158: How to Use Bee Products for Health & Save the Bees with Beekeeper’s Naturals 158: How to Use Bee Products for Health & Save the Bees with Beekeeper’s Naturals

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Katie: Hello and welcome to “The Healthy Moms Podcast.” I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com, and this episode is all about the bees and why we should all love them, and why they’re so important, and also how they can truly aid us in our homes and in keeping our families healthy and warding off illness and so many other uses. And I am here with Carly Stein who is the founder and CEO of Beekeeper’s Naturals, which is a natural health product company that’s developing very innovative bee-made nutraceuticals that provide effective natural solutions to a lot of modern health problems. And we’re gonna really delve into those today. But I love their story and I love Carly because she’s really committed to using her company as a platform, also to raise awareness and funding for the bee cause in general and for understanding how important the bees are to all of us. And my oldest son is a beekeeper as well. So, it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. But, Carly, welcome and thanks for being here.

Carly: Thanks so much for having me, Katie.

Katie: Yeah. Like I said, I think it’s gonna be really fun and informative episode, because I think all of us hopefully have a passing understanding that we need the bees to live, because we truly do. But I don’t think most people truly understand the many ways that we can benefit each other back and forth. And I feel your story is a great springboard to start with this. So trying to get some frame of reference for this whole episode. Can you take us through your story and how you became such a passionate advocate for bees and bee products to begin with?

Carly: Absolutely. So I had a really interesting path into the world of bees. I have an autoimmune condition, and because of that, antibiotics just really aren’t an option for me. So growing up, I was constantly sick, I was constantly rundown, and I didn’t really have anything to help me out and I found that a lot of what was offered in the natural world it wasn’t powerful enough for me, and yet, the traditional remedies just didn’t work. So my parents used to call me “Bubble Boy” and I was always sick. And when I was in university I did a semester abroad in Europe, and, of course, got sick again. And I was gonna have to come home and have surgery. So I was just looked, desperately looking for anything to cure me, and I went into a pharmacy in Italy, and I was given this weird stuff called propolis. I had no idea what it was at the time. I thought the bees only made honey, but I used the stuff, and it was the first time that something really worked. So for me, propolis functioned in my body the way antibiotics do for most people. And that just sparked this interest in bee products.

And as I was travelling around Europe, once I made a full recovery, I noticed that things like royal jelly and honey and pollen and propolis were used in all kinds of remedies. So it was just so interesting that these all-natural substances were super common in Europe, yet me, who has always been searching for natural never came across these different things. So I was super intrigued and I came home and I couldn’t find these things anywhere. So, I started beekeeping. So, I really started just out of like an interest in getting my hands on these products, that the second I got near the hives, I was just hooked. I mean, they’re such incredible creatures and I’m learning more not only about the healing benefits of their super foods, but about the integral role they play in our environments. It really sparked a passion in me.

So, I started beekeeping as a hobby. But I graduated and took a more traditional job. I went into finance, I was working at Goldman Sachs, and I had a really interesting and compelling career, but my heart was really with the hives. And so, I was spending all of my spare time going out to the bees and just learning more about these different products and they played such a role in my health that it got to a point where I was like, you know, “I wanna share these things, and I wanna teach people what’s happening with the bees.” So, I made the full transition and I left the world of finance to become a beekeeper, and that’s what I do now. So we create different sustainably-sourced super foods from the hive, and as you said, we’re on a major mission to educate people about what’s happening to the bees, the important role they play and how people can get involved.

Katie: Yeah, I love that. It’s, like I said, it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart as well. And for me it was actually, it’s been a longtime research passion actually, because even back as far as high school, I didn’t own my own hives, but I helped out a beekeeper in our area, so I, kind of, interned with him as a summer job. And I also worked in an entomology lab. That was my first job ever, categorizing mites and different diseases that were being found, and different insects in our area. And I’ve always just had an interest for how much the insect world really does impact our world, and it’s really striking. So I’d love if you could delve into that a little bit, because, like I said at the beginning, I think most people understand that we need pollinators for our food supply to exist, and we do, drastically so, so much that if the bees go away we go away. But really, like, they’re so interconnected to our lives in so many ways. So can you talk about that a little bit? Like why are bees so important to our lives?

Carly: First of all, I love that you worked with the bees. I did not even know that. It’s amazing. But, yeah, you’re exactly right there, if the bees go away, we go away. I mean, the bees pollinate one-third of our food supply. So 70 of the top 100 food crops grown worldwide rely on bees for pollination. So people don’t realize a lot of the food we eat, it can’t self-pollinate. The plant can’t reproduce and grow without the help of the bees. If the bees go away we’re not gonna have things like almonds, apples, avocados. There are so many crops that can’t self-pollinate. And even the ones that can pollinate, a lot of them are sort of partially wind-pollinated, partially insect-pollinated. So internationally, our food yields would just take a major hit if we lost the bees. And then beyond our food supply, the bees really make up the building blocks of our ecosystems, because they help to pollinate wild flowers and plants that other creatures rely on.

So losing the bees, I mean, the world would basically eventually evolve into like a desert wasteland. We’d have no way of pollinating a lot of the foods and flowering plants, and amazing things that we rely on to stay healthy. And, I mean, they wouldn’t be able to reproduce.

