It’s easy to associate honey bees with the honey they make—after all, it’s right there in the name. Honey has always been a valuable substance, but it’s not the only amazing thing we get from honey bees. Beekeepers can make money by harvesting all kinds of hive products. From the bee bread and royal jelly that the bees eat to the wax and propolis that serve as hive-building materials, a beehive contains a lot of unique and useful substances. Humans have found many ways to put these products to use—honey bee products have value in the food industry, medical field, cosmetics industry, and more. Whether you’re looking for a jar of sweet local honey at the farmers’ market or discovering the medical uses of bee venom, there’s something for you to admire about honey bees and their work.
Are you curious to learn more about these fascinating substances and how we use them? Check out our guide for the different uses for honey bee products.
Honey is the most common honey bee product. It’s always been a part of the human diet. In fact, the first alcoholic drink humans invented was mead—a beverage made from honey. We all know honey’s use as a delicious natural sweetener, but that’s not all it can do. Many people also use honey for its health benefits and cosmetic purposes:
Health Benefits of Honey
Raw honey is full of enzymes, antioxidants, and other nutrients that act as natural wellness boosters. The antibacterial properties of honey make it a natural antiseptic. This is one of the reasons why people like to put honey in their tea when they’re sick—it works to fight off bacteria and shorten the lifespan of your cold. Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties that prove useful in relieving sore throats. Additionally, eating local honey can help you build a resistance to seasonal allergies. Because honey bees make their honey from local flowers, your local honey contains microdoses of the allergens that cause you trouble every spring. A spoonful of local honey is similar to an allergy shot—it gives you a small, harmless dose of allergens to help your body build immunity to them.
Cosmetic Uses of Honey
The nutrients in raw honey also prove beneficial in natural beauty remedies. They’re particularly useful in skin care—honey’s antibacterial properties are useful for acne treatments, and honey can also unclog pores to freshen your skin. The antioxidants in raw honey work as an anti-aging treatment as well. On top of that, honey is great as a moisturizer, soothing your skin and giving it a healthy, natural glow.
When honey bees visit flowers in search of nectar, they collect pollen in the hairs of their bodies. This is how they pollinate local flowers and crops. However, they also take a lot of pollen back to their hives, where they use it to make food for the brood. As they carry the pollen, honey bees enrich it with various natural hormones and antibiotic substances. These—along with the protein, amino acids, and vitamins that naturally exist in the pollen—make honey bee pollen an extremely beneficial product. Beekeepers can harvest excess pollen from the hive and sell it, usually as a health supplement. Pollen from beehives rejuvenates and refreshes the body, boosting your energy and improving healing processes.
Honey bees make bee bread by mixing pollen with nectar and their own natural substances. The result is a food source that’s packed with essential amino acids, vitamins, and other nutrients. This is a vital food source for the brood, but beekeepers can extract any excess bee bread from their hives. This is a rarer honey bee product, but it’s very beneficial as a health supplement. Some people use it to treat insomnia, stress, high cholesterol, and more.
Most honey bees in the hive feast on bee bread throughout most of their lives, but the queen bee gets special treatment in the form of royal jelly. This is a special secretion that worker bees make to feed the queen. All newborn larvae eat royal jelly for the first couple days of their lives, but only the queen feasts exclusively on it. This dietary difference makes a queen bee different than every other member of the hive—pretty extraordinary, right?
Consumers seek out royal jelly for its unique benefits and properties. Royal jelly acts as a rejuvenating, anti-aging substance, promoting tissue growth and muscle regeneration. This makes it a popular dietary supplement among the elderly. It’s also useful for improving brain function and overall well-being.
Bee stings are almost as famous as honey. Worker bees use their stingers to defend the hive when they feel threatened. When they sting something, they inject it with a venom known as apitoxin. This venom causes inflammation—or, in some cases, a severe allergic reaction. This is why many people fear bees—however, the apitoxin can actually be extremely useful in the right hands. Medical professionals have developed ways to use bee venom to desensitize people who are allergic to it. Scientists are also exploring its potential benefits as a treatment for arthritis and other forms of chronic pain. On top of that, bee venom has recently made its way into the cosmetics industry with other bee products. Some companies use it in skin creams and serums, considering it to be a natural alternative to Botox.
Many of the different uses for honey bee products have to do with beeswax. Worker bees use the wax they make to build their honeycombs and other hive structures. When beekeepers harvest wax from their hives, the possibilities are nearly limitless. Many beekeepers and other hobbyists have learned to craft materials such as candles and polish from beeswax. The beauty industry also puts this wax to good use, turning it into soaps, lip balms, creams, and more. Like honey, beeswax has antibiotic properties, and it can clean, moisturize, and soften skin.
Do you put products from your honey bees’ hives to good use? Do you want to start? You can find everything you need to begin a successful beekeeping career at Mann Lake, from our honey bee starter kits to the tools you need to extract and process your colony’s products. We’re ready to help you on your way to a fruitful harvest.