I had not intended to bore visitors to the Hankerton village website with any further notes on beekeeping which is just one of several hobbies that have kept me occupied throughout the Covid restrictions to date. But it is raining heavily, and I noticed an article on the front page of the Times Newspaper headed “If you need to beat a cough, honey takes the biscuit” written by the health correspondent. The opening sentence reads “Honey is more effective than standard over-the-counter medicines at combating coughs and sore throats, a study has said”. I am tempted to say cynically “so what’s new” but now it has prompted me to write a few words on the PRODUCTS OF THE BEEHIVE.
Briefly they are: Honey, Pollen, Royal Jelly, Propolis and Wax. I have written about honey before so here are just brief descriptions of the rest.
Pollen is extremely rich in protein and contains all the essential amino acids, various fatty acids, vitamins B,C,D,E and K, and provitamin A. Bees get covered in pollen as they collect nectar from plants they then enrich it with different ferments, hormones and antibiotic substances. Beekeepers often install ‘pollen traps’ to collect the pollen from the bees as they enter the hive. Pollen can be purchased from many health stores and it is recommended to soak pollen before ingesting to swell the gains and dissolve. I eat a small amount of pollen every day, but pollen can cause allergies in some people.
Royal jelly improves general wellbeing and brain function and is an excellent dietary supplement for the elderly. Bee larvae are fed the jelly up to being three days old whereas the queen bees live exclusively on it. The jelly can be ingested in small quantities fresh or in preparations. It can be mixed with honey, pollen, wax or propolis. Like pollen it can cause allergies in some people.
Propolis is the beehive’s incredibly special treasure because it is a natural antibiotic. Bees coat the inside of the hive with propolis, thus protecting it from moisture, wind, and microbes. We know of various pharmaceutical preparation made from propolis, such as ointments, tablets and solutions that can be used topically. I use propolis tincture to ease sore throat and cold sores.
Wax – for softer and younger looking skin. Wax is produced by the glands of a worker bee, which they then use to build the honeycomb and to seal the top of honey filled cells. Beeswax contains over 300 natural compounds, among which the main component is fatty-acid esters. Wax is used in the cosmetic industry in face balms to keep skin soft and supple. Its more obvious use is the production of candles which burn with a pleasant smell of honey, propolis and pollen. In the past I have made candles, furniture creams, furniture polish and supplied small quantities of pure wax to the jewellery trade.
Bee Venom is an indispensable ingredient used to desensitise against bee stings. Venom is known for its therapeutic properties: it’s used, for example, to help control pain related to arthritis. Most people know bees for their sting. However, they need a particularly good reason to sting. If you encounter bees remember they only sting if their life is seriously threatened. But in front of a beehive a quite different story holds true, there guard bees patrol diligently the hive entrance to ensure no predators get into the hive and kill either the bees or feed on the larvae. Human beings are a predator!