From propolis to pollen, honey to royal jelly, bee products are still performing well within the natural health trade, despite numerous threats to the little buzzers. Jane Wolfe takes a look at what’s happening in the hive
Critical to crop pollination and providing an astonishing range of health-promoting substances, bees are facing a number of serious problems. As well as having to deal with disease and pesticides, new research has found that bee colonies are also struggling to adapt to climate change and failing to colonize new areas.
However, awareness of the plight of bees is increasing through press coverage and various initiatives including Bee Scene, now sponsored by Nature’s Path. And The British Beekeepers Association, which has revealed bee colonies fell by 14.5% last winter, recently teamed with illustrator Mark Burgess to flag up the issue with a new book – Winnie-the-Pooh and the Missing Bees – and A Bee-Friendly Guide.
Biodynamic beekeeper and founder of Vonnybee, which makes bee-based health and beauty products, Yvonne Matthews is positive about the future: “We have a huge increase in beekeeping in Britain and people are stepping up to the table and planting their gardens to be bee-friendly, which is fantastic.”
Tell me about the honey
With National Honey Week taking place from 25-31 October, this is the ideal time to flag up your honey offer. And there’s a great range – from regional honeys to New Zealand manuka, and raw honeys, like those from Tiana, Beefayre and Hilltop.
“The biggest single market in this area is manuka honey,” says Comvita’s Rashda Ali. New Zealand is actually seeing an increase in hive numbers, up from 300,000 in 2000 to 507,000 now, according to the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), but as demand far outweighs supply, the sector is flooded with fakes.
The MPI last year released guidelines to ensure products are true to label, but in the UK it is up to retailers to ensure they stock legitimate brands. “We focus on UMF manuka honey,” says Ali. “It is known for its quality and purity and in recent tests in the press it’s always passed and come true to label.”
Honey is increasingly finding its way into skincare products; not only is manuka renowned for healing skin and wound infections, but
the lesser known kanuka honey has been found in a recent study to significantly improve the skin condition rosacea.
The superfood factor
Bee Pollen has established itself as a superfood in the natural health sector, and offers a variety of benefits. “These tiny parcels are high in vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron and zinc, which have a number of benefits including immune, cognitive, skin and nervous system support,” says Leigh Prideaux, MD of organic superfood company BodyMe Ltd.
Matthews says pollen is also extremely useful for hayfever. “Literally within ten minutes it calms your symptoms down,” she says. “Hayfever is an allergy to grass and tree pollen, and pollen from a flower is a natural antidote.”
“We do fresh pollen, which is amazing stuff,” says Sharon Jervis, founder of Beefayre, which sells a range of products made from the ‘wonders of the hive’. “You have to soak dried pollen before you can digest it otherwise 80% will go straight through you. There’s a vast difference between dried and fresh pollen, but this isn’t commonly known.”
Propolis is yet another rising star from the hive. “More people are becoming aware of propolis and its benefits,” says Ali. “Propolis is collected by bees as a tree sap and they seal their hives with it to protect against infection, so that’s how we use it too.”
It also helps promote a healthy immune system; Unbeelievable Health’s Bee Prepared Daily Defence Immune Support and Max Strength Immune Support are both based on propolis.
“Propolis is genius stuff,” says Jervis. “We’ve got a paste called Bee Boost which combines raw acacia honey with fresh pollen, propolis and the tiniest bit of royal jelly. It’s an amazing tonic.”
“I make a Bee Butter Balm using an old Victorian recipe,” says Matthews. “Using propolis (mother nature’s natural antiseptic), olive oil, almond oil and beeswax, it can help with psoriasis, eczema, dry skin, cracked skin and nappy rash.”
Bad for bees-ness
In June a letter with over 12,000 signatures was handed to Liz Truss, MP, asking her to refuse an application from The National Farmers Union to allow neonicotinoid seed treatment use in the UK this year. After the initial request was indeed denied, a second application has now been approved by DEFRA much to the chagrin of environmental groups including the Soil Association which was “outraged that DEFRA has bowed to pressure and ignored mounting scientific evidence of the damage that neonicotinoids cause”.