Katie: Yeah, exactly. And I know that that’s kind of like a sister mission for you guys. You obviously created these products for human health, but you also have, it has a mission to like really raise awareness about the importance of bee populations. What are some of the major factors that we’re seeing right now that are really harming the bees?

Carly: So there’s a few different things at play. I mean, pesticides are playing into it, disease, modern farming practices, weather. One thing that we really work hard to educate about is pesticides, because, of course, that’s a human-made problem that I think we can all start to take action in little ways to help to better the situation. But basically, what’s happening right now, is there’s a common classic pesticide called neonicotinoids. They sort of came into the game when DDT was taken out, and what happens with the neonicotinoids is the seeds of the plants are actually covered in them, and it grows up through the vascular system of the plant. So it’s literally inside the plant, it’s getting into our soil, getting into our water, kind of, all over. And what’s happening is the bees are going to pollinate from these different plants, and they’re collecting floral nectars and pollens and different plant materials, and as they’re doing that, they’re basically ingesting trace amounts of neonicotinoid pesticide, and bringing them back to the hive.

And what’s happening from there is neonicotinoid, it’s a neural active substance, so it’s harming the bees spatial reasoning. And that’s really important, because the bees rely on their spatial reasoning to forage for food and find their way home. So these pesticides, they are really directly harming the bees, and it’s really important that we can educate ourselves about what’s happening and try and push for pesticide-free areas to the best of our ability.

Another thing that’s really stressful on the bees, is modern farming practices. So in the olden days, we used to have different wildflowers growing all over the place, and farms that were made out of different things. But today, we have monocultures. And economically, that makes sense, because you’ll have a farmer who’s a dedicated blueberry grower or has different almond crops. So having one plant type, it makes sense from that standpoint, but for the bees, it’s really harsh, because what’s happening is the bees don’t have a varied food source, they’re eating the same thing every day, and just like us, even though, kale is good for us, if it’s all we ever ate, it wouldn’t be the most balanced diet. So the bees are, kind of, over-exposed to one crop type. And then what happens with mono crops is after the bloom period, all the food goes away.

So they have this timeframe where there is tons of food of one type, and then, after the bloom, it’s all gone. So one thing you can do to help with mono-cropping is marginalizing, which is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s just planting varied wildflowers in the margins of these different crops, and it’s a really great way to help support the bees and give them some varied food, and give them some food to have throughout different times of the year.

Katie: Yeah, that’s awesome. And there are, like you said, so many easy steps that we can all take in our own yards. And I think the pesticides is a huge key. And it’s also good if you have kids to not have that stuff in your yard, because the kids are absorbing it through the skin on their feet if they’re running around barefoot, and just them interacting with the dirt. I think that’s an important issue. And I love that you guys are raising awareness about that. And this time of year, I know it’s spring where we are in, we’re enjoying…we like put up some bee houses for solitary bees recently, and I’ll be sharing the plans for those soon. And my son has bees, and my dad has bees as well. Those are all in full effect right now and I love it. I love all the flowering and the pollination. And I think it’s so important that we realize we can all take little steps even if we don’t have bees to support the bees. And even things like planting wildflowers. I know that that was a movement a few years ago, just making sure you could plant some wild flowers near your yard if you’re going to plant anyway.

But the other mission for you guys is obviously, the bee, like nutraceuticals side of all these products that you made that helped you. And I love your case. I hate that you had to go through auto-immune disease, because I’ve been there too and I know it’s not fun. But I loved that in your case you couldn’t use antibiotics, and so you had to turn toward more natural remedies, and then you found out they were effective remedies as well, because I think for a lot of us, especially those who can use antibiotics even if we potentially shouldn’t for our gut health, it’s easy to wanna turn toward that thinking it’s gonna be the most effective remedy, And I feel like your story really gives light to other alternatives that are effective. And that’s a lot of hope for a lot of people. So let’s go through all the bee remedies and I’d love to really get like a deep dive into this, especially for all the moms who are listening who have kids and they maybe don’t want to turn to antibiotics for every minor thing. There’s a time and a place, but if they’re avoidable, there are some great other options.

So let’s start with the first and the most well-known, which is obviously honey. And I think most people are familiar with it as a sweetener and for cooking, but truly, the benefits of honey extend well beyond that. So let’s start with the basics and give us all the many, wonderful ways we can use honey.

Carly: Yeah. I love honey, so, of course, I love Honey. I love all bee products. So I’ll start out by maybe explaining what honey is for the bees. So in the hive, honey is the bees primary food source. What happens is, the bees will go around collecting nectar from different plants, and they’ll use their two tongues as a straw to suck the nectar out of the flowers, and then they store it in their honey stomachs, and they actually have two stomachs. Their honey stomach is basically used like a nectar backpack. The stomach holds almost 70 milligrams of nectar and when it’s full, it actually weighs as much as the bee does. So the bee carries all of this floral nectar back to the hive, and they basically pack it into their cells, and then they fan and they remove the moisture and they brought it, so they turn into honey that way. So in the hive, you can think of honey as the B2 source. It’s their source of energy.

