At the end of September, I attended the Georgia Beekeepers Association fall meeting virtually via Zoom. One benefit of the pandemic is that I would not have been able to attend the meeting as I live in Arkansas.
One of the seminars discussed the honey bee's role in mythology, religion, warfare, and politics. From the Egyptians to the Catholic Church to our current global leaders, honey bees have played an important role, not only as a source of trade, a symbol of wealth, but also as givers of health.
We all know to "thank a honey bee" for our fruit and vegetables. Without the pollination activities of the honey bee, our food options would be quite small, if any at all. But they do so much more. Honey bees are considered a "micro livestock." Not only do they pollinate our plants, but they also give us honey, pollen, propolis, and beeswax.
I think everyone knows about taking a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered honey to soothe sore throats. But did you also know you can apply honey directly to wounds, cuts, and scrapes? Honey contains antioxidants and supports a healthy inflammatory response and microbial balance in the body and on the skin and can support healing. In fact, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Surf City, NC, uses it directly on sea turtles with propeller wounds to aid in healing.
With winter season upon us, I keep a jar of honey infused with garlic in my cupboard, just in case. It is a simple recipe that keeps a long time.
Honey Infused with Garlic
- Approximately 6-8 oz. raw, local honey
- 3 three garlic heads, peeled and minced
- 8 oz. mason jar
- Peel and mince the garlic. Add garlic to the mason jar.
- Cover completely with honey.
- Let the honey settle and add more to make sure the garlic is completely covered.
- Set aside for one week.
Remember, honey should not be given to infants under one year of age.
Pollen is a protein filled with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and fats. Honey bees collect pollen from the flowers and mix it with honey to make "bee bread." Bee bread is a honey bee's protein food source. The color of the pollen varies depending on the flower being visited by the honey bee.
Pollen supports a healthy histamine and inflammatory response and contains antioxidants. It is an excellent functional food and contains flavonoids, iron and zinc, protein, sugars, and dietary fiber content, and is a good source of carotenoids and B vitamins. Pollen can be taken to support the body's allergic response and promotes a healthy respiratory and immune function. It is recommended to begin taking pollen slowly. Start with ½ granule and work up to one teaspoon over several weeks.
Please consult with a naturopathic professional before ingesting pollen products in case of allergic reaction.
Propolis or "bee glue" is a resinous substance collected by bees from the buds of trees and sap. It is used as cement in the hive to seal holes, smooth surfaces, and create a clean environment within the hive. Propolis is excellent support for a healthy microbial balance and inflammatory response in the body and has been used throughout the ages. From Aristotle to Dioscordes to Pliny the Elder, all used propolis to support health. Studies have shown that propolis helps with allergies, skin issues, oral conditions, and intestinal issues.
And finally, there's beeswax. Recent studies of beeswax are turning up evidence that beeswax contains compounds that show it also supports a healthy microbial balance. Hippocrates and others used beeswax to treat many ailments. Today, we use beeswax in cosmetics like creams, salves, and balms to thicken the product, assist in repelling water, and it also helps to reduce the growth of certain strains of bacteria. Beeswax is used externally to soothe bruises, burns, and to support healthy inflammatory response. Of course, if you like honeycomb, there's nothing more fun than chewing up the honey and comb together, ingesting all of the goodness including amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes — and spitting out the comb when you're done.
As you can see, the honey bee provides functional food and health products for us. They are an important "micro-stock" around the globe. Simple ways to promote honey bees and honey bee products in your town are to 1) buy local raw, unfiltered products; and 2) add native pollinator plants to your landscape, including trees, bushes, and flowers.
Sandy Morehouse is a functional herbalist and educator with WishGarden Herbs. She is based in Northwest Arkansas and spreads the herb love to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. She received her functional herbalist certification from Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine; certificate from Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Medicine Making; and is continuing her education with Aviva Romm's Herbal Medicine for Women course.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.