We all know bees make honey, but the harvest of this little industrious worker doesn’t just stop there.
Apart from the small matter of pollinating 30% of everything we eat and 90% of wild flowers, bees also give us a range of products that are useful in many different ways.
Beeswax is literally a wax that is secreted by the bee through its skin. Used for thousands of years as one of the first plastics, beeswax never goes bad, and has been found in the wrecks of Viking ships, the Pyramids of Egypt and in Roman ruins.
We use beeswax differently compared to bee pollen, as it has little nutritional value but instead has many practical uses.
Historically, beeswax has been used as candles, bow making and even as a type of filling for tooth decay. Today’s modern uses are predominantly in the cosmetic industry, and it can be found in lip balm, gloss, moisturisers, hand and face cream, and hair products.
Bee pollen is considered to be one of the most all-round foods we can consume. It’s high in nearly all nutrients which are required by humans. It is richer in proteins than any other animal source, including eggs. High in amino acids, folic acid and vitamins, bee pollen is a superfood that’s unsurpassed in the natural world.
There are a lot of myths around royal jelly, and also a lot of misinformation.
It’s commonly believed that the Queen produces royal jelly, but this isn’t true. Royal jelly is produced by the worker bees and fed to all larvae in the hive for three days. If the colony needs a new Queen, then some of the larvae will be kept in special cells and continuously fed on the royal jelly, instead of stopping after three days like the rest. This triggers a change in the development of the larvae, and a Queen will emerge instead of a worker bee.
Royal jelly is consumed around the world, and is especially popular in Asia. Like most bee products, royal jelly is high in amino acids, proteins, lipids, natural hormones, minerals, folic acid, fatty acids and Vitamin B.
Aiptoxin, also known as bee venom, is the poison that bees inject through their stinger. It is used today in several important areas, most notably in immunotherapy. This is when people who are allergic to bee stings are given a small amount of the toxin in order to get their body used to it.
Bee venom is also commonly used in cosmetics, added to specialist creams and lotions. The idea is that the venom fools the skin into thinking it has been stung, and so sends a rush of blood to the area to fight the invading poison. The result is an increase in collagen and elastin, which some experts say make the skin look and feel younger.
We have a lot to thank bees for. Not only do they produce the superfood that is honey, but even their by-products are incredibly useful to use. From the earliest plastics through to modern day moisturisers, bees have been helping mankind with everything.