We all know honeybees are a very key component of agriculture, as they pollinate our crops. More than 90 crops rely on honeybees and roughly one third of the food we eat is pollinated by honeybees, not to mention what our livestock eat. Yet many people don’t know honeybees are a form of agriculture on their own. There are a lot of products made by honeybees including honey of course, pollen, royal jelly, propolis and venom. Honeybees make almost 163 pounds of honey a year, costing about $2.08 per pound in the supermarket, making it have a value of $339 million.

The second-most sought-after product from honeybees is beeswax. Not only do we use it today, but the use of beeswax goes straight back to ancient Greece and Rome. It was also used in medieval times as a unit of trade for taxes. Who knew it was so valuable? Not only is it popular in obvious things like candles and cosmetics, it’s used for artist material and wood and leather polishes. This is just another way agriculture is a part of our everyday lives we might not even think about. The U.S. is a huge producer of beeswax and a world supplier of refined beeswax.

Royal jelly, propolis and venom are all used in medicine. Royal jelly itself is used to treat asthma, hay fever, liver disease, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, diabetic foot ulcers, sleep troubles, fatigue and many others. Propolis is used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance. It also helps with cold sores and the treatment of minor burns. The venom of a honeybee, while somewhat strange to use, is used for various muscle conditions, nerve pains and helps with reducing the allergic reaction to a bee sting.

Still, with all of the honey, beeswax and medicines used from the honeybee, the greatest job of a honeybee is pollinating our crops. The agricultural benefit of honeybees is estimated to be between 10-20 times the whole total value of honey and beeswax. Pollination of crops by bees adds about $15 billion to crop value.

Schiereck is the El Dorado Springs FFA historian.

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