Markets and Commodities of Beeswax and Honey

Bees have a large impact on our everyday lives, but not only through their pollination services to agriculture across the U.S. Bees are also responsible for quite a few products that some of us use every single day. Some common products include honey and beeswax which has several applications such as makeup products, lip balm, and candles. However there are some lesser known by-products of bees that offer a plethora of benefits. For example, bee pollen, which is significantly different than normal pollen and is not known to cause allergies, rather it provides several benefits including “low calorie content, but high in proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, beneficial fatty acids, carbohydrates, and bioflavonoids which are antiviral, antibacterial and helpful in lowering cholesterol, stabilizing and strengthening capillaries. Its ability to rejuvenate the body, stimulates organs, enhances vitality and accelerate rate of recovery makes it a popular tonic among athletes” (“Honey Bees Wondrous Products”).

Honey has several benefits aside from the sweet taste, it is a natural source of carbohydrates. Honey helps to boost our bodies energy and provides strength. It helps to reduce muscle fatigue and helps to create endurance. Honey contains natural sugars that help to prevent tiredness and fatigue during activities and exercise. The body absorbs the glucose in the honey quickly providing an almost immediate boost of energy. The fructose in the honey is absorbed more slowly thus giving a prolonged boost of energy. The sugar in honey has also been shown to keep blood sugar levels constant compared to other sugars. Along with these benefits honey can also be an immune system booster. “It’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties can help improve digestive system and help you stay healthy and fight disease” (“Honey Bees Wondrous Products”). Starting off each day with a little bit of honey can provide health benefits many people are not aware of.

Believe it or not, as mentioned in the above paragraphs, honey does indeed provide numerous health benefits the average consumer is unaware of. I’m sure I speak for many other individuals when I say how unaware I was of the benefits that bees bring to markets and commodities as well as everyday human lives. For example, honey has shown to help reduce some risks of cancer, heart diseases, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders, as well as cough and throat irritation (10 Health Benefits of Honey). While honey can help regulate blood sugar, mentioned in the previous paragraph, it can also help external features of the human body as well. For example, honey has been shown to heal wounds and burns as well as improve skin. The drying effect combined with the antibacterial nature of honey are able to create this phenomenon of healing wounds (10 Health Benefits of Honey). However, the most interesting fact that many people may be unaware of is the potential increase in athletic performance that honey provides. Chelsea touched on this fact when she mentioned that honey can help reduce muscle fatigue and create an immediate energy but I also found that it can improve recovery time. Ancient Olympic athletes use to eat honey to maintain glycogen levels and enhance their recovery time (10 Health Benefits of Honey).

Bees provide important components in many products. Everyone knows the importance of beeswax in beeswax candles, but some more unknown uses are things like beauty products, chewing gum, and wax coating of cheese wheels. Beeswax candles are a very popular commodity, but also a common hobby that dates back to the 6th century A.D. (The Benefits of Bees). Many people also have allergies from inhaling pollen, and it is believed that consuming locally-produced honey can combat these allergies. This is the same logic as receiving vaccinations or allergy shots; ingesting this local pollen may help the ingestor become less sensitive to their local allergens (Honey For Allergens).

Where you get your honey from can make a huge difference. Organic raw honey can have many benefits as stated above. However, if you make the mistake of buying from a source who is not local or all natural you may be depriving yourself of all the health benefits. The benefits can become obsolete after a process that is called “ultrafiltered”. When this occurs, additives are put into the honey. A recent study was done and researchers declared that 76 percent of honey found in grocery stores was ultrafiltered. There is a huge difference in the two honeys. For example, organic raw honey can help stabilize blood pressure, as stated above, and ultrafiltered honey can cause diabetes. To a consumer, this can really pose a huge issue on where to get your honey. Local farmers markets are a perfect place to purchase real organic raw honey. When you buy honey locally it does not have the additives put in by bigger companies in the market. Not only are you helping out your local market, you are also ensuring better nourishment for your body.

