Bees, especially honeybees, are an important part of my life. I’ve always felt a connection to them. Maybe because my name, Melissa, means honeybee in Greek or maybe it’s their hard working mentality. For every holiday, I can count on one of my loved ones to gift me with a jar of organic honey which I enjoy with hot tea, brie,and toast or even some sort of bee pendant. The name of this website, MBeeWell is a little play on words – I didn’t spell anything wrong, it was meant to contain the word “Bee” in it because to me, bees are one of the most important sectors of not only my life, but also a cornerstone to our entire food system and health.
Fruits and Vegetables are the “Bee’s Knees”
If you go way back to your Biology days in the classroom, you’ll remember that bees are pollinators and if you remember the news in 2006-2007 of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) you’ll recall how important bees are to our current agriculture system. To refresh your memory, more than 100 of our food crops such as blueberries, apples, cherries, grapefruit, avocado, squash, and onions are dependant on bees as pollinators. Bees contribute to 35% of the food we eat, that’s $15 billion worth of US produce and $215 billion worldwide! Some of the only crops that don’t need bees are grain crops that rely on the wind. If you look a little closer, most of the crops that are pollinated by bees are fruits and vegetables that contain so many compounds that have kept animals and humans alive and healthy – just like nature intended!
Bees are so important for these crops that beekeepers create colonies by “domesticating” them then bring them to farmer’s crops in order to pollinate the field. Due to the expansiveness of crops, bees no longer “naturally” live there and wild bugs and habitats have been destroyed. Bees are brought in to do what Mother Nature intended.
This act of nature where two species cooperate to benefit both is called mutualism. We need bees to pollinate our crops and bees need pollen to survive. Unfortunately, CCD has taken a major toll on bees. In 2006-2007 32% of honeybees vanished, in 2007-2008 an additional 36% disappeared in the US. Other countries are having the same problems: the UK lost 30% in 2007 and Italy lost 40-50%. Scientists have yet to find an exact cause for the disappearance of bees, but some beekeepers believe it may be a pesticide known as neonicotinoids and countries such as Italy have now banned its use.
CCD has brought the spotlight back on the importance of bees as our ancient partners in the art of growing food. Haagen-Dazs came to the aid of the honeybee when they announced that 40% of their ice cream wouldn’t exist without them, so they donated $250,000 to the cause and created a new flavor, Vanilla Honey Bee (which is delicious), in their honor.
“Bee” a Supporter
Anyone can do their part in restoring bees. If you have a yard or small garden, be sure to have plenty of flowers, fruits, and vegetables for bees to “snack on.” A yard with just grass doesn’t draw any bees! Also, look for organic honey to decrease the amount of pesticide use and be sure to purchase real raw honey (about 75% of the honey sold in the US is not 100% honey). The best option is to purchase your honey from a local beekeeper (maybe me one day!)
Another Benefit of Bees – Honey
As I said before, I love bees, especially for their honey which has been a known superfood for centuries. It’s not just for mixing in your tea or providing that sweet taste on your muffin. Honey is loaded with polyphenols (the same group of antioxidants found in superfoods such as extra virgin olive oil) which protect cells from free radical damage. Honey also has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-septic qualities. Allergy suffers may even see a 60% reduction in symptoms! The most recent study showed that honey treats mild nightime coughs caused by upper-respiratory infections among children aged 1-5. These studies are just proving what our ancestors have known all along – honey is a food that you want to have in your cabinet!
If that wasn’t reason enough to start adding honey to your superfood arsenol, let’s see if this convinces you: raw honey is high in nutrients and enzymes that kill bacteria, it increases calcium absorption, helps athritic joints, is a natural laxative, it increases muscle restoration and glycogen after a workout, and it contains calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesisum, copper, chromium, and selenium. Honey also provides instant energy without the insulin jump of white sugar (1 tablespoon of honey is 64 calories to 15 calories of sugar) because it contains carbohydrates which easily convert to sugar and help maintain blood sugar levels.
Tip: Try honey on baked brie with raspberries and while you’re eating it be sure to thank all those hard working bees.
Still interested? Good… check this out!