(Bihar Times) Some weeks ago, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a person who makes a lifer in a mental asylum look reasonably normal, had a public meeting in Lucknow. During the meeting the podium was invaded by a few bees who buzzed and flew away. No one was bitten. That didn’t stop her from announcing that it was a plot against her life, instituting a police inquiry into bee terrorism and smashing every beehive in the city. This was followed by her supporters smashing beehives elsewhere in the state and, not to be outdone, supporters of other parties breaking beehives when their leaders came by for a speech. This will ensure that no pollination takes place in Uttar Pradesh and the crops and fruit grow even scantier. It certainly will stop all the marijuana ( bhang) grown all over. This week bees are topmost on my mind.
As the main pollinator of food crops, nuts, flowers, vegetables and fruits, the honeybee is the single most important insect for the human food chain . Four years ago scientists became alarmed when honeybees started to disappear. No explanation has yet been found for whole colonies continuing to vanish. Scientists blame genetically modified plants and pesticides, global warming and even mobile phone radiation. My opinion is that these intelligent and industrious creatures are fed up of working so hard only to have humans plunder all they produce. I refer here not to honey, but to something they toil even harder to make: beeswax.
Typically a bee colony consists of 20,000-80,000 bees , a majority of which are worker bees. Workers are all female and the smallest bees in the colony. They build and repair the hive, collect nectar and pollen, produce wax and honey, feed the queen and larvae and protect the hive against enemies.
Honeybees must fly 55,000 miles and visit 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey. In one trip, a worker will visit between 50 and 100 flowers. She will return to the hive carrying over half her weight in pollen and nectar, producing a total of about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in the course of her lifetime. Not only must these females fetch and make food but also find a way to store it for the whole hive for the whole year round. But creating storage proves even more arduous than producing honey.
Around the 10th day of their lives, worker bees develop special wax-producing glands in their abdomens. For a whole week thereon, they cluster in large numbers and eat lots of honey to raise their body temperature. The glands convert the sugar in the honey into wax, which seeps through small pores in the bee's body leaving tiny white flakes about the size of a pinhead on her abdomen. Other worker bees ‘harvest’ these tiny transparent wax scales and chew them until they turn opaque. It takes 1100 of these flecks to make one gram of wax. The wax is then moulded into honeycombs to store honey. Honeycombs consist of six-sided tubes which are filled with honey and sealed off with more wax. Mathematicians have figured out this hexagonal shape is the most efficient – using less wax for the volume of honey held than any other design. The hive temperature which stays at around 35 degrees Celsius as a result of the cluster of bees, keeps the wax at just the right consistency-- not too hot to drip and not too cold to be brittle.
It takes about 8 to10 lbs of honey to produce 1lb of wax. It is estimated that bees fly 150,000 miles or roughly six times around the earth to yield one pound of beeswax. That means 530,000 km per kg !
After all this work, humans take the wax.
Beeswax is the purified wax obtained from melting the honeycomb of the bee, Apis mellifera, with boiling water, straining it, and cooling it. But first the bees have to be driven out of their home. So smoke is blown into the hives. Then, a “bee brush” is used to crudely sweep away the bees who rush out from the hive. In sweeping them aside, the wire fibres break their legs and wings. Bee farmers then remove the honey and the honeycomb, which is, of course, the hive’s main source of nourishment. Larvae and eggs are of course destroyed in the process.
Having wrecked their home and robbed something they've worked hard for and are willing to defend with their lives, what do we do with beeswax ? Is it critical to our lives? No, the principal use to which we put this precious substance is candles and cosmetics! In fact , you would never guess the mighty effort put in by bees to produce beeswax from the way it is so cheaply and widely used by humans.
As the bees vanish, take a look at the irrelevant uses of beeswax and the many alternatives available.
The use of beeswax is not new. Early Romans fashioned coins from beeswax to pay their taxes. Egyptians used it to protect the surface of painting in their tombs. The Greeks made dolls from it while the Persians embalmed their dead with it. Today beeswax (or cera alba as it is listed on ingredients labels) is used as an emulsifier and thickener for cleansing creams, cold creams and lotions, emollient and barrier creams , depilatories, lipsticks and lip balms, nail creams, sun protection products, eye and face make up, foundation creams, moustache wax and hair pomades. Other uses include golf club grip wax, leather softeners, polishing materials particularly shoe and furniture polish, modeling waxes, and filling the screw holes and seams in pool tables.
Cosmetics account for 60% of the use of beeswax. However after millions of bees have been killed skincare manufacturers have found beeswax to be harmful as it does not permit the skin to breathe. Beeswax in lipstick, for instance, clogs your lips causing them to crack. It is equally harmful for hair as wax neither gets absorbed nor does it moisturize it. Instead it does nothing but cause a buildup of dirt and breakage. It seals the hair preventing any absorption of moisture. For people with bee allergies, products containing beeswax can pose a serious health hazard.
Alternatives to beeswax in cosmetics include Ceresin, Ceresine, Earth Wax, made from the mineral ozokerite. It can also be used to wax paper, to make polishing cloths, in dentistry for taking wax impressions and in candle-making. Carnauba wax from the Brazilian palm tree is already used in many cosmetics, including lipstick and rarely causes allergic reactions. Similarly Candelilla wax from Candelilla plants is used in many cosmetics, including lipstick and has no known toxicity. It can also be used in the manufacture of rubber, phonograph records, in waterproofing and writing inks. Plus there is Japan wax/tallow obtained from the fruit of a tree grown in Japan and China. Other products like cocoa butter or shea butter also make effective substitutes. The second major use of beeswax is for candles. While the candle dates back to about 400 B.C., beeswax candles didn't emerge until the Middle Ages. The reason: the Catholic Church, required all religious candles to be 100% beeswax since it was produced by virgin bees which typified the flesh of Jesus Christ born of a virgin mother!
