Have you ever wondered if there's a medicinal connection between the pollen bees collect and the byproducts they produce? Well there is, and the benefits are numerous. Keep reading to see why keeping honeybees has just jumped to the top of my project list here on my homestead.
I couldn't wait to have her on the podcast to discuss the medicinal properties of not only honey, but the other byproducts of bees, and how that relates to beekeeping.
In this episode (Pioneering Today Podcast #328) we're going to discuss the link between plant medicine for humans AND bees, combining beekeeping with herbalism, medicinal byproducts of honey bees, as well as discussing the health of honey bees, and some other fun things my guest Kaylee is doing.
How Kaylee's Passions Connected
Kaylee, like myself, loves all things herbalism and beekeeping (although I don't yet have my own bees!). So when her love of beekeeping melded with the medicinal benefits of honey for us as humans, it was a match made in heaven.
By watching 24 colonies of bees and learning how they keep themselves healthy, she was able to connect the dots between the health of the bees and why honey is so beneficial for us.
The Link Between Plant Medicine & Bees
If you search “plants to grow for bees”, you're going to see a list of things like thyme, oregano, bergamot, etc. Basically a long list of flowering plants, but you likely won't see many reasons why these plants are good for bees.
However, if you look at the medicinal benefits of these plants you'll begin to see why they're good for bees.
Bees also know what's going to be healthy for them, this is why they will fly up to 12 miles away from their hive in search of the right pollen to not only keep them healthy but to produce honey.
Thyme, for example, is anti-fungal. After doing more research I found out that thyme has volatile oils on it which contains thymol which is what is used in varroa mite treatments. So when bees go and get nectar from the thyme flower, they'll get that volatile oil on them, then as they're cleaning themselves they'll ingest that oil which helps keep varroa mites down.
Varroa mites are pesky little mites that can really debilitate an entire colony (if the colony gets weak enough). This is an issue that beekeepers really have to be mindful of, so that's one reason why thyme is so great for the bees.
Elderberry is a medicinal plant that's very beneficial for us as humans. We make homemade elderberry syrup (as well as many other items from elderberry), but the elderberry plants are also healthy for bees.
In fact, an acre of elderberry can roughly produce anywhere from 600-800 pounds of pollen! Not only that, but the bees can then make upwards of 60 gallons of honey from that plant.
Kaylee runs a tree mill at her home so they're continually milling up logs from different species of trees.
One day she noticed that there were swarms and swarms of bees rolling around in a pile of cedar dust. What she realized was happening is that the bees were actually collecting the sap from the cedar shavings!
More Herbs that are Beneficial for Bees
There are also medicinal benefits for bees from plants like oregano, wild bergamot, borage, and wild lavender to name a few… but this journey of linking plant medicine to bees will keep Kaylee busy for the rest of her career!
How This Benefits Us
When a honeybee is feeding on the pollen from medicinal plants, the honey that is created from those plants also gives medicinal benefits to us!
Medicinal Byproducts of Honeybees
When we think of the medicinal byproducts of honeybees, I think it's safe to say that most of us think about honey.
When you start doing a deep dive into the health benefits of the other byproduct of bees and what they can do, it's incredible! You quickly realize the benefits of honeybees are not just about the honey.
Medicinal benefits of honey include:
- Wound healing
- A good source of antioxidants
- Contains phytonutrients
- Helps digestion (make Ginger Infused Honey here)
- Soothes a sore throat or cough
- Good for seasonal allergies
- Helps heal gut issues
- Restores hydration
- Soothes skin irritations, stings, bug bites, etc.
Bee propolis is essentially a glue that keeps a bee colony healthy and safe. It can be made up of 300 different species of tree resin.
When Kaylee was asked what herb she would use to keep her and her family healthy, her answer was bee propolis. Kaylee has been tincturing her own propolis and using it throughout the cold and flu seasons to keep her family healthy.
Propolis is used to seal up any cracks in the hive. When Kaylee goes and does hive inspections, she has to break that seal to check on the colony. She says there's an audible “crack” of the seal breaking, and the smell is of thousands of wildflowers!
Medicinal benefits of bee propolis:
- Wound healing
- Good for skin irritations or eczema
How to Make a Propolis Tincture
You can watch Kaylee make a propolis tincture right here. But in a nutshell, Kaylee takes the sticky propolis and adds 2 parts propolis to 1 part Everclear (or Vodka) to create her own tincture.
She takes this tincture daily to aid her immune system, but also will use the tincture topically if she has any skin irritations.
You can get beeswax pretty readily, but what Kaylee found out about beeswax is that it's actually antibacterial.
Because of Kaylee's medical background, she's worked in the operating room as a first assist for many years, and what she's found, in orthopedic surgery, is that they take a sterile mixture of beeswax (called “bone wax”) and use it to help control bleeding of the bone.
This is modern-day medicine using natural healing methods from nature… I love it!
Medicinal benefits of beeswax:
- Used as “bone wax” to stop bleeding of bones during orthopedic surgery
I use beeswax in my homemade wood butter which helps seal, condition and protects all my kitchen wood products (even my butcher block countertops).
You can actually collect pollen by putting up traps near bee colonies. The pollen art that is collected is stunning as pollen from different flowering plants are different colors.
Pollen is still being researched, but so far it's been shown to be:
- paddock protectant
How Can We Help the Health of Honeybees?
Across the US there have been a lot of colony collapses, so I asked Kaylee what she thinks we can do to help revive the honeybee population.
She said she thinks the backyard beekeepers are the future. In a sense, she thinks they'll become very popular in the same way raising backyard chickens has.
