Bees provide us with a huge range of products, whether via pollination services or directly from the hive. In fact, you might be surprised by how many products bees have a hand in creating. As well as honey, some of the most well-known hive products include:
Produced by worker honeybees, beeswax is used in a multitude of products from candles to lip balm and beyond.
Royal jelly is produced by nurse worker bees to feed larvae and the queen bee. It is harvested by beekeepers and, due to its curative properties, is sold as a health food.
Photo: ©D’Ascenzi C., Pasini B., Palmieri C.
A mixture of tree resin and bee secretion, propolis is valued for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Propolis has the highest commercial value of all hive products because of its potential use in apitherapy.
Bee diverse: Bees come in all shapes and sizes
Having adapted to local environments, you can find a wide range of bee species and races living in different regions of our planet. Several species (and subspecies) are kept by humans for honey production or pollination services, including:
Western honeybees (Apis mellifera)
This species is standard in Europe, Middle East, Oceania, Americas, Africa and West Asia. It is likely the most well-known type of honeybee.
Photo: ©Aleš Gregorc
Eastern or Asiatic honeybees (Apis cerana)
This is the only other honeybee managed by humans. It is native to East and South Asia.
Stingless bees (Melipona spp.)
This social bee, with limited adaptation to cold conditions, is found in the tropics.
Photo: ©B. Taubert
Bumblebees (Bombus spp.)
This prolific, brightly colored bee can be found in almost all regions around the world and is a very important crop pollinator.
Photo: ©D. Roubik