Showing posts with label Bee pollen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bee pollen. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2013

Honeybees–An Endangered Species?

August is a honey of a month, not only because it’s the last month of the summer break for most school kids – and its departing will be such sweet sorrow – but because August 17 is National Honey Bee Day.  We’re celebrating the bee in a big way with a week of articles and info on honey bees and the wonderful, healthful bee products we can add to our diets, such as honey, bee pollen, and royal jelly.  In this article, we focus on the plight of the honey bee – a hot topic due to the sharp decline in bee colonies in the last couple of years that has endangered the American and even worldwide food supply.

Bee on flower

Colony Collapse Disorder – What happened


Roughly seven years ago, the massive dying off of honeybee colonies sent alarm through the American beekeeper community as they reported huge declines in the number of bees.  Countrywide, the beekeepers were reporting losses were from 30 percent to as much as 90 percent.  While bee colony declines have occurred previously in US history, nothing of this scale had ever taken place before.

Government estimates show the decline of managed honey bee colonies as half today the number of colonies in the 1940s, even as the demand for honeybee products has increased over the years.


Why the honey bee colony decline spells disaster


Left unchecked, a honeybee colony collapse of this magnitude threatens the survival of many crops, those that rely on honeybee pollenization to bear fruit.  According to the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s internal research agency, bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year. 

But the loss is not just economic; a third of the food in the American diet is made possible through honey bee pollination. Many foods that can only exist with the assistance of bee pollination, such as:
  • Almonds and other tree nuts
  • Berries
  • Most fruits
  • Most vegetables
The loss is even greater though because many forms of livestock are dependent on grazing or grain-feeding of grasses and similar plants that rely on the honeybee.  For example, cattle are often fed alfalfa, but alfalfa requires bee pollination.  When you consider the related connections such as these, estimates on the number of foods we eat that are influenced by honeybee pollenization are as high as 90 percent!

Swarm of bees


What is causing the decline in bee colonies


Scientists have not yet been able to identify conclusively a single cause of the honeybee colony decline. However, research is moving ever closer, and indicators are that the collapse of colonies appears to be the result of numerous factors – a perfect storm of environmental stresses. These include the presence of parasites, pathogens, pesticides, and fungicides in the honeybees’ environment. They add up to conditions of environmental stress that affect the habits of the honeybee, ultimately disrupting their social system and making their colonies more susceptible to disease.


What can be done to save honeybee colonies


There are many efforts underway to give honeybee colonies a better chance for survival and, hopefully, a chance to thrive.
  • Along with their regular crops, farmers are being encouraged to grow groundcover plants that are considered bee-friendly, such as buckwheat, mustard, and sweet clover.
  • Almond growers in particular are being advised to grow groundcover plants along canal banks and roadways. Almonds are highly dependent on the honeybee, and such groundcover planting keeps the honeybees active and healthy during those times when the almond crops have not yet begun to flower.
  • Research continues on many fronts, including several studies by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, to better identify causes and, if necessary, outlaw the use of those pesticides or fungicides in farming that appear to play a significant part in the honeybee colony decline.
Can you make a difference? Yes! You don't have to be a farmer to make the world a safer place for the honeybee; there are actions that you, the common consumer, can do to help to make National Honey Bee Day more meaningful for you and your family:
  • Avoid indiscriminate use of pesticides.
  • Particularly avoid using pesticides in the middle of the day, as that is when honey bees do most of their nectar-foraging.
  • Seed your property with foxglove, the Palm, red clover, and other plants that encourage bee pollenization.
  • Consider becoming a backyard beekeeper.

Bee keeper

For more information about honeybee decline and steps that you can take (and that are being taken) to reverse the decline, visit NAPPC, the website of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, or see the PBS page How You Can Help the Bees

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hey Honey


Fresh Is Best

health benefits of honey
Bees the makers of honey
Did you know that honey is freshest in the summer and fall when it is harvested? You will get the most health benefits from honey if you get it fresh and raw. Another option is pasteurized honey. However, many health benefits of honey are lost when it is pasteurized. I highly recommend buying local raw honey. Why local honey? The bees in your area are harvesting pollen from the plants in your area. Nature, in its beautiful wisdom, provides the foods and plants your body most needs for “life support” for you in that space and time. So when you can; eat fresh, local, and raw!