Since Kaylee started raising bees, she's watched her pastures turn from dull and plain to be so vibrant, and her garden harvests have doubled.
Even just listening and sharing podcasts like this one with friends to spread the awareness of how we can help, what plant species we can plant, etc. are going to go a long way in helping keep bees around for good.
How to Buy Your Own Backyard Bees
When purchasing bees, there are many different ways to can go about obtaining them. We'll break down the differences and which Kaylee recommends and/or prefers below.
A Nuc of Bees
Kaylee recommends buying a “nuc” of bees. What this means is you're buying a small box, typically with five frames.
A nuc contains
- a queen bee who is already laying
- a brood
- capped honey
Kaylee recommends this to first-time beekeepers because you're essentially buying a kit and everything is ready to go.
A nuc is essentially a big colony that's been reduced down to five frames which is a very manageable size and easy to find space for, even on small properties.
The other option for buying bees is in a package. If you order packaged bees they typically come from the south, so generally speaking, they're not acclimated to your area.
The queen comes in a cage that you would then add to the colony, but doing it this way requires you to have your own bee box for the colony to be placed into.
This isn't ideal because you're getting a colony that has to begin from scratch and grow and build itself.
Catching Wild Bees
Catching swarms is Kaylee's favorite way to obtain bees. As she says, “they really love their feral bees”. She loves the heartiness of those swarms and contributes that to the reason they have been able to keep so many swarms.
Where to Find Kaylee
You can find Kaylee on her blog, The Honeystead, over on her YouTube channel, or on Instagram where she shares the start of her dream “Beekeepers Apothecary”, videos of her homestead, the medicinal benefits of bee byproducts, and even herbal-medicinal recipes and tutorials.
Kaylee is currently working on a course with her mom (who just bought the 20 acres adjoining her property) called Beekeepers Apothecary. It's not yet available, but it will be all about the beekeeper's approach to herbalism.
She'll be offering online workshops sharing what they're doing, as well as sharing her research and studies with others who want to learn the amazing benefits of plant medicine.
Stay tuned as we'll update this post when her course becomes available.
More Posts You May Enjoy
- Herbal Home Remedies for Cold and Flu
- 7 Natural Cough and Cold Herbal Remedies
- How to Use Herbs and Natural Remedies At Home
- How to Make Elderberry Syrup + Additional Add-Ins
- Herbal Medicinal Tea – How to Make Your Own
- 7 Ways to Use Medicinal Herbs at Home
- Homemade Traditional Fire Cider Recipe & Benefits
- Echinacea Tincture – How To Make It & Use It
Melissa: Hey Pioneers, welcome to episode number 328 of the Pioneering Today Podcast. Today's episode is a fun one. What you are going to hear is a discussion that I actually started to have at the Homesteaders of America's Conference with Kaylee Richardson. And as we were talking, I was getting so excited and asking her more questions, and I'm like, "Oh my goodness." It was towards the end of the night on the last day, I had to finish taking down my booth and getting ready to come back home. And I told her, I said, "You have got to come on the podcast, because I can't wait to learn more about this. And I know that my listeners will feel the exact same way that I do." So on today's episode, we're going to be talking about the medicinal part of beekeeping. Now, a lot of us are very familiar with the medicinal qualities and properties in raw honey, but there is a lot more and a much deeper connection of beekeeping, and herbalism, and medicinal properties for many things just beyond the honey, but even connection wise with the honey.
In this episode, we are going to be going over the link between plant medicine for humans and bees, combining beekeeping with herbalism, medicinal byproducts of honey bees, as well as talking about the health of honey bees and some other fun things that Kaylee is doing. I cannot wait for your listen to this episode. And if you are a brand new listener of the podcast, welcome. My is Melissa K. Norris. I'm a fifth generation homesteader and your host. I'm also the founder of the Pioneering Today Academy, as well as melissknorris.com. Where between that, my YouTube channel, and online courses, I help thousands of people every single month to live a homegrown and handmade life, using simple, modern homesteading to become healthier and more self sufficient. And if learning more about how to treat yourself and your family, using herbs specifically for cold and flu season, then you definitely want to check out my full course, Practical Home Herbalism for Cold and Flu Season. Now is the perfect time to dig in and have these remedies on hand and ready to go for you and your family. Now, without further ado, I cannot wait for you to listen into this interview with myself and Kaylee. Kaylee, welcome to the Pioneering Today Podcast.
Kaylee Richardson: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited about this.
Melissa: I know, I am too. In fact, ever since we got to talk at HOA, and that was the beginning of having you come on this episode, because you just started sharing stuff and I'm like, "Wait, wait, wait, I have so many more questions, but I really need my listeners, like other people need to hear this." So let's, this is an official podcast interview, so I feel like I have been waiting, because it's both of us has taken us weeks to get home and where we could coordinate our schedules together. So I'm like, oh, we finally get to continue this and I get to learn all this stuff that I had more questions on. I'm so glad that you could come.
Kaylee Richardson: Well, I am just, I'm very excited to be able to be here and talk to you, and I've listened to you and I've watched you. And one, I'm kind of like, oh my gosh, fan girl shocked that I'm actually here and sharing what I love and what I'm passionate about, and hope that your viewers are going to fall in love with it too, and become passionate as well.
Melissa: Yes, I think so. In fact, I feel like with homesteading [inaudible 00:03:55], it's kind of like when you have kids, like when you have your first child, you're like, "Oh, I didn't know I could love another human being this much." And then when you have your, for those who have had more than one children, I should say, then you have your second child and you're like, "Oh, I can." Your heart just enlarges that much.
Kaylee Richardson: Yes.
