Bee FAQ

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Honey naturally transforms into a solid state known as crystallized honey. Honey crystallizes because it is not stable in liquid form. The glucose molecules in the honey shed water and the strength of the new molecules' polarity causes them to align into crystals. Tiny particles of water remain trapped between the crystals.

The speed of transformation depends on the flower blossom from which the nectar is taken, how much pollen, wax particles, propolis, and air bubbles are in the honey, and how the honey is handled. Generally the crystallization can take from two weeks to several months.

Crystallization doesn't change the characteristics of honey except for the degree of solidity. The taste and health benefits are the same, it is just difficult to get it out of the container and spread it.

Many people prefer honey that has been crystallized under controlled processes. By inducing and controlling the process a softer, spreadable form of honey is created called creamed honey. It is still 100% honey; the only thing manipulated is the rate of transformation and size of the crystals.

To slow down crystallization, keep honey at room temperature. To re-liquefy honey the best way is to gently heat it in a double boiler. Be careful not to heat it more than 40C. The honey degrades, the taste is altered and the antimicrobial properties and health benefits are significantly reduced. A microwave works as well but it is easier to burn the honey. As you heat the honey, stirring speeds up the process and reduces the chance of burning.

Honey starts off as nectar in flowers. Plants create glorious flowers and sweet nectar to entice bees to the plant. The bees drink the nectar and collect pollen from the flower. As bees move from flower to flower, some of the collected pollen is left at the next plant. The transported pollen enters the new flower and the plant is able to reproduce. Bees work as the plants' courier and their payment is the energy packed nectar, and nutrient and protein rich pollen.

Flower parts

Back in the beehive the bees produce and add several enzymes to the nectar and adjust the water content. This allows the nectar to ripen into honey. Millions of years have shaped flowers, bees and honey into the most evolved and beneficial source of energy possible. As honey, the food energy is in a stable form. It can keep indefinitely without spoilage. In fact, honey is a powerful antimicrobial agent!

Bees are the most important domesticated animal on the planet

One third of everything that people eat exists because a bee pollinated the flower.

Pollinators play a significant role in the production of over 150 food crops in the North America ‚ among them apples, alfalfa, almonds, blueberries, cranberries, kiwi fruit, melons, pears, plums, raspberries and squash.

In the North America, the increased yield and quality of agricultural crops as a result of honey bee pollination is valued at more than $14.6 billion per year.

flower garden

Without the honey bees pollination work, the quantity and quality of many crops would be reduced and some would not yield at all.

Honeybees are the major pollinator of plants in the world

It has been estimated that 80 percent of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honey bees. While other insects can pollinate plants, honey bees are premier pollinators because they are available throughout the growing season, they pollinate a wide range of crops and they can be concentrated whenever and wherever they are needed.

Propolis is collected by bees from leaf buds and bark.


The word propolis was probably coined by Aristotle from the Greek words pro meaning in front of and polis meaning city. The combined meaning then becomes In front of the City or Defender of the City (or Beehive) and this is how bees use propolis. Propolis is used to construct protective walls at the hive entrances, to keep the hive warm and predators away. It also functions to eliminate contaminating microorganisms in the hive.
Propolis is derived from a variety of resinous, gummy substances harvested by bees from the buds, young shoots or tree bark of birch, poplar, alder, fir and other trees. Propolis is composed of 50-70% resins and balsams (flavonoids and related phenolic acids), 30% wax, 5-10% pollen, and 8-10% essential oils and 5% various organic compounds (Murat, 1982; Pietta et al, 2002). In the hive the bees transform these residues into a sticky substance with a brown to black color, an agreeable odor, and a bitter taste. Bees use propolis to strengthen the structure of the hive, to glue movable parts down, to varnish the interior walls of the hive, and to protect the hive from temperature variation and intruders.

