Traditionally we know the hive for producing honey, but we also extract propolis, pollen, royal jelly and the apitoxin used in apitherapy. At this article we will tell you the benefits of raw honey, a honey remedy for flu and colds, and, finally, there is a slight contribution in case you would like to have a hive at home.
Honey is the second sweetest thing found in nature after dates. It contains 80% simple sugars (glucose, fructose, maltose and some sucrose), between 15 and 18% water and the rest are proteins, triglycerides, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and natural enzymes. So it is an energetic food with high nutritional and medicinal value. This golden, sticky and one-of-a-kind liquid is a balm for both sweet tooth and sick people.
The bees collect the nectar from the flowers and they transport it to the hive. Then they add enzymes to the nectar and reduce the humidity of the substance from the 60% water in the nectar to less than 18% of water in the honey.
But not all honey is Honey. Raw honey is honey that has not been heated or pasteurized on its way from the hive to the kitchen. Commercial honey is often pasteurized, as in thys way it is a more manageable product for both industry and consumer. Pasteurization destroys enzymes and alterate it's chemical composition, losing a part of his nutritional value and the medicinal properties. Large producers also use a pressure filtration system that removes the impurities from the honeycomb, but in the process they increase the temperature of the honey, and then they carry away traces of pollen and other substances that complete its nutritional value.
And it is thanks to the high nutritional value of the honey, that it also has other properties apart from the energetic and sweetening:
Raw honey benefits
- It has antimicrobial, antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. In topical use it helps to treat wounds, burns, ulcers, herpes, acne and subcutaneous infections, and others. These properties also help honey to be 'eternal', perfectly preserved jars of honey having been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs.
- Improves blood sugar level, since it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, in other words; the sugars in honey are absorbed more slowly than those in normal sugar (sucrose) and therefore the blood sugar level rises more slowly compared to consuming sugar.
- Keeps us young: Natural unpasteurized honey is rich in antioxidants that slow down the aging of the body. Especially in the case of honeydew, which is produced with the secretions of resin-sucking insects and sage from pines, oaks, chestnuts, cork oaks and holm oaks.
- It improves digestive health by acting as a mild laxative by feeding the intestinal flora with fructose, reducing stomach acidity by creating a protective layer (if taken warm), promoting the healing of gastrointestinal ulcers and fighting the bacteria that cause gastroenteritis.
- Strengthens the immune system by having a strong bactericidal power, honey acts on different fronts in the fight against infectious bacteria, combining bacteriostatic and bactericidal factors; thanks to its composition with hydrogen peroxide, antioxidants, lysozyme, polyphenols, phenolic acids... and in addition to its acidity between 3.2 and 4.5, its osmotic effect (it extracts water from bacterial cells) and its high concentration of sugar and its polyphenols, which kill bacterial cells.
- It relieves respiratory and throat problems, being a natural and effective remedy against coughs in common colds in children, as well as improving sleep by promoting the secretion of melatonin. In various studies, honey appears to be just as effective as dextromethorphan, given in medications.
- It improves memory by containing, among other minerals, the calcium necessary for neuronal connections, in addition to fighting dementia due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Anticaries: Improves oral health by stopping the growth of dental plaque bacteria and reducing the amount of acid produced by them, which prevents bacteria from making dextran, a substance that helps bacteria to form the dental plaque.
- And others under study: Other uses are being investigated in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the ability to regulate blood sugar in the improvement of diabetes and in the fight against breast, cervical and skin cancers.
If you want to know more about the effects of honey on health, you can take a look at the Spanish article Medicinal properties of honey. Review of reviews , written by Rubén Murcia Prieto, Dietitian-Nutritionist of the page Dietetics Without Sponsors.
Cold and flu remedy.
Garlic and raw honey are excellent to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu because they strengthen the immune system and they help to expel phlegm. A strong immune system fights better: the body heals faster and symptoms are milder. To make this remedy at home you should:
- Fill a very clean jar with peeled and slightly crushed garlic cloves.
- Add raw honey until cover the garlic.
- Close the jar and store it in a cool, dark place.
- Check and shake or stir the pot every few days.
Now wait until the garlic absorbs the color and flavor of the honey. The mixture will start to ferment at a very fast rate at first and then more and more slowly. You will see bubbles (you must open and close the jar to expel the gas) and the honey will be watered down by the humidity of the garlic. About a month later it will stop fermenting, the bubbles will disappear and you will no longer have to open or stir it. You can now keep it tightly closed in a dark place to take it at any time in this year and surely the following years. You can refill the jar wiyh new garlic and honey as you consume it. Over time, garlic loses its spicy flavor, making it much easier to eat garlic fermented in honey than raw. Take the garlic in the morning on an empty stomach and use the honey as a syrup. Honey fermented garlic tastes like candy!
Both honey and garlic will help you prevent colds, flu and the typical winter cough, so you will notice improvement if you take it before and during the cold season .
If you are beginning to incubate a flu or something similar and you do not have your eternal remedy ready, you can make this same remedy in a very short time and almost without waiting: Grate or chop a head of peeled garlic and add half a glass of raw honey, let it rest for 2 to 4 hours and take a tablespoon every 2 hours. The taste is extremely weird, but it has helped a lot me recover.