Melissa: And I feel a little bit of that with homesteading. Once I learn about the next new thing, or I'm introduced to the other thing, I'm like, oh, my passions and dreams just expand a little bit more.
Kaylee Richardson: Exactly. You pretty much just nailed it, because that, I think, is the art of homesteading. You can't just do one thing and fall in love with that one thing. And it just all kind of collaborates together and you just, your heart gets bigger. You fall in love with all the things and then you keep learning and growing.
Melissa: Yeah. And it's interesting, because actually so many of [inaudible 00:04:44] interconnected, not just because we are passionate about it, because it's about self-sufficiency and all of that, but truly interconnected. And that's one of the things why I was so excited to talk to you, because I have not really heard a lot about this, and that's the journey of beekeeping with herbalism. And when you started sharing about that, I was like, "What?" So back up, because obviously the listeners were not there for the beginning part of our conversation when we were at HOA, how did the journey, because you're really known for beekeeping, so how did this journey for you of combining the act of beekeeping and herbalism connect?
Kaylee Richardson: Oh my goodness. Well, and it's one of those things you don't realize that there is such a connection into it until you take the time to really sit down and observe. Watching the bees, seeing what they're doing. They're not just pulling the nectars and pollen, there are so many other things that they're doing. And we all know how honey right now, honey is huge, especially for seasonal allergies, but there's also benefits with honey when it comes to skins. If you're, if you have an injury to your skin, infection, burns, I mean, there are endless of things that honey could actually do to benefit. My journey really started with just observing the bees and realizing what they're doing.
And then this last couple of years, I really kind of took a deep dive into herbalism. I'm actually, I finished Foundations of Medicinal Herbalism, finished my portion of Apothecary, and now where I am at is, I'm logging all my clinics, recording all of my clients that I get to meet. And I'm in the process of pursuing my registered herbalism certificate, essentially. It's not necessary, but for me, I mean, I have a medical background and I, the last couple of years, I actually went down to PRN, left the hospital, focused more on what I'm doing, and kind of like my soul search, and it led me to herbalism. But a lot of it really started with watching the bees, and being observant, and figuring out what they're doing, and essentially, their health, where do they get their health from? How do they keep themselves healthy? And that's, connecting some of the dots, for me, has kind of led me here.
Melissa: Oh, I love so much of what you said. I'm nodding my head, even though we're not actually this on video because of my lovely rural internet capability. So you can't actually see me nodding in agreement right now, but yes. You have honey bees, and how long, just for a little bit of background and I'm also curious, how many hives do you have, and how long have you been beekeeping?
Kaylee Richardson: We have, and this is always, I always mess up on answering this question, because I'm like, I feel like I've been doing it for, I know, I think we're going on our sixth year, I believe, if not more. I have to look back at it, but right now we have, I'm going into winter with around 24 or 25 colonies. It's kind of like chicken math, you just kind of look at it and you're like, "There's only three there." And there's actually 12. With bees, to me, that's kind of what we're... It's a number that ends in ish, and that's what we have. But we did some heavy combining, getting everybody ready for winter, putting the bees together. Some of them that are weaker, unfortunately, I had to let go of a couple of queens and combine, but that's our way of seeing them through the winter. But yeah, we do have quite a few. I think I was up to 50 come spring, and we sold quite a few nucs, rescued bees. I'm always getting called for bees, so that's kind of where I'm at.
Melissa: Okay. From a non beekeeper, yet, I put yet in there, what is nucs? What is nucs? What does that mean?
Kaylee Richardson: A nuc is essentially an entire colony. So when you go to order bees, or if you find a local beekeeper, especially local, I would purchase a nuc of bees, which is a small box. Typically it has five frames. What's wonderful about a nuc is that there's already a queen, she's laying, there's already egg, there's already brood, there's pollen, there's nectar, there's capped honey. And everything is already basically intermixed. It's essentially a big colony, just reduced down to five frames, versus a package of bees, which is, you can order them, typically they get shipped from the cell. They're not acclimated to that area, the queen is put in a little cage and it's essentially just a box of bees that have to grow and build. So nucs are the best way, outside of catching swarms. Swarms are probably my favorite way of obtaining bees, one, because you're helping give them a home. And two, we really love our feral bees. I love just the hardiness of my swarms. And I think I genuinely contribute that to why we have so many bees in our area, especially in our aviary.
Melissa: Okay. It's kind of like the difference when you're saying the swarms and the feral, between like a domesticated breed, versus a wild one. I mean, that's basically, right?
Kaylee Richardson: Essentially. Yeah, basically.
Melissa: Okay. Okay. Awesome. Sorry. Thanks for going down that trail with me. I don't have all of my-
Kaylee Richardson: No, you're fine.
Melissa: ... beekeeping terms known yet. So back, because we could definitely dive into beekeeping and all those things, and may have to have you on another episode later to talk about that. But with this episode, I really wanted to learn more about the link, and if there is one, between plant medicine for humans and bees.
Kaylee Richardson: Oh, yeah. This is what's really interesting. Okay, so you go in, you type up, okay, what are the plants that you can plant for bees? You're typically going to see thyme, you're going to see oregano, you're going to see bergamot, all of this basically list of plants, but they don't really go into the detail of why it's beneficial. Some people will look at it and be like, oh, it just has many blossoms. And that's going to, that's why, that's why it's beneficial. But if you look at the actual, the plant medicine and what that plant offers, and then kind of link it back, like for instance thyme, thyme, everyone has it, well not everybody, but the majority of homesteaders I know, they're growing it in their medicinal garden, herbal garden. They use it for cooking, culinary, but with the herbalism aspect of it, thyme is really, it's really antifungal.
