What started as a dismal year, because of our winter bee losses, has turned around dramatically because of the lovely rains in June and heat in July. August is honey harvest month and it's shaping up to be a good one. We can hardly wait to start hoisting those 25 kg honey boxes in 30°C weather!
Honey has been revered for millenia as a sweetener, but ancient cultures such as the Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans and Chinese had more unique uses for the golden liquid. Honey, beeswax, royal jelly and even propolis were used in everyday body and hair care. What made these hive products so useful?
The primary requirement is raw honey, because it contains all the natural enzymes, antioxidants and vitamins the bees create. Raw Honey itself is a humectant, which means it draws moisture in, and it's also an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Manuka or dark honeys generally contain the most antioxidants, so are sometimes seen as the best choices.
Honey is often used in conjunction with propolis and royal jelly. Propolis increases it’s antibacterial qualities and adds anti-fungal and antiviral properties, while royal jelly adds collagen. Be aware that honey or pollen allergies may cause adverse reactions.
Honey's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the effects of acne. Try a simple face mask of raw honey, leave on for 10 to 20 minutes, then wash off, to rejuvenate your skin. Your hands, especially cuticles, will also appreciate honey's ability to moisturize.
Partially crystallized honey makes an easy exfoliant, thus can help rejuvenate your skin. Simply rub the honey in your hands to warm it up, apply to your skin in a circular motion, leave on for a few moments then wash off.
Your hair can also benefit from honey’s moisturizing properties. Create a basic conditioner of honey and enough water to thin it out. Then massage into freshly washed hair, leave on for a few minutes and rinse with warm water.
As well, a lip balm with honey, beeswax and olive oil is simple to make and protects lips in our often harsh, dry weather.
The use of honey and hive products in cosmetics is centuries old, but there's been a renewed interest, as seen by the dozens of companies capitalizing on it's valuable effects. We prefer those containing only natural ingredients and if they can be made at home, it's even better!