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Bee Propolis

Honey bee on Geraldton Wax Flower, NSW, AustraliaImage via Wikipedia

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Other name: Propolis
Definition:
Propolis is a resinous mixture that bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is used for small gaps (approximately 6.35 millimeters (0.3 in) or less), while larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax. Its color varies depending on its botanical source, the most common being dark brown. Propolis is sticky at and above room temperature. At lower temperatures it becomes hard and very brittle.

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Propolis is a sticky resin that seeps from the buds of some trees and oozes from the bark of other trees, chiefly conifers. The bees gather propolis, sometimes called bee glue, and carry it home in their  pollen baskets.  They blend it with wax flakes secreted from special glands on their abdomens. Propolis is used to slickly line the interior of brood cells in preparation for the queen’s laying of eggs, a most important procedure.  With its antiseptic properties, this propolis lining insures a hospital-clean environment for the rearing of brood.

For centuries, beekeepers assumed that bees sealed the beehive with propolis to protect the colony from the elements, such as rain and cold winter drafts. However, 20th century research has revealed that bees not only survive, but also thrive, with increased ventilation during the winter months throughout most temperate regions of the world.

Propolis as hive sealing Propolis is now believed to do the following:

1.To reinforce the structural stability of the hive.

2.To reduce vibration

3.To make the hive more defensible by sealing alternate entrances

4.To prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive

5.To prevent putrefaction within the hive. Bees usually carry waste out of and away from the hive. However if a small lizard or mouse, for example, found its way into the hive and died there, bees may be unable to carry it out through the hive entrance. In that case, they would attempt instead to seal the carcass in propolis, essentially mummifying it and making it odorless and harmless.

Composition
The composition of propolis will vary from hive to hive, district to district, and from season to season. Normally it is dark brown in color, but it can be found in green, red, black and white hues, depending on the sources of resin found in the particular hive area. Honey bees are opportunists, and will gather what they need from available sources, and detailed analyses show that propolis chemical composition varies considerably from region to region, along with the vegetation. In northern temperate climates, for example, bees collect resins from trees, such as poplars and conifers (the biological role of resin in trees is to seal wounds and defend against bacteria, fungi and insects). Poplar resin is rich in flavanoids. “Typical” northern temperate propolis has approximately 50 constituents, primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%). In neotropical regions, in additional to a large variety of trees, bees may also gather resin from flowers in the genera Clusia and Dalechampia, which are the only known plant genera that produce floral resins to attract pollinators. Clusia resin contains polyprenylated benzophenones. In some areas of Chile, propolis contains viscidone, a terpene from Baccharis shrubs, and in Brazil, naphthoquinone epoxide has recently isolated from red propolis, and prenylated acids such as 4-hydroxy-3,5-diprenyl cinnamic acid have been documented[8]. An analysis of propolis from Henan, China found sinapic acid, isoferulic acid, caffeic acid and chrysin, with the first three compounds demonstrating anti-bacterial properties[9]. Occasionally worker bees will even gather various caulking compounds of human manufacture, when the usual sources are more difficult to obtain. The properties of the propolis depend on the exact sources used by each individual hive, therefore any potential medicinal properties that may be present in one hive’s propolis may be absent from another’s, and the distributors of propolis products cannot control such factors. This may account for the many and varied claims regarding medicinal properties, and the difficulty in replicating previous scientific studies investigating these claims. Even propolis samples taken from within a single colony can vary, making controlled clinical tests difficult, and the results of any given study cannot be reliably extrapolated to propolis samples from other areas.

Side Effects
Propolis shouldn’t be applied to the eye area. Repeated use of propolis may make people more prone to developing allergies.

Other uses
Propolis is used by certain music instrument makers to enhance the appearance of the wood grain. It is a component of some varnishes and was reportedly used.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propolis
http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsa1/a/Bee_propolis.htm

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Honey

Queen bee with attendants on a honeycomb
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Honey is a sweet and viscous fluid produced by Honeybees from the Necter of Flowers.Honey is sigficantly Sweeter than table Sugar and has attractive chemical properties for baking. Honey has a distinctive flavor which leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners.Liquid honey does not spoil. Because of its high sugar concentration, it kills most Bacteria by Plamolysis . Natural airborne yeasts cannot become active in it because the moisture content is too low. Natural, raw honey varies from 14% to 18% moisture content. As long as the moisture content remains under 18%, virtually no organism can successfully multiply to significant amounts in honey, though, importantly, enough bacteria survive to make honey dangerous for infants.

