When people think of bee products, the first thing that comes to mind is honey. But honey is not all that bees produce! In fact, there are plenty of other bee products that are created when it comes to bees and harvesting honey.
The whole process of bee pollination is one which helps to maintain the biological environment of nature by pollinating flowers and aiding new plants to reproduce. This in turn affects all the other plants, animals and even humans, allowing us to thrive.
During the process of pollination, several bee products such as honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly and beeswax are produced. These products have long been used as a natural food source and also for medicinal purposes for healing. It isn’t a surprise that they have since become popular health supplements and products for those who understand their powerful effects.
Long known as a sweetener, the health benefits of consuming honey are still being discovered - including its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
Honey is made from the nectar of flowering plants and regurgitated from bee to bee before being stored in the honeycomb of the hive. The honey is then cooled by the bees’ wings and set aside as a source of food for the bees. It is then harvested from the bee hives by beekeepers and processed and bottled for consumption.
Honey is not only used as a great substitute for white sugar, it is also effective as a health supplement to boost your immunity to colds and viruses, sore throats and coughs. It can also be topically to help with the healing of skin issues, burns and wounds.
Certain honeys like Manuka honey can even be beneficial against a wider range of ailments like gum disease, stomach issues and indigestion.
On the other hand, propolis is a type of bee glue or resin that bees produce to seal and protect the hive from intruders and bacteria. It functions to seal holes and cracks and the reconstruction of the beehive. It is also used for maintaining the hive’s internal temperature at 35 degrees Celsius and smoothening the inner surface of the hive. When propolis hardens the cell wall, it creates an aseptic environment that keeps the beehive protected from contamination caused by harmful bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms.
Propolis is known for its antibiotic properties and can be added into health products such as toothpaste, or consumed on its own through capsules or liquid extracts.
Royal jelly is a milky substance that is fed by worker bees to the bee larvae up to until they are three days old. The queen bee is the one who gets to feed on it for her entire life. She grows up to two and a half times larger than ordinary bees, and produces eggs to populate the beehive.
Royal jelly is the food that decides whether a worker or a queen bee will hatch from the larva. It is generally used for beauty support and to maintain general wellness. It can also be effective against asthma, hay fever, insomnia, PMS and menopause symptoms, skin disorders, anti-ageing and boosting the immune system.
Used widely for candles, lip balms, creams and other beauty products, beeswax is produced to form the walls and seal the cells of the honeycomb. Beeswax contains over 300 natural compounds, especially fatty-acid esters. The fresh wax is white, which later turns to a yellowish brown colour.
Bees are covered in pollen when they collect nectar from plants and these balls of pollen get deposited into honeycomb cells along with hormones and antibiotic substances from the bees. In the beehive, it is used as a source of food for the young bees.
Pollen tastes powdery, floral and slightly bittersweet, and you can add it to your yoghurt, cereal and oatmeal as a topping. It is a nutrient-packed with eighteen vitamins, essential amino acids, enzymes and is a rich source of protein.
Nature’s Glory Natural Bee Products
At Nature’s Glory, we prize bee products for their nutritional and medicinal value. We offer a range of essential bee products that typically come in the form of honey and propolis.
One of our top products includes our organically certified Manuka honey from New Zealand. Although we offer a range of different honeys, we think that our Manuka honey is one of the best. Its natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties make this unique type of honey especially potent when it comes to benefiting your health.
Moreover, the rich and intense flavour of the honey is so different from most other honeys. Given how little this honey is processed, we also really enjoy how pure and unadulterated organic Manuka honey is.
Next to pure liquid honey, propolis is also featured in our Propolis Balls and liquid Propolis Extract. Almost just as potent as our Manuka honey, propolis contains over 300 compounds including flavonoids, amino acids and enzymes to boost your immunity, reduce ageing effects, and promote healing of the skin.
It can also guard against harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses like yeast and fungal infections and oral bacteria.
With these 2 powerful products, you can also enjoy the benefits of natural bee products for your body and health with the click of a button. Just head to our Nature's Glory ecommerce store to start shopping!
The key difference between beeswax and propolis is that beeswax is an oily solution secreted from bees that is useful in building honeycombs, whereas propolis is a mixture of beeswax and some other oils and resins that are collected by the bees and is useful in making the bee hive and to preserve the honey.