The use of propolis dates back to antiquity when the resinous and glue-like properties of propolis were utilized, for example, in mummifying the dead. Propolis was and is still used in varnishes. It protects from rusting and aging. Stradivarius has been said to have used propolis varnish in his exceptional violins.
The medicinal use of propolis dates back thousands of years and there is now substantial evidence of its antimicrobial properties. Propolis was used in dressings to protect wounds from gangrene, however, most of the scientific work on the composition, pharmacological and medicinal uses of propolis have been done in the last forty years.
Propolis has antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
The antibiotic value of propolis extract varies according to the source of propolis and according to how the propolis extract is prepared. Alcohol extracts of propolis have been found to have various strengths of antibacterial activity against certain bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis.
Propolis extracts also have antifungal properties. They have been used to treat cases of candidiasis. Vasiliev and coworkers (1979) published a study where they treated 40 infants with moniliasis, in which conventional therapy had failed, with a preparation composed of 30% extract of propolis in 95% alcohol, water and honey. This preparation was applied on infected areas. The treatment lasted 3-5 days. A marked improvement was already evident on the second day, with complete recovery by either the fourth or fifth day.
A 30% propolis ointment was used on chapped skin from infants where conventional therapy had failed. The ointment was applied to infected areas and all patients recovered. A 70% alcohol tincture of propolis has been found to be very effective against Microsporum ferrugineum, a member of the dermatophyte fungi, several Trichopyta and Epidermophyton floccosum, a dermatophyte infecting skin and nails but not hair. The antifungal activity varies with the source of propolis (Braileanu et al, 1978).
Propolis is effective in preventing dental caries and gingivitis (Park et al. 1998) and is used in mouthwash and toothpaste.

 

Medical Applications of Propolis.

Propolis is used in a number of applications including over-the-counter preparations for cold symptoms (ie upper respiratory tract infections, flu, common cold), dermatological preparations to accelerate healing of wounds and burns, acne, herpes simplex and genitalis and neurodermatitis (Burdock, 1998)
Wounds, burns and acute infections have successfully been treated with propolis. Propolis is known to have wound healing and tissue regenerative properties. In the Soviet Union, propolis ointment is utilized during post-operative treatment of the deep burn wounds at the granulation stage to hasten the healing and to prepare the wounds for dermoplasty (Atiasov et al., 1975). Propolis ointment has been shown to increase the production of epithelial cells, increase the circulation, and decrease scar-tissue. In addition, propolis ointment acts as topical analgesic and doesn't stick to the wounds, which is very important for the survival of skin grafts (Atiasov).
Propolis has long been used in dermatology in the treatment of leg ulcers, neurodermatitis and microbial and fungal dermatitis and dermatosis. For treatment of leg ulcers, for instance, either a 30% ointment or an alcoholic solution can be utilized (Ghisalberti, l.c.).
Propolis has been used in the treatment of advanced stages of pulmonary tuberculosis, especially when the traditional therapy has failed or is contraindicated. Propolis has also been used as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of cases of a non-specific bronchitis where a conventional antibiotic therapy has failed (Rux, 1978).
Certain conditions of the gastrointestinal tract also lend themselves to the treatment with propolis. Propolis was found to intensify intestinal contractions and muscle tone.
Propolis has been shown to be a nonspecific immuno-stimulator. When added in the form of alcoholic solution to an immunizing agent, propolis improved the immune response. Protective properties of immunizing agents were markedly improved by the administration of propolis.
Propolis has its uses also in otorhinolaryngology, 5% alcohol solution of propolis was used externally in otitis media simultaneously with antibiotics. All the cases studied showed improvement in 5-9 days after the initiation of the therapy. Propolis was found to be especially useful in the foot and mouth disease. All the cases were cured within 3-8 days after the initiation of the therapy. There was one case of allergy which was relieved by an oral antiallergen (Matel, 1975).
Propolis in form of aerosols has been successfully used in pediatrics in cases of nonspecific chronic pneumonia and bronchial asthma. All the children with bronchitis improved. Rux (1978) treated bronchial asthma of adults with propolis orally. The results were positive.

 

Technology of Propolis.

