Bees, Honey and your Health

Bees and Honey

About Bees

Each bee hive has one Queen Bee, several male bees called drones and about 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees! They literally are worker bees. Did you know that to get one jar of honey bees fly around the world the equivalency of 3 times! You read correctly the distance they travel is equal to flying around the world three times. Bees collect the pollen from plant nectar through a magnetic charge on their legs. Once they have accumulated their quota of pollen they return to their hive, chew it up many many times, adding some enzymes to it, fan it to remove most of its moisture, and when it becomes liquid they store it in the cells of the comb sealing it with beeswax.

Classifications or Types of Honey

There are many classifications of honey and various processing types. Some of the best honey is wildflower honey and comes from multiple source's of flowers. Some bees, depending on their area, have access to large areas of one kind of flower such as lavender, clover, or buckwheat. These types of honey hold a particular flavor and color. Often, bees collect and combine the pollen from many different flowers within their area. Honey can be in the form of the honeycomb, liquid, creamed or granulated, or chunk honey which is a combination of liquid honey and the honey comb. When processing honey, the heat destroys some of its best properties so eating Raw or Strained honey is best. Most honey found in grocery stores has been pasteurized and has been heated to 160 Degrees. Sometimes honey will crystallize, ever wonder why? Honey crystallizes because it has more glucose in it and the glucose starts dropping out. All you have to do, is place the honey in a warm water bath and it will slowly liquefy.

Honey and its Health Benefits

Honey has been used for over 8,000 years for its many health benefits. The Egyptians used honey as an embalming fluid and for wound care. Laboratory studies have shown that Honey hampers the growth of food-born pathogens such as E. coli, and fights some common bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa). Currently, Manuka Honey has undergone many studies showing its antibacterial properties and its effectiveness in treating leg ulcers and pressure sores by stimulating healing. These studies have shown antibacterial properties even when the Manuka Honey is put under extreme heat, which happens to destroy its peroxide effect. What about Honey and colds and allergies? Some laboratory tests have shown that honey does have the potential to clear up stuffy noses and ease allergies. Others feel that honey based syrups ease the early symptoms of a cold, easing inflamed membranes and soothing a cough. I know when I feel a cold coming on, I reach for my Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, Water and a Teaspoon of honey!

The oldest known honey was found in clay pots in Georgia and is 4,600 years old and is still edible! I think that says oodles about the stability of honey and its ability to withstand bacteria and other pathogens. Maybe that is why many religions mention Honey so many times throughout their text. Honey is not only very stable due to its low moisture content, it also has a high viscosity and a low pH (between 3.2 to 4.5) making it effective against bacteria and providing for a long shelf life. Honey is roughly 38% Fructose, 31% Glucose, 7% Maltose, and 17 % water plus a small amount of sucrose and minerals. Remember - sugar is sugar so even though honey is healthier than sugar it still contains more carbohydrates and sugar than sugar does.

So don't forget to eat some honey and remember it is not safe for children under 1 year of age, because honey can give infants botulism since their immune system is not fully developed.

Written by Mara Gerke, CA, CNHP, All Rights Reserved.