The study of Pollen and Spores in raw honey (Melissopalynology) can determine floral sources of honey. Because bees carry an Electrical Charges , and can attract other particles, the same techniques of melissopalynn raw honeyology can be used in area environmental studies of Radioactive particles,Dust , or particulate Pollution .

A main effect of bees collecting nectar to make honey is Pollination , which is crucial for Flowering plants .

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HONEY FORMATION:Honey is laid down by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. By contriving for the bee swarm to make its home in a hive, mankind has been able to semi-domesticate the insects. In the hive there are three types of bee: the single queen bee, a seasonally variable number of drone bees to fertilize new queens and some 20,000 to 40,000 worker bees. The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. They go out, collect the sugar-rich flower nectar and return to the hive. As they leave the flower, bees release nasonov pheromones. These enable other bees to find their way to the site by smell. Honeybees also release nasonov pheromones at the entrance to the hive, which enables returning bees to return to the proper hive. In the hive the bees use their honey stomachs to ingest and regurgitate the nectar a number of times until it is partially digested. It is then stored in the honeycomb. Nectar is high in both water content and natural yeasts which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. Bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb. This enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar. The reduction in water content, which raises the sugar concentration, prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by the beekeeper, has a long shelf life and will not ferment.

The beekeeper encourages overproduction of honey within the hive so that the excess can be taken without endangering the bees. When sources of foods for the bees are short the beekeeper may have to feed the bees other forms of sugar so they can survive.

HONEY COMPOSITION:Honey is a mixture of sugars and other compounds. The specific composition of any batch of honey will depend largely on the mix of flowers consumed by the bees that produced the honey. Honey has a density of about 1500 kg/m3 (50% denser than water), which means about 12.5 pounds per US gallon.

Typical honey analysis
Fructose: 38%
Glucose: 31%
Sucrose: 1%
Water: 17%
Other sugars: 9% (maltose, melezitose)
Ash: 0.17%
Source: Sugar Alliance
The analysis of the sugar content of honey is used for detecting adulteration

TYPES OF HONEY
:
Blended
Most commercially available honey is blended, meaning that it is a combination of honeys from different sources. China is the world’s largest producer of honey (256,000 tonnes in 2001), followed by the United States (100,000 tonnes), Argentina (90,000 tonnes), Turkey (71,000 tonnes), Mexico, Ukraine and India (HERE WE CAN SEE )

Polyfloral

Polyfloral honey is derived from the nectar of many types of flowers.
Monofloral
Main article: Monofloral honey
Different monofloral honeys have a distinctive flavor and color due to differences between their principal nectar sources. Beekeepers keep monofloral beehives in an area where the bees have access to only one type of flower, because of that flower’s properties. In practise, because of the difficulties in containing bees, a small proportion of any honey will be from additional nectar from other flower types.

Some of the main types of monofloral honey (and their main countries of production) include: apple blossom (United Kingdom), acacia (Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania), cherry blossom (United Kingdom), clover (Canada, New Zealand), eucalyptus (Australia), heather (United Kingdom), lavender (France, Spain), lime blossom (China, Poland), orange blossom (France, Spain), wild thyme (France, Greece, New Zealand) and sunflower (France, Spain) .
Honeydew
Honeydew producer (barklice) on a Silver FirInstead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew, which appears similar to honey and consists of the sweet secretions of aphids or other plant sap-sucking insects. Most important of these is the aphid Marchalina hellenica which feeds on the sap of the Turkish Pine. Honeydew from pine forests has a piney taste and is prized for medicinal use in Europe and Turkey. Bees collecting this resource have to be fed protein supplements, as honeydew lacks the protein-rich pollen accompaniment gathered from flowers.

In New Zealand honeydew nectar is produced from a small, scaled insect (Ultracoelostoma assimile) living in the bark of two of New Zealand’s beech forests, mostly black beech (black from the sooty mold growing on the surplus nectar covering the trunks and branches) and, to a lesser extent, red beech. In the early morning sunlight, the droplets of nectar glisten like the morning dew, giving the name honeydew.

Germany’s Black Forest is a well known source of honeydew-produced honeys.

Honeydew honey has a full aroma, is heady, almost pungent, and malty with a thick red amber color.

