in skincare as an emulsifier and thickener, as well as for its reputed skin care benefits.
People choosing to buy natural and organic skin care expect green, eco and ethical credentials from the producers.
Cruelty-free is high on the list for green and ethical shoppers which is why it is important to look at the question of bees and beeswax.
Most vegans do not eat honey or use bee products although generally speaking vegetarians do.
The Vegan Society condemns the use of all bee products such as honey, beeswax, propolis and royal jelly.
According to the Vegan Society exploitation of and cruelty to bees consists of:
Cruel treatment of the Queen bee
Killing bees when harvesting honey comb
Use of artificial food and pesticides
Destruction of hives.
Pretty damning, don’t you think. Or is it?
Looking further into the issue it would appear that not all beekeepers employ the above methods.
Whilst it is true that most if not all commercial bee farms do practice cruelty towards bees, many small ‘local’ beekeepers are more ethical.
The independent beekeeper would argue that the bees’ welfare is the most important thing to them, both as a moral obligation towards the bees and in favor of good sense for the small business.
On many small bee farms the bees are given extra room for their hives, the bees enjoy working and make more honey than they need, and by the use of pesticides they are protected from deadly mites, parasites and fungi that are killing wild bee colonies. Beekeepers are also keen to point out that although it does happen on large commercial bee farms, they themselves do not kill off the bees or destroy their hives.
Sadly the numbers of small, caring, ethical beekeepers is far outweighed by the huge commercial bee farms meeting the demand of even bigger commercial companies wanting large quantities of cheap product, regardless of the cost to the bees.
And the question of exploitation remains as the bees are still kept and farmed for their monetary value.
It is therefore important to choose cruelty-free natural and organic beauty products. This is not as easy as it sounds. Beeswax is a predominant ingredient in commercial and natural skincare, but there are bee-friendly alternatives so read the literature, website information and product ingredients carefully.
It is not enough for skincare producers to claim to be against animal testing. If in doubt, ask!
A UK natural skincare company called Maia Skin Care (http://www.maiaskincare.co.uk) believes in using only cruelty-free ingredients. They do not use any bee product in their natural beauty products and have excellent green ethics. All their products are vegan-friendly and free from beeswax, honey and any other ingredients derived from bees.