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Bee Products Explained

By September 8, 2023February 21st, 2024Honey Blog

Bees are extraordinary creatures who play a vital role in our ecosystem. They not only pollinate our flowers and crops but create some of the most incredible products in the world.

Throughout history, humans have been fascinated by the bees and the products they create. Honey, Bee Pollen, Propolis, Royal Jelly and Beeswax have been used for centuries for their unique properties.

In recent years the popularity of bee products has grown, driven by the demand for natural products and healthier living.

Bees create a variety of products used in the hive as food, for the production of honey, and in the construction and maintenance of the hive.

There are six main products the bees create: Honey, Beeswax, Bee Pollen, Bee Bread, Propolis and Royal Jelly.

In this blog, we will explore the fascinating process of how bees make each product and the many benefits and uses of each on.

What is Beeswax 

Beeswax is a natural substance that the bees produce to construct their honeycomb. It is created by female worker bees who are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the hive.

How do bees make beeswax?

Beeswax is produced in special glands on the underside of the bee’s abdomen. The bees consume honey and the glands convert the sugar in the honey into wax.

The wax is then secreted through scales on the bee’s abdomen forming thin sheets or flakes.

The worker bees then take these flakes and manipulate them with their mandibles to create a malleable material suitable for comb construction.

Beeswax uses

Beeswax is used in cosmetics like lip balms, moisturisers and lotions due to its moisturising and anti-inflammatory properties. Beeswax candles are also popular due to their natural sweet scent and clear burn. Beeswax is also used as a natural polish and protectant for furniture makers.

What is Bee Pollen 

Bee Pollen is a natural superfood produced by honey bees when they gather pollen from different types of plants and flowers.

How do bees make bee pollen?

Bees create bee pollen by collecting pollen grains from flowers. The pollen grains stick to the bees’s body hair due to electrostatic forces and an oil secreted by glands on their legs.

Once the bee brings the pollen back to the hive, it is taken by other worker bees who pack and store it in the cells of the honeycomb. During the process, the bees add nectar, enzymes and other secretions to the pollen which transforms it into bee pollen.

Bee Pollen Uses 

Bee pollen is used not only as food but in skincare products for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can be found in face creams, toners and masks as a natural way to soothe irritated inflamed skin.

Bee Pollen can also be used in cooking to add flavour and nutrition to dishes. It has a sweet and floral taste depending on the specific flowers that it was gathered from.

Bee Pollen has many intake options, can be sprinkled over cereals, yogurt, oatmeal, salads or added to homemade granola and smoothies.

Good to know

Bee pollen may cause reactions in allergic or more sensitive people. It is not suitable for people with pollen or bee sting allergies, pregnant or lactating women should avoid pollen products, as they may cause symptoms such as itching, swelling, shortness of breath or anaphylaxis. If you are in doubt always consult with a specialist before using bee pollen.

What is Bee Bread 

Bees create bee bread to store excess pollen that they collect during the foraging process. Bee bread is fermented bee pollen.

Bee Bread is a natural probiotic as it contains live microorganisms, including lactic, acid bacteria and yeast. These microorganisms develop during the fermentation process, which occurs when bees store and mix pollen with their salivary enzymes and nectar in their hive.

How do bees make bee bread? 

Bees make bee bread by mixing already collected bee pollen with enzymes from their salivary glands and adding flower nectar or honey to the mixture. 

The bees then pack this mixture into cells in the brood combs, where it is allowed to ferment for a few days. 

The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of the nutrients, making it easier for the bees to digest and ensures shelf stability in case of periods without pollen supplies in the hive. 

This process leads to the transformation of bee pollen into a highly nutritious food called bee bread. 

Bee Bread Uses 

Bee Bread is mostly consumed as a dietary supplement, given its highly nutritious and medicinal properties.

Bee Bread could be consumed raw, dried, powdered, or encapsulated. It is available also as a mixture of Honeydew Honey with Bee Bread. 

Bee Bread is a natural probiotic as it contains live microorganisms, including lactic, acid bacteria and yeast. These microorganisms develop during the fermentation process, which occurs when bees store and mix pollen with their salivary enzymes and nectar in their hive. So Bee Bread contains prebiotic fibres and beneficial bacteria that support the balance of good bacteria in the digestive system. 

What is Propolis 

Propolis is a natural resinous substance produced by bees.

The word propolis is derived from the two Greek words – Pro, which means “defence”, and Polis “, community”

How do bees make propolis? 

