Bees – More Than Just Honey
Bees are truly miraculous creatures, as they produce some of the most profoundly beneficial and nutritious substances available to man. Sadly the decline of the bee population in recent years has meant that entitre populations have mysteriously disappeared and this poses a serious problem to mankind (it is thought that wireless technology may have seriously distorted the navigational system of bees). Bees are responsible foremost for the pollinatation of crops that make up a third of the food we eat. Supporting commercial beehive producers by buying bee products can help to ensure that we retain our bee population and we get to enjoy the myriad benefits of the various, highly valuable substances that bees produce…
Bee pollen is the food of the young bee, and a rich source of protein and vitamin B12. It certainly qualifies as a “super food,” as it contains nearly all the nutrients required by humans. Its protein is assimilated quickly by the body, and can contribute significantly to one’s protein needs. However, the effect of bee pollen on the body is more than the sum of its known nutrients, due to the fact that it actually contains remarkable substances that are yet to be identified by scientists! Pollen is considered an energy and nutritive tonic in Chinese medicine, and it is used for improving endurance and vitality, extending longevity, aiding recovery from chronic illness, and for preventing cancer. It is also known to reduce cravings and addictions, regulate the intestines, build blood and boost the immune system. Remarkably, it’s also effective as a remedy for hay fever and allergies. When taking bee pollen, one should be mindful of the fact that it requires each bee to work eight hours a day for one month, to gather enough pollen for a 6-gram dose. One teaspoon contains 2.5 billion grains of flower pollen.
Propolis is a mixture of viscous gums, resins and balms collected from the buds and bark of some trees, vegetables, and flowers, by bees. When bees return to their hives, these plant substances are mixed with beeswax and bee saliva to repair damage to the hives. Propolis is generally used as an immune-booster and has particular anti-fungal properties. It also has an antibiotic effect. It is believed to be a strong anti-oxidant as well.
Royal Jelly is the food of infant bees and the only food consumed by the queen bee. It is made by nurse bees, who chew pollen and mix it with secretions from glands in the top of their heads. Royal Jelly is also an energy and nutritive tonic, but to a far greater degree than bee pollen. It has a stronger effect on the glandular system and is known to strengthen the reproductive systems of men and women. It has been used with success to treat malnutrition in children, arthritis, and leukemia. It may also be taken by those in need of rich animal nutrition, but prefer not to eat meat. It is wise, however, to be aware of the tremendous energy expended by bees in making royal jelly, and to use this nutritional elixir mindfully.
Bee Venom and Bee Sting Therapy
Bee venom is the substance in a bee’s sting, and is a rich source of enzymes, peptides and biogenic amines. There are at least 18 active components in the venom. Bee sting therapy is practiced by “apitherapists” and has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments such as arthritis, rheumatism, back pain, skin diseases and in this modern age as an alternative therapy to treat multiple sclerosis, tick bite diseases, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Scientists believe it can modify the way the immune system functions in the body and contribute to increased cortisol production.
Beeswax is a liquid secreted by the honey bee and used to construct the honey comb. The semi solid substance is molded into six sized cells which are filled with honey and sealed with more wax. Beeswax remain biologically active after being processed and is composed of high levels of fatty acids. These fatty acids are vital in manufacturing and repairing cell membranes, thus allowing cells to maintain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products. Beeswax is also rich in a variety of vitamins such as Vitamin E (rich in anti-oxidants, the powerful bodies that fight against harmful oxides and free radicals that cause ageing) and Vitamin A (essential for cell development and repair). Beeswax is also highly sought after emulsifier for cosmetic uses and has a natural hydrating agent that penetrates through the skin’s surface without clogging pores.
People often replace refined white sugar with equal amounts of honey. Although it is a healthier option, it is important to note that honey is highly refined by bees and has more calories than white sugar. It is even sweeter than white sugar, and has a high glycaemic load, meaning it is absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream. However, honey does contain useful minerals and enzymes and does not upset the body’s mineral balance as much as refined sugar. All types of honey have been used to harmonise the liver, neutralise toxins, and relieve pain. Raw, unprocessed honey is able to help dry up excess mucus, and is generally believed to retain its health benefits much better than pasteurised honey.
Scientists recently discovered that Manuka honey, also known as jelly bush honey, acts as a remarkably strong antibiotic. Found in New Zealand and Australia, Manuka honey killed every bacteria or pathogen that scientists threw at it, even “super bugs” that are resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics. Look out for new honey-based products that replace antibiotics and antiseptic creams!
Bee Beauty Products
Bee Natural, a South African company whose products are found in pharmacies and health stores, use beeswax and raw honey to produce a variety of rich skin balms, as well as soaps, body butter, and eczema cream. Bee Natural include previously disadvantaged woman in the production of their products and are commited to conserving and respecting their natural surroundings. They say that their products try undo a historically chemical-laden past and pave the way and form part of the natural skin-care revolution.
By Debbie Banda