Time to change our tune?

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

BeeKeyPlayer

From Rainham, Medway (North Kent) UK
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Nov 9, 2018
Messages
728
Reaction score
579
Location
Rainham, Medway (North Kent) UK
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
24 plus 12 owned by others
Until recently, we used to make a point that honey bees were not numerically endangered and therefore did not need 'saving'. I think we've stopped saying that now because survival on our planet today is difficult for so many insects (and plants, animals, fungi...)

I've come to realise that it's time (for me) to stop saying - or even thinking - that local honey will bring no relief to people with pollen allergies.

Shortly after I started beekeeping I discovered that honey as a cure for hay fever was a myth. I felt so smug with my new knowledge. However, I continued to nod and smile when people asked me for my local honey because it relieved their allergies.

Now, I think the time has come for me to take my allergy-afflicted customers seriously. I don't need to deny the science, but simply accept that there can be some truth in peoples' experiences. The placebo effect is one possible explanation. Sadly, honey does not help me at all. Perhaps I know too much for there to be any placebo effect.

I heard Prof Tim Spector say on a BBC Radio 4 programme recently: 'It seems that honey might well have health anti-allergy benefits. The best theory is it has an anti-inflammatory effect, and that it may also be presenting the local pollen allergen in a way that allows our gut microbes to recognise it as a harmless protein, thus avoiding an itchy nose.'

I can't say I understand that fully but I'm prepared to accept it is plausible, particularly coming from an epidemiologist.
 
I've always been sceptical of the honey for hay fever thing. The reason being that hay fever is triggered by airborne pollen, whereas honey bees mostly collect pollen from plants that don't produce airborne pollen. Though I accept there may be a little crossover eg willow.
So as I see it exposure to bee pollen is unlikely to desensitise against airborne pollen unless the species are closely related (also unlikely).
 
I have lots of customers buying early honey as they suffer from hay fever.
No-one has ever come back saying it does not work: lots return to buy more.

I make no claims one way or the other... if asked I reply - truthfully - that it appears to work for some people. Placebo effect? Or real?

Don't know. Don't care. Don't claim. Just sell it.
 
My other half eats loads of honey produced at the bottom of the garden. His hay-fever is still awful after several years. When people tell me about the benefits of honey for hay-fever sufferers I just say 'Some people say that.'
 
No science behind the hayfever cure or part remedy but the fact is for some, honey does work for hayfever sufferers.

One reason I know it works for some is because the wife once had a horse that suffered terrible bouts of hayfever and the equine vet costs were quite expensive. That is intially how I got into this fantastic hobby of beekeeping as she wanted a regular supply of home produced honey for her steed. The vet suggested the honey route and after a while once she had started the horse on honey she no longer needed to have the expensive vet bills.

Instead it was me who ended up paying via buying all the beekeeping stuff to continue the hobby, however one silver lining is I can spend/buy what ever I want on the hobby without complaint.
 
I've always been sceptical of the honey for hay fever thing. The reason being that hay fever is triggered by airborne pollen, whereas honey bees mostly collect pollen from plants that don't produce airborne pollen. Though I accept there may be a little crossover eg willow.
So as I see it exposure to bee pollen is unlikely to desensitise against airborne pollen unless the species are closely related (also unlikely).
Interesting I’ve had honey samples tested via the hms and there was grass pollen present, maybe there is more airborn pollen in honey than we think?
 
Interesting I’ve had honey samples tested via the hms and there was grass pollen present, maybe there is more airborn pollen in honey than we think?
Or maybe some bees do collect it before it gets blown off the grass?
Interesting!
 
Or maybe some bees do collect it before it gets blown off the grass?
Interesting!
Not sure but I thought it was interesting. It was a June sample from 2021, maybe it got collected while on the air/wing or maybe while collecting from flowers near the ground ?
 
The Placebo Effect is an astonishing, not to mention bizarre, thing. I'd not be in the least surprised if some people experienced an improvement in hay fever symptoms after consuming honey on a regular basis because they believed it would help, even if it were honey that had been filtered of all traces of pollen.

I recall watching a television programme about placebos years back (something in the style of Horizon, perhaps?) and being dumbfounded at how something like a sugar pill could genuinely have a positive effect if a patient merely believed that it would.

