History of Honey:
Many ancient civilizations have used honey for a wide variety of purposes, though the most common use was for food. It is difficult to put an exact date of when honey came into existence. However, the earliest evidence of honey comes from a rock painting dated about 7,000 B.C. found in Valencia, Spain (see image).
The earliest record of keeping bees in a more organized manner was found in the Sun Temple near Cairo, Egypt. Most experts estimate that the honey found in this temple dates back to about 2,400 B.C. Miraculously, the honey from the inside the pharaohs' tombs was extracted and found to still be edible despite thousands of years of crystallization. The ancient Egyptians are known to have used honey as a sweetener, as an ingredient in embalming fluid, and as sacrificial gifts to the gods.
Like the Egyptians, Romans used honey as a gift to the gods as well as healing their wounds from battle. The ancient Greeks used honey for healing purposes as well as food. Early Christians used large amounts of honey and beeswax to produce beeswax candles for the church's use.
Honey was the major sweetener in Europe until the Renaissance when sugar imports skyrocketed. By the 17th century however, both sugar and honey were being used less and less. European settlers that travelled to America during this time brought mass-producing honey bees overseas with them and introduced them to the American continent. These non-native honey bees were favored because they produced much larger quantities honey than the indigenous species. Since the introduction of these mass-producing bees, America has become one of the largest honey producing countries in the world.
Composition of Honey:
Honey is composed of sugars, water, and ash (a beekeeping term used to describe all of the minerals found in honey). Honey bees collect nectar from a variety of flowers and other plants, and return to their hive with their load to make honey. While they are foraging, honey bees will locate flowers and drink the nectar the flowers contain. Honey bees are uniquely equipped with a special organ called a Honey Stomach or Honey Crop, in which they can store the nectar they collect. In order to fill their honey stomach, a single worker bee will visit between 100 and 1,500 flowers. The nectar stays in the honey stomach until the bee returns to the hive. During this process of gathering nectar the worker bees will gain a significant amount of body weight until it deposits it’s load of nectar into honeycomb cells in the hive.
Once the nectar is returned to the hive, worker bees assigned to work in the hive will ingest and regurgitate the nectar until it is partially digested. During this process, various enzymes are added while the nectar is still in the honey stomach. This process is repeated several times until honey is produced. The worker bees inside the hive will then store the honey in honeycomb cells. However, the moisture content must be reduced before sealing the cell in order to defend against molds, fungi, bacteria, and fermentation. Once the moisture content is reduced, the worker bees will seal the honeycomb cell with a thin beeswax cap until the honey is needed. This stored honey is the main energy source for the honey bees, especially during the winter time.
A single worker bee will be responsible for creating only 1/10th of a teaspoon of honey in her life. However, working together, a healthy hive can produce the necessary 120 lbs. or so that the hive consumes every year, as well as a 50-70 lb. surplus.
Health Benefits of Honey:
Honey is one of the world's oldest sweeteners. Despite being around for thousands of years, many people are unaware of the health benefits honey provides. Some of the most major benefits include:
- Reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease
- Reduces acid reflux, ulcers, and gastrointestinal disorders
- Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties
- Increases athletic performance
- Reduces cough and throat irritation
- Regulates blood sugar
- Heals wounds and burns
- Promotes healthy skin, especially the scalp
- Alleviates allergies
- Provides energy boosts
- Facilitates better sleep
- Encourages weight loss
Many people prefer to use natural remedies to treat ailments. Honey is one of the best natural remedies as it can be used to treat a large number of maladies. Some of the common ways honey is used as a remedy include:
- Improving digestion
- Relieving nausea
- Reducing acne
- Lowering cholesterol
- Improving circulation
- Providing anti-oxidants
- Improving allergies
- Providing extra moisture to skin
- Relieving Eczema
- Reducing inflammation
- Relieving sore throat
Honey is nature's greatest sweetener and as such can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Through our Honey Chef program, we have created many delicious recipes that incorporate the use of our raw, local honey. We have recipes for all the major meals as well as dessert and even a selection of healthy recipes for those with special requirements. Whatever your tastes or requirements, we have the recipes that will satisfy your cravings!
Fun Facts About Honey & Honey Bees:
- Honey bees are the only insects that produce food eaten by man
- Honey is 80% sugar and 20% water
- Honey is the only food that includes all substances that are necessary to sustain life
- Honey bees wings beat at about 200 beats per second
- The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey during her lifetime
- A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
- Honey never spoils.
- A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen.
- Each honey bee colony has a unique odor that they use to distinguish between members of the hive and invaders
- Queen bees can lay as many as 2500 eggs in a single day
- Honey bees never sleep
- Honey bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using pheromones
- Honey bees fly at 15 mph
- A typical beehive can make up to 400 lbs. of honey each year
- Only 4 species of bees out of 20,000 produce honey