Products from bee hives can provide commodities and benefits. Aside from those already mentioned and are the most popular (honey and pollen), propolis is a rich source obtained from beehives that is not mentioned often. Propolis is a resin material used by bees to seal cracks and gaps in their beehives. It is basically a combination of resin from trees and honey (Dr. Edward Group). This component is considered an antiviral and antibiotic substance with many benefits to bees and humans (PCC Natural Markets). Propolis contains flavonoids that gives it its strength as a protective barrier against bacteria/microbes. It has also been found to help support the immune system. It also contains components such as caffeic acid phenethyl ester which is used as an anti-inflammatory component (Dr. Edward Group). Other uses of propolis in health benefits have been found for dental care, blood sugar, and as a carcinogen fighter (Dr. Edward Group). Another commodity from bees is bee venom. Although it can trigger allergic reactions, bee venom contains anti-inflammatory components that can be used for minor wounds or abscesses (PCC Natural Markets).

 

References

Daniels-Zeller, Debra. “The Buzz That Makes the World Go round.” PCC Natural Markets. Sound Consumer, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

Group, Dr. Edward. “Raw Honey: The Healthy Benefits of Locally-Grown Nectar.” Dr. Group’s Healthy Living Articles. N.p., 05 Oct. 2015. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

Group, Dr. Edward. “What Is Bee Propolis? 10 Great Uses.” Dr. Group’s Healthy Living Articles. Global Healing Center, 13 June 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

Herrington, Diana. “10 Health Benefits of Honey.” 10 Health Benefits Of Honey | Care2 Healthy Living. N.p., 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

“Honey Bees Wondrous Products.” Benefits-of-Honey.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

“The Benefits of Bees.” PerfectBee. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-benefits-of-bees/>.

Nall, Rachel. “Honey for Allergies.” Healthline. Healthline Media, 10 Mar. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/honey-remedy#overview1>.

Pennington, Tess. “Buying Local Honey: What You Need to Know.” Ready Nutrition. Web 17 Apr. 2017. http://readynutrition.com/resources/buying-local-honey-what-you-need-to-know_22052015/

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Risks and Hazards: Implications of a Declining Bee Population

There are a number of factors that have been contributing to the alarming decrease in the population of honeybees. This includes our small scale perceptions of the insect as a threat and fear of being stung, to large scale perceptions of entire hives getting wiped out due to a pesticide treatment on the agriculture they may have been pollinating. Additionally, deforestation is another large contributor due to the great loss of habitat for bees. The loss of the worldwide bee population is not only a matter of ecocentrism and saving the species, it is also a large social risk to agriculture on the global scale. Honeybees play a large role in the production of a number of common produce items that U.S. citizens take for granted everyday when they walk into their local grocery store.

The use of pesticides increased dramatically throughout the end of the 20th century and on into the 21st. While Most pesticides do not pose major threats to the environment, there are always unknown risks created as new products are developed. These risks can create new hazards for ecosystems including impacts on runoffs into major waterways and on other species as well. For most of the agriculture sector, these risks get overlooked and the decision is made to use pesticides despite their unknowns, leaving those who are most vulnerable in their wake. Recent studies in the United Kingdom followed a crop known as oilseed rape that has been heavily treated with neonics (McGrath, 2016). It was determined that species that fed on oilseed rape displayed more serious population declines, but the conclusion is that of an association, not a cause and effect (McGrath).

With regards to markets that depend on the survival of bees, a great portion of our food market depends on cross pollination from bees. Cross pollination is the process by which pollinators fertilize flowers by transferring pollen and seeds from flower to flower, allowing the plant to grow and produce food. Cross pollination aides at least 30 percent of our world’s crop production, and 90 percent of our worlds wild plants (Sass).

“Every third bite of food you take, thank a bee or other pollinator” – E.O. Wilson

Every year, over $15 billion in crops are pollinated by bees and $150 million in honey in the U.S. alone. Global economic loss due to the decline in bee population is estimated at about $5.7 billion (Sass). U.S. food production will take a major hit if the decline in bee population continues as it is, and with our new administration we may be not see the proper action taken to help protect them. American citizens need to realize the cost we face with fewer bees and take action into their own hands.

