Honey and bees products follow the man through history. Honey sweetened the lives of people and at the same time was a preventive against many illnesses. Since then we have gathered much information about its creation, varieties, properties and ways of use. Nevertheless, not all of its secrets have been discovered. Articles on honey and bee products appear occasionally in magazines, newspapers, and books, and some of them can be found here, but PAY ATTENTION – approach the information with a reserve – not all have been scientifically confirmed.
All bees products can be classified into two large groups: the products of animal and plant origin.
Products of plant origin are honey, pollen, propolis, gathered by a bee from flowers and stored in the beehive. Products of animal origin are royal jelly, beeswax and bee venom, created by the bee in its own body. All these ingredients are essential to the bee, and without them, the bee and the entire bee-hive could not survive.
Honey is a thick, sweet, syrupy substance and is the most basic of the honey-bee products. Bees produce honey by collecting pollen, mead, nectar and other sweet syrups from plants, which they enrich with substances from their own body and place into honeycombs, where this mass matures into honey. Honey was originally used as a sweetener and a nutritional additive, to be increasingly used later in pharmaceutics and medicine.
An important bee product is a pollen, as well. Pollen is an essential ingredient to the life of every beehive. Without pollen, bees could not produce food for the embryo and the “mother”, which would lead to their extinction. While honey provides bees with fructose and glucose sugars, enzymes and mineral ingredients, pollen provides them with sufficient protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Honey provides bees with the energy needed to collect pollen and nectar.
Propolis is a mixture of wax and glutinous substances, collected by the bees from the buds of perennial plants. Propolis is used by the bees to reinforce the honeycomb and to seal the gaps. It performs the role of disinfecting the wax cells and the entire beehive. Propolis contains easily volatile etheric oils possessing clearly marked antimicrobial effects. Beeswax is used by the bees to construct the honeycomb, where they afterward lay their larvae and store food reserves. Since it is very dark in a beehive, bees use the honeycomb as a means of communication, utilizing its vibrations to communicate.
Bee venom is a product used by the bees as a means of defense against many aggressors desiring to take their riches. Its main field of application is in medicine.
Royal jelly, perhaps the most important bee product stimulates regular growth and development of an organism, adds the needed strength, activates metabolic processes in an organism, maintains a regular functioning of the endocrinal system. By using royal jelly, a normalization in the functioning of all systems and organism as a whole is achieved.
Bees Products in Nutrition
Most of the honey (70%) is comprised of simple sugars (glucose and fructose), which going from the stomach and the bowel without any processing reach the surface of the mucous membrane, where they are absorbed directly into the blood. Through blood, they spread further into different parts of the body, muscles, and liver, where glycogen is produced from their surpluses. In the case of an increased physical activity, glycogen contained in liver and muscles is liberated in the form of glucose sugar, the lack of which causes weariness and exhaustion. Such condition can be rapidly improved by taking carbohydrates, among which honey is the simplest, the richest and the best. In human nutrition, honey as a bee product is used mostly by laborers and athletes, who quickly refresh themselves and regain the lost strength by taking one spoonful of honey. Supporting this is the fact that first man who climbed Mount Everest, Hillary, “boosted up” his strength with a few teaspoons of honey.
Having in mind that honey is an end product, ready to use without any further processing and that it contains two kinds of sugar which are the most natural to the human organism, this bee product has a big application in the nutrition of children and infants, especially because of its taste and biological value. With children, its positive effect on skin, a higher rate of red blood cells production, health condition, in general, was confirmed. Honey is also widely used in the underweight persons` nutrition. It is applied in 50-120g daily doses and can be diluted in fruit juices, water, tea or milk.
Honey as the basic bee product in human nutrition is used to make an alcoholic drink – Mead. The drink and the recipe as well are as old as the human civilization. There are data showing that it was used by the Indians, Romans, and Slavs during different family, tribal and other celebrations, and at the funerals to honor the deceased. It was a custom to offer mead at the gravesite, so the deceased could build up his strength “in the other world”. There were many recipes for meal preparation, and those who prepared it were honored and respected members of the society. The basic rule is that at 1% alcohol in 100l of water 2,4kg of honey is added. Later, with the advent of wine and beer, the making of mead was removed from the focus.