James
 
The Placebo Effect is an astonishing, not to mention bizarre, thing. I'd not be in the least surprised if some people experienced an improvement in hay fever symptoms after consuming honey on a regular basis because they believed it would help, even if it were honey that had been filtered of all traces of pollen.

I recall watching a television programme about placebos years back (something in the style of Horizon, perhaps?) and being dumbfounded at how something like a sugar pill could genuinely have a positive effect if a patient merely believed that it would.

James
I believe gin and tonic prevents illnesses of all sort incl. malaria.

Only had Covid once - and then like a very bad flu, never had malaria..
It works!
 
Shortly after I started beekeeping I discovered that honey as a cure for hay fever was a myth.
You must be the only person I know (non beekeepers included) that think that
 
No science behind the hayfever cure or part remedy
only because the only people who could afford to sponsor a study are pharmaceutical companies and they're not going to do it as it would jeopardise the sales of piriton
 
hay fever is triggered by airborne pollen, whereas honey bees mostly collect pollen from plants that don't produce airborne pollen. Though I accept there may be a little crossover
I reckon the crossover must be significant for broad effect to be successsful. For example, grass pollen has a long season and bees will collect it whether they want to or not, by the simple act of flying through it.

My customers try honey for hay fever and I ask that they return and tell me the results. All have said that it helps to alleviate symptoms, some say it ends them. None have returned to declare that it made no difference, but then they might have the hump with me & the whole idea.
 
You must be the only person I know (non beekeepers included) that think that
Maybe. I'm pretty sure it's not on your (very extensive) list of myths.

A few years ago I did a search here for 'myths' and wrote a series of three articles for our BKA newsletter (all fully credited). They were the most popular and commented on articles during my time at the helm.

No one likes the discovery that a long held belief turns out to hollow - and they would prefer to find out in private.
 
Some of the farmers I know suffer from terrible hay fever, they eat the honey (my hives on their land) and the symptoms are far less. There is plenty of grass/tree pollen in honey, buy a decent scope and take a look.

Zeiss (and phase contrast) x40 - 235361529_10157786508582191_4589293907154739074_n.jpg

Screenshot 2024-02-26 at 17.47.33.png
 
Last edited:
BeeKeyPlayer - sometimes I think people can overthink things a bit. Honey may not be the “Super cure all food stuff” that some profess but it is a pretty good natural product which when treated with respect ain’t half bad and is certainly a damn sight better for you than processed sweeteners.
By the way, I do like your signature on the bottom of your posts 😗
 
BeeKeyPlayer - sometimes I think people can overthink things a bit. Honey may not be the “Super cure all food stuff” that some profess but it is a pretty good natural product which when treated with respect ain’t half bad and is certainly a damn sight better for you than processed sweeteners.
I couldn't agree more. I don't think I said anything to suggest otherwise.
 
Until recently, we used to make a point that honey bees were not numerically endangered and therefore did not need 'saving'. I think we've stopped saying that now because survival on our planet today is difficult for so many insects (and plants, animals, fungi...)

I've come to realise that it's time (for me) to stop saying - or even thinking - that local honey will bring no relief to people with pollen allergies.

Shortly after I started beekeeping I discovered that honey as a cure for hay fever was a myth. I felt so smug with my new knowledge. However, I continued to nod and smile when people asked me for my local honey because it relieved their allergies.

Now, I think the time has come for me to take my allergy-afflicted customers seriously. I don't need to deny the science, but simply accept that there can be some truth in peoples' experiences. The placebo effect is one possible explanation. Sadly, honey does not help me at all. Perhaps I know too much for there to be any placebo effect.

I heard Prof Tim Spector say on a BBC Radio 4 programme recently: 'It seems that honey might well have health anti-allergy benefits. The best theory is it has an anti-inflammatory effect, and that it may also be presenting the local pollen allergen in a way that allows our gut microbes to recognise it as a harmless protein, thus avoiding an itchy nose.'

I can't say I understand that fully but I'm prepared to accept it is plausible, particularly coming from an epidemiologist.
This study explores some possible chemistry behind it (they found honey ingestion at a high dose improves the overall and individual symptoms of AR, and it could serve as a complementary therapy for AR.) and discusses previous studies too. Mind you, it was honey from apis dorsata.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6074882/#b2-asm-5-469
 

Latest posts

Back
Top