Posted before Dec-31-2007
Before we initiate a discussion on the benefits of bees and honey, here is a small story that will help us to understand their usefulness. Many years back, the Museum of Natural History in New York City had displayed the flawlessly conserved body of a bee encased in amber. According to carbon-dating, the bee was stated to live around 80 million years ago, but it is possible that the insect may be as many as 135 million years old! It is presumed that the small insect got trapped in a drop of a tree juice when it was on a routine job of collecting the muggy liquid with the purpose of producing propolis. It may be noted here that propolis is an antibacterial or antibiotic substance produced by bees with a view to shield their colonies or hives from different maladies. Generally, it is thought that compared to modern-day hospitals, the bees are so efficient and health conscious that they maintain their hives in a more disinfected manner and keep them free from microbes.
Just imagine, despite the different kinds of hazards from viruses, bacteria, fungi and a multitude of small and large pests for a minimum of over 80 million years, bee has remained intact. In fact, there seems to be not anything that has posed a threat to the existence of bees during the millions of years since it first came into existence on the planet. Not only do the bees keep thriving withstanding all odds, they also provide mankind with their produce such as honey and wax and help us to carry out different studies for our own progress.
For several years, man as well as different animals has collected the yields of the beehive both for their delight and also their very existence. In fact, bees have managed to survive for over 80 million years reveals that all actions by them are effective. The story mentioned above offers us a valuable lesson and each one of us must take the lesson seriously for it is ultimately beneficial for us.
In addition to honey, the beehive offers us numerous products and that includes bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly and many other things that are a powerful blend of nourishments that have been created since time immemorial. It may be noted here that honey is an extremely useful product that encloses different sugars such as glucose and fructose, minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur, iron, phosphate and sodium. Honey also contains small proportions of iodine, copper and zinc. In addition, honey contains an assortment of vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and C. However, significance of these substances varies depending on the excellence of the nectar and bee pollen found in a beehive. It is interesting to note that honey also encloses a number of hormones.
Many will be surprised to learn that so far experts have identified over 10,000 varieties of bees and among all of them only one genus produces honey. It has been found that the honey bees are a sort of social pests that live in settlements, each of which may comprise up to 80,000 bees. And each bee in a colony lives with an objective of its own.
There are numerous stories concerning the lives of honey bees and this has raised immense interest among the common people regarding their way of living. In fact, the life of a honey bee depends entirely on its standing at birth. If a honey bee happens to be a female, the chances are more that it will lead the life of a worker. Throughout its life, a worker honey bee is engaged in the development and preservation of its colony's nest or bee hive. The most juvenile among the honey bees are usually entrusted with the duty of cleansing the vacant cells in a bee hive as well as taking care of the young insects or the larvae. The honey bees that one usually sees moving around are the worker bees engaged in collecting nectar from flowers. They also gather pollen grains and water from the flowers they visit to feed the young bees residing in the hives. The worker honey bees follow a certain pattern in their movements. When they are engaged in collecting nectar, pollen or water, these worker honey bees normally fly haphazardly. However, when they have collected sufficient amount of nectar, pollen and water that they are able to carry, the worker honey bees fly directly or make a 'beeline' to their hives.
Although the worker honey bees strive a lot to provide food, water and nectar to the bees in the hive, it is said that the achievement or prosperity of a hive largely depends on the queen bee. It still remains a mystery to man as to why the worker honey bees only select a few larvae and develop them into queen bees. The larvae selected to develop as queen bees are kept in special cells in the hive and fed with special food - the royal jelly. Normally, the queen bee comes out of her special cell only after 16 days of laying the egg.
The queen bee usually feeds on honey to gain potency and become strong. In the event of having multiple queen bees in one colony, the rival queen bees fight amongst themselves till death leaving one to rule the nest. In such a situation, one of the queen bees may even leave the colony with a swarm of worker honey bees to set up a new colony. Having established her supremacy in the nest, the new queen bee will then fly outside the hive and mate with one or many drones or male honey bees. It has been found, that only one mating with a drone enables the queen bee to lay eggs for the remaining part of her life. Normally, a queen bee can lay as many as 2,000 eggs daily and altogether around 1,000,000 during her entire life span.
It may be mentioned here that drones or male honey bees that grow from unfertilized eggs. As the word 'drone' denotes, the male honey bees are lazy and do not perform any work. In addition, the drones do not possess any sting and their sole function is to mate with the queen bees. When the flowering season comes to an end in autumn and there is no supply of honey, the requirement of the drone honey bees too comes to an end. When the season for laying eggs is over, the worker honey bees make the drones starve to death by not providing them with any food or water. One reason for killing the drones such mercilessly is that if they are allowed to survive through the winter, these drones will feed on the stored honey and finish the reserves.
As mentioned earlier, honey encloses several nutrients and is said to be one of the best nourishing substances ever produced by nature. Hence, the health benefits of honey are varied and many. Basically, the use of honey is widespread since time unknown for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. In addition to this, honey has many other health benefits and they are mentioned below.
Applying honey on your body not only helps to make your skin shine, but also improves the blood circulation. Before taking a shower, rub some honey on your skin and keep patting it until the honey becomes muggy. Then wash off the honey while showering and see the pleasant change. Bathing your hair with a blend of honey and lime helps to bring back the shine to your hair and keeps it healthy. Similarly, your skin will become radiant if you mix one-fourth teaspoon of honey in your bath regularly.
A paste made of honey along with crushed almonds and oatmeal functions as an excellent face cleanser. Apply this paste on your face and keep it for around 20 to 30 minutes and you will find your face glowing. This is primarily because the paste acts as scrub and peels off the dead skin cells, while toning the facial muscles. On the other hand, if you prepare a paste mixing apple and honey and apply it on your face for about 15 minutes, it will act as an excellent moisturizer. Applying this natural moisturizer regularly will help to keep your facial skin supple as well as compact.
Honey can also be used to prepare a facial mask. To prepare this facial mask blend two teaspoon of honey with two teaspoon of milk and apply it on your face. Leave the facial pack undisturbed for about 10 minutes and then wash it off with cold water. You will now be amazed to see how your facial skin radiates. It has been found that applying honey on dry skin acts as an effective lotion. Blend one-fourth teaspoon of lemon with one teaspoon of any vegetable oil and one teaspoon of honey and apply it on your skin. Leave the lotion for 10 minutes and then wash it away with cold water. Now, see the effect. Your skin has become soft and supple with no sign of dryness.
Here, it is important to remember that the above mentioned processes need to be followed regularly with a view to get the best results.
It has been a common practice to use honey to add essence or tang to desserts and several fruits. The tartness contained in honey enables the fruits to preserve their natural hue. However, when adding honey to fruits it is essential to bear in mind that you use a gentle quality of honey, or else the honey will overshadow the essence or taste of the fruits. Honey also helps to preserve fruits for a longer time enabling you to enjoy them when they are not in season. Here is how you can preserve the fruits, both cut pieces as well as whole fruits.