Beeswax vs. Propolis

What's the Difference?

Beeswax and propolis are both natural substances produced by bees, but they have different properties and uses. Beeswax is a waxy substance secreted by worker bees to build honeycomb cells. It is known for its versatility and is commonly used in various industries, such as cosmetics, candles, and even as a food additive. Beeswax has a high melting point and is often used for its waterproofing and protective properties. On the other hand, propolis is a resinous substance collected by bees from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used by bees to seal and protect their hives from external threats. Propolis is known for its antimicrobial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties, making it a popular ingredient in natural remedies and health products. While both beeswax and propolis are valuable substances produced by bees, they serve different purposes and offer distinct benefits.


Photo by Meggyn Pomerleau on Unsplash
SourceProduced by bees in the form of wax scalesCollected by bees from tree buds, sap flows, and other botanical sources
CompositionPrimarily made up of esters, hydrocarbons, and fatty acidsContains resins, waxes, essential oils, and pollen
ColorYellow or brownDark brown or greenish-brown
TextureHard and brittle when cool, soft and pliable when warmSticky and resinous
UsageUsed by bees to build honeycomb cells and store honeyUsed by bees to seal and reinforce the hive, protect against pathogens, and embalm intruders
Medicinal PropertiesAntibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizingAntimicrobial, antifungal, and antioxidant
ApplicationsCosmetics, candles, woodworking, and pharmaceuticalsHealth supplements, skincare, and dental products
Photo by Flash Dantz on Unsplash

Further Detail


Beeswax and propolis are two remarkable substances produced by bees, each with its own unique set of attributes and benefits. While both are derived from bees, they serve different purposes within the hive and have distinct characteristics. In this article, we will explore the attributes of beeswax and propolis, highlighting their composition, uses, and potential health benefits.


Beeswax is a natural wax secreted by worker bees. It is produced in specialized glands located on the underside of their abdomens. The bees then use the wax to construct the hexagonal cells of the honeycomb, providing a structure for storing honey, pollen, and raising brood. Beeswax is composed primarily of esters, fatty acids, and hydrocarbons, giving it a unique chemical composition.

One of the key attributes of beeswax is its versatility. It has been used for centuries in various industries, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and candle making. Due to its high melting point and pliability, beeswax is an excellent ingredient in skincare products, providing a protective barrier while allowing the skin to breathe. It also offers a natural alternative to synthetic waxes and petroleum-based products.

Furthermore, beeswax possesses antimicrobial properties, making it an ideal ingredient for healing balms and ointments. It helps soothe and protect the skin, promoting the healing of minor cuts, burns, and wounds. Additionally, beeswax candles are known for their clean-burning properties, emitting little to no soot or toxins, unlike their paraffin counterparts.

Beeswax is also valued for its cosmetic benefits. It can help retain moisture in the skin, keeping it hydrated and supple. Many lip balms and moisturizers contain beeswax due to its emollient properties. Moreover, beeswax can add texture and thickness to hair care products, providing hold and shine without the use of synthetic chemicals.

In summary, beeswax is a versatile substance with numerous applications. Its chemical composition, protective properties, and cosmetic benefits make it a valuable resource in various industries.


Propolis, often referred to as "bee glue," is a resinous substance collected by bees from tree buds, sap flows, and other botanical sources. The bees then mix the resin with beeswax, pollen, and enzymes to create propolis. This sticky substance is used by bees to seal cracks, reinforce the hive structure, and protect against external threats such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

One of the remarkable attributes of propolis is its antimicrobial properties. Bees use propolis as a natural disinfectant, lining the hive walls and cells to create a hygienic environment. This antimicrobial action is attributed to the presence of flavonoids, phenolic acids, and other bioactive compounds found in propolis. These compounds have been studied for their potential health benefits in humans as well.

Propolis has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. It has been investigated for its potential to support oral health, with studies suggesting that propolis may help prevent dental plaque formation, reduce gum inflammation, and inhibit the growth of oral pathogens.

Furthermore, propolis has shown promise in wound healing, with research indicating its ability to promote tissue regeneration and accelerate the closure of wounds. It has also been studied for its potential anticancer properties, as some compounds found in propolis have demonstrated cytotoxic effects on cancer cells in laboratory studies.

While propolis offers numerous potential health benefits, it is important to note that individual responses may vary, and further research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms of action and therapeutic potential.


Beeswax and propolis are two remarkable substances produced by bees, each with its own unique attributes and benefits. Beeswax, with its versatile applications in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and candle making, offers protective and healing properties for the skin, while propolis, with its antimicrobial and potential health-promoting properties, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Both substances highlight the incredible ingenuity of bees and their ability to create natural resources that benefit not only their hive but also humans. Whether it's the pliability of beeswax or the antimicrobial action of propolis, these bee-derived substances continue to captivate and inspire researchers, innovators, and consumers alike.

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