The terms beeswax and propolis are closely related because these two materials can be found in bee hives.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Beeswax
3. What is Propolis
4. Beeswax vs Propolis in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Beeswax vs Propolis
What is Beeswax?
Beeswax is a naturally occurring waxy product made by honey bees of the genus Apis. This wax is formed into scales by eight wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments of the worker bees. This wax is then discarded in or at the hive. There are hive workers among these bees who use it to form cells to store honey and to protect larval and pupal within the beehive. Generally, beeswax contains esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols.
Beeswax is an edible material. It has negligible toxicity, similar to plant waxes. It is approved to be used in Europe with the E number E901.
Worker bees have glands that make beeswax in the inner sides of the sternites. These are the ventral shields or plates of each segment of the body that occur on the abdominal segments 4 to 7. Typically, the size of each of these glands depends on the age of the worker bee.
Beeswax that is made initially appears as a glass-clear and colorless substance. It becomes opaque after chewing and being contaminated with pollen that comes with the hive worker bees. This progressively becomes more yellowish or brownish by the incorporation of pollen oils and propolis.
What is Propolis?
Propolis is a resinous mixture made by honey bees by mixing saliva and beeswax with the exudate that is gathered from tree buds, sap flowers, etc. It is also known as bee glue. It is useful as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the beehive. This substance is important for small gaps that are in the range of 6 mm or less. The large gaps that are larger than bee spaces, which are around 9 mm, are usually filled with burr comb. However, the color of propolis can vary depending on the botanical source, though the dark brown color is the most common appearance. Moreover, propolis is sticky at around 20 degrees Celsius. At low temperatures, it becomes hard and brittle.
There are different functions of propolis. It is important to reinforce the structure and reduce vibration. It also provides improved thermal insulation to the hive and reduces water loss. Furthermore, propolis provides protection from pathogens while making the hive more defensible against parasites and predators. In addition, propolis mitigate putrefaction within the hive.
Typically, the composition of propolis varies depending on the hive. In other words, the composition of propolis differs from hive to hive. Sometimes, it can vary from district to district or from season to season. This substance generally appears in dark brown, but sometimes it can be found in green, red, black, and white hues. This color depends on the sources of resin that can be found in the particular hive area.
What is the Difference Between Beeswax and Propolis?
Beeswax and propolis are two different substances that can be found in bee hives. The key difference between beeswax and propolis is that beeswax is an oily solution secreted from bees and is useful in building the honeycomb, whereas propolis is a mixture of beeswax and some other oils and resins that are collected by bees and is useful in making the bee hive and to preserve honey.
The below infographic presents the differences between beeswax and propolis in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Beeswax vs Propolis
The key difference between beeswax and propolis is that beeswax is an oily solution secreted from bees and is useful in building the honeycomb, whereas propolis is a mixture of beeswax and some other oils and resins that are collected by bees and is useful in making the bee hive and to preserve the honey.
1. “Beeswax.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.
1. “Beeswax honeycomb” (CC0) via Pxhere
2. “Propolized bars pulled apart” By Tiktaalikbreeder – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
Bee products have been around for millennia, and the ancient Greeks regarded them as the food of kings. Nowadays, bee products are turning into an interesting alternative to artificial sweeteners and other products. Diversification in our global market has made new bee products available, but the majority of us might feel a bit confused about the difference between one another. We traditionally know about bee honey and what it is, but have you heard about bee pollen and bee bread?
In this article, we are going to discuss the similarities and differences of different bee products that you might have heard of. Moreover, it will be the perfect opportunity to meet the modern trend of bee pollen and bee bread and the biological properties and health benefits they have for you.
Honey, much more than a sweetener
We all know bee honey, but a quick review will be useful to set apart terms and health properties. Bees produce honey by collecting nectar (not pollen) from flowers and plants. Nectar is a sweet substance, and honey is supersaturated in sugar, but with a very high nutritional value. It contains not only carbohydrates, but also vitamins, carotenoids, polyphenols, oligosaccharides with prebiotic effects in the gut microbiota, and special enzymes that speed up break down and absorption of nutrients (1).
Given the different components of bee honey, it is one of the healthiest sweeteners with many added benefits, including:
Antioxidant activity : Studies show that honey scavenges free radicals in vitro and in vivo. It enhances our natural antioxidant enzymes, and it has antioxidant flavonoids that contribute to neutralizing free radicals ( 2 ).