Pesticides are not only contributing to the declining bee colony populations but are also affecting the size of the individual worker bee (Shaun). The use of pyrethroid pesticides has been shown to have a prolonged effect on the growth of worker bees. The main chemical in pesticides being studied and blamed is Neonicotinoids. Scientists have tracked the growth of worker bees over a four-month period and have also monitored the number of queens and males being produced in a colony. They have noticed the decline in size of the bees. When it come to foraging larger bees are more effective. If the colony is producing smaller worker bees than this can affect the success of the colony. Smaller bees are less efficient when it comes to collecting nectar and pollen (Shaun). Bees need to be kept healthy and large to be efficient workers. Knowing which pesticides are most harmful to bees is vital in understanding how to save the declining bee populations.

We are experiencing a decline in the population in bees worldwide but the risk and hazards of this situation are not being brought to light in the manner that they should be. The risk of pesticides has been one of the topics widely discussed as a major threat to bees. A few years ago the European Commission proved how serious they believe the matter is by banning a pesticide they thought to be causing the colony collapse disorder. As mentioned earlier by Erik and Chelsea, the pesticide that seems to be doing the most damage is neonicotinoids.

One crop that we risk losing through dangerous unknown hazards such as pesticides is almonds. California’s almond orchards span across 800,000 acres and require up to 1.6 million bee colonies to pollinate the trees, but with the rapid decline we have been experiencing it is becoming much more difficult to provide the necessary number of colonies to make that happen (Grossman). Tonio Borg, the European Union Health Commissioner said “I pledge to my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22 billion Euros [$29 billion] annually to European agriculture, are protected,”. It is important that we take the necessary steps in order to protect our bee population. We need to implement plans or ideas that have the bees best interest in mind at least until we have been able to decipher the issue at hand.

The decline of bees has had an effect on the honey market. The collapsing of hives is experienced worldwide. Not only are we experiencing the loss of hives, we are also seeing a decrease of them as well. Originally, the average hive weighed around 150 pounds. Currently, hives are only about 50-70 pounds. This is a dramatic decrease that can be observed all over the world (Phipps).

The Canadian Honey Council thought that when the honey prices decreased, the price of production would as well. The statistics showed that it was opposite. This has had a huge impact on the market. With honey prices decreasing and the price of production increasing, a threat to the honey industry overall has become prevalent. Even though honey prices are going down, the wholesale of honey has become increasingly more expensive. This has created a huge gap in the market of honey pertaining to inputs and outputs.The steady declination of honey prices is a direct effect of the worldwide loss of bees. It is no surprise to people that the honey market would experience some type of effect from this, but other markets that people wouldn’t believe to be correlated to bees with are too. (Phipps).

Pesticides, pests, and disease are known to be have a contributing factor to Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, which is an elevated loss in the number of bees. Since fall of 2006, beekeepers reported a higher than usual colony loss in bees. It is estimated an average of 30% of colonies have died from CCD (PerfectBee). CCD is not a new disorder and has been seen occurring in bee colonies over the past 50-60 years. It begins with the worker bees “disappearing” and not returning to the bee hive. The hives are then invaded by other pests such as small hive beetles and wax moths. Ultimately, this leads to the collapse of the colony (Ellis). Other risks/hazards that cause Colony Collapse Disorder is chemical toxins in the environment and genetically modified crops. Pesticides used in agriculture come into contact as the worker bees are foraging or they encounter the toxins in contaminated water supplies. Genetically modified crops as seeds are dipped into systemic insecticides which are then seen in the pollen and nectar (Ellis). Again, the worker bees encounter this toxins. Without worker bees a bee colony cannot properly function. This is what is being seen throughout the country. Colony Collapse Disorder needs to be further investigated to find solutions to the root cause of the decline in bees.

 

References

Ellis, Jamie. “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in Honey Bees.” EDIS New Publications RSS. Entomology and Nematology, 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in720

Grossman, Elizabeth. “Declining Bee Populations Pose a Threat to Global Agriculture.” Yale E360. N.p., 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

McGrath, Matt. “Neonic Pesticide Link to Long-term Wild Bee Decline.” BBC News. BBC, 16 Aug. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

Phipps, Ron. “International Honey Market Update.” American Bee Journal. 1, July. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. http://americanbeejournal.com/international-honey-market-update.