There are basically four different ways of collecting propolis; the quality of propolis varies with the method of collection. The oldest method involves scraping propolis from the fames, walls of the hives, and cloth when extracting honey twice during the season. The second method used is adjusting the frame spaces, then propolis can be chiseled when inspecting the nest. Third method is changing the cloth (usually twice a year) or polyethylene covers. This method yields the highest quality propolis. The fourth method utilizes a special grate. Two or three of the special Leikart hardwood or plastic grates are introduced into each hive and periodically removed, and propolis collected on the grates is then harvested.
At the present time there are several countries in the world, the Soviet Union, Romania, Japan, China, Poland, Canada, and the U.S., that produce propolis containing products for medical use. Honeyview Farm produces a number of products containing propolis. Propolis extracts contain flavonoids, ferulic acid, and balsam. Such preparations have antiviral and antibacterial properties and are used to treat respiratory tract ailments. Propolis tablets, containing 5% propolis, are used to treat pharyngitis. Propolis containing suppositories with royal jelly, pollen and honey are used in inflammation and erosions. Soft propolis is used also in the manufacture of cosmetics (Palos et al, 1978).

 

Summary.

Even though propolis has been known for thousands of years, the knowledge of propolis chemical composition dates back only a few decades. During the last forty years the progress in the use of propolis in medicine has been observed in many Western societies. In medicine, however, propolis is used as an adjuvant, not as a primary therapy. Propolis cannot take the place of conventional therapy, but it is very useful as an aid to the conventional therapy. There are still many aspects of propolis that need to be explored in order to be able to utilize its potential to the fullest. Present status of our information indicates a possible preventive role of propolis in cases of the exposure to bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Propolis has very few side effects. There have been reports of allergic reactions, but are rarely encountered. The high therapeutic effect of propolis is poorly understood and needs to be explored. It has been assumed that it is linked with the chemical composition of propolis and possibly with the fact that propolis appears to stimulate the immune response. This needs to be explored further to be able to understand all the aspects of propolis preventive and therapeutic uses.

Bibliography.
1. Atiasov, N.I., M.P., Kuprianov, V.A. (1978). The Use of Propolis Ointment in the Treatment of Wounds with Granulations.
2. Brailearu, R., Gheorshu, A., Popescu, A., Velescu, Gh. (1978). Researches on Some Pharmaceutical Forms of Propolis. In: "Propolis," Ed. V. Harnaj, Apimondia, Bucharest.
3. Burdock, G.A. (1998). Review of the Biological Properties and Toxicity of Bee Propolis (Propolis). Food and Chemical Toxicology, 36:347-363.
4. Danilov, L., N. (1978). Treatment of Skin Diseases with Propolis. In "Propolis," Ed. V. Harnaj, Apimondia, Bucharest.
5. Ghisalberti, EX. (1979). Propolis: A Review Bee World. Vol. 60(2) 59-84.
6. Park, Y.K., Koo, M.H., Abreu, J.A.S., Ikegaki, M., Cury, J.A., Rosalen, P.L. (1998) Current Microbiology 36:24–28
7. Murat, F. (1982) - Propolis: The Eternal Natural Healer, Ed. ISBN International Standard Book Number 0-9600356-48.
8. Palos, E., Petre, N., Andrei, C. (1978). The Technology of Obtaining Soft Propolis Extract for Pharmaceutical Use. In: "Propolis," Ed. V. Harnaj, Apimondia, Bucharest.
9. Pietta, P.G., Gardana, C., Pietta, A.M. (2002). Analytical methods for quality control of propolis. Filoterapia 73: Suppl. 1, S7-S20.
10.Rux, V.R. (1978). The Treatment with Propolis of Nonspecific Endobronchitis. in: "Propolis," l.c., pg. 165.
11.Vasiliev, V., Manova-Kanazireva, St., Todorov, V., Drianovski, St. (1978). Treatment with Propolis of Moniliasis and integrigo In Infants. In: "Propolis," Ed. V. Harnaj. Apimondia, Bucharest.

