Honeybees are an exceptional and extraordinary resource. They are one of the foremost natural resources for food production worldwide, which we will touch on here. Among the incredible impacts of bees are the products they produce which can directly benefit us and our health.
What’s So Special about Bees?
Bees are critical to food production globally. Before looking at the products which bees produce, it’s important to understand their role as pollinators. The pollination of all crops worldwide largely depends on animals, and bees do the bulk of this. Western honeybees pollinate almonds, blueberries, and a huge range of other plant-based foods. This includes the pollination of plants such as alfalfa, which are consumed by livestock. Without honeybees pollinating, food production worldwide would be in crisis.
Aside from their role as pollinators, bees produce multiple products that have been harvested and consumed and/or used by humans for many years. Beeswax, for example, has many uses, including various applications in the preservation and packaging of goods. Other products, most notably honey, are produced and consumed directly by humans.
4 Beneficial Bee Products in Supplement Form
Honeybees produce at least half a dozen substances which humans harvest. There are industries dedicated to harvesting these products from beehives and directly from bees. Below we discuss four edible bee products. All of these have nutritional benefits, and some can help prevent disease. These can frequently be found in complex bee supplements, containing two or more of these bee products.
Bee pollen: Pollen itself is one of the nutritional substances harvested from bees. Bee pollen, which bees accrue from contact with a variety of plants, contains various vitamins, minerals, lipids, and other substances of nutritional value.
Bee pollen is colloquially touted for helping manage asthma, allergies, energy, and stomach issues. Some of the uses which have been directly evidenced by scientific study include reducing PMS symptoms, and in mitigating prostate issues in men, including enlarged prostate.
Honey is the most popular product harvested from honeybees. In its natural form, it is sweet and most often consumed directly. However, it is also available as an oral supplement, often found in tandem with other bee products. Honey contains a variety of nutrients such as amino acids, antioxidants, zinc, iron, and multiple vitamins. It has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. It is also used for neurological benefit as an anticonvulsant, and even for mitigating anxiety and depression.
Propolis is made from beeswax combined with secretions from the types of trees on which honeybees often create their hives. Bees use propolis to “glue” the hive together. Propolis is rich in polyphenols, and as a result it could help reduce high cholesterol as well as the risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies suggest that propolis might help protect against Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases. It could also help prevent type II diabetes.
Royal jelly is called “royal” because it is a special substance that worker bees produce to be consumed only by the queen bee. It is made up of honey, pollen, and enzymes. It’s naturally rich in vitamins A, C, and D, as well as amino acids. It has a few general benefits, including the reduction of blood glucose, managing both LDL “bad” cholesterol and HDL “good” cholesterol, and supporting the immune system. These benefits reduce the chances of various forms of chronic disease. Royal jelly can also contribute to increased testosterone levels in men who consume it regularly.
Do not discount the importance of bees and the nutritional benefits that they provide. All of the above four products, often found together in a single supplement, provide nutrients and could help prevent disease. It’s recommended that you talk to your healthcare provider before taking any of these.