Note: If you have bee sting allergies, have an epipen ready and try applying small amounts or the raw honey first for only a minute. Then increase the amount and time only if you don’t have an adverse reaction.
Common Acne Treatments
Now, let’s talk more generally about acne treatment and find out why you might want to use raw honey instead of over-the-counter or prescription methods.
Acne is a problem for most teenagers, putting a damper on their social prospects in some cases and causing serious self-esteem concerns when it is an acute condition. But it can also be a problem for many people well into adulthood. In this article, I review over-the-counter, prescription, and, of course, natural raw honey remedies for acne.
People seek varied, expensive, and often risky forms of treatment for acne. In 2016, the worldwide acne treatment industry market reached $4.92 billion in size. Analysts estimate that by 2025 the acne treatment market will reach $7.35 billion. Some non-prescription options include harsh chemical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, and even sulfur. By way of prescription, you can take antibiotics, isotretinoin, and even birth control pills for women who have acne due to hormones.
Over-the-Counter Acne Treatment Side Effects
These treatments can be very effective for acne sufferers. But at what cost? What about the side effects of chemical acne treatments? Are they worth it in the long run if the acne is eliminated? Let’s take a closer look.
Some common side effects of benzoyl peroxide can be stinging, itching, burning, dryness, tingling sensations, flaking, peeling, and redness.
Resorcinol’s side effects border on dangerous, with a slow heart rate, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, drowsiness, or feeling nervous.
Salicylic acid isn’t much better, with patients complaining of difficulty breathing, fainting, hives, tightness in the throat, and swelling of eyes, tongue, and lips!
Prescription Acne Treatment Side Effects
Just because a doctor prescribes a medication doesn’t mean you won’t experience any unpleasantness. Often, the opposite is true since prescription drugs, by the fact that they are controlled substances, are harsher and less predictable than over-the-counter or natural remedies.
In general, overuse of antibiotics is a real problem for society as a whole. This is because of the fact that bacteria adapt and develop resistance relatively quickly. Over-prescription is why “superbugs” such as MRSA and so-called “flesh-eating bacteria” are becoming a threat to hospitals everywhere. Physicians are dialing back on antibiotic use whenever possible.
Topical antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin can cause dryness, skin irritation, contact dermatitis. Oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, erythromycin, trimethroprim, and cotrimoxazole can cause allergic reactions, photosensitivity, gastrointestinal issues, and thrush.
Isotretinoin (which is a main ingredient in the now discontinued drug Accutane) can result in nosebleeds and itching, drying, cracked skin.
Birth control prescriptions for acne have side effects that include hormonal imbalances, vaginal bleeding, nausea, weight gain, missed periods, decreased libido, and mood changes.
Use Raw Honey to Treat Acne
Natural acne treatments are conspicuously missing from the medical literature on the subject. This is because the pharmaceutical industry has strong financial ties to the scientific and medical research establishment that serves to preclude investigations into natural acne remedies. The exercise of investigating natural remedies is apparently being left to the individual to try on their own.
However, what we know about raw honey’s amazing and natural capabilities makes it a safe alternative to try if any of the above acne treatment side effects are not something you want to deal with. Acne is a type of topical wound and infection. So, it follows that raw honey’s antimicrobial properties will have some effect in treating acne. Treatment is simple and can be done several times per day either over a wide area or to individual pimples and blackheads.
The medical profession has even started using raw honey to treat the surgical wounds of patients who have had heart surgery. Applying it to sutured surgical incisions reduces the risk of infection. But, raw honey is also good for your heart health in general due to the presence of flavonoids, polyphenols, and other antioxidants.
So, before seeking over-the-counter or prescription acne treatments, give raw honey a try. Depending on your skin type, you might see surprising improvements in other areas of skin health as well!
Once the bee has landed on or near the flower, she will use her proboscis — similar to a tongue. She extends it into the part of the flower where the nectar is. The thought is that honey bees can detect nectar in a flower by the reflection of ultraviolet light, or by the tone the flower is emitting as it tries to attract pollinators.
Forager bees may avoid going to a particular flower because she can smell the odor of the previous foraging bee. Also, sometimes the flower is not making the appropriate tone telling the bee that there is nectar available. Once she finds it, the bee sucks until the she takes in all the liquid within reach or her proboscis.
