Bees perform the vital job of pollinating fruits, legumes, vegetables and other types of food-producing plants in addition to their business of honey production.
Honey is older than written history and was valued highly in many cultures as it was used for money, offerings to the gods, to cure ailments, and even to make cement!
The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by humans.
Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey. Bees therefore have to fly about 90,000 miles (three times around the world) – to make one pound of honey!
Each individual bee makes only about one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. Bees produce honey as food stores for the hive during the winter months when flowers are not in bloom and little nectar is available.
The nectar collected by the honey bees from flowers and plants is carried to the hive and is then passed to worker bees, who prepare it for storing by adding enzymes. As the nectar is transferred to the wax storage chambers, water is evaporated away. It is this process, combined with enzyme activity that converts the nectar into honey.
A hive only needs 20 to 30 lb of honey to survive an average winter, which means that the extra honey can be harvested. A strong colony can produce 2 to 3 times more honey than they need!
Honey is a complex mix of:
o 80% natural sugars
o 18% water
o 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein
Of honey’s 80% natural sugar content, around 70% is made up of fructose and glucose. The balance of these two sugars determines whether a honey is clear or set. Both types are equally pure and additive free.
The medicinal and healing properties of honey have earned it a reputation as one the purest and most natural remedies for over 5,000 years. And because it contains so many therapeutic qualities, honey is used to treat a wide range of ailments and complaints.
Honey has antiseptic properties and can be used as a remedy for ailments from sore throats to burns and cuts. This is endorsed by research, which has shown that its bactericidal properties can be used to good effect in treating digestive problems such as peptic ulcers as well as external lesions.
The natural fruit sugars in honey – fructose and glucose – are very quickly digested by the body. This is why sport people and athletes use honey to give them a natural energy boost.