BodyMe Limited’s Organic Bee Pollen Granules are high in fibre and protein and use pollen naturally produced and harvested in Spain.
Gfm gets complex
Organic Vitacomplex from Gfm is an enhanced, smooth set honey which contains royal jelly, propolis and pollen and is part of the company’s organic power honey offer.
Produced using a ‘freeze-cracking’ process to open every pollen shell at a low temperature, Apibal Bee Pollen is able to retain its goodness and be 100% digestible.
It’s all over
Ultra Bee’s range of natural bodycare products using bee substances covers everything from Tattoo Aftercare Balm with Honey & Propolis to Baby Eczeskin Balm with Honey.
Part of Dr Organic’s skincare range, Organic Royal Jelly Lip Serum is a blend of bioactive, natural and organic ingredients including royal jelly
Tel: 01780 450377
Ogilvy’s launch two more quintessentially British honeys, Wild Woodland and English Heather honey. Both are raw, naturally blended by bees and full of flavour. Wild Woodland is a creamed honey with a toffee flavour perfect as a breakfast honey and a good natural sweetener for black coffee. The depth of flavour also complements a variety of meats and is delicious in dressings. English Heather honey has a rich distinctive aromatic flavour and is grainy in texture. The deep flavour works well with smoky BBQ flavours and a variety of meats, cheeses and puddings. Both medium/strong in strength.
UMF Manuka Honey Based Winter Wellness Range
Comvita’s Winter Wellness range is packed with natural and powerful ingredients traditionally known to help combat symptoms of the common cold including cough, sore throat and blocked nose. These powerful ingredients include Manuka Honey to soothe the throat, help supress coughs; Zinc which when taken at the onset of a common cold may reduce its duration; Propolis traditionally used to regulate immunity; Mullein leaf to loosen thick phlegm; and Marshmallow Root extract which soothes dry coughs. Introduce your customers to Comvita’s essential Winter Wellness Hot Drinks, Lozenges and Manuka Honey Elixirs. New look coming this Winter!
Pure Gold Manuka Honey is farmed and harvested exclusively in the rural unpolluted pastures of New Zealand. Manuka Honey has been used for its various health benefits by the indigenous Maori population for centuries. Manuka Honey is unique and research has identified that this honey contains high levels of antibacterial activity not found in other honey. The Pure Gold logo is only applied to honey which is independently tested in New Zealand and guarantees its quality
We bring you the UK’s first brand of honey infused drinks! Just Bee is a refreshing spring water, infused with fruits and other natural goodness.
What makes us different is that we only use pure natural honey to sweeten our drinks. No refined sugar. No artificial sweeteners. And less than 50 calories per drink! Give your customers a new, refreshing drink which isn’t full of sugar! And you’re also helping the bees. 10% of our profits are donated to charities including Friends of the Honey Bee. Join the buzz today! Email us at [email protected] to get exclusive (limited time) offers.
Bee Prepared to keep well! Multi award winning, all in one formulas for colds, flu, allergy relief & travel health. BEE Prepared immune support products combine highest quality bee propolis, elderberry, olive leaf, beta glucans and more. Rich in antioxidants and superfood nutrients, it is Vegetarian Society approved and is suitable for most ages. Capsules may be opened into juices, smoothies, yogurt and more. Combines concentrated extracts so fewer capsules are required. Excellent consumer reviews and recommended by nutritionists. Made in the UK. www.unbeelievablehealth.co.uk
Wedderspoon are proud to introduce the newest addition to their range of pure, raw Manuka honeys, Limited Edition 100% Raw Manuka Honey KFactor 22. As the most rare and select harvest of Manuka honey on the market, Limited Edition Manuka Honey KFactor 22 boasts the highest pollen count and most concentrated amount of the therapeutic properties consumers have come to expect from Wedderspoon’s entire range of Manuka honeys. Founded in 2005 by entrepreneurial husband and wife team Catherine and Sebastien Martin, Wedderspoon was created to provide customers with the highest quality raw manuka honey with other specialty honeys sourced from ethically harvested bee production from New Zealand’s pristine countryside.