This article first appeared in mindbodygreen.com and is written by Maryam Henein
I wasn’t always a honeybee lover. But after directing a documentary on the disappearance of the honeybees around the world, I became an advocate for countless reasons. This fuzzy insect is one of endless surprise and delight, and every substance they create is medicinal and magical.
For starters, honeybees are a female society, 95% of the hive are made up female workers, sisters to each other, and daughters of the Queen. They are considered to be ancient messengers as well as teachers when it comes to things such as cooperation, industriousness and adaptability. They are selfless and work with swarm intelligence for the greater good of the hive. They do amazing things like beat their wings at 250 times a second.
And yet honeybees, who also pollinate one out of every bites of the food we eat (everything from avocados to zucchinis), are disappearing all over the world, thanks in large part to nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids. This past year marked the highest losses of honeybee populations in the country since 2006, when Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was first reported.
We cannot afford to lose these sacred creatures. Here are three bee goods to enhance your health.
1. Raw Honey
In her six-week life span, a honeybee will only produce a quarter of a teaspoon of honey. Think of the cooperation that is required to accomplish this the next time you come across a jar. The ancient Greeks referred to honey as the “nectar of the gods” because the benefits of raw honey are numerous.
Honey, which is literally bee vomit, is both antibacterial and anti fungal – so much so that it’s the only food that never spoils. This liquid gold is so potent that it’s been shown to even kill the deadly bacteria MRSA! Honey is also loaded with minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, and can be used against coughs, to treat burns, to build up your immune system, as wound dressing, and even as a face mask.
Preferably, you should choose a honey from a trusted source because oftentimes grocery honey has been heated, which means it’s virtually dead of any nutrients. And to cut costs, it can contain other things such as rice syrup.
Honey is like wine because so many variables affect the taste and the quality. Weather makes a difference in addition to what the bees are pollinating in the region. There are about 300 distinct varieties of honey.
2. Royal Jelly
Royal jelly is a white gooey substance that the bees secrete from glands located on their heads. A larvae being reared for Queenhood, is fed copious amounts or royal jelly, which is considered a superfood. It contains fatty acids, vitamin B’s (best natural source of vitamin B5), amino acids, minerals and a protein called royalactin which is responsible for catalyzing the metamorphosis from worker bee to Queen.
A queen bee is larger than the average worker, elongated and regal-like. And while a worker bee has underdeveloped ovaries and can only live six weeks, a queen bee does have ovaries and can live up to five years! (Unfortunately due to conventional farming and chemicals, queens no longer live this long.)
Royal jelly has been used in antiaging products and according to a recent study has been found to improve spatial memory and concentration.
When choosing a royal jelly product, it’s important to ensure that the bees have not been harmed. Immortality Alchemy, a company based in California, treat the bees ethically. Another plus is that the royal jelly is dried so you can easily add it to smoothies or yogurt. I mention this because one downside of royal jelly is that it tastes horrible.
3. Bee Pollen
If you look at a honeybee in flight, she often is carrying two little orange balls of pollen on each side. It takes a bee eight hours a day for one month to gather a teaspoon dose of pollen. And each pellet contain more than two million flower pollen grains.
Pollen, used to feed their young, is one of the most nourishing foods on the planet. It contains all the essentials, such as amino acids, vitamins (including B complex and folate acid), and protein. Bee pollen is actually 40% protein — more rich in proteins than any animal source. It contains more amino acids than beef.
It is extremely important to know where you’re getting your bee pollen from. Why? Because according to Greenpeace, one teeny grain has been found to contain up to 17 pesticides in it.
Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, entrepreneur, and director of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page. Today she is the co-founder of HoneyColony, a magazine and marketplace geared toward people who are starting on their health journey.