Can you name four products that bees make? Honey, of course is one. Then there’s beeswax. Two lesser known products are pollen and propolis.
In a few minutes, I’ll explain what these products are. Then I’ll discuss some ways you can use honey, beeswax, pollen, and propolis with your food for your health or to make money.
Honey is one of the most useful products that bees make. It is the sugary fluid that bees make using the nectar from flowers. It is used as a substitute for sugar to sweeten food and drink. By adding a little honey to your tea, coffee, or porridge, or smearing honey on bread and cakes, your food will be sweeter and tastier. You can also use honey to make honey wine and beer. Some communities use honey in cultural or religious ceremonies.
Honey can also be used as a medicine. It is a sterile solution because it contains a lot of sugar. This means honey can stop the growth of some bacteria. You can mix honey with lemon juice to relieve a cough or sore throat. In fact, honey is used in some commercial medicines to make them taste sweeter. And some foods can be preserved with honey.
With all these uses there is a lot of demand for honey in the marketplace. If you choose to sell it, you can be almost sure there will be buyers!
Another valuable product that bees provide is beeswax. It is worth even more than honey at the market. Beeswax is the special wax produced by the bees. They use it to make their honey comb.
Businesses buy beeswax to make cosmetics such as cold creams, lotions, ointments and lipsticks. It is also used to make medicines and candles.
Beeswax can be used to make certain materials waterproof. For this reason it is added to floor polishes, furniture, and leather. Beeswax is also used as a treatment for cracked hooves on animals. In Asia and Africa beeswax is used when dying fabrics for batiks. The strong demand for beeswax in your community and around the world can make it a good source of income.
One good thing about beeswax is that it can be stored for a very long time. You can collect it until you have enough to sell. Also, processing beeswax is not difficult. A simple heating and filtering process prepares your wax for market. And one more thing. Beeswax does not need special packaging. You can sell it as small unwrapped lumps in any type of sack.
Pollen is another of the bees’ products. Pollen is the yellow powder produced by flowers. The bees collect it and use it as their protein food. Pollen is becoming more popular in some parts of the world now as a health food for people because of the protein and other nutrients it contains. People eat a bit of dry pollen by itself, or add it to other foods.
The last product of beekeeping that I’ll discuss is propolis. Bees make propolis from the sticky resin collected from leaves, flowers, and logs. They combine it with beeswax and use it as a glue to seal the hive. It is believed to be a healthy food for people. Many say that diseases can be cured or relieved with propolis.
As you can see, there are many ways to use these four products that bees work so hard to make. You can use them in your home to directly benefit your family, or you can sell them to make money. Either way, you will see that with some time and effort, beekeeping pays off.
If you or anyone in your family is allergic to bee stings it is not advisable to raise bees. Allergic reactions associated with bee stings can be severe. When a person has an allergic reaction the following symptoms develop: itchy hands and feet, rash (red,itchy bumps) on body, swollen throat; and difficulty breathing. Stings cause minor swelling on most people but this does not indicate an allergy.
- This script was written for the Farm Radio Network by Marina Biasutti, Milton, Canada. It was reviewed by Carlos Sanchez, who has worked as a beekeeper in Peru and Canada.
- The production of this script was made possible with the generous support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada.
- Bee-Keeping, 1990, Training in agriculture-Booklet 237, pages 07-125. INADES-Formation, Kenya
- Introduction to beekeeping, First edition, 1988. Swaziland Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, P.O. Box 162, Mbabane, Swaziland
- Beekeeping in the tropics, Agrodok 32, May 1991.Agromisa, P.O. Box 41, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
- “To bee or not to bee”, by J. Beetsma, in AT Source, March 1990.Agromisa, P.O. Box 41, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
- Beekeeping in rural development, Dr. Nicola Bradbear, 1990.International Bee Research Association, 18 North Road,Cardiff, CF13DY, UK.