One of the most useful creatures to medicine and agriculture is the honeybee. honeybees are responsible for pollenating crops and plants, and producing honey, wax, pollen, propolis and royal jelly. In recent years the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder has made its debut in the international news to a lukewarm fanfare. It is estimated that if we were to loose bees as a source of pollination, we would loose as much as 30% of our global food supply. Enter big agri-business. For years we have been told by the likes of Monsanto and Dow Agrosciences (leading GMO crop producers) that their herbicides, pesticides and crops are benign to the environment. A couple of years ago, I attended a mini-conference held at the University of Guelph on honeybees. At the end of the lectures, I asked a presenter whether or not experiments had been done to determine what effect pollen (the food source of bees) coming from GMO plants had on the digestive health of bees. The response shocked me. I was told that none had “ever” been done However, this makes sense. If they had been done, we might not have been quite so quick to approve the aforementioned companies’ products. Studies that were done illustrated the effects of insecticides (neonicotinoids included) on the memory of bees. These studies showed substantial memory loss due to the use of these chemicals. Essentially, bees were unable to find their way back to the hives after they went out foraging, which would contribute to colony collapse. One of the possible hypotheses as to why Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more and more widespread is due to humans consuming increasing amounts of these chemical residues that remain on our food.

Some of the uses of honeybee products are as follows:

Pollen: Superfood (extends longevity, aids recovery from illness, reduces cravings,
suppresses appetite, prevents anemia, increases immunity to colds and
flus, normalizes cholesterol fractions, reduces allergies, displays anti-
cancer activity, lowers infertility, increases endurance)

Propolis: Anti-microbial (inhibits a wide range of bacterias and viruses)
Anti-neoplastic (inhibits hepatic and uterine carcinomas (Matsuno, 1992), cyto-
Toxic to breast cancer, melanoma, colon cancer, renal cancer
cells (Grunberger Et al, 1988)

Wound healing: (due to its Arginine content) (burns and other wounds
(Ghisalberti, 1979, Krell 1996))

Anesthetic: (mouth sores, sore throats (Paintz/ Metzner, 1979))
Immune system modulator (Macrophage activation (Moriyasu et al, 1993)
Cardiovascular (reduces blood pressure (Kedzia et al, 1988), strengthens
Capillaries (Roger, 1988))

Beeswax: used in candles, cosmetics (lip balm, hand cream, moisturizer, mustache wax), as a food preservative (coating cheeses to prevent mold growth, as a glaze for
fresh fruit to increase its shelf life), in polishes (shoe, furniture), as an adhesive
(for reeds in squeeze boxes)

Bee Venom: used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, in cosmetics (as a blood flow enhancer and collagen synthesizer), as an allergy desensitizer.

All in all, not bad for an insect. When it comes to the future of agriculture, our food supply and our health, we must think in terms of sustainability. The industrial model of “Modern Agriculture” places short term profits ahead of everything else. In this system, the Honeybee is merely an avenue of profit and not seen for its true value to the ecosystem. Therefore, when these big corporations offer up benign platitudes about their products, tell them to “buzz off!”

Bee Well.

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