Royal jelly is a substance whose contents have been a mystery for the world medicine, until recently. It is an interesting bee product, possessing the faculty of changing the life of a sexless bee larva into a perfect “queen bee”. Following this reason, many consider royal jelly to contain substances that are the consequence of the “queen bee`s” longevity, and that could be transferred to other animals, i.e. man. The test done by experts on 3000 people, who have been given a daily dose of 100mg of royal jelly over a period of 30-40 days indicated that with almost all subjects there was a rapid improvement of the biochemical contents of blood. This further resulted in their sleeping better, increased life strength, respiratory and heart problems stopping, improved psychological condition, digestion regulation and arrest of arteriosclerosis.
Bees Products in Medicine
Honey as the most widespread bee product is listed in medicine among the most valuable foodstuffs, especially because of its sugar content and other ingredients, such as enzymes, etheric oils, and mineral salts.
During convalescence after serious diseases and operations, doctors give their patients a 20-40% specially processed, sterilized honey dilution, which is showing great results.
It is also known that a liver richer in glycogen is more resistant to toxins and other diseases, and it prevents protein loss. Out of these reasons, in liver disease treatments, simple sugars are used: glucose, and, lately, fructose. In a free-form, this sugar is found only in honey and fruit. It has been confirmed in diabetes patients that by taking fructose they lose less sugar than is the case with glucose. With smaller doses of glucose, but not fructose, (acacia honey) glycemia is increased. This leads to fructose increasing glycemia less than glucose and is therefore used with diabetics. Most patients take the fructose therapy much better, which is shown in much better treatment effects. Of course, we have to always bear in mind that honey, and the acacia honey at the foremost contains much more fructose than glucose, in the ratio of 170:100. Honey as a medical product is also used for treating the gastric ulcer or duodenal ulcer. The higher the sugar concentration in honey the better is the stomach acid allayed. The patients who have undergone this kind of treatment feel satiety and have a smaller desire for food. In the case of ulcer bleeding or in the first days of acute gastritis, honey is the essential ingredient in any diet.
With the pancreas problems, honey is the first victual given to a patient after a period of not taking any food. Honey is also used in kidney patients` nutrition, as well as with the persons with heart condition… Two to three teaspoons of honey provide the body with more calories than one egg. This is significant for following a diet in the period of convalescence after certain serious illnesses.
Every honey, even the purest honey contains a certain quantity of pollen and royal jelly, which are considered to be the most esteemed bee products in nutrition and medicine. With such contents, honey can be used as a useful means in the treatment of liver diseases, acute and chronic problems with respiratory ways and asthmatic bronchial inflammation, especially of an infectious origin.
When the bee products in medicine are discussed, there should also be mention of pollen as an important factor in this area. It is said that the acacia pollen positively affects urinary bladder and ureters inflammation, while the chestnut pollen regulates the bloodstream, increases the quantity of blood in liver and prostate and helps with treating varicose veins. Many experts recommend taking 3 teaspoons a day of pollen from varied plants. In adults, this dosage renews the strength and increases the quantity of red blood cells. It also helps with stool problems, even when antibiotics are found useless…
Although propolis was known since ancient times, this bee product is still waiting for its full medical application. Romans, Greeks, Arabs and other peoples knew about the healing effects of propolis and used it in treating the diseases of the day. They used it in its pure form or in mixture with other substances. In popular medicine, it has been used for a long time for treating skin diseases, respiratory ways diseases, and stomach problems.
Bee venom is a product that has been used for a long time in popular medicine. Namely, the beekeepers have noticed that they, unlike other people, do not suffer from rheumatic diseases…They ascribed this advantage to being frequently stung by bees, with which they are in frequent contact in their everyday work. Nevertheless, one should be careful, because this form of treating rheumatic diseases is not recommended for persons with allergies, for diabetics, serious kidney, and heart patients.