I mean, it's really good for your health, but I started doing some research and realized that thyme has volatile oils on it, which contains thymol. And that is what is actually used in varroa mite treatments. So when a bee will go over, rub on the thyme flower, they'll get that volatile oil on them and then they're cleaning themselves, well, that is what helps essentially keep varroa mite down. And varroa mite, it's just this pesky little mite that essentially can really debilitate an entire colony if the colony gets weak enough and the varroa mite thrives. That's one of the many things that beekeepers are facing right now, is this for varroa mite. For me, looking and watching the bees and how they're interacting with the plant, but understanding why, one of my other favorite things that we have growing, and I actually have a, I have a plan to have like an acre of elderberry, which elderberry is huge for you medicinally.
I mean, right now elderberry syrup is, right now making elderberry syrup, especially with flu and cold season, it's huge, but then understanding, okay, what does elderberry do for the bees? And I'd like to imagine that the immune boosting properties that elderberry has for human consumption is also beneficial for bees. So I started kind of diving in and doing a little bit of research, and I found that an acre of elderberry can produce up to anywhere from 600 to 800 pounds of pollen for the bees, and then around 60 pounds of honey, which I think was completely fascinating. And just trying to link the plant medicine between what's growing outside, to your own apothecary, to your own herbal cabinet. What can you put in your toolbox, and how can it intermix and benefit each other?
But there is, there are so many, so many that I'm currently researching right now. For elderberry, that's one that, that's huge right now, especially this time of year with cold and flu season. I know so many people who are making their elderberry syrup. But when I started doing some research with elderberry, I started looking at the medicinal properties, obviously for supporting our immune health, and the fact that it has that powerful antioxidant, and just full of vitamins, well, the bees actually need that as well. The pollen that is produced by the elderberry, that is how they keep themselves healthy as well.
But one of the things that I've really found interesting with elderberry, which is, it's in my works to plant at least an acre, an acre of elderberry, but an acre of elderberry can roughly produce anywhere from 600 to 800 pounds of pollen, which I was like, okay, we need to incorporate more elderberry into our life. We need to let that weed grow, and obviously use it for us, and making elderberry syrups, and using the flowers, and all the goodness of it. But I just found that elderberry was really an interesting, interesting plant that we could use for our apothecary and keep it in our herbal toolbox. And then also, of course, benefit the bees, but there are so many, I mean, between oregano, wild bergamot, forage, even lavender, this journey of linking plant medicine to bees, it's going to forever continue. And I've accepted that. I will forever be learning, and educating myself, and being aware of what's out there. What's out there for the bees.
Melissa: What I find so fascinating about this, is one, is when I first started learning about herbalism and all of that, elderberries, I think elderberry and elderberry syrup is one of probably the most common, or first introduction that a lot of people have to using herbal medicine. And what's fascinating is, I didn't know when I first started, that the elder flower, I mean, so somebody who's listening to this is like, you really didn't connect the two? But honest, I'm like, oh, you can use the elder flower too? I just thought it was the berries.
Kaylee Richardson: Yes.
Melissa: I didn't know that. And so, this has been years back, so bear with me there, but I didn't, it didn't. And so when you're talking about too, this is what I find fascinating, because so much, like a lot of us know, and I'm speaking as someone who is not an experienced beekeeper, a lot of us know that your honey is going to taste different based upon whatever pollen the bees are gathering it from, whatever the plants are that influences the flavor of the honey, and sometimes the color, et cetera. But to know that the medicinal properties of a lot of the flowers and the plants from, one, contribute to the health of the bee, like you were talking, I mean, that is amazing too, but then [inaudible 00:17:10] how much of the medicinal properties, not only is it beneficial to the bees health, but does that cross over into the honey when we ingest it?
Kaylee Richardson: I believe it does. I mean, I truly believe it does. I mean, here's the thing, these little creatures are so resilient, and there is... this is a whole nother system that you, I mean, you look at an entire colony like an organism. I mean, it is a fully functioning colony. And knowing that they, they know what they need, they know the minerals, they know the honey, they know the nectars from all the different plants, and using, not just using the nectars and the pollen to help feed their colony and keep their health, keep their immune system resilient, but also as in applying this glue that is used like a antifungal. We call it bee glue, but it's propolis.
And that's one of the questions I think a lot of people, being at the HOA conference and when one of the, when one of the listeners asked, "What is the one herb you would put in your herbal apothecary, or your herbal cabinet?" I said, propolis. I said, bee propolis. And it is an herb. A lot of people don't kind of associate that, but bee propolis can be up to 300 different species of tree resin that they have gone and gathered to essentially make a seal inside their colony to keep any antifungal, keep any funguses, viruses, it's what they use to keep their colony clean and keep themselves alive. So we've been tincturing our own propolis and using that pretty, pretty religiously, quite honestly, especially right now. But even just looking at their whole system, and basically their ecosystem, and what's growing around them, and how they're using it to keep themself healthy, to me is it's pretty amazing.
Melissa: Yeah. When you first said that, because I was there for that session, and I'm sitting there and I'm like, "I don't know what that is." And we were, luckily enough, I was sitting right next to you, so I could whisper to you like, "What is that? I don't know what it is." So all of your, just really, I had never heard the term before. I didn't know what it wasn't. When we, I was asking you then later to share, because I just, I found that part fascinating.
Kaylee Richardson: Oh, yeah.
Melissa: So share, because I asked you this already, but I would love for listeners to know just a little bit. How do you harvest that, and how are you tincturing that then?