Show Me the Honey
A bee can carry from 25 to 80 milligrams of nectar per foraging trip, typically from several different flowers. Once the bee’s honey stomach is full, she will fly back to the hive. If the honey bee finds a large amount of nectar, she will dance once she arrives at the hive. The dance is to show the location of the nectar source. She’ll give some of the nectar to surrounding bees so that they can taste it.
But, if the nectar source is minimal, she will simply walk in the hive until a house bee takes part of the nectar. The forager will typically give the nectar to three or more bees. They will then put the nectar in one of the cells in the hive that contain nectar from the same floral source.
When the forager bee gives nectar to the house bees, the house bee spreads her mandibles and extends her proboscis to full length. She sips the nectar from the mandibles of the forager. When this transfer of nectar occurs, both bees antennae are constantly touching each other. This is a way that honey bees communicate with each other. The house bee may stroke the forager bee’s sides of her mouth to further stimulate the release of the nectar. Once the forager bee has unloaded her nectar, she will stop for a little nip of honey. Then she leaves the hive to forage for more nectar and pollen.
Foraging Near and Far
Honey bees forage for different things: nectar, pollen, propolis, and water. The needs of the hive will determine what the forager bee will go after on any trip out of the hive. Most often, a forager bee will collect nectar and pollen at the same time.
In summer, the bees leave the hive, when they are halfway through their lives. Guards, foraging bees, and scout bees then gather and deliver nectar and pollen for 4-5 days. After that job is done, they die. The distance covered in flight determines a bee’s longevity.
On average, a foraging bee carries out a dozen journeys per day. That frequency that depends upon how easy the gathering is and the proximity of the flowers. A honey bee will forage as far as five miles from the hive. But, she burns most of the nectar gathered as energy to fly back to the hive.
So, the closer the floral source to the beehive, the more honey the bees will be able to make. That is why you often see hives right in the middle of orange groves or other places with flowering plants. Keeping the honey bees as close to the nectar source as possible is important.
The scientific name for baby bees is “larvae” (though it may be tempting to call it a “ba-bee” Get it? ☺). Collectively, all of the baby bees are the brood. So, how does the brood get its start? That depends on the type of bee: worker, drone, or queen?
A Queen is Born
An egg that will become a queen bee will go from egg to a queen in 16 days. The potential queen is fed nothing but royal jelly, which allows her to develop fully, allowing her to reproduce.
The Future is Female (If You’re a Worker Bee)
If the queen desires to produce drone bees, she lays an unfertilized egg —which becomes a drone bee in 24 days. For everyday worker bees, they set a fertilized egg vertically at the bottom of the cell. They feed worker and drone bees the royal jelly only for the first 3 days after the egg hatches. After that, they get bee bread, a honey and pollen mixture. This stunts the growth of the worker bee so that she can’t reproduce. (Fun fact: all worker bees are female.) After three days, the egg falls horizontally and hatches into a larva.
Feeding the Brood
Abundantly fed by the nurse bees, a larva receives 1,300 visits per day, until the bees close the cell with a wax cover. After eight days, the larvae, swollen with food, become pupae and their organs form fully. Twelve days after the closing of the cell, a young bee is born. During the whole process, the brood remains at a constant temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just after it emerges from the cell, a new adult bee eats honey for its first meal. At this point, the honey bee — whether it be a queen, worker or drone — is ready to get to work. For growth, its main food will be pollen mixed with honey (bee bread): an indispensable protein for the first days of its life that helps complete its internal organ development. For the four days following its birth, the adult bee cleans the cells for the new eggs the queen will lay. Near the sixth day, it becomes a nurse bee, producing royal jelly, and maintaining the brood at a constant temperature by visiting the cells to feed the larvae inside.
We’ve all seen drawings or photos of honeycomb with honey dribbling out of it. It’s a beautiful and fascinatingly geometric aspect of nature. But what is a honeycomb made of? It’s made of wax. Beeswax, to be precise.
Where Does Beeswax Come From?
Beeswax comes from bees.
A honey bee has 8 wax glands on the bottom of her abdomen. Bees secrete the beeswax from their wax glands after transforming the sugar from honey into necessary fats. A bee is able to produce the most wax when she is 12 to 18 days old. Bees typically secrete beeswax when the weather is warm, the hive is building comb, and foraging is active.