For humans, I mean, we’ve been using honey for thousands of years. And it has so many amazing benefits. Everything from antioxidants effects to anti-microbial and it’s de-bacterial properties. One of my favorite way is to use honey, and this is something that a lot of people don’t know, is using honey as a sleep aid. So I take a teaspoon of honey every night before bed, and I do this because honey contains several amino acids, but one of the ones it contains is tryptophan. Tryptophan is the amino acid that’s also found in turkey and it’s commonly associated with that sleepy feeling you get after a Thanksgiving dinner. And honey helps you sleep, because when you have honey, the insulin allows…it triggers like a small-sized spike, which allows the tryptophan to cross the blood brain barrier where it’s converted into serotonin and then melatonin, which is a well-documented sleep aid. So honey really does help you, kind of, calm down and get ready for bed.

Another thing that honey does to help you sleep, and this one is especially common with sort of middle-aged women. What can happen is sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night, and it’s because your glycogen stores are low. So basically, the body consumes glycogen even when asleep. And the largest glycogen stores are in the liver. So eating honey before bed will ensure that the liver is stocked throughout the night and prevent your brain from triggering a crisis search for fuel which can wake you up.

Katie: That’s a really interesting tip, and I’m gonna pass that along to my mom, because I know that that’s when pretty much the only thing that she’s really ever struggled with was just having trouble sleeping or not having trouble sleeping, but having trouble waking up in the middle of the night, and then being able to go back to sleep. And I think that’s a great tip, and for my kids, I also put a little bit of sea salt on it, because there’s some evidence that like the mixture of the salt and the honey, it helps it get into the bloodstream more quickly, but also to stay longer, and it definitely seems to work. It does help them sleep. It’s, kind of, part of our ritual, but we also now use not just plain honey, but some of the other products that you have. One that includes like bee pollen and some other things as well. So let’s go through the list.

What are the benefits of bee pollen? I think maybe that’s what a lot of people haven’t considered using as a remedy. I know my mom was into health food pretty early so we had bee pollen way back in the ’90s in our house, but I don’t think that’s the case for most people. So how is bee pollen used as a remedy as well?

Carly: Pollen is fantastic. So pollen and the product you’re talking about is Bee Powered. And that is our high superfood blend. So that’s a really cool-made honey because it’s got the pollen in it, it has royal jelly, it has propolis. So it’s really, kind of, a hive all in one. But pollen, so pollen is the main protein source for the bees. So the bees go out and they forage and they pick up the pollen and they use their enzymes and, kind of, pack it into these little balls which they carry on their hind legs. If you’ve ever seen a picture of a bee, and if you haven’t go to our Instagram and you’ll see a million pictures of bees. But if you’ve ever seen one of these pictures of the bees with these balls of pollen on their hind legs, that’s called their pollen pants. So that’s how they carry the pollen back to the hive, and then they bring it back and it’s their protein source. So for humans, pollen is also a fantastic source of protein.

There’s actually more protein per weight than any animal source. So it’s really high in protein, vitamins, minerals. I like to think of pollen as, kind of, my all-in-one multi-vitamin, because it’s really high in broad spectrum vitamins. It has a really great B Vitamin content, which is awesome for vegetarians or people just looking to support their energy levels. And it’s also really high in free-form amino acids, which is fantastic because those help you to kind of pull nutrients out of your food. So when I’m doing a smoothie or salad, or I’m doing avocado toast, I always sprinkle some pollen on top, because, one, it gives you a little vitamin boost. And, two, it helps you pull, absorb, and breakdown the nutrients from the rest of the items on your plate. So it’s one of the ways that I like to use pollen.

I hear a lot of people using pollen for allergies, which can be great, but you should really be careful when using pollen for allergies. You might be introducing the allergen and allergies are so personal, and I think using pollen for allergies can sometimes be too much. I usually recommend propolis for allergies. That being said, there’s plenty of people who have had great results using bee pollen. Another thing that is really cool about bee pollen, it’s a source of rutin, which is a vitamin that strengthens capillaries, and there’s also a few studies that have found that bee pollen can actually increase your endurance. So how that works is bee pollen basically increases your blood hemoglobin values, and it helps you to oxygenate the tissues. So it basically supports red blood cells. And all of that leads to improving your endurance. So I love to have bee pollen before I work out. I usually have a teaspoon of Bee Powered first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and that’s, kind of, my workout fuel.

Katie: I had no idea about the endurance thing. That’s really cool.

Carly: Yeah. Bee pollen is really interesting for that. It’s sort of the ultimate natural pre-work out.

Katie: Very cool. And you mentioned that you would use propolis instead of bee pollen for allergies. I think that’s a great next one to go into, because you guys have a spray that has been a lifesaver for me this year. I feel I can say this out loud now. None of us got the flu, none of us got strep, none of us got anything, and it was a really bad flu season. But any time anyone even had like the hint of a tickle in their throat, I was spraying the propolis in their throat, and using it when we traveled, especially on airplanes. But explain kind of what that is, because that’s what I was definitely not as familiar with even though I had worked with bees.

