Whenever I reach out for beeswax, I inhale deeply the sweet, warm and earthy aroma and feel immediately connected with nature… and the industrious bee. I am grateful for the honey it provides, which sweetens my life, the wax which soothes and protects my skin, and for the invaluable behind-the-scenes work that brings food to my table.
It was Einstein who said: “Remove the bee from the earth and at the same stroke you remove at least one hundred thousand plants that will not survive.” (He once calculated that if all bees disappeared off the earth, four years later all humans would also have disappeared. [Abeilles et fleurs, June, 1965]).
Looking no further than the produce section at the store, or the farmers market, if bees ceased to pollinate our crops, broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cranberries, and cherries would no longer be available.
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
— A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I'm feeling very much like Pooh... I love honey. The thought of sampling out new varieties of honey fills me with anticipation. As a child, honey meant a gigantic slice of boule bread from the Bakery of the Rue Gustave Courbet. It would first be buttered and then generously drizzled with dark spruce honey (found mostly in the Black Forest, Vosges, or Jura mountains in Europe). To this day, to me, nothing has ever topped the exquisite and pungent taste of spruce honey. But I do have other favorites: Orange blossom, or avocado by themselves, sage or lavender honey in a cup of herbal tea.
Varietal honeys could be compared to varietal wines. They have an endless range of flavors, all dependent on the flowers visited by the bees. Even the same flower blooming in the same location may produce a slightly different nectar from year-to-year depending upon temperature and rainfall.
Honey, beeswax, and a healthy life
Now that I got my sweet tooth out of the way, let's get to the serious stuff; I also treasure honey for the many health benefits it provides:
• It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, anti-inflammatory effects and the ability to soothe coughs.
• It can also reduce seasonal allergy symptoms (It contains small amounts of pollen, which, if the body is exposed to such amounts, can trigger an immune response that produces antibodies to the pollen. After repeated exposure, the body should become accustomed to their presence so that less histamine is released, resulting in a lesser allergic response).
• Honey can boost memory: It is loaded with antioxidants that may help prevent cellular damage and loss within the brain.
• It can be a health aid for sleepless nights. Like sugar, it can cause a rise in insulin and release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood and happiness. The body converts serotonin into melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep and wake cycles. Moreover, honey contains amino acids, including tryptophan, which is also converted into serotonin and then into melatonin.
• Honey can bring temporary relief to the scalp: Thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, it can also treat seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, often caused by an overgrowth of fungus. Its anti-inflammatory properties help diminish redness and itching of the scalp.
• It has the power to moisturize and heal, making it an ideal treatment for parched lips for example. Because of its antibacterial powers, it helps prevent infection from developing in cracked lips and restores lost moisture.
• Honey is a natural antibiotic that can act both internally and externally. It is sometimes used as a conventional treatment for wounds and burns by disinfecting wounds and sores from major species of bacteria such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
In its natural state, beeswax is firm but pliable. Melted and combined with other ingredients, beeswax is a great addition to moisturizers. It acts as an emollient and a humectant, forming a protective barrier that helps protect the skin from environmental assaults, while also holding in moisture and reducing dryness. It has antibacterial properties and encourages the healing of wounds.
Beeswax in candles releases negative ions when it burns. Pollen, dust, dirt, and other pollutants in the air carry a positive charge; that is how they can be suspended in the air. The negative ions released from burning beeswax candles negate the positive charge of air contaminants, and the neutralized ions are sucked back into the burning candle or fall to the ground.
Because of this ability to clean the air, beeswax candles can effectively reduce asthma, allergies, and hay fever. Besides, beeswax candles do not release irritating toxins or fragrances.
Bees and Rêves de Sabine...
This is why honey and beeswax have found their way into so many of my natural and healing products. And every time I use them, I never forget to be grateful for the wondrous bee.