Sunday, July 5, 2015

Beyond honey: beehive benefits

This month, we’ll focus on beehives and the natural products found within the hive. Honey bees are well known for making honey and pollinating 30 percent of the food on our tables. But did you know, bees are busy producing four other key ingredients found in a hive - beeswax, pollen, propolis and royal jelly. Let’s take a brief look at each!


Beeswax - young worker bees use their wax-secreting glands to produce beeswax, and nest-building bees use the wax to build hex-shaped cells for raising brood and storing honey, pollen and water. We use beeswax in many everyday products, from cosmetics and polishes to candles and art materials. At the Minnesota Honey Company, we offer:
  • excellent skin care products containing beeswax and made by local companies - Worker Bee, Crow’s and Welcome Harvest.
  • locally sourced, filtered beeswax in 1 oz, 1.3 oz, 1 lb and 2 lb bars so you can DIY some of your own household products. We carry beeswax candles too.
  • honeycomb. It makes a lovely addition to an appetizer tray and is a deliciously different replacement for chewing gum!


Pollen - Pollen is a bee’s sole protein source, so you’ll do bees a favor by growing a wide variety of their favorite flowers. It will give them more complete nutrition (just like us humans needing a variety of foods). Honey bees collect pollen on their fuzzy bodies and in what are called pollen baskets on their back legs. For their larvae food, they mix pollen with honey and nectar, creating bee bread, and drop it in cells before larvae is placed.

While we cannot claim specific health benefits with pollen, there is significant anecdotal evidence. Pollen can benefit certain health conditions, be used as a protein supplement and desensitize pollen allergies. We offer pollen in a couple different ways:
  • Aged (unheated, unfiltered) Meadow Wildflower Honey. This is honey straight from the hive. It has larger particles of pollen, beeswax and propolis, making it a very healthful, sweet alternative.
  • Pollen-fortified Meadow Wildflower Honey. An excellent way to take daily doses of pollen.
  • Raw bee pollen.

Propolis - Trees and plants produce propolis, a resin that protects against bacteria and disease, and honey bees collect it to coat the inside of their hive. Propolis is an antimicrobial, antibacterial substance, which can be extracted and used as a healing ingredient, both topically and internally. You’ll find the following propolis-infused, locally made products at the Minnesota Honey Company:
  • Vibupro - a cough and sore throat formula made by Wolf Honey Farm
  • Worker Bee Balm - topical sticks and bars made by Worker Bee

Royal Jelly - Royal jelly is secreted by worker bees and is only fed to royalty - the queen bee and potential future queens . Like other byproducts of the hive, royal jelly offers many topical and internal benefits for us, although health claims have not all been scientifically proven. The Minnesota Honey Company does not carry royal jelly at this time, but it is something we’ll continue to evaluate as we expand our product lines.

Honey bees are amazing little insects, and we’re lucky to have their busy little bodies working hard to help keep us fed and healthy!