Bees are very busy creatures, responsible for the majority of the food we harvest every day, but there is a lot of information about they way they produce honey and the different characteristics of honey that you may not know. For example, most people don’t realize that unprocessed, raw honey is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and is vegan and gluten free.
Exciting Facts about Bees & Honey
Raw honey is much healthier than processed honey
Raw honey contains all the pollen, enzymes and other micronutrients that are usually filtered out or destroyed by heat when honey is processed. Traditionally, honey is heated and filtered so that it will remain liquid much longer on the market shelves, but this process strips away many beneficial properties of honey. Raw honey will crystalize more quickly due to the fact that it is unfiltered, but can be melted into liquid easily by submerging the jar in hot water.
Honey crystallizes over time, but never spoils
When sealed in an airtight container, honey is one of the few foods known to have an eternal shelf life. There are even reports of edible honey being found in several-thousand-year-old Egyptian tombs. Honey’s longevity can be explained by its chemical makeup: The substance is naturally acidic and low in moisture, making it an inhospitable environment for bacteria.
A lot of hard work from bees goes into imbuing honey with these magical properties. While transforming nectar (honey’s main ingredient) into honey, bees flap their wings so hard that they draw excess moisture out of the initially water-filled substance. Bees also have a special enzyme in their stomachs that helps to break the nectar down into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, the latter of which acts to further prevent the growth of bacteria and other organisms in the honey.
Honey has many medicinal properties
Evidence of honey being prescribed as a medical treatment dates back as far as ancient Mesopotamia. Because the substance is so inhospitable to bacteria, it was often used as a natural bandage to protect cuts and burns from infection. Today, honey is still used as a natural treatment for dandruff, stomach ulcers, and even seasonal allergies.
How bees survive the winter months
Bees work hard all summer to ensure they’ll have enough honey to sustain the hive through the winter. During the colder months, bees occupy their time by clustering themselves around the queen and shivering their bodies to fill the hive with warmth. All that shivering burns a lot of calories, so honey makes for the perfect high-energy diet. Unfortunately, the winter’s dramatically low temperatures can kill off a number of bees in the hive. To help avoid colony deaths, Laura insulates and winterizes her hives to help them conserve heat.
Our bees work very, very hard
A typical beehive can produce anywhere from 30 to 100 pounds of honey a year. To produce a single pound of honey, a colony of bees must collect nectar from approximately 2 million flowers and fly over 55,000 miles. This amounts to a lifetime’s worth of work for around 800 bees.
Bees have been making honey for millions of years
Around 130 million years ago, flowering plants first appeared, and a few million years later, bees began separating from wasps. At some point after that, bees began producing honey, with one fossilized honeycomb dating from around 3 million years ago. Humans, meanwhile, have been harvesting the sweet stuff for thousands of years. An ancient cave painting was discovered in Valencia, Spain, that depicts a human figure removing honey from a hive, and it could date from as far back as 15,000 years ago.
Hive colonies grow and expand very quickly
Laura builds and fosters every hive on her farm. As the beep population in the hives grow, more honeycomb is created. She adds more tiers to each hive so the colonies can expand vertically into the new hive crates. The colonies adapt by converting the lower crates into nuseries where new hive workers and drones are birthed. A typical colony is made up of 30,000 to 60,000 bees.
Bees are critical to our agriculture system
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. This is one of the greatest concerns for the attempt to rebuild bee populations across the country.
Raw honey is effective in treating seasonal allergies
Honey has been shown to help treat seasonal allergies as honey is a direct product from types of pollen affect allergy sufferers. 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.