It is to the advantage of producers to find ways of adding value to bee products, as opposed to selling only the raw products. The manufacture of value-added products from beekeeping can involve various groups, some of whom may not be interested in actually keeping bees or have the means to do so. Honey, beeswax, pollen or propolis can be used in a variety of foods, cosmetics, ointments and other goods that can be made and sold locally, creating more livelihood opportunities.
Beeswax provides an excellent material for making high-quality soap. The main difficulty in soap production is obtaining and safely handling caustic soda (sodium hydroxide), which is an important ingredient. In some villages, people know the techniques required to produce ash for making caustic soda, and these methods can be used. There are many traditional ways of making soap that can be modified and improved by including beeswax. Beeswax used in soap must be of excellent quality - pure, golden or pale yellow in colour and not damaged by heat. If it is neatly made and attractively packaged, beeswax soap can bring a good price at market and is a popular product for sale to tourists.
It is easy to make profits from beeswax by manufacturing ointments or cosmetics. It is essential to work in hygienic conditions, and to have good knowledge of the ingredients and products and access to small containers for packaging and marketing. Making wax candles may be the easiest way to increase profits from harvested beeswax. In developing countries with tourist industries, batik art and small metal ornaments made by lost-wax casting - both processes use beeswax - can create livelihoods for artisans.
FIGURE 17 Using beeswax in the lost-wax casting method to make small metal ornaments for sale to tourists in Ghana.
FIGURE 18 Using beeswax in batik work (Malaysia).