The Truth about Bee Products in Skincare

By Rhyan Schmidt / 20 May 2024

The Truth about Bee Products in Skincare

Happy World Bee Day!

As we celebrate this amazing pollinator, I’d like to take a moment to examine the trend of using bee products in the beauty and skincare industries. There are a handful of bee products that are used in skincare and beauty including Beeswax, Honey, Propolis, and Royal JellyWhile these may have healing and restorative properties, there is also a downside to their use. Let’s take a look at some information about bees, how they produce these products, and what the global impact of harvesting their products looks like. Then you can understand why Pour Moi Skincare doesn’t use these products and you can make better informed decisions on your future skincare purchases.

How the Bees Use These Products
Bees are incredibly resourceful creatures and make full use of everything they produce. Here’s how:

  • Contrary to popular belief, honey is neither a waste product, nor is it “bee vomit.” Honey is the bee’s entire food source. Bees spend the entire year collecting pollen to turn it into honey so they have food to carry them through the hibernating, winter months. Each individual bee in the hive flies thousands of miles and only makes about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its entire 60 day life!
  • Beeswax is how they store their honey. Young bees produce a waxy secretion that is then molded by an assembly line of bees into hexagonal formation, otherwise known as honeycomb.
  • Royal Jelly is fed to larvae that have been specifically selected to be the new Queens, as it is the highest in nutritional value and many other key components.
  • Propolis is used to smooth surfaces and seal edges within the hive, allowing the colony to control the airflow. More importantly, its antimicrobial properties are used to fight off infections in the colony.


Did You Know: Bees fly nearly 5,400 miles just to collect enough pollen to make a single average sized bottle (about 15 ounces) of honey you buy from the grocery store? 

Why not use beauty and skincare products that contain these ingredients?
Aside from the ethical dilemma (which we’ll get into later), studies from the National LIbrary of Medicine have found several reasons why we shouldn’t use these ingredients. First, there is a lack of standardization, toxicological research and regulations. Meaning, there’s a lot we don’t know about what is in bee products and how safe they are to use. This is because, much like Pour Moi’s products, the composition of bee products is entirely dependent on their region and climate! Bees accumulate all sorts of environmental pollutants through their foraging, which are then transported back to the hive and transferred to us through honey, pollen, jelly, and beeswax. This includes pollution, pesticides, and worse - heavy metals - including chromium, mercury, lead, arsenic, and more. Long term use or ingestion of these tainted bee products can lead to things like antibiotic resistance, carcinogenesis (the initiation of cancer), teratogenesis (the malformation of a fetus in utero), and mutagenesis (genetic mutations).

The ethical dilemma.
While one could look at bees as just another insect, and thereby easily refute an ethical dilemma in the harvesting of their byproducts, we need to take a look not only at how these products are harvested, but also the economical and environmental impact.

In order to harvest Royal Jelly, beekeepers place frames with cells containing Queen eggs in a Queenless hive so that the worker bees deposit large amounts of Royal Jelly. After a couple of days, these now full frames are harvested and the bee larvae are discarded and destroyed, resulting in a loss of thousands of new bees. Moreover, because beekeepers interbreed species, diseases are introduced to the hives which then spread to other pollinators from birds to bats to small mammals.

Propolis is created when bees mix their own secretions with evergreen tree sap. This is mainly used as medicine for the colony. When we harvest propolis, it undermines the immunity of the hive by removing their only way to defend themselves against introduced diseases.

In the case of beeswax, we are the ones that face the problems. In 2018, a study found that more than 75% of beeswax samples contained levels of miticides far above the safe levels. Additionally, in order to cut costs in production, beeswax is often cut with paraffin. Paraffin is a derivative of crude oil and contains carcinogens and pollutants.

When it comes to honey - that delicious nectar the bees use to survive - when beekeepers harvest it, the bee is left with no food to get them through the winter. To solve this problem, one of two things occur: the farmer either kills the entire hive and starts from scratch the next season or they replace the honey with a sugar solution that has no nutritional value. This often leads to malnutrition and a weaker colony that is now susceptible to starvation and disease.

Finally, lest you think of bees as nothing more than a mindless insect that feels no impact of our actions, consider zoologist Dr. Geraldine Wright. After a lengthy study on bees, she concluded that “... when a honeybee is subjected to a manipulation of its state that in humans would induce a feeling of anxiety, the bees show a similar suite of changes in physiology, cognition and behavior to those we would measure in an anxious human. There is enough possibility for bees to have a developed sense of fear, anxiety and pain that the industrial beekeeping is not just unnecessary, but maybe even inhumane.”

Why Are Bees in Danger?
Of the 20,000 bee species worldwide, we here in the United States manage a very small percentage of the nearly 4,000 native species. Of those native species, nearly 30% are considered “threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are many factors that contribute to this alarming number - let’s take a look at a few of them.

Pesticides play the largest role in the threat of bees. California plays a large part in this as it transports nearly 70% of the US farmed bee population to its Central Valley in the spring to aid in the almond crop pollination. Bringing bees in from all over the country and relegating them to one area quickly spreads disease from one hive to another. Particularly in the growth of almonds in this region, the pesticide RoundUp is utilized. In fact, a particular toxin related to pesticides called neonicotinoids can be found in the pollen of the plants the bees are feasting on. Once eaten, this toxin causes paralysis and death in bees. Additionally, concentrating such a large number of bees to this one area and singular crop, provides incredibly low nutrition, resulting in fewer larvae being produced.

To put it simply, bees are the lifeblood of the planet! They are solely responsible for pollinating one sixth of all flowering plants on the planet and over 400 species of agricultural plants - that’s about 80% of all food crops! Without them, there would be no more nuts, coffee, cocoa, or fruits and vegetables. The absence of which could cause an economic collapse and nutritional deficiencies in our diet.

What Can We Do To Help?
Below are just a couple of ways you can help, not only the bees, but our food production and planet.

  1. Instead of adding honey to your food, try plant-based alternatives like agave
  2. Try to choose organic foods - our dollars are our votes and support for these amazing creatures.
  3. Plant a garden with flowering plants around your home or use organic seed bombs to grow a little patch of flowers around your city. Just toss it out onto any patch of dirt and let the rain and nature take its course!
  4. I know those beeswax kitchen tools and accessories are all the rage right now because they are a great alternative to plastics, but consider using other alternatives and let the bees keep their nurseries and storage units!
  5. Most importantly - choose beauty and skincare products, like Pour Moi Skincare, that contain no bee byproducts and are certified cruelty free!