Fill Yourself Up With Fabulous Fuel

Honey benefits have been known and used throughout the ages. However, we have stopped using honey for nutrition, and replaced it with processed sugar for low cost and ease. But, food is fuel to our bodies, and the nutrients and vitamins we get from fresh food can greatly increase our good health. That is why I am such an avid supporter of spreading the word to eat nutrient dense foods. Many health experts feel that eating fresh and raw ingredients has a positive effect on our overall health.

Let’s live life to the fullest, by enjoying the positive benefits of eating delicious, colorful, nutrient rich foods. The benefit of honey is just one way we can do this.

Honey health benefits

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits honey has to offer to YOU:
  • Allergy remedy: Many people report that using a spoonful of honey in tea, or right out of the jar has relieved their allergy symptoms. There may also be benefits from adding bee pollen supplements to the honey.  Some people report that they are able to stop using over the counter medicines after finding that honey has helped relieve their symptoms. How Stuff Works.com explains in detail how honey might help as an allergy remedy. 
  • An Energized Workout:  Honey can boost the quality of your workout! The natural sugars in honey may help in preventing fatigue while you exercise. Try a “spoonful of honey” before your next work out and see if it boosts your energy!
  • Boost your Immune System:  Honey has anti-bacterial properties.  Since bacteria does not grow on honey, it might help your body kill off bacteria and help boost your immune system. I once asked a lively and healthy 92 year old woman, named Doris, what she felt was one of her most effective health regimens. She told me that every morning she started her day with honey and lemon in a cup of warm water. A doctor had told her in her forties that it would help to boost her immune system, and she used it every day after that. 
  • A Natural Home Remedy:  I come from Amish country and I am grateful for the influence that culture has brought into my life. One of my favorite books is, “Home Remedies from Amish Country.” One remedy from this little gem of a book is said to be good for arthritis pain. But always check with your doctor before stopping or changing any medications. There are different types of arthritis and it's important to know which type you are dealing with before using any remedy, natural or otherwise.
    • Mix equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar.
    • Take two dessert spoons (about one tablespoon) of this mixture each morning and evening.
Health benefits from honey are numerous, whether you use it inside or out. Livestrong.com is just one internet resource that talks about the many benefits from raw honey. If you are unsure of the benefits honey could have for your condition, check with your skilled health care provider first. Always discuss changes in treatment with your doctor before stopping any prescribed treatment or medication. Also, honey should never be given to infants under the age of 12 months. It may contain botulism spores that can lead to botulism poisoning. Infants under 12 months should avoid all foods containing honey, whether it is raw or processed.

Let me share with you a few nutrition facts so you can feel even better about enjoying this delicious, golden syrup.

Honey Nutrition Facts

How many calories are in honey? Well there are about 64 calories in a tablespoon of honey.

I was taught that to live a long healthy life eat mineral rich foods. You can't go wrong with honey.
  • Potassium-heart, kidney, muscle and digestive functioning.
  •  Calcium-bone health, dental care and prevention of colon cancer.
  • Phosphorus-hormone balance, bone and protein formation and digestion.
  • Sodium-helps balance fluid in the body, especially during workouts.
  • Magnesium-aids over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
  • Iron-carries life giving oxygen to human blood cells.
  • Copper-if there is an anti-aging nutrient, this one would be at the top of the list!
  •  Manganese-helps in building bones.
  • Zinc- immune system, wound healing, improved stress levels, and much more.
raw honey
The benefits of honey are many.
I hope this helps enjoy more of the benefits from this wonderfully rich and tasty gift from the bees.

Have some happy honey filled days ahead!

Gwendolyn
Contributing Writer