Kaylee Richardson: Here's what's fun. A lot of people, a lot of beekeepers, don't know that this is just another byproduct of bees. But propolis, like I said, they use, they go and collect the resins from all the different trees, and they bring it back, and they seal their colony up, especially right now come winter, any cracks they're going to basically seal it up. For when we go to do high inspections, we have to, we have to break the seal, and you'll hear it. It's this distinct cracking sound, and the colder it gets, the more brittle it is. Hot summers, you can smell it. I mean, I wish I could bottle the smell of a colony and offer that to my viewers and listeners, because it, to me, it's just the most beautiful smell in the world. It's it's of a thousand flowers, of a thousand nectars.
But the propolis, when you go to do a hive inspection, you have to break that seal. You have to be able to lift up the frame, so you you're left with this sticky glob. And instead of throwing it away, I gather it up, and I have one little jar of Everclear, and there's a formula to it. I think I wild woman style it a little, to be honest with you, because I have my jar with me when I'm doing my hive inspection, because when I have to clean this beautiful byproduct off, instead of just trashing it, I will plop it in my jar, and I'll use, Everclear is what we can get, and I'll put it in there. I'll shake it once day. I keep it in a dark area, and then that's essentially tinctured.
The proper, you could do like two parts propolis by weight to like nine parts of your alcohol, your clear, your alcohol. Typically, Everclear is probably better. I have used vodka, because here in Virginia, we can't get, in our area it's hard to get the highest grain alcohol. But the colors of it, you can get the real dark brown propolis, or ours is like a beautiful, rich, goldenrod color, and I'll use it, and I'll either add in, I'm currently working on a couple of different herbs that I'm going to be adding into the tincture so that I have like a really good throat clearing. And I take it orally. I, didn't I give you... I think I gave you a sample of it too.
Melissa: No, you didn't, but I'm going to take you up on that.
Kaylee Richardson: Okay. I'll give you a sample. I might have to mail you a sample, but the same concept of propolis being inside your colony. What are they using it for? They're using it to keep their colony clean from microbial, from bacterial, from funguses. It's the same concept, you tincture it, you put in alcohol. I take it orally. I have been doing it religiously. Now that, since we've been facing the way of the world right now. And I mean, that the same properties that propolis does, that the bees do for their colony, you can, in turn, use it for yourself. Any viruses, any funkiness, take a little orally. It's also good for your skin. If you have any like eczema, or skin irritation, any infection, put a little propolis on that, and you'd be surprised.
Melissa: You just put that on straight, that I'm assuming, you're not like-
Kaylee Richardson: Yeah.
Melissa: ... infusing that into an oil. You can just put it right on the skin?
Kaylee Richardson: I do a little bit, I just do a little alcohol on the skin, and it works-
Melissa: Oh, you just use the tincture topically?
Kaylee Richardson: Yeah, I use the tincture topically.
Melissa: Oh, okay. Okay.
Kaylee Richardson: Yep. Now, if you have somebody who has a little bit more sensitive skin, I would maybe play around, and I'd maybe play around with that a little bit. And that's something I could probably work on, and test, and see how well it does, and then I'll let you know. But hopefully soon you'll be collecting your own propolis and making your own.
Melissa: I know, I'm like I have a local beekeeper friend. We actually went to high school together and he was one of the very first people I interviewed on the podcast when I first started podcasting. I will link to it, I think it's still available to listen to, but I'm talking like back in 2014, I think. But I'm going to see, because he usually does look for places in the summertime, in spring, to bring his hives. So I'm going to see if I can get on his list, and then I'm not quite as committed to doing all my own beekeeping yet, but I feel like that would be a great way to ease, to ease into it, is to have the bees here. So okay, well, I am, I'm very, very fascinated by this part, because I don't think it's something that's talked about a lot, and that is, like you're saying, that using all the parts, but especially medicinally wise, not just the health of the bees, there's that aspect too, but then also using that as our medicine, as it basically comes through the bees.
Kaylee Richardson: Right. Exactly.
Melissa: Yeah. That is just, I just find it absolutely fascinating. But speaking of, we've talked about, a byproduct that's not used much, that's a great way to put that to you instead of, like you said, wasting it or throwing that out. Are there any other medicinal byproducts of honeybees that can be beneficial to your health as well?
Kaylee Richardson: Absolutely. We kind of talked a little bit about honey, we talked a little bit, obviously, if you have seasonal allergies, it is a huge benefit of, especially when it comes to digestion, and healing your gut, and all of that. It actually, it has so many vitamins in the honey that you can actually, basically, you can use honey, especially if you have any diarrhea or dehydration. It's just one of those, the powerhouse products that the bees provide that, as long as you're getting local honey, you're going to get the benefit of that. But we also talked about the wound healing fact, putting it on burns, stings, bug bites, all of that, coughs and colds, you know how good it is to coat that throat. But a lot of people don't realize that yes, the propolis is also beneficial.
Talked a little bit about that. Beeswax, that's something pretty easily to come, you can get beeswax pretty readily. But what I found about bees wax is, it actually, it's really antibacterial. It has so many antibacterial properties against certain bacterial strains, like gram-positive bacteria, and even gram-negative bacteria. And here's, when I mentioned earlier that I have a medical background, I am a surgical first assist, and I've been PRN for a little while. So not as active as what I was, but I worked in the operating room as a first assist, assisting surgeons. I specialized in orthopedic, and gosh, every specialty, to be honest with you, we did a little bit of everything. What I found was really interesting about bees wax is that in orthopedic surgery, they actually take a sterile mixture of bees wax and use it to help control bleeding of the bone. So when you're in surgery, and your bone is bleeding, they use a little bit of bone wax, or that's what they call it, to apply to it, to help control that bleeding.