Carly: I’m so happy to hear that you guys stayed healthy this season. It was a particularly bad one this year, but yeah, propolis is the substance that really got me involved with the bees. A lot of people think of honey when they think of a natural immune booster. Propolis is way more powerful and its immune-boosting capabilities and you can kind of think of propolis as the concentrated immune-boosting abilities from the hive. So how propolis works in the hive, whereas, pollen is the bees’ protein, and honey is the bees’ food and carbs. Propolis is basically their medicine. So how bees gather and create propolis is they collect it from different plants and tree resins, they put it through their enzymatic process, and then they use propolis to line the hive and keep it germ-free. So they’re lining the entire hive walls, they line the inside of the cells for the newborn baby bees to create a sterile environment for newborns, and they even have a propolis matt at the front door.

And a really interesting thing about propolis, let’s say a predator gets into the hive, like a mouse, this happens all the time because there’s honey in there, and it smells really good. So if a mouse gets into the hive, the bees can sting the mouse and kill it, but they can’t physically carry a mouse out of the hive. So what they’ll do once they’ve killed the mouse is they’ll actually mummify it in propolis and it’s that powerful of an antiviral, antibacterial protective substance that it protects the entire hive from the stinking rodents in their living room. So propolis is really powerful for me. It’s basically my natural antibiotic. I use it all the time to boost my immune system, and I really rely on it when I’m feeling run down. And it’s really interesting too, because, like you, I had never heard of propolis before my college trip to Europe. But humans have been using propolis for a really long time. Like the first recorded use of propolis dates back to 300 BC.

Aristotle actually coined the term propolis. And across cultures and the Egyptians they would use propolis in mummification, the Incas would drink it to reduce fever. I mean, there’s just such a rich history of this nutritive substance, yet people don’t really know about it. So yeah, so propolis, I mean, it’s an immune booster, it’s anti-viral, antifungal, anti-microbial. It’s really high in antioxidants, it’s anti-inflammatory, so it’s also been really soothing and calming. It’s great topically, it’s great for allergies, so they found that both water and ethanol extract with propolis are great in inhibiting histamine response. So like I said, pollen can be awesome for treating allergies, but if you’ve really bad allergies pollen is probably a little bit too aggressive. So starting off with something like propolis, which is going to have those anti-inflammatory effects, it’s going to inhibit the histamine response, it’s still gonna expose you to the different plant materials, that’s a really good way to start to reduce those allergies. And then for immune concerns, I mean, propolis is just my go-to, like cold, flu, anything like that, I’m spaying propolis.

But I also use it on a daily basis for inflammation, because one of the issues that I deal with, with my autoimmune condition, is inflammation. So I’m spraying propolis a few times a day just to, kind of, balance my body out. And we’ve talked about this before, but I use propolis topically as well. There’s actually a lot of really interesting information on the beneficial effects of topical propolis. So it’s great for our burn management, because it enhances skin cell proliferation and it basically activates its growth capacity. So it helps really to heal your skin. It’s also shown positive collagen metabolism during the wound healing process, so it can help out in that way. And then, because it’s anti-fungal and antiviral and all of that god stuff, it helps to treat any bacteria with an open wound.

Katie: Yeah. I love it for that. And that was actually something I learned from you. And now it might go to mom remedy for anything skin-related because we’ve used honey for years for burns, like I would mix honey and lavender usually, and it works great. But that’s a hard thing to keep on a kid, because they’re so active. And also, for any like larger area of skin, it’s hard to just like coat that in honey and not stick to everything that you touch. And so, for my kids, since you told me this, I’ve been using it. Like if somebody gets a skinned knee, because the propolis doesn’t sting, and they let me spray it on there, and it stays on better it seems like than honey. So I think like those are both great remedies, but I love that you told me that because it’s become definitely one of my go-to’s for topical stuff. And even like since you said that, I was researching, there are so many cool uses for it in like skin care, and that like people would spray it on their face for acne and all kinds of things. So it’s really super versatile, and it still boggles my mind that the bees use it to truly like mummify an entire animal in the hive and keep disease from spreading, that’s amazing.

Carly: Yeah, it’s so cool because it’s literally the immune system of the hive, and it’s such a versatile substance. Like I always have it in my purse because I’ll spray it in my mouth when I feel run down or just letting it be an antioxidant use, but, like you said, like I’m a really active person and I rock climb, and it’s also something, I just keep it in my harness, because when I’m outdoor climbing I’m constantly scraping my hands, and that sort of things. So I’ll spray some propolis on it, and that will kind of help to combat the bacteria. But a cool thing about propolis as well is that it’s a really beneficial substance for a lot of hard to treat conditions. So for things like Candida, for example, there’s a lot of conditions that are very common, that are aggravated by antibiotics and that you have to be really careful with, yet you still wanna boost your immune system, and you still wanna, kind of, combat these different ailments.

So Candida, which, you know all about, but for anyone who doesn’t, it’s a common fungal overgrowth, and propolis is actually really effective at treating this. Propolis contains a compound called pinocembrin which is a flavanone that acts as an anti-fungal agent so it actually helps to combat the fungus in the body. Propolis has awesome effects for colitis as well, it’s very beneficial for chronic large intestinal inflammation, and it helps to strengthen the intestinal barrier, which may reduce some of the symptoms. The other thing with propolis, since it’s really high in polyphenols, it promotes increased intestinal strength.

