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Useful little creatures

Bees make a huge number of different compounds, to create their hives and feed their young. Humans have worked with bees for over 7000 years, providing safe places for them to build their homes in return for getting to use these handy products! Here are some of the traditional uses of bee products still in use today:

Beeswax is stable and inert, and has always been used in cosmetics and as a food seal, to prevent food from spoiling. One of our local makers uses it to coat fabric to make reusable food wraps. Beeswax furniture polish conditions wood (and makes your house smell great!), and beeswax candles burn slowly and cleanly.

Honey has been used for wound healing since biblical times, and research is currently underway to investigate if honey’s antiseptic properties can combat antibiotic resistant strains of common bugs. Many people swear by the use of honey to alleviate hayfever symptoms, and some research shows that eating honey produced by local bees can reduce allergic reactions to pollen from that specific area.

Bee venom has been used traditionally to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions for centuries, although this treatment can have life-threatening side effects. Modern medical researchers are working on isolating how the venom works to reduce inflammation, in the hope of finding new medication, without the risks of traditional treatments.

Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources, and has been reported to have various health benefits related to gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, and gynaecological, oral, and dermatological problems. Royal jelly is traditionally known for its protective effects on reproductive health, neurodegenerative disorders, wound healing, and ageing, although more research is needed to verify these claims.

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