New Book Available - "Bee Products for Better Health"
Article by C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD author of Bee Products for Better Health.
The honeybee (Apis mellifera) is the world’s most popular insect. Honeybees are fascinating insects because the entire colony essentially functions as one organism. Outdoor workers are responsible for collecting nectar, pollen, and propolis, with different types of workers performing each specialized task. Indoor workers construct and maintain a safe hive and build honey reserves. Nurse bees manufacture royal jelly and tend the larvae and queen, who is solely responsible for female reproduction. Their society is highly complicated and interdependent, just as human society is.
When I was a child my great uncle kept bees in his backyard—once on the outskirts of town, but now in a densely packed suburb of Washington, DC. My grandfather would occasionally take one of his brother’s hives and set it up on his farm. It was on my grandfather’s farm that I first learned how bees live and how to care for a beehive. I learned how enjoyable chewing chunks of wax comb could be as I savored that fresh, sweet honey straight from the source. Unfortunately, with so much other farmwork to attend to, my grandfather didn’t keep his bee colonies going for more than a few years.
When I was a graduate student at the University of Arizona, Tucson, I heard a fascinating interview on a local radio talk show. The guest was Royden Brown, founder of CC Pollen Company, and he was speaking about the benefits of bee pollen. He mentioned beekeepers in Central Europe living to the century mark and beyond without ever having seen a doctor.
One point that made Royden Brown’s interview so compelling was his discussion of how, throughout history, apiculture has provided medicine, not just food. Beekeepers were among the longest-lived individuals in their villages due to their prodigious use of all the beehive products—honey, propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly.
After hearing the interview I began taking generous doses of bee pollen and propolis every day as part of a quest to maximize my strength and health—a quest that continues to this day. I noticed that these bee products significantly improved my well-being, and perhaps not coincidentally, I polished off my doctoral program ahead of most of my peers. I’ve since learned that bee pollen is rich in health-promoting phytochemicals. Some of the phytochemicals found in bee pollen can reduce inflammation and promote detoxification. Others are known to lower cholesterol, stabilize and strengthen capillaries, and neutralize free radicals.
I’ve now spent more than twenty years keeping up with research into beehive products and designing supplements that incorporate them, along with lecturing on the subject. I eat one tablespoon of bee pollen daily, and I’d recommend it to just about anyone. My entire family enjoys pollen, propolis, honey, and royal jelly, and we all support local bee populations by growing extensive vegetable and flower gardens, cultivated without the use of pesticides. I encourage you to do the same, even if you’ve never gardened. A couple of cucumber plants growing up a trellis will attract bees all summer while also providing you with fresh produce.
Today, rising threats of drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections and epidemic respiratory diseases have spurred scientific research on traditional medicinal uses of bee propolis and honey—both powerhouses packed with antiviral, antibacterial, and wound-healing qualities. At the same time, bees also face increasing threats. Starting in 2006, large-scale losses of honeybees were reported worldwide. In the United States, beekeepers were losing 30 to 90 percent of their hives per year to a mysterious phenomenon named colony collapse disorder. Despite intense research, no single pathogen, toxin, pollutant, or environmental condition has been shown to cause colony collapse disorder. The best guess is that increasing urbanization has rendered honeybees more susceptible to common bee viruses and parasites, or that an as-yet-unrecognized pathogen has become more virulent.
In this book you’ll discover a great deal about the healing powers of bee products. For example, you’ll learn that propolis prevents disease, royal jelly soothes dermatitis, honey heals wounds, and bee pollen provides copious nutrients. The chapter on honey, which covers the most familiar beehive product, may offer the most surprises. If you think you know honey, think again! Honey has proven its value to skeptics like no other natural product, and if you read the chapter carefully, you’ll see why. Honey is still the heart and soul of beekeeping, and by purchasing local honey, you can support local apiaries while also enhancing pollination all around you. In the final chapter of the book, Using Bee Products for Healing, you’ll find recipes for home remedies, along with advice on using various bee products for healing.
The theme of this book is that bees are experts in botany, phytochemicals, and medicinal plants. They’ve spent millennia selecting plants that offer pollen, nectar, and resins that provide superior nutrition while also helping to prevent disease. They’ve completed thousands of scientific observations to make the most of the plants in their environment, wherever they live on the planet. We just have to learn what bees have to teach us!