Honeybees and human civilization has strong connotation since the early time. Honeybess have been used for different purposes to satisfy the man’s need and make a prosperous civilization. Most of the honeybee products can be classified into two types: Animal Origin and Plant origin.
Animal origin honey products include:
- Royal Jelly
- Bee Wax
- Bee Venom
Plant origin Honey bee products include:
Detailed description of honeybee products are given below:
- Necatar: Nectar, a liquid high in sucrose, is produced in plant glands known as nectaries. It is an important energy resource for honey bees and plays a significant role in foraging economics and evolutionary differentiation between different subspecies. It was proposed through an experiment conducted with the African honey bee, A. m. scutellata, that nectar temperature impacts the foraging decisions of honey bees.Bees use their long, straw like tube tongues called a proboscis so they can suck the nectar out of the flowers and store it in their “honey stomachs”.This is separate from and in front of its digestive stomach and is used only for storing nectar. The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar and when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honey stomachs.
- Propoils: Bee propolis is a sticky, brown substance sometimes known as bee glue. The honey bees gather tree resin, the main ingredient in propolis, from buds and cracks in the bark. The bees add salivary secretions to the resin by chewing on it, and add beeswax to the mix. Propolis has a little pollen in it, too. When analyzed, propolis contains about 50% resin, 30% wax and oils, 10% salivary secretions, 5% pollen, and 5% amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. The honey bee workers use propolis as a construction material, similar to plaster or caulk. They cover the interior surfaces of the hive with it, and fill any gaps and cracks. Bees also use it to strengthen their honeycomb. In a man-made hive box, the bees will use propolis to seal the lid and hive boxes together.
- Pollen: Bee pollen is not the same as allergy-causing pollen that is carried by the wind. It rarely causes allergy symptoms. It is actually the male seed of a flower blossom which are collected by the honey bees and mixed with the bees’ digestive enzymes. Bee pollen is low in calories but rich in proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, beneficial fatty acids, carbohydrates, and bioflavonoids which are anti-viral, antibacterial and helpful in lowering cholesterol, stabilising and strengthening capillaries. Its ability to rejuvenate the body, stimulates organs, enhances vitality and accelerate rate of recovery makes it a popular tonic among athletes and sportsmen. It is regarded as superfood sometime.
- Bee Venom: Apitoxin, or honey bee venom, is a bitter colourless liquid; its active portion a mixture of proteins, which causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. A honeybee can inject 0.1 mg of venom via its stinger. It may have similarities to sea nettle toxin.
Bee venom is given as a shot for rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain (neuralgia), multiple sclerosis (MS), reducing the reaction to bee stings in people who are allergic (desensitization) to them (venom immunotherapy), swollen tendons (tendonitis), and muscle conditions such as fibromyositis and enthesitis.
- Bee Bread: Bee Bread is actually the main source of food for most larvae and bees. It is fed to all larvae except those that are selected to become queens; the queen larvae are fed royal jelly instead. Comprised of all essential amino acids, high contents of vitamins especially vitamin K, enzymes, and flavanoids, bee bread is made of pollen mixed with bits of honey, bee wax, and bees’digestive enzymes and is known to be useful in treating anemia, hepatitis, insomnia, stress, failing memory, cholesterol and disgestive tract disorder. Nowadays, in the shop you can find bee bread specially made for promoting kids’ physical and mental growth. Bee bread helps children in improving memory, weight gain and fights obesity.
- Bee Wax: Beeswax (Cera alba) is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. The wax is formed into “scales” by eight wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments 4 through 7 of worker bees, who discard it in or at the hive. The hive workers collect and use it to form cells for honey-storage and larval and pupal protection within the beehive. Chemically, beeswax consists mainly of esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols. Beeswax has applications in human food and flavoring, for example as a glazing agent. It is edible, in the sense of having similar negligible toxicity to plant waxes, and is approved for food use in the European Union under the E number E901. However, the wax monoesters in beeswax are poorly hydrolysed in the guts of humans and other mammals, so have insignificant nutritional value. Some birds, such as honeyguides, can digest beeswax.
- Royal Jelly: Royal jelly is secreted by the hypopharyngeal gland (sometimes called the brood food gland) of young worker (nurse) bees, to feed young larvae and the adult queen bee. Royal jelly is always fed directly to the queen or the larvae as it is secreted; it is not stored.Royal jelly is a homogeneous substance with the consistency of a fairly fluid paste. It is whitish in colour with yellow or beige tinges, has a pungent phenolic odour and a characteristic sour flavour. It has a density of approximately 1.1 g/cm3 (Lercker et al., 1992) and is partially soluble in water. Aqueous solutions clarify during basification with soda.Numerous chemical analyses of royal jelly have been published over the years. Only recently though, have highly refined technologies given detailed analyses of the unusual composition and complexity of this somewhat acidic substance (pH 3.6 to 4.2). The principal constituents of royal jelly are water, protein, sugars, lipids and mineral salts. Although they occur with notable variations (Table 6.1) the composition of royal jelly remains relatively constant when comparing different colonies, bee races and time. Water makes up about two thirds of fresh royal jelly, but by dry weight, proteins and sugars are by far the largest fractions. Of the nitrogenous substances, proteins average 73.9% and of the six major proteins (Otani et al., 1985) four are glycoproteins (Takenaka, 1987). Free amino acids average 2.3% and peptides 0.16% (Takenaka, 1984) of the nitrogenous substances. All amino acids essential for humans are present and a total of 29 amino acids and derivatives have been identified, the most important being aspartic acid and glutamic acid (Howe et al., 1985). The free amino acids are proline and lysine (Takenaka, 1984 and 1987). A number of enzymes are also present including glucose oxidase (Nye et al., 1973) phosphatase and cholinesterase (Ammon and Zoch, 1957). An insulin-like substance has been identified by Kramer et al. (1977 and 1982).
- Honey: Honey is the most important primary product of beekeeping both from a quantitative and an economic point of view. It was also the first bee product used by humankind in ancient times. The history of the use of honey is parallel to the history of man and in virtually every culture evidence can be found of its use as a food source and as a symbol employed in religious, magic and therapeutic ceremonies (Cartland, 1970; Crane, 1980; Zwaeneprel, 1984) an appreciation and reverence it owes among other reasons to its unique position until very recently, as the only concentrated form of sugar available to man in most parts of the world. The same cultural richness has produced an equally colourful variety of uses of honey in other products”Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honeybees from the nectar of blossoms or from the secretion of living parts of plants or excretions of plant sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which honeybees collect, transform and combine with specific substances of their own, store and leave in the honey comb to ripen and mature. This is the general definition of honey in the Codex Alimentarius (1989) in which all commercially required characteristics of the product are described. The interested reader is also referred to other texts such as “Honey, a comprehensive survey” (Crane, 1975).
Honey in this bulletin, will refer to the honey produced by Apis mellifera unless otherwise specified. There are other honeybee species which make honey, and other bees and even wasps which store different kinds of honeys as their food reserves.