Other hive products
In addition to honey, bees also produce:
- Pollen: Bees collect pollen from flower stamens. They form dusty little balls with their mouths and legs to transport it to the hive stuck on their legs and, if there is a lot, all over the body. To collect it, we put a small wooden box with holes and a collector underneath at the entrance of the hive, so when the bees pass, the pollen is released from their bodies and falls into the collector.
- Propolis: Bees make propolis by collecting resinous substances from the buds of poplars, alders, birches, willows, elms and pines, mainly. They carry them attached to their legs in the form of translucent balls. Propolis is used by bees as putty to cover small holes in the hive and prevent microbial diseases.
We have been very surprised by the effectiveness of propolis to reduce toothache, we tell you about it in the article Propolis for oral health.
- Royal jelly: Young bees produce royal jelly when they have pollen, water and honey. Royal jelly is a starter food for the larvae and the queen need it to develop itself and to maintain its fertility. To obtain the jelly, beekeepers have to put some jelly collectors in the cells of a hive without a queen, to collect them full of jelly after 3 days.
- Apitoxin: It is the venom of bees. It is used to treat different diseases; from inflammatory pain to multiple sclerosis. A box to keep bees is placed in the door of the hive and the interior is spured with a stick, then some bees go out to defend the hive and so they enter into the box. Once stored, the apitherapist uses them to introduce the poison into different parts of the patients' bodies.
A beehive at home
If you have space in your house you can install some hives to improve the pollination of the place and to obtain the honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly and the apitoxin. If you want to get started in beekeeping you must obtain:
- Wooden boxes or beehives, frames and waxes. You can look for someone who no longer uses them or make your own hives, both in a traditional way with barks, baskets or empty logs as well as wood; square and with frames, just as they are today.
- Swarms of bees with a queen. You can buy them, get a swarm from the ones that firefighters remove, hunt a swarm by yourself or wait for them to swarm naturally in your well-prepared and well-placed hive. Bee attractants help to swarm naturally.
- Beekeeper suit or a mask protection and gloves. Wear light clothes, as bees are less attracted to them than colorful and dark ones. Bees like to get into wrinkles in clothes and can easily find an entrance to your body, so you should tie your pieces of clothing very well together with ropes as belts.
- Various tools, such as the brush to clean the bees from the suit, the spatula to separate squares and the smoker to mislead them when you manipulate the hive, among others.
Before installing the hives you should know the melliferous value of the area about two or three kilometers around where you will put the hives. Observe the flowering of honey plants, notice the buzzing of bees in the treetops and find out the quality of honey they can produce with the plants that are most available. As you walk around, look for the places where our ancestors put the apiaries.
They should be spaces where you can keep the hives under these conditions:
- Each hive should be a little away from the others so that the bee workers and the queen do not get confused and get into the neighboring hives.
- They should be oriented to the south or east so that they get up early to work.
- They need a brick, stone or wood structure so that they are insulated from soil moisture .
- With ample space in the runway to facilitate take-off and landing.
- Protected from the wind to facilitate landing when they return tired from a hard day of harvesting.
- With some shadow se the wax and honey will not melt on really hot days.
- Away from large areas of water in which when flying over them with wind they could crash and drown.
- Near running, healthy water that can be supplied or where an artificial drinking trough can be created.
- People say they like the energy emanating from the crossroads of telluric lines.
Set up the hives in late fall in temperate places or in after the winter when it is very cold. There is a worldwide disease called Barroa, which is a mite that parasitizes bees already in their cells and that must be treated in winter. In spring, at the beginning of the harvest, we open the hive to see how they spent the winter. If the hive is dead, we must disinfect the box before repopulating it with more bees. If it does not have enough honey we can feed it with sugar syrup, being attentive to the pillage, which would end up destroying a weak hive.
During the spring bees work to collect the honey and at the end of the honey season the beekeeper collects it, as long as the hive is strong and has excess honey. The extraction is done with a centrifuge machine or, in case of not having it, the honeycombs are crushed with the hands and the content is filtered to remove the impurities. It is always better to use the machine, since with the machine the wax cells are returned intact to the hive and the bees do not have to build them again, instead, with our hands we destroy all the wax structures and the bees must rebuild them.
Obviously this is an extremely brief summary of the work of a beekeeper. If you want to get started in beekeeping you will need a lot more information; Look for mentors, books, documentaries... Day by day bee populations are losing strength and it is increasingly difficult to work with them, but a small apiary will provide you honey, pollen, jelly, and propolis in addition to contributing to the increase of the population of bees.
If you don't want to get too involved, in Australia they have invented a revolutionary hive in which the beekeeper does not have many tasks and the honey comes out of a tap.
Easy hive without intervention
So if you want to get your own honey but you have no idea about beekeeping or you do not want to spend a lot of time in it, the Flow Hive hive is a new option: a homemade honey factory from which the honey comes directly through a tap .
It seems an expensive option to us and it has criticisms from professional farmers. They said that at the time of the honey collection, the honey should not be able to flow through the tap, so what we collect will surely be more nectar than honey. The nectar, having more humidity, flows well in the circuit of this hive. We have did not tested and we do not plan to do it at the moment. But it seems to us a curiosity to show for its apparent easy handling.