And there was a study carried out in rats and it showed that after using propolis there was significant increase in their trans membrane electrical resistance. So that’s a long-winded way of saying it’s really great for strengthening the gut, helping out the digestive tract, it’s awesome for leaky guts. Another hard to treat condition, but aided by propolis, is h pylori. And then even things like herpes. Any sort of viral things, again, topically or internally. And we even have one customer who gets chronic canker sores in their throat, which it can be really, really painful, and the only way they’ve been able to heal is with propolis. So, it’s just such an interesting super food, because it has all of these different benefits, and all of these amazing compounds. It actually has over 300 beneficial compounds, propolis. But it’s really become my go-to and I love sharing it with people, because so many people have no idea what it is. And I think it’s really something we all should be using, we all could benefit from.

Katie: I agree. And it’s one of the few things I travel with. I travel quite a bit, because of blog-related things, and just our family travels quite a bit, and I keep two of your products with me when I travel, one of them the propolis, and we’ll talk about the other one in a minute. I also travel with my own salt, because I’m really picky about salt, and restaurants don’t have good salt. So I travel with that, but I love the propolis especially for flying, because you’re naturally exposed to a lot more different species of viruses and bacteria in a plane, because the air quality is pretty poor, and flying, in general, most people don’t realize it creates a lot of inflammation in the body because you are closer to the sun, there’s more radiation, and typically you’re on a different schedule, you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re getting poor food, and you’re locked in this metal capsule with Wi-Fi. So flying is definitely inflammation-producing event, so I always travel with propolis and other things, just to keep the inflammation down.
This podcast is brought to you by Homebiotic. We all know about our microbiome and most of us know about our oral microbiome and even our skin microbiome. But it’s easy to forget that we live in a microbial environment as well. And that our home environment influences our health too. The overuse of disinfectants and harsh cleansers has led to an overgrowth of less than optimal bacteria in many homes. Things like mold, pets, and the normal bacteria that comes with a household of kids running in and outside all day can cause odors and bacterial imbalance in our homes. Those of us with little kids have children sitting on the floor of our homes and interacting with that bacteria on a daily basis. So, my solution to this has been Homebiotic. This is a natural probiotic spray for the home that neutralizes odors, germs and even mold. You can check it out at wellnessmama.com/go/home-biotic
This podcast is brought to you by Four Sigmatic. My kitchen is always stocked with their coffee mushroom blends, their Matcha mix, and their straight mushroom drinks. Four Sigmatic has figured out how to get the benefits of mushrooms like chaga, lions mane, cordyceps and reishi into delicious instant drinks. My current favorite is their adaptogen coffee blend that has tolsi and astragalus. But I love all of their products. They have options with or without caffeine so if you’re not a caffeine person you can find products that you will love. And I find that even their coffee blends that do contain caffeine have less than a normal cup of coffee. But don’t let this fool you. I have found that I get so much more focus and mental clarity from these mushroom blends than I do from regular coffee, and without the jitters. The addition of the mushrooms, which are considered nootropics, meaning that they are good for the brain makes these super food blends more effective and much healthier than just regular old coffee. I love them with a dash of macadamia milk personally. I also love that many of their drink mixes are instant and packaged into individual servings so they are perfect for travel or on the go. If you’re listening to this, then you can get a special offer just for listeners of this podcast by going to wellnessmama.com/go/four-sigmatic.

Katie: Before we talk about one of my… I would say my favorite product of yours right now, I wanna talk about royal jelly first. I love that too, but my favorite is a combination. And that’s another one I think a lot of people aren’t just familiar with, and it’s one that I had never thought to use as a remedy till I met you. So take us through that. What is royal jelly and how can humans use it.

Carly: Yeah. So really quick, just on the propolis and flying, so important to help to combat free radicals. And one of the ways propolis does that, it’s got a really high caffeic acid content, and that helps to basically combat and destroy free radicals, and then, it also contains a cinnamic acid derivatives, sorry, it’s a long one to say, and that really helps with inflammation. So when flying, that’s just a really important thing. But, yeah, onto royal jelly, which is another sort of mysterious bee product that although it’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine and just across different cultures, most people don’t really know what it is. So royal jelly, as the name implies, it’s the food of the queen bee, and how it’s used in the hive, all newborn babies are given royal jelly for the first three days of development. And then after that, they’re transitioned off onto a diet of pollen and honey, and only the queen continues eating royal jelly for her entire life.

And the queen bee is very different from regular bees. The queen bee will live three to five years versus a regular bee who lives six to eight weeks during foraging season. The queen bee will lay around 1500 babies a day, versus regular bees who don’t reproduce, they don’t have reproductive organs, and, yeah, the only real difference is that the queen bee is on an exclusive diet of royal jelly. So there’s obviously some magic going on in the hive with this substance. But royal jelly, it’s a really interesting substance. It contains high amounts of proteins, lipids, vitamins, hormones and enzymes. And the nutrient density of royal jelly actually has not been replicated by science.

