The next time you're having breakfast, consider that every third bite on your plate comes from the hard-working honeybee.

In addition, a number of potent medicines that have been used for thousands of years have the honeybee to thank.

Honeybees are designed for work, and their bodies produce a number of natural autoimmune boosters that enable them to fly for about 500 miles before they wear out and die. Consider that it takes 12 honeybees a combined flying time of 6,000 miles or their entire foraging lives to make one teaspoon or 21 grams of honey.

Bees collect sticky resins from trees and convert it to propolis to use as a waterproofing material throughout the hive. Propolis is highly antifungal and antibacterial, making it the perfect medicine to effectively combat a sore throat; that’s why it’s an active ingredient in many lozenges.

Queen bees are only fed royal jelly, a pure protein consisting of vitellogen made from plant pollens. It is also known to boost human autoimmune systems particularly when people are under stress.

Honey contains over 200 substances. As a byproduct of making honey, bees split the glucose molecule into water and hydrogen peroxide, which is what makes honey a powerful antiseptic. High amounts of malic, citric, tartaric, oxalic and other organic acids combined with enzymes catalase and peroxidase give honey its renowned antibacterial properties.

With over 80 percent sugar content and its natural acidity, honey creates an inhospitable environment for single-celled microbes to form an infection. Some modern bandage companies line their products with diluted traces of honey. Honey can last for thousands of years unspoiled in sealed jars and it has been recovered from Egypt's royal tombs.

Honey is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It contains water-soluble B1, B2, B6, pantothenic and nictotinic acids, vitamin C, as well as high amounts of fat-soluble vitamins E, K and A. Honey also provides several essential minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium and sulfur. Some of the minerals in the specific concentrations found in honey mimic the concentration of blood serum. Therefore, honey metabolizes easily and can be an important source of essential nutrients.

Since 1957, the former Soviet republic has used extracts of bee stings — bee venom, known as apis — to treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating autoimmune diseases. Bee venom contains biochemicals that enhance blood flow to the damaged regions and block the perception of neuralgic pain. Currently dubbed apitherapy, apis treatment is on the rise throughout the world.

Taking advantage of the anti-inflammatory effects of melittin and adolapin in the bee venom — along with apamin to improve nerve transmission — apis can treat arthritis, fibromyalgia and tendonitis. In fact, 12 European countries have officially recognized bee venom solution as a drug.

I strongly suggest only buying organically certified honey or, better still, why not support your local beekeepers by buying their honey? In America, we import about 100 million pounds of honey each year and some of that comes from China. China is known to use certain pesticides and other chemicals that have been banned around the globe, and traces of carcinogens have turned up in some Chinese honey samples.