Honeydew has strong markets in some areas, but in many areas beekeepers are disappointed with a honeydew crop, as they are unable to market the stronger flavored product. Honeydew has a much larger proportion of indigestibles than light honeys, which can cause dysentery, resulting in the death of colonies in areas with cold winters. Good beekeeping management requires the removal of honeydew prior to winter in colder areas.

USES OF HONEY IN GENERASL:
The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, spreading on bread or toast, and as an addition to various beverages such as tea. Because honey is hygroscopic (drawing moisture from the air), a small quantity of honey added to a pastry recipe will retard staling. Raw honey also contains enzymes that help in its digestion, several vitamins and antioxidants.

Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead, which is also known as “honey wine” or “honey beer” (although it is not wine or beer), and metheglin. It is also used as an adjunct in beer. Beer brewed with greater than about 30% honey as a source of sugar by weight, or mead brewed with malt (with or without hops), is known as braggot.

Honey is used in traditional folk medicine and apitherapy, and is an excellent natural preservative, it also has a low glycemic index.

Most vegans consider honey to be an animal product and avoid using it, instead choosing sweetening alternatives such as agave nectar, rice syrup or stevia.

Without commercial beekeeping, large-scale fruit and vegetable farming and some of the seed industry would be incapable of sustaining themselves, since many crops are pollinated by migratory beekeepers who contract their bees for that purpose.

In ancient history, the Ancient Egyptian and Middle-Eastern peoples also used honey for embalming the dead. However, only rich and powerful people had the luxury of this type of funeral. Scythians, and later the other Central Asian nomadic people, for many months drove a wagon with a deceased ruler around the country in their last rites mourning procession, carrying the body in a casket filled with honey.

MEDICAL USES OF HONEY:
For around 2000 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, though it was not until modern times that the cause of infection was understood. Now, has shown that the folk remedy of using honey to treat wounds has a scientific explanation: it acts as an antiseptic/antibacterial agent. As an antimicrobial agent honey has potential for treating a variety of ailments. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity.
OSMOTIC EFFECTS:
Honey is primarily a saturated mixture of two monosaccharides. This mixture has a low water activity; most of the water molecules are associated with the sugars and few remain available for microorganisms, so it is a poor environment for their growth.
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide in honey is activated by dilution. However, unlike medical hydrogen peroxide, commonly 3% by volume, it is present in a concentration of only 1 mmol/l in honey. Iron in honey oxidizes the oxygen free radicals released by the hydrogen peroxide.

glucose + H2O + O2 → gluconic acid + H2O2
When used topically (as, for example, a wound dressing), hydrogen peroxide is produced by dilution with body fluids. As a result, hydrogen peroxide is released slowly and acts as an antiseptic. Unlike 3% medical hydrogen peroxide, this slow release does not cause damage to surrounding tissue.
Acidity
The pH of honey is commonly between 3.2 and 4.5 This relatively acidic pH level prevents the growth of many bacteria responsible for infection.


OTHER MEDICAL APPLICATIONS:

The most common use of honey is as an anti-microbial agent used for dressing wounds, burns and skin ulcers. This application has a long history in traditional medicine. Additionally, the use of honey reduces odors, reduces swelling, and reduces scarring; it also prevents the dressing from sticking to the healing wound .

Some claim that one drop of honey directly on the eye can treat mild forms of conjunctivitis.

Due to it’s antiseptic properties, honey (especially when combined with lemon) can be taken orally by Pharyngitis and Laryngitis sufferers, in order to soothe them.

Though widely believed to alleviate allergies, local honey has been shown to be no more effective than placebos in controlled studies. This may be due to the fact that most seasonal allergies are caused by tree and grass pollens, which honeybees do not collect.

In Ayurveda Honey has various application in curing different kind of disease. (1)
(2)

(3)

In Home Remedies HONEY has various uses.

HONEY AND INFANTS:
Giving honey to infants can be hazardous because some infants can develop the disease known as infant botulism. This occurs because there is a natural bacterium in the honey which cannot be filtered out. The bacteria then produces a toxin, known as botulin, in the infant’s intestines. After the child is more than a year old, the intestine has matured and the bacteria cannot grow. Even the honey in some processed foods can cause botulism. After an infant ingests this bacterium, the disease can occur within a few hours or even up to a week.

(Help taken from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey)

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