By: Samy Elcott, CSUN Dietetic Intern
Every morning, as the glistening sun shines over the marvelous campus, CSUN’s garden called The Orange Grove glows brilliantly to passersby, exhibiting over 60 years of deep rooted history of agriculture, research and recreation.1 The reflection of neighboring plants radiates from the CSUN pond, which is a sanctuary for ducks, turtles, fish and other sociable insects. The orange trees tower from above, proudly displaying its fruits which can be seen growing from mid-Fall to late-spring semesters.
Equally decorative and vital to the academic community is the Botanic Garden, which is composed of four greenhouses and some 1,200 plant species.2 It is a living library of diverse plants and an ever-evolving portrait of nature. It is explored not only by people but also by birds, butterflies and curious squirrels. Both the Orange Grove and the Botanic Garden are among two of the main gardens visited by CSUN’s bees, also known as Italian honeybees or western honey bee (Apis mellifera), which are the most frequent floral visitors of crops worldwide.3 Don’t worry, the hives are surrounded by fences for extra protection and pose no threat to students or staff. The bees may not be known for making your favorite pasta dishes, but they are known for being the most essential species of pollinators across the natural systems studied.3 Pollination is defined as the transfer of microscopic pollen grains from a male flower to a female flower, which then turn into seeds.4 Any animal or insect that transfer pollen from plant to plant are called “pollinators.”4 This way, bees make it possible for plants to create seeds, which then sprout into plants and trees, finally producing your favorite fruits and vegetables.
Honey has been one of the most valued foods in human history. Ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans used honey as medicine for wounds and diseases of the intestine.5 Color varies with botanical origin, age, and storage conditions, but transparency or clarity depends on the number of suspended particles such as pollen.5 A 2013 research review article reported that eating honey helped: protect against the damage from free radicals, acted as an effective carbohydrate source with resistance training and endurance exercise, and helped increase the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut while suppressing potentially harmful bacteria.5 Furthermore, honey reduced bad cholesterol and slightly increased good cholesterol in your blood.5 Some easy ways to incorporate honey into your diet are drizzling some on your morning oatmeal; using it as a natural sweetener in your tea, coffee and smoothies; and adding it to your PB&J sandwiches.
Among the most valuable and healthful products of nature which bees create every day is honey.6 As of Fall 2018, the Marilyn Magaram Center (MMC) began selling the “Bee a Matador” wildflower honey, which is extracted from campus beehives. “Bee A Matador” wildflower honey is a collaboration between the MMC and Dr. Rachel Mackelprang, CSUN Biology professor and beekeeper, who studies beneficial bacteria in bees and the factors that might negatively impact bee health. The extraction, processing and storage of the honey occurred at the MMC Wellness Kitchen in Sequoia Hall. With the research expertise of the CSUN team, the Matador honey won the 2018 Honey Competition People’s Choice Award in The Valley Hive 3rd Annual Honey and Recipe Competition in Chatsworth.7
Busy as a bee because of classes? CSUN students, faculty, staff and members of the community can place orders for the honey with the Marilyn Magaram Center online or in-person in Sequoia Hall, room 120. Stay updated with the Center’s announcements online or come by the office for any inquires. You could even buy it at the campus’ weekly farmers market, every Tuesday while school is in session.
- CSUN Orange Grove and Pond. California State University, Northridge.https://www.csun.edu/facilities/csun-orange-grove-and-pond. PublishedAugust 16, 2017. Accessed September 9, 2019.
- About. http://www.csun.edu/botanicgarden/about.html. AccessedSeptember 9, 2019.
- Hung K-LJ, Kingston JM, Albrecht M, Holway DA, Kohn JR. The worldwideimportance of honey bees as pollinators in natural habitats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.2018;285(1870):20172140. doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.2140.
- U.S. Forest Service. Forest Service Shield. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/What_is_Pollination/. Accessed September 9, 2019.
- Arawwawala M, Hewageegana S. Health Benefits and Traditional Uses of Honey: A Review. Journal of Apitherapy.2017;2(1):9. doi:10.5455/ja.20170208043727.
- Samarghandian S, Farkhondeh T, Samini F. Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research. Pharmacognosy research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28539734. Published 2017. Accessed September 9, 2019.
- Award Winning “Bee a Matador” Honey Creates a Buzz on Campus. California State University, Northridge. https://www.csun.edu/health-human-development/news/award-winning- bee-matador-honey-creates-buzz-campus. Published October 11, 2018. Accessed September 9, 2019.