There are decorative and practical household candles that are made from soy and plant and sugar waxes instead of beeswax , ingredients that are kind to the environment, as well as to your health, and which do not depend on killing and stealing from animals.
With so many alternatives to bee-products on the market these days there is no justification for threatening the survival of these wondrous creatures. Einstein predicted that if bees disappear from our planet, mankind will perish soon after . The choice seems clear : do we want facecream or life itself?
To join the animal welfare movement contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Honeybee-the insect for human food chain
Why do dogs bark
Characteristics of varieties of caterpillars
Emotional Complexity of Animals
Meat eating causes diseases
Rat in Hindu mythology
Which animal you are
Man’s alter ego-an Animal
Career in management of welfare of Animals
Profession of Pet grooming
What you Eat When you Eat Processed Meat
How to train a dog to make it useful
The Purpose of Minor Beings in Our Ecosystem
Cruelty to Bears in Pakistan
How Onion Drives Away Viruses
How to save an animal from burn injury
Production of Honey is cruelty to Bee
Meat eating causes Global warming
Hazards of fish factories
Growth of a bird till it flies
Creatures of the world live and help live
Killing a snake brings bad luck
Effects of the startle Reflex on Animals
Awaken Your Soul by Loving Animals
Feeling of grief in Animals
Altruism in Animals
Music Soothes Animals
How Animals recognize their Kins
Animals teach their offspring like human moms
Cruelty to Animals in Slaughter houses
What is the secret to a perfect life and happiness?
How is Ghee being adulterated ?
Difference between a man & an animal
Homosexuality Is Not Against Nature In Animal Kingdom
Programmes for improving Animal Welfare
Promiscuity in mating behaviour of Birds
Uses for slaughtered Animals accelerate killing of Animals
Slingshots & Catapults Destroy Wild Life
Human Intelligibility of Animals
Animal grooming of offspring is worth emulating
Illegal Trade of Killing Cattle
Eating Cattle Meat Causes E Coli Infection
Some tips on making Puppies’ life comfortable
Some tips on keeping kittens clean
Snake skin trade dangerous for eco system
Dog shows are not for dog lovers but for moneymakers and charlatans
Political agenda for Animal welfare needed
How foolish it is to kill Sea creatures for Ornaments
Infectious diseases from Animals to Humans
How pitiable is Rabbit farming?
Remedies for Animal ailments
Infected Pig Meat Risks Your Life
Animals spread dangerous Ebola virus to humans
Animals Have More Sense
Municipal Policy on hazards of pet shops
Mutualism makes Species of the nature flourish
Adoption Fair for Puppies
How Animals behave in packs
Why People prefer dogs and cats to human beings
Positive effects of spaying and neutering on pets
Mammals & Birds cry like human beings
Biomemetics Provides solution to human problems
Chinese food products- the greatest killer
Pets make better partners than humans
How harmful is the Packaged Meat
Stop Slaughter of Cows for Bone Trade
How cruel it is to dump pet animals ? view comments...
Don’t hurt animals on festive occasions
Let the earth beings survive
Glues are made of animal remains
Meat increases risk of cancer
Birds provide springboard to song composers
Is it not an act of Cannibalism?
How many animals do you have to eat before you become man ?
To eat or not to eat Meat
Insulin from Animals
Is It Healthy Decision to Promote Rat Eating in Bihar
Use of Animal bones in Porcelain
Infection of Tick disease in Dogs and its cure
Vegetarian diet is the best diet for human beings
Non-Veg Diet causes Dementia
Excuses for being non-vegetarians
Body odour of Non-vegetarians
MEAT threatens Planet’s Survival
Am I smarter than you ? Yes, if you are a meat eater.
Need to orient educational system to deal with animals
How to Avoid Cruelty to Gold Fish?
How To Make Everyday An Animal day
Are Eggs Vegetarian?
Are You One of these People ?
Use of Animal Fats in Cosmetics Industries
Killing of endangered Species for Perfume Industries
Missionary Campaign to Control Cruelty to Animals- needed
Drink Milk, Get Sick
Parents Create Monsters
The Business of Murder:Factory Farming and the Meat Industry in India
Effect of landscaping of birds on environment
Dangers of killing deep Sea-Sharks for Cosmetic Products
Use of dog in diagnosis of diseases
Sacred Nature of Neelkanth
Cruelty to Polo Ponies comments...
Self-Regulation of Population by Animals
Dangers of Animal meat eating
Arsenic poison in chicken feed
Cruelty to Animals by Govt. Vets
Worship of God with Blood and Suffering of Animals and Birds
Consequences of Chloramphenicol in Shrimp Industry
Hazards of Trade in Peacocks’ Feather
Supreme Court Ban on cruelty to Animals
Are you a Bad Pet Owner?
The Goat That Laughed and Wept
Animal Owners’ personality traits resemble their Pets’
Human Propensities of Goat
sacrifice at the altar of religion
as foster parent
feed from rendering plant
Intelligence of Birds
Human Propensities of Cow