5 treasures from Mother Nature’s very own Aladdin’s Cave
Ever wish you could rub a magic lamp and summon a genie who could give you the gift of a long, healthy life? Well it may not be as much of a fairy tale as you think, because the remarkable bee hive has provided humankind with nutritious, medicinal and immune supporting treasures for thousands of years.
Apiculture (or beekeeping) is all about prolonging, sustaining, and maintaining health by using the gifts from the beehive. Apiculture goes back as far as pre-historic times, when ancient man first discovered the bounties of the beehive.
The beehive is nature’s most extraordinary manufacturing plant. It’s open 24/7, every day of every year, and its tiny, tireless workers produce 5 incredible substances that can’t be replicated, or synthesised in a laboratory.
Let’s look at the life-sustaining, health-enhancing properties of these products.
Pollen is the male seed of flowering plants. Honey bees gather it from the antlers of plants. They mix it with a small amount of nectar or secretion from their salivary glands, and it becomes ‘bee bread’, which is fed to young bees in the colony.
This bread is placed in little collection baskets called corbiculae on the back of the bees’ legs and taken back to the hive. The pollen is stuffed into the honeycomb along with a small amount of honey and sealed with wax. In here it ferments and becomes the basic protein source for the bee colony and the source of nutritional and mineral substances for royal jelly. To collect pollen for human consumption, beekeepers place pollen traps in the hives to gather some of the pollen. Bees never starve, they always produce enough pollen to adjust to the demands of the colony.
Pollen is one of the most nutritionally rich substances on the planet. It has all the nutritional elements needed for complete health, boosting energy, as well as providing support for the body’s natural immunity and so much more. Find out more about the amazing health benefits of bee pollen here.
Honey was one of the first valued and appreciated substances discovered, due to its delicious sweet flavour. Studies have confirmed that honey has incredible health properties. It’s an antiseptic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antipyretic and an anti-inflammatory. It’s easy to digest, helps rehydrate skin, and helps support your body’s natural immunity.
Honey is composed of a mixture of water and complex sugars and is produced from the sweet nectar of plants
The nectar is swallowed by the bees, partially digested and regurgitated many times, then stored in honeycomb cells to dry. At this stage the raw honey still contains water and also yeast. The worker bees use their wings to ‘fan’ the cells, evaporating the water. Once dried, the cells of the honeycomb are sealed with wax to preserve the honey.
Honey is a mixture of proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other compounds, and contains a number of other enzymes.
Propolis is sometimes called ‘bee glue,’ and is a term for plant resins that honey bees collect and deposit throughout the hive. This resin plays many roles within the hive such as waterproofing, temperature regulation and protecting from fungal and microbial invasion. This supports the health, well-being and lifespan of the bees, helping make the hive one of the most sterile environments in nature.
Studies have supported findings that propolis has great health benefits for humans too. It also has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-ulcer, and immunomodulatory properties.
Propolis has many benefits and uses. It can be used to treat digestive disorders, as well as orally to help with all kinds of dental and gum issues. Topically it can be used as an anti-fungal treatment as well as an anti-inflammatory for skin disorders.
This amazing substance is a mixture of proteins, sugars and lipids, which are secreted by worker bees and fed as a “superfood” to the queen bee. This accounts for the fact that she grows much larger than the workers, can lay around 2,000 eggs a day, and can live for up to five years, where the workers live for about 40 days.
Royal jelly is used by humans as a dietary nutritional complex with various health benefits. Many people use it as a natural antibacterial, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Some report it helps reduce PMS and menopausal symptoms, and aids in wound healing and anti-ageing.
While beeswax is not actually consumed, it has many uses for humans, and is a natural alternative to many factory produced items containing petrochemicals.
Beeswax comes from the wax-producing glands of the worker bees. It’s used to form cells for honey-storage and to protect the eggs and larvae inside the beehive. Chemically, beeswax is made up primarily of esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols.
Environmentally, beeswax is a fantastic alternative to plastic, and can be used to seal and wrap foods. It’s also used in many skincare products and lip balms, as well as ear candles and decorative candles.
Who needs a genie or a magic lamp when you can have so many incredible products originating from one place, making the bee hive the very best source of nature’s greatest gifts.