Bees need protein, pollen, and honey (bee bread) to produce beeswax. When a honey bee is going to make beeswax she will eat a large amount of honey. Research has shown that a honey bee will eat 3.8 kilograms of honey producing 453 grams of beeswax. Between 15.5 and 22 pounds of honey are needed to produce a little over 1 pound of beeswax.
About 24 hours after the honey bee has ingested the bee bread she will start to produce beeswax. The honey bee will then remove the beeswax scale from her wax glands with one of her rear legs. She then takes the wax scale up to her mandibles and chews it to soften it. Then she shapes it into the piece of wax needed in the hive.
How Do Bees Use the Wax?
On a newly built, immaculately white wax comb, the builders, with the help of their mandibles, and mandible secretions, place, spread, and flatten the beeswax until they have obtained the perfect hexagonal walls of 0.073mm thickness. The bees’ antennas serve as a yardstick for estimating the size and shape of the hexagons.
Once the honey bees draw out the entire frame with beeswax, beekeepers call it drawn comb. Because it takes so much honey to make beeswax, beekeepers will leave as much beeswax in a frame of honeycomb as possible. This allows the honey bees to make more honey in the future. That’s because the hive does not need to build beeswax before the cell can be filled with nectar that will become honey.
In a hurry? We’ll quickly summarize. It is not raw honey if it’s:
had all the pollen filtered out
mixed with other honey
mixed with corn syrup
been shipped from China
It is raw honey if you buy it straight from the beekeeper and it’s:
extracted right out of the honeycomb and into a jar
unfiltered, which means it has all the pollen it came with
not mixed with other honey
not mixed with corn syrup and no extra sugars are added
So, here’s the scenario. You’re doing your grocery shopping at Walmart, Target, or some other household name “big box” grocery store. You need some honey, so you just grab whatever is cheapest off the shelf. We’ve all done that with honey and other similar “staple” food products such as bread or milk.
But have you ever stopped to consider whether the low, low price you’re paying for that honey is indicative of its true quality?
If not, that’s okay. You’re not alone. Most people don’t have time to check the labels or search out information about quality. That’s why we’ve prepared this helpful post for you.
Now, here are the details.
1. Honey without pollen is not raw honey
When bees flit from flower to flower, the little hairs on their bodies and legs pick up pollen. The pollen gets distributed from flower to flower increasing and improving pollination. But it also goes back to the hive with the bees. Pollen contains nutrients that benefit both bees and humans. So if the pollen is removed through filtering, a major component of the honey is lost.
2. Honey mixed with other honey is not raw honey
Large-scale honey manufacturers (let’s just call a spade a spade here) like to tout their honey “mixes” as a feature rather than to downplay it as a liability. They like to say that they are producing a custom flavor or a variety experience. But all they’re really doing is artificially combining potentially conflicting chemical and organic properties in ways that aren’t always beneficial.
3. Honey mixed with corn syrup is not raw honey
With the bad rap that high fructose corn syrup has today, this one kind of goes without saying. There is simply no good reason to dump a bunch of artificially processed sugary syrup from a corn plant, with all its harmful effects on our health, into perfectly good honey. We want less HFCS in our diets, not more.
4. Cooked honey is not raw honey
The nutrients in honey are fragile and are lost with each step of non-natural processing done to a honey batch. Cooking is no exception to this rule. There really is not a good reason to apply heat to honey unless you’re is using it merely as a sweetener in tea, coffee, or baked goods. But if you’re trying to get any nutritional benefit from the honey, it’s best to leave it as close to room temperature as possible.
5. Honey from China is not raw honey
Chinese honey is a real problem for beekeepers around the world. Not only does it meet all the “not real honey” criteria mentioned above, it is part of an international “race to the bottom” when it comes to honey quality. Chinese honey is also a huge player in (we’re not kidding) honey crime. If you don’t believe me, go and watch season 1, episode 1 of the documentary “Rotten: Lawyers, Guns, and Honey”. It’s excellent and as of this writing it’s still available on Netflix. The documentary details an extensive underworld in the honey trade that dilutes the best things about honey to nothingness, hurts the environment, is rife with fraud, and has nearly put beekeepers out of business. If you need only one reason to buy natural honey, let this be that reason.