So it’s composed of 67% water, 12% crude proteins, 5% fatty acids and several types of amino acids. And how humans can use royal jelly, so I mentioned it’s been used across cultures for a variety of ailments. Most notably, people use royal jelly as a brain booster, and that’s where a lot of the Western studies are today looking at the effects of royal jelly on the brain. I really started using and learning about royal jelly when my best friend had a very serious concussion. So royal jelly was a major part of his healing process. And from that, and just going through that experience, and I know, especially as a mom it can be really scary with kids running around and being active, just the prevalence of concussions and not knowing what to do when you’re in that situation.

So using royal jelly to help out when needed that can be really huge. But so, how royal jelly works on the brain, there’s kind of two active compounds in royal jelly that really activate your brain. And one of them is acetylcholine. So acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain, spinal cord, and throat areas of the nervous system, and it’s a major player in attention span and memory and other executive functions. It basically regulates memory, and it’s needed to transmit nerve messages from cell to cell. Low levels of acetylcholine are linked to Alzheimer’s, but having royal jelly, since it has high acetylcholine content, it’s a great way to support the brain, support executive functioning, protect yourself against neurodegenerative conditions, and helps to heal as well if you’ve undergone any sort of head trauma.

I haven’t had a concussion in a very long time, but I do use royal jelly very regularly, and I’ve noticed that it’s just made a big difference in my memory. And there was a study that came out fairly recently from University of Warsaw, and it found that regular consumption of royal jelly helps to improve your spatial reasoning, which is very cool.

Another really interesting component of royal jelly, it contains two different compounds. One of them is called 10 HDA, and the other one is AMP N1 oxide. And these are fatty acids, and they’re both responsible for stimulating BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor. So basically, BDNF is a protein that plays a key role in brain plasticity. And it acts on certain neurons, and it acts on the central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system as well. And so, exposing yourself to royal jelly and getting things like 10 HDA, it helps to prompt neurogenesis and basically help you build synaptic connections, help the brain to create new cells, which, again, is really important especially when you’re looking to heal for things like concussions, but just also stimulating and supporting these natural functions in the brain. It’s gonna help with memory, focus, concentration and across the board brain health. So royal jelly has been a real game-changer for me in sort of focused concentration. I know a lot of people as well, they try to combat things like ADHD or just improve their attention span naturally. And royal jelly is one of the most natural sustainable ways to do it.

And then in addition to all the effects on the brain, it has other incredible effects for the body. I haven’t seen as much studies in this area, but anecdotally it’s been used across cultures for hormonal balance. So I know in traditional Chinese medicine, anybody looking to basically stabilize their hormone levels and promote fertility, they’ll use royal jelly. It’s also really high in anti-oxidants. It has immunomodulatory properties, it’s great for your immune system. It’s just a really nourishing substance. And on that fertility note, there is, like I said, it is a lot of anecdotal evidence, which, as we all know does not mean it doesn’t work. It just means that Western medicine hasn’t funded a ton of studies around it yet. But I did come across a study that was published in The Journal of Phytomedicine, and it evaluated the protective effects of royal jelly on sperm parameters and testosterone levels in mice. And it basically found that male mice who had royal jelly on a regular basis, their sperm count, viability, maturity and DNA integrity, they just basically improved across the board.

So there is a little bit of Western attention being given into the fertility areas of royal jelly. But, again, beyond that it has so many amazing effects for the brain and body.

Katie: That’s so cool. And royal jelly is one of the ingredients, I believe, and my other favorite product from you guys, that I also always travel with, which is I think it’s called B.LXR, if I’m saying it right, which is a kind of a mixture of things. But I found that’s a really good nootropic, which means it helps with focus and concentration and brain health. And I always take that when I travel, especially if I’m crossing time zones, because it helps me like re-sync my circadian rhythm when I use it in the morning. But talk about what that is and what are the other ingredients?

Carly: Yeah. So, that, like I can’t handle jet lag, and B.LXR is a major, major necessity for me when I’m traveling as well. So I mentioned my best friend having the concussion, and B.LXR Brain Fuel, that was actually a product that was born out of that experience. So it was a product that was never meant to be a product, it was really meant to just help somebody out in need, and they ended up having such an amazing response to it, that I started to really dig into, “What happens if a normal brain that isn’t injured takes this?” And, yeah, so, I mean, it came from a really genuine place, because, I mean it helped my best friend recover from a very serious concussion. But, anyways, so B.LXR Brain Fuel what it is, as you’ve said, it’s a natural nootropic and it’s these little brain shots that we make, and what’s in B.LXR Brain Fuel is royal jelly, which I spoke about, amazing for focused memory concentration. And then we use two other plant-based ingredients that are very well-researched for helping the brain.