So that was like, okay. And this is modern. This is right now. They still use it. So how amazing are these little winged creatures? And a lot of people don't realize that aspect of bees wax. Pollen, even, pollen, you can buy pollen, you can ask your beekeeper, if you have a local one, if they can actually use, put the pollen traps up to collect pollen. You will get almost a mosaic combination of pollen from all the different plants, all the different shades, from blackberry, which is, the blackberry produces a gray colored pollen, to purple deadnettle, which is like a very bright red pollen color. But pollen is also used quite often. And they're still actually researching a lot of the benefits to see what are some of the actions that pollen can do for you. Like whether it antifungal, antimicrobial, viral, anti-inflammatory, hepatic protectant, anti cancer, I mean, it is, it's quite amazing when you start deep diving into the byproduct of the bees and what they can do. It's not just about honey.
Melissa: Yeah. It's not, which is so fascinating. And my homesteading [inaudible 00:29:32] loves that, because I'm always looking like, what are all the ways that I can get a use out of something? There's got to be more than one. And the bees wax is exciting. I use bees wax a lot in a lot of my homemade salves and lotion bars, different, my own skin care is using the bees wax in that for the moisturizing properties mainly, but also like you, as we were talking about the anti microbial and some bacteria properties, I use that to condition all of my wood products that I put on our food preparing services. So my butcher block, all of the wooden utensils that I use, and everything, I use that as well to help, one, it helps condition the wood.
But it also does have some of those antibacterial, like we were saying, properties. And so it's just amazing to see all the different ways that we can incorporate it. And it's like going back to how we were talking in the beginning, like all of those threads, like we were talking about healthcare and then we're like, "Oh yeah, but I use it in the kitchen, and I use it for this." And just, oh, I'm like, I almost feel like it's like poetry that you get to see in real life laid out before you, if you just look.
Kaylee Richardson: Yes, if you just look. And these are the, that's the one thing about beekeeping is, it really changes your perspective of what, just how you're looking at them. They're not just a box of bees. They're not just a box of bugs. They're actually doing something, and they are, if you continue to link the plant medicine, and watch the bees, and realize what they're doing, I laugh, because I think I caught it on video and I shared this. We have a wood mill on the side, so we're milling Cedar, we're milling wood. And I was sitting back, helping my husband, and I watched my bees dive bomb this pile of wood dust, basically. I think we were, it was definitely Cedar that we were doing, but they were just dive bombing this Cedar pile of just powder, and they're rolling all around in it.
And then I'm watching them and they're gathering it in their little pollen, their little baskets on their legs. And it put two and two together. They were collecting the tree saps, they were collecting the saps to bring back to their colony, to help seal their colony up with the propolis. So watching and kind of learning what they are doing, one, to me, it makes me a better beekeeper, but I do believe that it makes me a better herbalist. And connecting the two, their health is my goal, and so is my health and my family's health. So linking it together, and this will be, I feel like this is going to be a lifetime of research for me, in all honesty. I've been looking at different countries, and what they're reading, and what they're finding and I don't think I'll ever stop learning, definitely, definitely not even with beekeeping. I don't care how many years, I'll continue to do this. I don't think I'll ever consider myself a master. I will forever be their student and same thing with herbalism and plant medicine.
Melissa: Yeah, I agree. With homesteading, and even in anything in life, but because I am just a homesteader, it's in my DNA, I feel like the more you learn, the less you think, the less you realize you know, right?
Kaylee Richardson: Right.
Melissa: And so I think if I ever reach that part where I'm like, "Oh, I know everything there is to know about this." Then that's when I actually don't know everything. That's a dangerous place to get into mentally, to think that you know everything. And speaking of health though, so for those who do have honey bees, or want to get honey bees, how can we help the health of them? Because I know a lot of things on a lot of people's mind a lot that we have been seeing, which I actually think is great, that there is this awareness movement happening though, is the decline in health of honeybee colonies all across the U.S. I don't know if it's worldwide, I actually haven't looked into it that far, but I know definitely across the U.S., like we have had a lot of colony collapses and different things like that. So what are ways that people can help out with the health of the honeybees?
Kaylee Richardson: I, again, I believe it's the education. I believe it's the talking, it's the knowledge, it's putting two and two together. I believe that backyard beekeepers are the beekeeping future, it has been. It's, bees are turning into the backyard chickens, it's almost a necessity to have on, for me, on my homestead. And I've watched my homestead go from the pastures being plain and blah, to now being so vibrant. And my production in my garden has just doubled. And so it, for planting, planting for the bees and being aware of what you're doing to the plants around you, making sure that you're not adding the chemicals into your garden. Yes, I might lose a few tomato plants here and there, but my colony health is most important.
So being an advocate for them, talking, educating, researching, knowing what you're planting. I love the plants that have the volatile oils. I love the oregano, I love the thyme, I love the wild bergamot, lavender. I want to plant things that I know the bees will appreciate, but then in turn, I know I can add it to my apothecary. I know I can use the lavender. I know that the thyme and the oregano, it's all for our health as well. So if you look at it like an entire big picture bubble, you can see that what you're doing for them is only going to help you as well.
Melissa: Yeah, I am... No, you just wait, my husband is going to come home, I'm like, "We're getting bees."
Kaylee Richardson: Yes. Well, now's the time to research [crosstalk 00:35:39]-
Melissa: Oh my gosh. Yes. Which-
Kaylee Richardson: I say do it.
Melissa: I know you're going to be totally in my corner, like, "Yes, go for it." For every podcast interview that I do, whatever the topic is, I come away from it and I'm like, "This is what we're doing next." And he's like, "Oh boy."
