You know that bees are important pollinators for healthy foods like almonds, avocados, berries, and more. But did you know that bees produce a ton of other products that can keep us healthy?
It's true! Check out these four bee products and learn how they benefit bees and humans.
Honey is one of the first things we associate with bees. But it's more than just a sweet addition to breakfasts or cups of tea: it's a valuable health food with some unexpected benefits.
Honey is a powerful antimicrobial agent, which makes it useful in several different ways. It's been scientifically proven to inhibit bacterial growth, and it makes an inhospitable environment for viruses, fungi, and other micro-organisms. Because of this, it has a virtually endless shelf life and can be used to help with minor skin issues.
We don't recommend applying honey to serious wounds. But we have seen it usefully applied to itchy skin lesions, minor cuts and burns, and in facial masks. You would typically still want to use neosporin or other antimicrobial products that are less sticky, but honey may do in a pinch!
Eating local honey is also thought to reduce allergy symptoms, to soothe sore throats and coughs, and as an ingredient in salves and beauty products.
Bees depend on pollen as their primary food source. But it's also good for humans!
Aside from being a tasty addition to smoothies, trail mix, and other goodies, eating pollen has some serious health benefits. It can help allergy sufferers acclimate to the local pollen profiles in their area, which may help prevent symptoms. It also contains high levels or vitamins and minerals that are needed by bees and humans alike.
Don't eat pollen if you're taking a blood thinner like warfarin or if you're pregnant. While it's generally safe for human consumption, you'll want to avoid the possibility of eating a type of pollen to which you have a dangerous reaction, so don't eat bee pollen if you experience anaphylaxis after exposure to pollen! Bees can't label their pollen, so you can't know with 100% certainty what pollen is present.
Want more info? Livestrong did a short article on bee pollen, including some ways to include it in your meals.
Beeswax is for more than just candles! It's also a valuable ingredient that can be used to improve a variety of skin ailments.
When applied to the skin, beeswax serves as a protective barrier that holds in moisture and shields the skin from the elements. It also attracts water molecules, so it actually draws water into the skin in addition to holding in moisture! It's also soothing to dry, irritated skin without irritating people who are sensitive to perfumes or other ingredients.
Beeswax is a great ingredient in products intended for people with dry or sensitive skin! It's also useful in a ton of other applications, like waterproofing cloth, making reusable food coverings, and more.
If you've never heard of propolis, prepare to be amazed! It's a resin-like substance bees use to seal up nooks and crannies in their hives. It's rare, but it's incredibly useful.
Propolis has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it useful to people who suffer from cold sores. It's also commonly used mouth rinses after oral surgery, on minor burns, and acne. Some people like to use it internally for diseases like diabetes and as an enhancement for cancer treatment.
While we'd never advocate using bee products in lieu of seeing a doctor for a health issue, we do know that bees produce honey, pollen, beeswax, and propolis, all of which are time-honored remedies for everything from irritated skin to canker sores and beyond. It's one of the many reasons we love bees so much: they pollinate our plants, produce delicious honey, and help keep us healthy!