Honeybees are one of the most useful insects for human beings. Besides honey, which is a nutrient-rich elixir for life, bees produce several other products that are equally, if not more, useful for humans. The bee by-products like beeswax, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis, bee venom, bee bread, and honeycomb are all produced by bees for various purposes. Since ancient times, people all over the world have been using these products to treat illnesses, and they continue to be the go-to options for boosting immunity the natural way during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Apitherapy or alternative therapy using products derived from honeybees was practiced by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese, among others. Conditions like arthritis, allergies, immune or neurologic diseases, thyroid, gingivitis, etc., were commonly cured using bee products.
Over the years, various pieces of research have proved the medicinal and healing properties of these products. Let’s take a detailed look at each of them and their varied benefits.
Worker bees secrete wax from their abdominal glands from a young age for building the walls of the honeycomb and sealing the cells filled with honey to preserve it. Freshly prepared beeswax is white, but it turns yellow with time due to the presence of pollen and propolis colorants in it. Beeswax contains various compounds like hydrocarbons, esters, and free acids. Over the years, this bee by-product has proved to be a beneficial component for medicines, cosmetics, and haircare products.
- Beeswax is a great moisturizing agent with anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- It soothes irritated skin and is, therefore, used as an ingredient in applicants for healing eczema and rosacea.
- It is also used in hair care products as it moisturizes hair, reduces hair loss, and helps stimulates growth. It helps hair retain moisture for a long time.
- Beeswax forms a layer on your skin to protect it from environmental irritants during extreme weather conditions.
- The by-product also has properties for relieving pain.
- Candles, lip balms, and salves made of beeswax are quite popular.
- It is used in aromatherapy as well.
2. Royal Jelly
Nurse bees secrete royal jelly from their hypopharynx glands to feed the larvae and the adult queens. It is white, brown, or gray to yellow and has a sour taste due to low pH. The gelatinous and viscous substance that becomes compact over time contains various minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids as well as sugars like glucose and fructose.
- Royal jelly fights anemia and lagging development in children.
- It helps treat viral infections, depression, anxiety, constipation, hypertension, diabetes, malnutrition, hormonal imbalances, and many more diseases in adults.
- This by-product has antibacterial, antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also beneficial for the immune system.
- It can directly be applied to stimulate the skin and the scalp and speeds up the process of wound healing.
- The jelly-like bee product is also recommended for curing symptoms related to menopause and PMS.
One of the most popular bee products, propolis, is a mixture of resins collected from flowers and leaf buds and beeswax. Bees use it to line the insides of the nest cavities and brood combs as well as to seal cracks within the hive. They also use propolis to seal dead animals that they cannot remove and mix it with beeswax to shut the brood cells. A significant product for the bees, its antifungal and antibacterial properties help protect the colonies from diseases and infections and restrain the growth of decomposing bacteria. The color, composition, odor, and medicinal properties of propolis may vary as per the regions, seasons, and plant species around the hives. It boasts a variety of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, fatty acids, polysaccharides, and polyphenols, among other things.
- Propolis is a natural antioxidant with antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
- It is used in medicines to cure inflammation, boost immunity, and reduce free radicals.
- It is a common ingredient in cosmetics and skin applicants due to its ability to help regenerate tissues.
- The by-product is also known for treating the cardiovascular system, respiratory infections, dental problems, wounds, burns, digestive problems, and more.
- Propolis also has some immune-boosting properties.
4. Bee Pollen
Honeybees tend to collect pollen from the flowers and bring them back to their hives, which is then enriched with their hormones and digestive enzymes. Bee pollen is basically a mixture of various substances like nectar, pollen, wax, honey, enzymes, and other bee secretions. The final product is used as food for the bee colony. This highly nutritious bee by-product stored in the form of tiny balls contains various active substances as well as nutrients, amino acids, lipids, and vitamins.
- Bee Pollen is rich in all the nutrients that humans need, making it a highly nutritious superfood.
- Containing vitamin B12, it boasts antiviral and antibacterial properties.
- The by-product is also used for lower cholesterol levels and strengthening capillaries.
- Active enzymes found in bee pollen help us fight multiple diseases like cancer, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and skin conditions like rash, eczema, and hives.
- Bee pollen is useful in boosting fertility, managing weight as well as strengthening immunity.
- It is frequently given to children to aid their physical and brain development.
5. Bee Bread
Bee bread is a source of protein produced by honeybees for the larvae and young ones. A mixture of pollen, lactic ferments, and honey is prepared and sealed within the cells of the honeycomb that turns into bee bread roughly after three months of fermentation. Like most other bee products, this by-product, too, contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, lactic acid, and amino acids, among other things. Bee bread stored carefully at room temperature tends to retain its beneficial properties for a very long time.
- A great source of energy, bee bread has detoxifying properties along with the ability to increase hemoglobin and boost energy.
- It is an immune-boosting product recommended for children and people with mineral and selenium deficiencies.
- Bee bread also reduces appetite, helps with weight management, and regulates cholesterol and triglycerides.
- This bee by-product is known for treating liver disorders, intestinal problems, and constipation.
6. Bee Venom
Bee venom has been used for thousands of years as a traditional medicine in various parts of the world. This colorless substance is acidic in nature and is excreted through the bee stingers. It contains enzymes, sugars, amino acids, and minerals, along with inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds. The peptides found in the bee venom do act like toxins, but they also possess pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the enzymes in this by-product also show immune-protective properties.
- Bee venom immunotherapy is given to people who are allergic to bee stings. It highly reduces the chances of getting a reaction for about a decade.
- Some clinical trials have proved that bee venom can treat inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis.
- It is believed to be beneficial for treating pain. Apipuncture, which is a form of acupuncture, is being tested for drug-free pain relief.
- Some of the other diseases that bee venom can treat include arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and frozen shoulder, among others.
Honeycomb is the home that honeybees build to store their honey, bee products, and their young ones. Constructed using propolis and beeswax, it features hexagonal cells that are filled with honey, bee pollen, bee bread, or royal jelly. This hive product is edible, including its waxy cells. Rich in carbohydrates and antioxidants, the honeycomb features pure, unfiltered honey intact with all the natural goodness, enzymes, and antioxidants. Considering that it contains all the beneficial bee products, it is quite a healthy product to eat.
- As honeycomb contains the goodness of all the bee products, it helps keep your heart healthy.
- Most of the bee products are antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial. Thus, honeycomb can help you keep infections at bay.
- Apart from honey, honeycomb can replace sugar in beverages, too.
- Honeycomb can also be consumed to cure respiratory tract infections and cough in children as its main ingredient is honey.
To sum it up, it is quite evident that whatever bees create is highly beneficial to human beings in some form or the other. While it is acceptable to use these products to treat various conditions, we need to be sure that the bees or their larvae are not harmed in the process of procuring them. Wholesale honey suppliers like BeeHively Group follow sustainable practices for harvesting honey and other bee by-products. Along with adopting only ethical means of beekeeping, the company is also committed to uplifting the beekeepers in countries like India, Bhutan, and Nepal, and delivering only raw, unprocessed honey around the world. BeeHively is doing its bit towards attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by promoting only bee-friendly techniques.