Kaylee Richardson: Oh my husband as well, my husband as well. I feel like sometimes he's just like, "I'm just going to... You just... Okay, I'm going to hold on. Okay, we got this."
Melissa: Yeah. He does a good job of like, "Okay, well let's put this in perspective with [inaudible 00:36:08] to create a timeline on what comes first." So it's really good, because I tend to be the, we're well balanced. The Lord knew what he was doing there.
Kaylee Richardson: Agreed. I'm in the same boat.
Melissa: Yeah, which is nice. In fact, most couples that I talk to seems like that that is the case. You've got one side that that's kind of helping that out there to balance. But one of the things that I was really excited that you and I got to talk about, and so I would love to share this with listeners too, is both of us, unbeknownst to the other, which I find fascinating, both of us looked around, and I come from a medical background, different as a pharmacy tech though. But both of us look around and see the need for natural herbal medicine, and taking our healthcare into our own hands and putting it at a very natural and local level as well. You can't get much more local than your own backyard, but not everybody is at that place with knowledge yet, or even has it in. It takes a while for these plants, right? And for you to get your bees, and to get some of this stuff.
So I feel like both you and I looked around and we saw this very great need, and we want to educate, and we love to help people be able to do it all on their own. But for those who can't, who still want the benefits of this or who are just coming and like, "Man, I need to learn." Both of us are feeling led to do local, like a local shop where people can either come and learn or actually come and purchase some of these products until they're able to grow and make their own, if they want. And so kind of meeting people with where they're at, but taking that step and actually opening up a local place. And so we're putting in steps right now.
In fact, it's so funny because I have been planting, I already have plants, and we've already prepped all of the beds. I have the seeds, I was just going through them last night for a lot of these medicinal plants that you and I are talking about. I already have some of them growing, but planning on putting in a lot more, and then being able to open, we got the building, we're working on finishing that up, and you are too. And so it was so funny because both of us had been putting these plans into motion months and months ago, and then we got to actually talk about it. And so tell people though, where I'm going with this is, you have plans for The Beekeeper's Apothecary, and that is both physical, will it also have an online aspect too?
Kaylee Richardson: Yes. I essentially have been working, diligently and quietly, on a personal project, which I'm still in the works of, how do we lay it out there? How do I share this? And it's basically all of my research that I've done so far, with the linking of the beekeeping, and herbalism, and just connecting, just the beekeeper's approach to herbalism. So I have that, and then the other aspect of it is, and I'm not doing this solely by myself. My mom actually recently purchased the 20 acres beside me with my father, and so our farm has now grown to 60 acres, and we're this crazy family compound that doesn't wear matching sweatpants, but-
Melissa: Oh, darn.
Kaylee Richardson: ... my mom and I have actually been doing, we've been going to the herbalism school together and it's something that we are just falling in love with. And I'm seeing something in her change, and I'm seeing her be this ultimate Girl Scout that I grew up knowing, so it's interesting having a relationship with my mother now as an adult, and then seeing my daughter kind of come up into this as well. But on the property, there's this beautiful little cabin. It's an old hunting cabin, and my husband, and my son, and my father, we've all put our hands on this cabin and we have put so much love into it, but we are turning it into The Beekeeper's Apothecary.
And so our future plans are, we're going to be hosting online workshops. We're going to be teaching what we are doing. We're going to be showing, we already share on YouTube, but this is just going to be like a little extra. And then, because we're going and pursuing the herbalism as registered, I have to see a certain amount of clients to be able to sit and to present everything, all of my research, and all of my studies, but I want this to be a place where others can come and get their hands in there as well. And I want this to be a place where they can come and when they feel like there is no more hope, I want to give them that hope.
I want to share everything that I've learned and what we've been doing, and I want to give them an opportunity to help themselves. Help, how empowering is it for you to be able to mix up your own tea blend because you know that these herbs combined, their actions are only going to compliment each other. So that's kind of our approach, and I want just, I want more people to be aware. And if we give them the space to come and learn, and have fun, it's only going to grow and build a better community. It's only going to help the people. And so that's our plan. That's what we have kind of going on, but it's a quite a cute little cabin. We're not a hundred percent done with it quite yet, but we're falling in more and more in love with the space.
Melissa: Yeah. I'm so excited to see just all that comes out of it, and especially [inaudible 00:41:42] because I have a feeling that we are just scratching the surface on it.
Kaylee Richardson: Oh, oh yeah.
Melissa: It's so exciting and I can't wait to see what you find, and where it leads, and where it goes, because I really see a lot, we are just at the forefront, I feel like, of this movement, of herbalism, and homesteading, and all of these things, but especially the health aspect of it becoming more mainstream, and more and more people turning to it, because in a lot of instances, neither are you, obviously neither you or I are anti-modern medicine-
Kaylee Richardson: Right. Absolutely.
Melissa: ... but we do see a lot of issues with modern, with the way the modern healthcare system is set up right now. And so I think that we're going to be seeing, I hope, it is my hope and prayer that we begin to see more of a merging and more of mainstream society looking at and using, and then I hope that that infiltrates our actual healthcare system, of bringing back together, not one or the other, but bringing in more of the herbal and the plant medicine into creating a true healthcare system and not just a, let's treat your [inaudible 00:42:59] healthcare system that we kind of have [inaudible 00:43:01].
Kaylee Richardson: Right. Absolutely. And I agree, that's that is my... That's what I see. I see it as well.
Melissa: You are doing this work.