So the next ingredient in there, it’s called bacopa monnieri, it’s an extract from the leaf that was traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, and it’s an adaptogen. So it helps to modulate your stress response, help you calm down and prevent brain burnout which is something that we do a lot of when we’re in high-stress situations. And then it also has effects on the memory so it does promote memory. And it also has some neuro-protective effects, so to the extent you’re exposed to mold or toxicity. It can really help to, kind of, help to really protect the brain and help with mental clarity and that sort of thing. And then the next ingredient in there is Ginkgo biloba, which is an extract from a leaf, sorry, an extract from a tree. And that one is traditionally used in Chinese medicine, and it’s also got good adaptogen effects, so it helps to modulate your stress response, it helps to circulate the brain. And these three ingredients together, they basically are taking a full circle approach to brain health. So they’re going to help with focus, memory, concentration. They’re going to help with, kind of, the day-to-day usage, but they’re also going to have a broader detoxifying effect on the brain.

They’re gonna help to modulate your stress response and ensure that you’re not damaging the brain with all of the stressors. They’re going to protect the brain from toxins, they’re gonna help to circulate the brain and ensure that the hungry brain cells are getting the nutrients they need. That’s a formula that’s built to really improve overall brain health, and it can be used on a regular basis. I do half a vial every day. We have lots of customers who will use it for particular events. Like they will use it before a sports game, or a big meeting, or we have a lot of students who will use it during exam time. And it’s also something that’s a really fantastic plant-based natural protocol for concussions. And, again, I’m so passionate about concussions, because just having struggled with concussions in the past, and then recently going through that with one of my closest friends, it’s so hard, and I think moms all over the world are really dealing with this. And so, having something that’s plant-based, natural, and built to really support the brain and the healing process is really important.

Katie: Yeah. And like you said at the beginning, these are hard things to find. Like I haven’t been able to find these products many places especially in the U.S. And I love that you guys are bringing them in sustainably. They’re all part of my natural remedies cabinet at this point, and I use them pretty regularly, all the products. And I know one question people may have, and I wanna make sure we address is, “But what about the bees? Don’t the bees need their honey and their royal jelly and their propolis and all of these things?” So I thought if you could talk about that from a beekeeper’s perspective, and also just from a company perspective of making sure that you’re still supporting the bees and their needs as well.

Carly: Absolutely. And, I mean, one thing to consider as well is, yes, it’s hard to find these products in the first place, but when you do, it’s really, really hard to ensure that they’re pesticide-free. So because of these products, because these products a lot of them are a derived from plant materials, if the plant is exposed to pesticides, there’s gonna be trace amounts, or there’s likely gonna be trace amounts in your product. And I know, for me, with my condition, I cannot go near a pesticide. So I have to be really, really careful of pesticide and toxicity and exposing myself to any kind of chemicals with anything I put in my body. So we work really hard to make sure that we are pesticide-free. And we’re one of the only bee product companies that does carry out third-party pesticide testing on all of our products. And just because your honey or your bee product say organic doesn’t mean that it’s pesticide-free. And so this is just another common misconception that I like to make people aware of.

So, the organic radius is under five miles, and the bees can forage for up to five miles. You can’t put a leash on the bees. So just because your farm ground or apiary where the bees live is beautiful and perfect and organic and pristine, it doesn’t mean your neighbors aren’t doing some dirty things, or that there aren’t herbicides being sprayed in the side of the road. And basically, it doesn’t protect you from pesticides exposure.

So what we do, and this helps protect our customers from pesticides and it also helps to really protect our bees, is we ensure that all of our bees are in land areas where they have five miles of organic foliage to basically feast on. So we get them really far away from pesticides. And we don’t really care about an organic certification. What we care about is are bees are far away from toxic environments, being exposed to really clean food sources to support and nourish them, and then we do take that extra measure where we do our third-party pesticide testing on all of our raw product and that safeguards our consumers, and I talk now on a continual basis that the areas that our bees live are still clean and still safe for them to stay on.

And we have to constant… unfortunately in today’s world, we have to constantly police this, because as you can imagine, land is being bought up like crazy and yields are going up and consumption is going up, and the typical farming practices, they aren’t really sustainably carried out as they should be. So we’re constantly looking for a clean land with a broad radius that our bees can live on, and we’re constantly monitoring to ensure that our products and our bees are not exposed to pesticides, and it’s just something that is critically important to us, and it’s something that’s been one of the biggest factors in sustainable beekeeping. I mean, like we’re talking about earlier, one of the biggest issues in this is pesticide exposure. So getting the bees away from pesticides and just giving them clean food, it would make such a big difference. I mean, that’s something that people can do in their homes as well.

When people ask me what to do to save the bees, one of the first things I say and it’s also really quite simple is planting. So just having some flowers and plants in your garden, or if you have small space, even if it’s on the windowsill or the balcony, because there are like pesticides all over the place, giving the bees access to clean food, it’s huge and it’s so important. So, that’s just something I really wanna encourage everyone to do is plant. And planting, I mean, there’s so many other benefits to gardening, and it’s also a really great segue into teaching your kids about the bees. It’s really important to have this conversation with kids today, because there’s a lot of fear around bees and getting stung, and there’s a lot of confusion as well. A lot of times people think that wasps are bees, and wasps tend to be a lot more aggressive and they can sting and sting without dying. Whereas, when a honey bee stings you, it does die. So having this conversation and making it like fun and interactive by planting flowers is such an awesome way to share with your family the importance of pollinators.