Bees make propolis by collecting resins from trees and plants. They then mix these resins with bee saliva, wax and other substances to create a sticky, glue-like substance.

Bees use propolis as a sealant and disinfecting material. Propolis is used to seal holes and cracks, smooth the inner surface of the hive, retain internal temperature, and prevent weathering. Due to its antimicrobial activity propolis also contributes to an aseptic internal environment.

Propolis Uses 

Propolis is a versatile natural substance used for various health and wellness purposes.

Propolis is believed to boost the immune system, relieve sore throat and help heal wounds and skin infections. Propolis has also been studied for its potential treatment of respiratory infections and dental problems.

Propolis can be found on the market in different forms for external or internal use, including capsules, creams, sprays and lozenges. Another popular product made with propolis is Propolis Tincture. It is made by dissolving propolis in 70% ethyl alcohol and straining the precipitate.

Propolis contains around 50% resins, 30% waxes, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen and 5% various organic compounds. Propolis also contains antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids.

Good to know

While propolis is considered generally safe to use, it may cause an allergic reaction. Always consult with a specialist before using it.

What is Royal Jelly 

Royal Jelly is an essential component of the bee hive ecosystem and plays a vital role in the health and development of the colony.

How do bees make royal jelly?

Royal jelly is produced by the youngest worker bees in the hive. They develop a special gland in their head called “hypopharynx” which secretes a milky white substance that forms the base of royal jelly. The worker bees then collect nectar and pollen from the flowers and mix it with the white secretes to create a highly nutritious substance Royal Jelly.

Royal Jelly is used for several purposes in the bee hive. Firstly, it is the food source for the queen bee which only eats royal jelly during her entire life. The high concentration of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients in the jelly helps to sustain the queen bee’s long lifespan and her ability to reproduce.

Secondly, Royal Jelly is fed to larvae in the hive for the first few days to stimulate their growth and development into worker bees.

Royal Jelly Uses 

Royal Jelly is widely used in the cosmetics and wellness industry. It is often found in skincare and hair care products due to its high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Royal Jelly is also available as a dietary supplement and is believed to provide various health benefits such as improving immunity, reducing inflammation and enhancing brain function. It is available in various forms such as capsules, tablets and liquid extracts.

However, the most natural way to use Royal jelly is to mix it with bee honey. Honey with Royal Jelly combines the unique properties of both, it is easier for consumption and the honey naturally preserves all the ingredients in royal jelly even kept at room temperature. Alternatively on its own Royal Jelly must be refrigerated at no more than 6 C° (42.8°F).

Honey 

Honey is a sweet food substance produced by honey bees. The taste and exact composition of honey depend on the flowers and plants the bees collect nectar from.

How do bees make honey? 

Bees make honey through a complex process involving flower nectar collection, digestion and evaporation.

First step is the bees collecting flower nectar using their long tongues and storing it in their honey stomach.

In the honey stomach, the nectar is mixed with bee enzymes.

Once the worker bee returns to the hive it passes the nectar to another bee, called a house bee. The house bee adds more enzymes to the nectar and stores it in the honeycomb cell.

Next, the house bees fan using their wing over the honeycomb cells to create a warm and dry environment that removes the excess water from the nectar ultimately turning it into a thick syrupy consistency of honey.

Lastly, once the honey reaches a low enough moisture content, the house bees cap the cells with beeswax to protect the honey from moisture and insects.   

Raw Honey Uses

Raw honey has a wide range of uses from medicinal purposes to use in cooking and baking. It can be used as a natural sweetener for tea, coffee, smoothies, salad dressing, marinades and baked goods.

Raw honey is also an effective pre-workout supplement as it can provide a quick boost of energy without causing a sugar crash, making it a popular choice for active people and fitness enthusiasts.

Raw honey’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective natural remedy for sore throats, coughs and flu-like symptoms.

Additionally, raw honey can be used as a face mask to rejuvenate the skin and a hair mask to strengthen and nourish your hair.

Overall, raw honey is a natural ingredient that has been used for medicinal, culinary and cosmetic purposes for centuries. Its numerous properties and benefits make it a versatile ingredient superior to refined sugar and many other synthetic products. It is no wonder that raw honey has become increasingly popular as it offers a healthier alternative while providing a delicious taste with natural sweetness.

In conclusion, bee products are some of the most potent natural substances that can provide incredible health benefits. From the sweet and delicious honey to the royal jelly, propolis, bee pollen, bee bread and beeswax, these products are loaded with essential nutrients, that can support overall health and wellbeing.