“Threats to Bees.” PerfectBee. Perfect Bee LLC, 2017. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. https://www.perfectbee.com/a-healthy-beehive/main-threats-to-bees.

Sass, Jennifer. Why We Need Bees: Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 1982. NRDC. Natural Resources Defense Council, 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 5 Apr. 2017. https://www.nrdc.org/resources/why-we-need-bees-natures-tiny-workers-put-food-our-tables.

Shaun. “Pesticides Have Resulted in Smaller Worker Bees.” Cox’s Honey. N.p., 26 Jan. 2017. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

A Short History of Bees

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As we all know, bees and other insects play an important role in the pollination processes for many different plant species. Bees, however, are more crucial to this process and it is said that without bees the entire existence of the world could be threatened.

Bees collect nectar and pollen to provide food for their hive. When a bee lands on a flower to collect the pollen and nectar a lot more happens than people may think. During this process, pollen from the male reproductive organ of the flower, better known as the stamen, rubs onto the bees fur. Bees visit many different flowers while collecting nectar and pollen, but they tend to focus on one species at a time. As the bee lands on the next flower, the pollen from its fur can transfer to the female reproductive organ, or the pistil, and fertilization becomes a possibility. Bees can also transfer the pollen onto the same flower and that contributes to fertilization as well. Plants rely on this fertilization process in order to reproduce. Over time they have found different ways to become more attractive to bees. Some of these include the brightening of colors, providing certain scents, and becoming more flat and tubular to attract them. Overtime this adaptation has proven to be successful. Although plants and flowers can reproduce without the help of bees, the process is slower. A detrimental effect of extinction or endangerment is a possibility for many plants without the extra help from bees and other insects.

Bees pollinate more than one-sixth of the flowering plant species, and more than four hundred agricultural plant species. As a society the agricultural industry relies on bees and other pollinating insects for pollinating one-third of what we eat (Tucker). There are over 25,000 bee species in the world, and the US has over 4,000 (Tucker). The most well known species of bees are the honey-bee, carpenter bee, and bumblebee, and each species contributes to pollination. Bees are extremely important to our agricultural business, but also keep the flowers we see everyday blooming. Pollinating flowers creates habitats for other animal species and insects (Tucker). They are extremely economically important, but also keep our world aesthetically pleasing.

Among today’s society, the value of honey cannot be appreciated nearly to the scale that it was upon its initial discovery due to the presence of junk food and artificial sugars. However, “honey is as old as history itself” (“Early Honey History”), and has a very deep history with humans. Evidence suggests that humans have been harvesting honey as far back as 8,000 years, and people did not just use it for food. Additionally it was used for bathing, medicinal purposes, and was an item of trade.

To early societies, honey was unlike anything they had ever seen before, it was incredibly sweet and had a good tolerance for storage. The discovery of honey was as groundbreaking as fire. (About Bees). The hunt for honey was one that inflicted tremendous pain, but well worth it in the end. The Egyptians are believed to have been the first known beekeepers with the first artificial beehives having been created sometime around 4,000 B.C. These beehives consisted of unbaked hardened mud pots, and evolved with time among different societies including the Greeks who modified the Egyptian design by crafting baked terra cotta pots and referred to the honey as “the nectar of the gods” (“Background to Bees”). Other designs include hollowed out logs suspended from trees (currently used in Africa), woven cylinders, and rectangular boxes constructed from wood. All these designs have the same traits in mind, a long low cavity with a small entrance on one end and a door at the other.

Bees have a very interesting history and most humans are unaware of how sophisticated their species truly is. Bees are estimated to have been around for over 100 million years, with their first recording being in Myanmar. There are roughly 20,000 different species of bees and they didn’t always use to be considered vegetarians. The earlier species of bees were more like wasps and fed on other insects rather than nectar and pollen. In Ancient times, honey was the most important sweetener for food and alcoholic drinks, it was so important that parents began to name their children after bees. (About Bees). The start of modern beekeeping can be pinpointed to a man named Lorenzo Langstroth. By discovering that bees would keep a small pathway inside of hives, he was able to develop hives with movable frames of comb.

