Educational Guide

Products

When people think about "what bees make" most would say honey, but it doesn't stop there. In fact bees produce and collect many different elements that are the fruits of their labour. We have briefly identified 6 products and bi-products of bees here.

Honey

Honey is the complex substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants and trees are gathered, modified, and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees as a food source for the colony. All living species of Apis have had their honey gathered by indigenous peoples for consumption, though for commercial purposes, only A. mellifera and A. cerana have been utilized to any degree. Honey is sometimes also gathered by humans from the nests of various stingless bees.

Composition -
Being a natural product, honey varies in composition enormously but, essentially, it is a fluid, viscous or crystallized substance, produced by bees from the nectar of blossoms that bees collect, transform or combine with substances of their own, which they then store and leave to mature. Its main components are water and sucrose. Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose, and it is the glucose-to-fructose ratio that determines some of honey’s most noticeable physical characteristics, such as how long it will take to crystallize, for example. Water is always present in honey, and the amount is critical to the beekeeper when processing or storing extracted honey. As we will see in Chapter 7, the beekeeper should always check their honey to ensure that this moisture/water presence is within bounds.
A more detailed definition of the composition of honey would be as follows:

- Honey is composed mainly of sugars and water.
- The average honey is 79.6% sugar and 17.2% water.
- The main sugars are fructose (38.2%) and glucose (31.3%).
- Other sugars include maltose (7.3%) and sucrose (1.3%).
- Honey also contains acids (.57%), protein (.26%), a small amount of minerals (.17%) and a number of other minor components, including pigments, flavour andaroma substances, sugar alcohols, colloids and vitamins. This group of materials constitutes about 2.2% of the total composition.


Beeswax

Beeswax is a bee product, and at the same time, in beekeeping, it is a reproductive material. It is a product of young bees that secrete it from their wax-producing glands. Conditions for secreting wax are warm weather and a good intake of both nectar and pollen. As a reproductive material, wax is used in beekeeping in the form of a honeycomb base. In the world market, the demand for beeswax is higher than its supply. Chemical composition and properties of wax: beeswax comprises of fatty acids, esters, higher alcohols and carbohydrates with a higher molecular weight. The specific weight of wax at the 15°C temperature is 0.956-0.969. Melting point is between 56°C and 64°C.

The odor of wax is influenced by the kind of honey from the plants it was gathered from. When melted, it smells stronger than solid wax. The odor weakens after staying for a long a time. All of its color variations are yellow. Color depends on the contents, on propolis and pollen in wax. Natural color is spoiled by melting. After staying for a certain period of time, pieces of wax become covered with a mist, and appear to be sprinkled with a gray dust. It appears sooner if the wax stays in a humid place. Wax should exhibit a granular appearance along the fracture line, resembling roasted pumpkin. When frequently melted this appearance disappears.

Use of beeswax -
The use of beeswax is multiple. It is applied in the leather, wood, textile and perfume industry and in art. There are white and yellow waxes used in different areas of industry. It is also applied in dental medicine, painting and conservation. The largest quantities are processed into honeycomb foundation sheets. The wax is not wasted. Every year, by remelting old honeycombs, it gets back in the market. In honeycomb foundation sheet production the best quality wax is used, containing no impurities. Honeycomb foundation sheets are produced using rollers in special workshops, which must possess a device for wax disinfection. Large quantities of wax are used in candle production. In industry, white wax (Cera flava) and yellow wax (Cera alba) are used. The natural way of bleaching wax is by exposing it to the sun, and chemically by special devices. White wax is used in cosmetics and pharmacy. Yellow wax is used in chemical industry in the production of different pastes, and it was used in textile, leather and food industry.


Pollen

Bees collect pollen in the pollen basket and carry it back to the hive. In the hive, pollen is used as a protein source necessary during brood-rearing. In certain environments, excess pollen can be collected from the hives of A. mellifera and A. cerana. It is often eaten as a health supplement. It also has been used with moderate success as a source of pollen for hand pollination However, pollen collected by bees and harvested for pollination must be used within a few hours because it loses its potency rapidly, possibly because of the effects of enzymes or other chemicals from the bees; hand-collected pollen may remain usable for weeks, if stored promptly under suitable conditions.

It is known that to maintain health, freshness and mood until deep into old age, a rational nutrition is required. Avoiding a normal and healthy nutrition long term leads to undermining metabolism, which finally leads to the advent of chronic diseases. These processes in organism develop slowly and cannot be observed immediately. To avoid this, daily nutrition should be complete.

Pollen mixed with honey is used in human nutrition as a means to impede ageing, for revitalization, to build up the organism`s defense capabilities, in treating prostate, anemia in children, etc. In recent years, pollen has been used in cosmetics for preparing ointments that refresh the skin and give the face a better look. Science has confirmed that our practices in nutrition have many deficiencies in important elements, thus causing a constant impairment to human health. Contemporary dieticians struggle with these deficiencies, not by applying drugs, but rather by improving nutrition and compensating for natural elements that renew one`s health, create balance in the organism and complement his mental and physical strength. Pollen is a mixture of albumins, fats, mineral substances, carbohydrates, amino-acids, ferments, etheric oils and vitamins: aneurin, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, folic acid, biotin, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, calciferol, carotene and rutin.


Propolis

Propolis is a resin-like material from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees. Propolis is rarely available in its pure form. It is usually obtained from beehives and contains bee products. Propolis has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to 350 B.C., the time of Aristotle. Greeks have used propolis for abscesses; Assyrians have used it for healing wounds and tumors; and Egyptians have used it for mummification. It still has many medicinal uses today, although its effectiveness has only been shown for a couple of them.

Propolis is used for canker sores and infections caused by bacteria (including tuberculosis), by viruses (including flu, H1N1 "swine" flu, and the common cold), by fungus, and by single-celled organisms called protozoans. Propolis is also used for cancer of the nose and throat; for boosting the immune system; and for treating gastrointestinal (GI) problems including Helicobacter pylori infection in peptic ulcer disease. Propolis is also used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. People sometimes apply propolis directly to the skin for wound cleansing, genital herpes and cold sores; as a mouth rinse for speeding healing following oral surgery; and for the treatment of minor burns.


Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens. It is secreted from the glands in the hypopharynx of worker bees, and fed to all larvae in the colony, regardless of sex or caste. When worker bees decide to make a new queen, because the old one is either weakening or dead, they choose several small larvae and feed them with copious amounts of royal jelly in specially constructed queen cells. This type of feeding triggers the development of queen morphology, including the fully developed ovaries needed to lay eggs.

Royal jelly is secreted from the glands in the heads of worker bees, and is fed to all bee larvae, whether they are destined to become drones (males), workers (sterile females), or queens (fertile females). After three days, the drone and worker larvae are no longer fed with royal jelly, but queen larvae continue to be fed this special substance throughout their development. It is harvested by humans by stimulating colonies with movable frame hives to produce queen bees. Royal jelly is collected from each individual queen cell (honeycomb) when the queen larvae are about four days old. It is collected from queen cells because these are the only cells in which large amounts are deposited; when royal jelly is fed to worker larvae, it is fed directly to them, and they consume it as it is produced, while the cells of queen larvae are "stocked" with royal jelly much faster than the larvae can consume it. Therefore, only in queen cells is the harvest of royal jelly practical. A well-managed hive during a season of 5–6 months can produce approximately 500 g of royal jelly. Since the product is perishable, producers must have immediate access to proper cold storage (e.g., a household refrigerator or freezer) in which the royal jelly is stored until it is sold or conveyed to a collection center. Sometimes honey or beeswax are added to the royal jelly, which is thought to aid its preservation.