Anti-inflammatory potential : Honey has been extensively used to treat ulcers and wounds because it has an impressive anti-inflammatory activity that suppresses specific cytokines and reduces the damage of reactive oxygen species in compromised tissues ( 3 ).
Metabolic and cardiovascular effects : Bee honey prevents cardiovascular disease and reduces metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol and triglyceride levels and low HDL-cholesterol ( 4 ).
Are bee honey and bee pollen different from each other?
If you think bee honey is beneficial, you will be amazed to know what bee pollen is, and the additional properties it has.
Pollen is composed of microscopic particles produced by the male flower. Bees harvest them and transport pollen to the hive, and that’s when it is called bee pollen. Pollen is where bees collect protein from nature, and it is essential to develop bee colonies (5).
Bee pollen comes from a variety of plants and has many properties depending on the climatic condition, the source of flowers, and the geographical origin. However, it has carotenoids, chlorophyll, it is loaded with vitamins and phenolic compounds, and has essential amino acids that provide a higher nutritional value in pollen compared to honey (6). Moreover, after being transported, pollen is enriched with bee honey and digestive enzymes contained in the salivary glands of bees. Thus, it has the same properties bee honey has, plus a very high nutritional content derived from essential amino acids (7).
Where does bee bread come from?
If we follow the natural course of bee pollen, we will ultimately reach bee bread. Pollen is extracted from flowers to meet the nutritional requirements of bees, and it is the only protein source they have. However, it should be processed before it feeds the entire hive, especially bee larvae, which cannot digest pollen without due processing.
Thus, they value bee pollen, stack their reserves in honeycomb cells, and then secure and preserve pollen with bee wax and honey. After a while, bee pollen undergoes a long process of fermentation, usually with Lactobacillus species. That is where bee bread comes from. It is basically bee pollen that stayed for a while inside the nest and became naturally fermented (7).
Bee bread is more difficult to obtain because it is compacted in hard balls solidly fixed in the honeycomb cells. Moreover, the cocoons of bee larvae all around the area makes it even more difficult to collect bee bread. In the majority of cases, and especially if we want to keep the medicinal properties of bee bread, extraction must be done by hand, or we can opt for artificially preparing bee bread (7). But all of the hassle and extra work pays off because bee bread has exceptional qualities that honey and pollen lack.
Composition and health properties of bee bread
In a nutshell, bee honey is a substance created by bees using nectar, but they also gather pollen as a source of proteins and mix it with bee honey. The resulting bee pollen has the same properties of honey, but with added nutritional benefits.
Bee bread goes even beyond because it is made of bee pollen gathered in honeycomb cells and preserved for long enough to favor lactic acid fermentation. It has the same nutrients and health properties we describe above, but it is more easily digestible and more readily assimilated by the human body (8).
It happens something similar to milk and yogurt. People who are intolerant to lactose may still have yogurt without experiencing gastrointestinal problems because it is fermented, and bacteria have already broken down lactose. Similarly, some people may not assimilate bee pollen, but that problem will be solved by eating bee bread to get all of the nutrients and health benefits.
A biological analysis of bee bread would reveal it has B vitamins, vitamin K, lactic acid, easily digestible unsaturated fatty acids and polisaccharides, a higher proportion of free amino acids (all 20 amino acids), and probiotic strains. Besides the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects we mentioned above, bee bread has additional benefits. They are as follows (9):
It has a higher nutritional value : Bee bread has more nutrients than honey and pollen. For example, it has B vitamins and vitamin K, which is absent in bee pollen. Thus, it is very useful to supplement different types of deficiencies and strengthen the organism.
It is easily digested : Nutrients are more bioavailable in bee bread due to the process of fermentation it went through and the additional enzymes it contains.
It is useful to eliminate toxins : Similar to other bee products, bee bread speeds up the metabolism of toxins and their elimination in the urine.
Bee bread is an excellent food for your brain : Using bee bread to enhance mental efforts has proven effective and very promising to improve concentration and memory.
We can’t say eating honey is not healthy, but it is nothing compared to bee pollen and bee bread. The latter is the last stage and the most refined product because has undergone fermentation and is more digestible. So, even though they come from the same source in nature, bee honey, pollen, and bread are different bee products, each one with health benefits you can use to your advantage.