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” – E.O. Wilson (“The Beguiling History of Bees”)

References

“Bees, Beekeeping, and Honey – Early Honey History.” Heathmont Honey, 5 March 2017. http://www.heathmonthoney.com.au/bees/HoneyHistory.htm.

“Bees, Beekeeping, and Honey – Background to Bees.” Heathmont Honey, 5 March 2017. http://www.heathmonthoney.com.au/bees/HoneyHistory.htm.

Goulson, Dave. “The Beguiling History of Bees.” Scientific American. N.p., 25 Apr. 2014. Web. 5 Mar. 2017. <https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-beguiling-history-of-bees-excerpt/>.

“The Importance of Bees”. Pollination, 5 March 2017.

http://www.bees.techno-science.ca/english/bees/pollination/default.php

Tucker, Jessica. “Why Bees Are Important to Our Planet.” One Green Planet. One Green Planet, 17 June 2014. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

Omlet. “Homepage.” About Bees | Bees | Guide | Omlet US. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

Let Them Bee: Millions of bees die due to Zika spraying in South Carolina

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On September 1, 2016 an aerial spray of an “insecticide targeting Zika-carrying mosquitoes” was conducted in South Carolina. Local beekeepers commented saying adults, children, and animals should have been brought inside during the spraying, but residents were unaware that an aerial spray was going to occur. This “was the first aerial spraying in 14 years” (Lamotte, 2016). Three million bees were killed during this time, leaving local beekeepers bee-less. Not every bee died immediately though, as survivors attempted to clean out their hives, they were then poisoned and later succumbed to their doom.

As Zika continues to plague our country, aerial spraying could be used more frequently to target mosquitoes carrying the virus, but it can also have serious consequences for other species. The product used for the spraying is known to be extremely harmful to bees. There are specific times that this spray is recommended, and the County Administrator clarified that they did take the right precautions during this instance.

Many local Bee enthusiasts were upset that they were not notified, but the county responded saying they posted on their website two days prior to the spraying. Beekeepers who are on the local mosquito registry were also notified, but those who practice beekeeping as a hobby are not on the local registry and therefore, were not informed. In the past, the county has done insecticide spraying by truck and informed locals, but the aerial spraying was not as widely discussed or known. A local beekeeper, Nina Stanley, became very emotional when discussing the topic, and would have requested for the spraying to have been done at night when her bees were least active and not out foraging. Although the beekeepers and hobbyists were aware this event was not out of malice, it resulted in a significant loss of bees and severely impacted their owners.

Bees are viewed by many people as a pest that wants nothing more than to sting them and ruin their day. However, this is simply not the case. Bees are a very important and crucial part of agriculture across the country. They provide pollination processes to a variety of different crops including blueberries, cucumbers, and apples. Farmers rely on honey bees to pollinate so much that they will have hives placed on their farms to provide pollination for their crops (“Why are Honey Bees”). In fact, pollination services furnished by various insects in the United States, mostly by bees, have been valued at an estimated $3 billion each year (Gorman, 2017).

While farmers heavily rely on bees to help produce more crops, their population and overall numbers have decreased significantly. One species in particular, the rusty patched bumble bee, has plunged nearly 90 percent in abundance and distribution since the late 1990s. In January of 2017, the rusty patch bumble bee was officially recognized as an endangered species (Gorman, 2017). There are a number of factors that have led to their decline in population. Instances like the insecticide spraying in South Carolina only extenuate the effects that our actions can have, which resulted in a massive loss of a species directly affecting local residents as well.

References

“Alt National Park Service. ‘The new administration puts off listing bumble bee as endangered.’ 12 Feb. 2017, 10:45 a.m. Facebook Post.”

Gorman, Steve. “U.S. Lists a Bumble Bee Species as Endangered for First Time”. Scientific American. Nature Publishing Group, 11 Jan. 2017. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

LaMotte, Sandy. “Zika Spraying Kills Millions of Honeybees.” CNN. Cable News Network, 02 Sept. 2016. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

“Why are Honey Bees Important to Crops and Farmers?” Bees Matter. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.