6. Honey direct from the honeycomb is raw honey
Ok, please excuse our indulgence into a little self promotion here, but we can only speak for ourselves in this matter. We define real beekeeping and the real honey outcome as being direct from the honeycomb to our non-toxic bottle to your table. Anything that gets between these hive-to-table endpoints is just not ethical, in our opinionated way of looking at our industry.
If you want to see what we do to our honey, just have a look at this short overview video. What you see here is exactly what you get. From the hive directly to your table. Every time.
There’s nothing “wrong” with honey that pre-cooking it will “fix”. Real beekeepers just don’t cook it. With the exception of children under the age of 1 who have immature digestive systems, honey can’t hurt you in terms of bacteria or viruses because honey is naturally sterile. It’s even used as a natural, sterile wound dressing, and has been for thousands of years! And, in archaeological discoveries in Egypt, honey was found, still edible, in jars that had been there for up to 4,000 years!
9. Honey mixed naturally with other honey is raw honey
Note how I’m not saying that honey cannot be mixed. I’m just saying it has to be mixed naturally or it’s not raw honey. We artisan beekeepers rely only on the bees to mix nectar from different flowering plants that, in turn, create the unique and delicious flavor profiles of raw honey. My favorite honey of all time is one that the bees make in the springtime when the blackberry blossoms and orange blossoms are available to bees at the same time.
The bees visit the flowers of both blackberry plants and orange trees throughout the day and their respective nectars are mixed naturally in the bee’s “honey gut”. When the nectar is deposited in the honeycomb of the hive, they solidify naturally together as the water in the nectar evaporates. Pollen from blackberry plants and orange trees also makes its way into the honey, further flavoring it so that it tastes exactly like what you would expect. It’s as if you’re drinking ambrosia made of the juices of oranges and blackberries. Orange Blossom Blackberry honey is just incredibly delicious.
Our bees similarly combine orange blossom and ruby red grapefruit blossom nectar and pollen to make our uniquely Floridian Orange Blossom Ruby Red honey.
Naturally mixed honey is far superior in taste and quality than that bland-tasting, featureless, unflavorful “clover honey” that is most common in stores.
10. Honey not mixed with corn syrup or other added sugars is raw honey
Again, let’s just keep that nasty HCFS garbage out of our honey supply. It’s already unavoidable in so many other manufactured foods. Therefore, it’s completely unnecessary to add it to honey because honey is already sugar! Adding corn syrup only serves to dilute the honey so that prices can be dropped due to low quality, further putting real beekeepers out of business and reducing their ability to increase bee populations. Without sizable bee populations, our entire food chain is in danger of collapsing. Just say no to HCFS in your honey and only buy raw honey.
Yes! There are stingless bees. That is, there are bees that don’t have the capability to sting humans or other animals.
You’d be surprised to find out where one species of stingless bee comes from.
Stingless bees – tetragonula carbonaria
Australia is a continent that has gained a reputation of being a land that wants to kill humans. Indeed, it is full of snakes, spiders, crocodiles, and many other deadly creatures. So it’s particularly remarkable that Tetragonula Carbonaria, a variety of stingless bee, comes from the deadly “Down Under”.
Also known as trigona, for short, these are small, dark-colored bees. They have their colonies or hives in the cavities of trees and other holes they can find to live in. Their nests can be quite large for such a small bee (5mm).
You’ll see trigona bees in coastal areas such as Queensland and New South Wales, and they do live in urban areas as well as in rural, woodland, and heath, which is like a meadow or open area of uncultivated land with heather-like vegetation.
Like more familiar varieties of bees, trigona bees eat pollen and nectar that they convert into a honey of thin consistency that Australians call “bush tucker” (food you can eat in the wild).
What’s unique about the hives the trigona bees create for themselves is the beautiful spiral structure. Trigona store their pollen and nectar in little “pot” structures on the outer edge of the hive and the queen puts her eggs into the honey- and pollen-stocked cells like regular bees. The cells are sealed off with wax to protect the larvae.
So, the next time you travel to Australia, you can rest assured that at least one species of animal isn’t out to end your life or cause you severe pain. You may even get a taste of their sweet honey while you’re there!