Yeah, so that’s one of the main things we do. But beyond pesticide regulation, a big thing we do is, I mean, what sustainable beekeeping means to us is putting the bees first. So in all of our practices we’re really looking to nourish and support our bees, and we fundamentally believe that happy, healthy creatures are going to make the most nourishing super foods, so it comes from that. But it also comes from the place of a beekeeper. I mean, I am a beekeeper first and we’re a beekeeper-led organization and if we can’t use this company and this mission to share the cause and to support the cause, then I mean, what are we doing? We need the bees to stay around and be healthy to continue creating our amazing products.

So in all of our practices, we are constantly monitoring, we’re really working to make sure that these bees are supported, so we don’t do things like over-harvest. We’re talking about how honey is the bees’ food, and often you’ll see with commercial beekeepers go over-harvest and they’ll take all the honey and they’ll replace it with sugar water for an extended period, and that’s not really great for the bees. I mean, it’s not like we have a ton of data on that, but I do think that replacing with sugar water for an extended period throws off the PH balance of the hive, and it’s just not natural, and I don’t believe in doing things that aren’t natural.

So we’re constantly monitoring, we never over harvest. We actually work with a network of small-scale apiaries all over North America, and we like to diversify with the apiaries we work with so that we make sure that if any one group of hives are looking like they need a little extra support, or it’s looking like a harsh winter and they don’t really have enough pollen, we’re gonna leave that pollen. With our pollen harvest as well, we take the pollen, it’s basically what you do is you put this little pollen trap or pollen net at the bottom of the hive and it catches all the pollen that the bees kind of brush off that they don’t carry into the hive. So all the fall-off it catches and that’s what we harvest, but we’re taking the traps on and off every two weeks and just making sure that the bees are always going into winter with a surplus of what they need, and if any one hive is looking a little bit weak, or low on anything then we scale back. And that’s how we do everything.

We also do things like we don’t proactively give our bees antibiotics. We try to use natural method of pest control. So one thing that I am really big on, and this is a big issue as well affecting the bees is disease, so things like varroa disruptor and like different mites and viruses. A lot of beekeepers are really scared of this, and as they should be, it can destroy a hive. So what they’ll do is they’ll proactively give the bees antibiotics. And just like humans, you don’t want to overdo it with the antibiotics. So what we do is, I use thyme oil and wintergreen essential oil around the hive, and that’s a really nice, sustainable beekeeping hack, and I found that it’s really helpful for preventing a lot of, sort of, pathogens and diseases and that sort of thing.

But, yeah, basically with all of our practices we’re just trying to put the bees first, and the number one thing is eliminating the pesticide exposure.

Katie: Yeah, definitely. And that’s a step that, like you said, all of us can take and hopefully all of us are cognizant of and we’ll start taking… and probably a lot of people listening are already pretty anti-pesticide. But it’s one more reason to consider that before you spray anything around your home. And we’re gonna have links in the show notes, because I know we talked about a lot of different products. So those links will be at wellnessmama.fm. And I think we also have a link directly from wellnessmama.com/go/beekeepers, all one word, so that people can find you guys and read more about the products. But if someone is new to using bee products as remedies, where would you encourage them to start when they land on your site?

Carly: I think propolis is a great way to start. It’s just one of the most versatile. And so, I mean, it depends what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to boost your immune system, if you’re looking for something that’s really versatile, it can be used topically and internally, propolis is a great way to go. If you have energy concerns, Bee Powered which is the super food, high complex. It’s the medicinal honey with medicinal great dosages of all the different super foods that we talked about. That’s an amazing energy booster. Like I said it’s how I start my day. And if you need a little bit of a brain boost and you have that, kind of, brain fog going on and you just want to cut through that fog, B.LXR Brain Fuel shots are awesome. So there’s, kind of, something for everyone, but again my personal favorite, and my absolute everyday necessity is bee propolis. Definitely check that one out.

We also have delicious honey even, And we do at the cacao honey, that’s just the most delicious thing ever. So if you’re a baker, you’re looking for a healthier alternative to Nutella, that’s a great one to check out as well.

Katie: Yeah, agreed. My kids love that one. But, yeah, your honeys are delicious as well and my kids love those whenever they get them as a treat. But thank you so much for your time today. I really want to encourage everyone to check out the products, because I think not only is it a passion for me, but I think that there really is a whole lot of data and research behind the benefits of bee products, and they’re great alternative to more harsh remedies when you don’t need antibiotics, or when you don’t need a more harsh type of treatment. I love that you guys are spreading the word, and I appreciate so much your time in being here today and for sharing this with all of us.

Carly: Thank you so much. It’s so great to share. And thank you to everybody listening and getting involved in the cause. It is so important, and the more voices we have standing behind the bees, the more we’re gonna see momentum and some change here. So thank you, Katie, and thank you to all of the wonderful listeners.

Katie: Thank you. And, yeah, as you said, thanks to all of you for listening. And please make sure to check out the show notes at wellnessmama.fm. There will also be links to things you can do to help support the bee population all over the world. And, like you just said, it’s such an important topic and important for us in so many ways. So, thank you, Carly, and thank you all for listening, and I hope to see you next time on The Healthy Moms Podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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