Photo credit Richard Blaker
There are many benefits of keeping honey bees other than just honey production.
Honey bees are pollinators. This means that they travel from plant to plant and collect pollen. When they travel from plant to plant, they deposit pollen onto the plants. The transfer of pollen from one plant to another is what fertilizes the plant and allows for reproduction. Plants can't move, so they often rely on pollinators and wind to move pollen for them.
Honey bees work hard to collect pollen. Plants reward the bees with nectar. Nectar is the sugary liquid produced in flowers. Honey bees drink the nectar and can use it for energy. Nectar that is not used is put into a special honey stomach where it is stored.
When the bee goes back to the hive, it leaves the unused nectar with worker bees where they transform it into honey. The bee then leaves the hive and goes back out to collect pollen.
Most of the crops that we consume are pollinated by honey bees. It's estimated that as much as 90% of our food supply is reliant on honey bee pollination. Even the meat and dairy products that we consume rely on pollination. Livestock feed is made with cereal grains, grasses and legumes. All of these plants rely on honey bees and other pollinators to reproduce.
All of the fruits you eat need pollinators to fertilize the plant in order for that fruit to be made. Vegetable plants, nuts and ornamental plants also rely on pollinators. Some crops, like almonds, depend 100% on honey bees alone to fertilize them!
Honey Health Benefits
Honey is a healthier alternative to plain table sugar. Honey has some vitamins and minerals. It is loaded with antioxidants that are good for you. The antioxidants found in honey have been shown to
• reduce the risk of stroke
• lower the risk for heart disease and heart attack
• decrease cancer risk
• reduce tumor growth in certain cancers
• lowers blood pressure
• lowers bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol
• reduces the amount of triglycerides in the body
• reduces the risk of cancer
• prevents blood clot formation
These health benefits are too good not to pass up. It's important to note though that they health benefits are the highest with raw honey, not store bought honey.
Honey that is purchased in the store is pasteurized. It's heated up to a high temperature rapidly and then cooled down very quickly. This process often destroys the parts of the honey that are good for you. If you keep honey bees, you'll be able to enjoy raw honey fresh out of the hive with all of the health benefits.
When bees make honey, they also make propolis, royal jelly, and beeswax. All of these products have their own unique health benefits that are amazing. Just like raw honey, they aren't usually available in grocery stores. If you can find them in a store, they will come with a high price tag. Raw honey that isn't filtered has all of these components in it. When honey is pasteurized and filtered, these components are destroyed or removed.
Raising your own honey bees will give you access to all of the amazing benefits of honey, by-products and pollination. You plants will be healthier and will produce better crop yields. You'll feel better for consuming it also!
Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast that enjoys writing about gardening, raising livestock and simple living. You can read her most recent posts on Farminence.com or follow Farminence on Pinterest and Twitter.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.