13 Fascinating Facts About Honey You Didn’t Know
Bottling your own honey isn’t just a great way to make some extra cash. Honey bottles are filled with some deliciously miraculous ingredients. Pure, natural honey has many health benefits and has been used to promote health and healing for centuries.
While honey is produced all over the world, the top US states for honey production include Florida, South Dakota, Florida, and Utah, known as ‘the Beehive State”. One of the most interesting facts about honey is it is the only food product produced by an insect, which humans consume.
Here are 13 more honey facts you probably didn’t know:
Honey never spoils – provided you keep it in a high quality, airtight honey bottle. Research has proven honey has an endless shelf life when kept in the right conditions, with some of the oldest honey found in tombs of the Egyptians dating back several thousand years. Honey contains low moisture levels and is naturally acidic, making it difficult for spoiling bacteria to grow. There is also a special enzyme found in the stomach of a bee, which breaks down into chemicals inhibiting the growth of bacteria and other organisms.
How Is Honey Made?
The production of honey is done by bees throughout the summer. They create so much honey to ensure their colonies have enough to eat through the cold winter months. The honey gives the bees energy to vibrate their bodies, creating heat to keep the queen and the hive warm. Even more interesting is the fact it would take just two tablespoons of the amber liquid to sustain a bee’s flight around the world.
Honey as Currency
Back in the 11th century, Germans held honey as a high-valued commodity. So much so, lords of Germany used to force peasants to make payments to them in honey. The prized honey was highly sought after as it was the perfect ingredient for sweetening beer.
What Are The Health Benefits of Eating Honey?
Honey has long been used for medicinal purposes. Due to its anti-bacterial properties, honey has been used for a variety of ills including cuts, burns, infections, stomach ulcers, and more. Honey is the only known food which has all the ingredients needed to keep you alive. It contains water, vitamins, minerals, and necessary enzymes to give the body energy. Pinocembrin, an antioxidant is also found in honey and is effective at improving the functioning of the human brain. Honey also has antioxidant levels similar to that of apples, spinach, strawberries, and oranges.
Local Honey for Allergy Help
Honey has been shown to help treat seasonal allergies. Sufferers can use locally produced honey to build up immunity to local plants which trigger allergies. One teaspoon of honey each day will allow your system to build up immunity to pollen before the season begins. Local honey is required because it contains the allergens of the local plants.
Honey is a Natural Soother
In addition to the many medicinal purposes honey can serve, it is also a very popular ingredient in natural home remedies. Honey is often used in personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, and lotions. It is also a popular natural remedy for soothing sore throats and quieting coughs, with some loyalists believing honey works better than any over the counter medication.
Honey Kills Internal Parasites
There are several parasites which can invade the human body and cause illness. A mixture of equal parts honey, vinegar, and water is all you need to kill off the parasites. Drink this concoction for several days if you suspect you have parasites or even as a general body cleanse.
While it’s true most honey is produced by busy bees, there is a type of wasp which also makes honey. The Mexican honey wasp produces large amounts of honey but some of their honey production can be poisonous due to the flowers from which it collects the pollen.
Honey Has Longevity
Flowering plants appeared on Earth nearly 130 million years ago. It took several million more years for bees to arrive. To date, the oldest fossilized honeycomb dates back three million years. Humans have been using honey for thousands of years. In Spain, an ancient cave drawing shows a human removing honey from a hive, a painting which dates as far back as 15,000 years.
Farmers Respect the Honey
A colony of bees will produce up to three times more honey than it needs to sustain bee life. Beekeepers must leave enough honey to keep the colony going through the winter months. During heavy production times, keepers may need to supplement the bees with a sugar syrup during fall harvest. A typical colony is made up of 30,000 to 60,000 bees.
What Is Special About Honey Bees?
During the process of collecting pollen to produce honey, bees also pollinate flowers and crops, which produce nearly one-third of all food eaten in America. Without the pollination by bees, the environment and the economy in the US would suffer greatly.
Fun Facts About Honey Bees
When honey bees come back to the hive with pollen for honey-making, they perform a little dance to let the rest of the hive know where the good flowers are located. The bee will then turn the collected nectar into honey by adding enzymes from their stomach and reducing moisture by flapping their wings at a high rate of speed. To make one pound of honey, bees will need to visit two million flowers and fly approximately 55,000 miles.
There is quite a variety of honey and each flavor and color will depend on the source of the nectar bees have gathered. Popular honeys include wildflower, buckwheat, and clover honey. There is even eucalyptus honey, which offers the slight flavor of menthol. Honey colors are graded by numbers, with the highest number indicating the darkest color. Honey is also valued by granulation, which is the time it takes the honey to crystalize, or granulate. Unfiltered raw honey will granulate faster than filtered. Granulated honey can be made liquid again with a hot water bath.
Making Honey of Your Own
More people are becoming interested in keeping bees in their own backyard. Due to the growing concerns of global honeybee loss and the profitability of honey, backyard bee colonies are becoming more common. Beehive kits are available for easy setup but many keepers are also setting up do-it-yourself hives.
Harvesting honey for your family may be all you are interested in to start. Growing a profitable side business as a honey producer is also a possibility as you become familiar with the process of caring for the bees and harvesting the honey. Bees will continue making honey from spring through the fall months. Spring is the best time to start up a new hive because summer’s warm weather will increase honey production among the bees as they prepare for winter.
Getting started involves the purchasing of boxes used as hives, the frames for collecting honey, beekeeping suits and protective gloves, and a smoker. You will also need to invest in your bees, which can be procured from other local beekeepers or through online sales from beekeeping companies. It is estimated one healthy hive can produce as much as 60 pounds of honey each year. Judge the number of hives you’ll need based on what you plan to do with your honey product.
Harvesting the Sweetness
To prepare for the harvest, plenty of airtight, plastic or glass honey bottles also need to be ready for filling. Honey-filled frames are removed from the hives and replaced with empty ones. Honeycombs are cut off the frame using a sharp knife and should be placed in a strainer to remove debris. To get the pure honey into the honey jars, the combs can be placed into a piece of cheesecloth. A gentle squeeze will make it easy to pour out the honey and distribute into the jars.
Honey should be kept on hand for many purposes including baking, cooking, tea-drinking, medicinal recipes, and for sweetening. It also makes a great gift idea for friends and family. Honey bottles can be decorated with ribbons and embellishments for any occasion – birthdays, anniversaries, and housewarmings. Be sure to store honey in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Honey does not require refrigeration before or after opening. It is easier to work with honey at room temperature. It is difficult to successfully freeze honey because there is enough water. However, keeping honey in the freezer for long-term storage can prevent color and taste changes.