The ancient art of beekeeping, first practiced by early Greeks and Egyptians, yields beautiful products and provides an important link in the cycle of plant pollination. In the past few years, the growing appreciation for local, naturally sourced food and health products has led more city residents to try their hand at keeping bees.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about bees, of course, is honey. Your local farmer’s market may well have a table selling raw honey, and because this honey has never been heated, it will have a rich, wild flavor that’s generally better than brand-name grocery-store honey. Next time you shop for honey and hesitate at the high price, consider the fact that it takes 60,000 bees, visiting more than 2 million flowers, to make just one single pound of honey!
In addition to being a delicious food, honey has some important virtues as a health aid and cosmetic ingredient. Sore throats and coughs are soothed by honey, and one study found that a spoonful at bedtime provided more cough relief than over-the-counter cough medicines. Raw honey is also known for helping allergy sufferers because it contains grains of actual pollen that gently desensitize the person to a particular set of plants. In many healing traditions, honey serves as an antiseptic for cuts and a beneficial dressing for burns and eye infections. Whenever I'm feeling under the weather, I like to add a spoonful of honey to hot, lemon water to soothe my sore throat -- works like a charm!
Honey is also used in cosmetic skin care preparations. You can shop from numerous suppliers of honey-based products, such as Marin Bee Company or you can try your hand at making some of your own at home. Honey.com and One Good Thing have some recipes to get you started.
Bee pollen can be used for both its nutritional value as well as its allergy-fighting qualities. Bee pollen is one of nature's most powerful nutrients in a tiny package, since it is 35% protein and contains dozens of crucial nutrients. Many athletes swear by it as a non-pharmaceutical energy source, and it has been found beneficial in numerous issues including weight loss, fertility, and tumor control. I take the Bee Pollen Granules (top photo, all the way to the left - yellow label) which I pick up at my local Whole Foods Store. I like to take a teaspoon of Bee Pollen 2-3x a week, generally, when I may be feeling a bit run down or need a little boost of energy.
Just a few of the many health boosting benefits are:
- High alkaline food which helps to balance the bodys pH levels
- Super high in antioxidants
- Increase strength, energy & performance
- Great source of B Vitamins & Amino Acids
I will go ahead and let you know that Bee Pollen doesn't taste all that great and has a bit of a chalkiness to it...But its only a small teaspoon's worth and its over quickly. So take it down with some water and Cheers to your health! ;)
Another interesting product that bees produce, although in far smaller quantity, is propolis. This is the sticky resin that bees use to stop up gaps and leaks in their hives. A powerful antioxidant and healing agent, propolis can be ingested in capsules, chewed, or applied to the skin. Living Green Magazine tells about propolis in more detail, if you'd like to read some more info..just click the link above.
The most fascinating creation of the bees, however, is royal jelly. The bees create this nutritious substance, and use it to feed their larvae. Due solely to a component in the royal jelly, an ordinary larva intended for a 6-week lifespan is transformed into a maturing queen who can live for more than 3 years! Royal jelly is said to have anti-aging, anti-depressant and anti-oxidant qualities, and can be purchased from bee farms or natural foods suppliers.