Honeybees collect pollen from the stamens of flowers

As bees fly from flower to flower, the bees brush against the stamens and pollen sticks to their bodies. By transferring the pollen to different flowers they cause fertilization and seed set. Bees provide an essential function for many plants.

Bees comb the excess pollen into pollen baskets – specialized structures on the hind legs of the workers. This forms the pollen into tiny round balls. Using a pollen trap at the entrance of the hive, beekeepers can brush some of these balls off the legs of the bee as she is entering the hive.

Bee pollen contains all the nutrients essential for life

Scientists have raised several generations of mice exclusively on pollen with no adverse affects or signs of malnourishment. Pollen is made up of approximately 35% protein, 35% carbohydrate, 2% fatty acids and 3% minerals and vitamins (A, B, C, D and E) as well as trace elements and other micronutrients. Pollen also contains 17% rutin a substance that has been associated with regeneration of the capillaries

Bee pollen has been used as a nutritional supplement for thousands of years

Bee pollen is used by some people as an immune system enhancer. Because of its high content of B vitamin complexes, it is often taken to increase energy and vitality. Because pollen contains more protein than any other food, many athletes use pollen to increase endurance, strength and stamina as well as to enhance recovery after exercising. Bee pollen has also been taken as a weight loss supplement because it contains lecithin which is said to flush fat from the body as well as stimulating metabolism causing calories to be burned faster and phenylalanine which acts as an appetite suppressant. The presence of antioxidants and bioflavinoids such as vitamins C and E as well as beta-carotene and rutin may help to neutralize damage caused by free radicals in the body.

Bee pollen may also help to relieve brain fatigue and improve alertness as well as relieving stress and anxiety. Some studies suggest that pollen can be beneficial in treating nausea and sleep disorders as well as other diseases



Bee Pollen can be used to decrease Hay Fever and Pollen Allergies

Scientific research has shown that ingestion of pollen can be effective in reducing nasal blockage caused by exposure to wind-borne pollen. Researchers showed that eating pollen had a prophylactic effect on allergic rhinitis. This effect was seen both when pollen was taken before exposure as well as if pollen was ingested after exposure to pollen. However, since there was a delay in the reduction of symptoms if exposure had already taken place it is best to ensure that pollen is taken before exposure to the allergen takes place.

How to take Bee Pollen

Adults: Start with 1 tsp in the morning followed with some water, juice or milk. Increase your intake every day by a few grains until reaching 2 tsp a day (10 ml). For normal daily intake you may take up to 1 tbsp (15 tbsp).

Note: Before consuming pollen you should be aware of the possibility of allergic reactions to pollens by susceptible individuals. People with bee and pollen allergies should consult their physician before taking pollen supplements.

References

Aliyazicioglu Y, Deger O, Ovali E, Barlak Y, Hosver I, Tekelioglu Y, Karahan SC. Effects of Turkish pollen and propolis extracts on respiratory burst for K-562 cell lines. Int Immunopharmacol. 2005 Oct;5(11):1652-7.

Haro A, Lopez-Aliaga I, Lisbona F, Barrionuevo M, Alferez MJ, Campos MS. Beneficial effect of pollen and/or propolis on the metabolism of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in rats with nutritional ferropenic anemia. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Nov;48(11):5715-22.

Nabe T, Kubota K, Terada T, Takenaka H, Kohno S. Effect of Oral Immunotherapy on Nasal Blockage in Experimental Allergic Rhinitis. J Pharmacol Sci. 2005 Aug 2; [Epub ahead of print]

Robinson, W. (1948) - Delay in the appearance of palpable mammary tumors in C3H mice following the ingestion of pollenized food, in J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 9, pp.119-123.

Wojcicki J, Samochowiec L, Kadlubowska D, Kownacka A. Study on the antioxidant properties of pollen extracts. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 1987;35(5):725-9.

Wojcicki J, Samochowiec L, Bartlomowicz B, Hinek A, Jaworska M, Gawronska-Szklarz B. Effect of pollen extract on the development of experimental atherosclerosis in rabbits. Atherosclerosis. 1986 Oct;62(1):39-45.