Kaylee Richardson: Yeah. I see it. I believe it. Here's, the ultimate reality of it is, is God put it here. What do we do with it? And if you take the time to sit back and see what's happening, it's interesting when things, when the pandemic started, my mom and I were sitting, and we were watching the plants grow around us. And all of a sudden it was like, all we saw was mullein, mullein, mullein, mullein, all these plants, big stocks, big fuzzy leaves. And it just, it was so ironic because we'd never seen mullein be as prolific as what we had seen. And then diving into mullein, what is it good for? Well, it's good for your lungs. It's good for healing your lungs. So it just, it kind of two and two together made us realize, okay, we need to pay, we need to pay more attention to what's growing around us. And instead of running to the doctor right away, what can we do for ourselves? How can we take control and how can we heal? How can we heal ourself?
Melissa: Yeah. And even, like you said, looking at what is naturally growing around you. And there are a lot of plants that kind of grow very commonly, like almost all areas will have elderberry growing to some degree, almost all areas will have... You know, there are certain plants that we kind of have, I want to say almost universally to most climates, there's always exceptions. But I think another thing that I noticed during this pandemic especially is, there's a lot of things that I'm not growing here yet [inaudible 00:44:50] have not gotten them planted and started yet, or they don't grow in my climate. There is always going to be that aspect, certain things won't grow everywhere. And I've been able to have the privilege of being able to order those online. I mean, most of us-
Kaylee Richardson: Absolutely.
Melissa: ... can say that we've been able to order them online and get them, but with shipping issues and all of the things that we're seeing right now, at the time of this recording in society, and related to the pandemic, and that type of stuff, that actually, for the first time, wasn't available to me, or I couldn't get it as fast as I needed it because we were actually showing symptoms of something.
Kaylee Richardson: Oh, I see.
Melissa: And so that really opened my eyes and was one of the main reasons where I said, we are starting a larger scale herbal growing here, because one, I need to be able to grow some of these specific herbs. They will grow here, I don't have them growing yet. And secondly, I can't get them in a hour driving mile radius, like they just aren't available for me to buy here. I can get them online, that's how I've got them. But when I actually, like if I need to physically be able to go get them, because I can't wait for shipping time, or something's wrong with the internet site, we need to have a local option.
And so either growing it yourself, but like you just said, looking what grows around you, learning the medicinal properties of that. Because the wonderful thing about herbs is it's not like a lot of the pharmaceutical counterparts, many herbs have different properties to them and can be used for multiple things. And usually something growing in your area will have the medicinal property that you are going to need to treat most common maladies, that cold/flu type symptoms, so learning those is so important.
Kaylee Richardson: Right. And what you were saying is, another really important aspect of how are you going to have your regenerative apothecary garden? That is the other, the other project, and that's the, we're replanting plants that are growing in areas where they're getting ready to build homes. I want to, basically we've been helping relocate plants that we know are valuable, we know are a necessity, black cohosh, ginseng. Obviously we, I haven't had a very good success replanting that, but ginseng grows wild up here. I'm nestled into the skyline drive, and there's such an abundance of plants in our area. Solomon's seal, it's just, there are so many things that are growing that you, for us, that are growing in our backyard, but what else can we do to not be such a consumer? And that's to change our perspective and become a producer.
We are planting the plants that are native. We are bringing our area back. I want to would walk outside, just like I would when I'm going to my bathroom pharmacy, and I want to be able to point and see, okay, this is going to help me. This is going to help me. This is going to help me. That's my ultimate goal on our homestead. We have the food, we've got the chickens, we've got the bees, we've got the cattle. My bees are helping the pastures grow, which is in turn feeding our animals. So it's this entire system, but yeah, having that regenerative aspect is, it's only going to better yourself. And I think that, I absolutely think that you should grow all the weeds, all the herbs, let the dandelions grow.
Melissa: Yes. I am in complete agreement. And I think, oh, like you and I, we could talk for hours-
Kaylee Richardson: Oh, forever.
Melissa: ... hours, but we'll wrap this one up with a pretty bow. I am so excited, can't wait to learn more from you, and to share more, and have you back on, and to see where all of your research leads. But for those who are listening, and want to follow along on your journey and learn more from you, where are the best places for them to connect?
Kaylee Richardson: YouTube has been a big platform, and we do, we share quite often. I think I try to share at least three videos a week. I also post, I use Instagram as well, kind of as my like personal diary of what's going on behind the scenes, but we are thehoneystead, and that's, it's like homestead and honey, and you just kind of put it together. And so between Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and then I kind of started up with TikTok, which surprisingly I'm having a blast with it, but we're sharing, we're putting it out there. People have been emailing, we've got a website up, I am in the process of starting to write more, and post my blogs, and kind of share my personal, like what I'm finding, basically everything that I've, what I kind of talked about today, we're starting to put a little bit here and there up on the blog. But it's thehoneystead.
Melissa: Awesome. We will have links to that as well for all of the places Kaylee mentioned in the show notes and the blog post that accompanies this episode. So if you are listening, know that you'll be able to grab that there as well. Kaylee, thank you so much for coming on. I can't wait until I get to see you again [crosstalk 00:50:22]-
Kaylee Richardson: Thank you so so much.
Melissa: Yes. I'm so excited. Now I've got to go watch some more of your videos. They are always so lovely, well done, and go and contact my local bee person so that I don't forget. I need to get in line. So thank you, my friend.
Kaylee Richardson: Thank you so much, and happy keeping.
Melissa: To access any of the resources that we were talking about and to find links to things, go to melissaknorris.com/328, because this is episode number 328, and you will see the written blog post that accompanies this episode, along with all of the links to things that we talked about. Thank you so much for joining us, and I can't wait to be back here with you next week. Blessings and Mason jars for now, my friend.
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