The Benefits of Honey

Thursday June 21, 2012
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The Benefits of Honey

Types of Honey and Honey Production

There are over 300 varieties of honey produced annually in the U.S. Honey varies in color from pale to dark amber. The flavor and color of honey is generally dependent on the source of flowers from which the pollen has been gathered. Most honeys we find in grocery stores come from alfalfa and clover and tend to be mild, light-colored honeys.

Honey Bee on Buckwheat

Honey Bee on Buckwheat

One hive can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey. What´s amazing is how these honey bees fly 50,000 miles and visit more than 2 million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey! The term “Busy as a Bee” is an understatement!

Honey Bee in Flight

Honey Bee in Flight

Avocado, Blueberry, and Wildflower Honey

In Fallbrook, Southern California´s “Avocado Capital of the World,” many avocado tree growers have become beekeepers utilizing honey bees to pollinate their trees. Avocado honey is a little darker and nuttier than the typical clover honey. At specialty and health food stores, the honey connoisseur can find a variety of brands including honeys from other states.

Variety of Honeys “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste.” — Proverbs 24:13

I recently purchased “Blueberry Honey” from Maine, which has a granulated texture (I tried hard but couldn´t taste any blueberry nectar, although I found it very tasty and mixed it with blueberries atop some Scottish oatcakes). You can also find whipped honey in most supermarkets which is creamy and spreads like butter, and raw honey with the comb from local beekeepers sold at farmer´s markets.

Honey Bee on Black Sage

Honey Bee on Black Sage

A number of beekeepers, like the avocado tree growers, put their hives on farms with acres of specific flowering plants (or trees) and the honey may be almost 99% from the desired floral source but no honey can be completely from one type of flower since bees travel far and wide to gather their nectar. The honey bees from local beekeepers forage from a myriad of flowers in the area, resulting in a delicious blend of honey that is classified as “Wild Flower Honey.”

Honey Bee on Yellow Flowers Honey production depends upon the weather; in sunny Southern California, honey bees produce multiple honey harvests.

Medicinal Qualities of Honey

Besides beeing (sorry, I couldn´t help myself) a natural sweetener and rich in antioxidants, raw honey with its antiseptic qualities, has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes for preventing infections from cuts, burns, and as a poultice for treating wounds. Honey has also been used for centuries to relieve sore throats (tea with honey and lemon) and as a natural cough suppressant. Eating local wildflower honey from your area can be a natural, effective way to inoculate yourself from pollen allergies.

Nutritional Aspects of Honey

Honey is a natural source of energy with 17 grams of carbohydrates in one tablespoon. Added to your water bottle, honey can give you an energy boost during a workout and as a snack afterwards, honey can help decrease muscle soreness. Peanut butter and honey on whole wheat bread is a great snack for a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Topping off a yogurt with honey and blueberries is another sweet, natural treat.

Bee in flight near purple thistle

Honey bee flying towards purple thistle

Not Just for Eating: Beauty and the Bee

Cosmetic and skin care companies have long known the benefits of honey and beeswax for beautifying the face and body. Honey is a humectant, attracting and retaining moisture, which is why it is used in many beauty products. Since honey is anti-bacterial in nature, it cleanses the skin and acts as a toner, tightening the outer layers. You can add a little honey to your favorite soap, shampoo or bubble bath. Mix it with sea salt for a body scrub in the shower and then rinse or pretend you´re Cleopatra and add both honey and milk to your bath…..

Bee on red flower with full pollen baskets

Honey bee filling up her pollen baskets (hind legs)

Honey – More than a Sweet Treat

It occurred to me recently how we feed our bodies but other than using a little moisturizer or lotion, we neglect the daily appetite of a very large organ covering our bodies — our skin. Skin gets hungry, especially as we get older; try experimenting with a few different honey-based masks and smooth it on your arms, neck, and face (maybe knees too) and see if your skin doesn´t give you a great big “thank you!”

Recipe for Honey Face Mask

Avocado & Honey Face Mask

Honey and Oily Skin

Another claim to fame for honey is the ability to heal a pimple overnight. Because of the gooiness, one may think honey can´t be used on oily skin but the opposite is true; the problem with most acne cleansers and toners is the drying quality they have but honey keeps the skin moist without oiliness, providing healing and honey can even prevent scarring from skin eruptions caused by acne. A quick and easy mask for minor acne is ½ cup cooked and cooled oatmeal mixed with ¼ cup honey. Stir with spoon and smooth on face right away before mixture hardens. Leave on for 30 minutes and rinse.

Finally……A Little Honey Trivia

o Historically, the word “honeymoon” is derived from the practice of newlyweds drinking mead (honey wine) for one month (one phase of the moon) to assure the birth of a son. o The Romans paid their taxes with honey (Do you think the IRS would be ok with that today?) o The honey bee was used as a symbol in hieroglyphics to identify Egyptian rulers. o Royal Jelly, made by a nursemaid honey bee, is believed to stimulate fertility. o Beeswax is used for candles, furniture polish, and in cosmetics.

Bee on Hottentot Fig Ice Plant

The “Bee’s End” found on a Hottentot fig ice plant.

Article, Artwork, and Photos by Donna Walker

– Hearts Pest Management Writer and Customer Service Representative

Authors Note:

Author - Donna Walker

I feel very fortunate to be a part of Hearts Pest Management staff. Gerry has provided me with an opportunity to allow creativity in the work place by becoming a regular writer for the blog, as a way to channel my passion for nature, photography, and art. I hope everyone has enjoyed this series on the honey bee; I certainly have learned a great deal, for instance, I never knew honey bees had pollen baskets, nor did I know their lifespan was so short but full of many “transferable skills.” — Donna

Coming Next: Marching Ants

Honey References

Dandant & Sons, Inc., The Hive and the Honey Bee, Revised Edition, Publishers of the American Bee Journal, Bookcrafters, Chelsea, Michigan, 2000.

Blackiston, Howard, Beekeeping for Dummies, 2nd Edition, Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2009.

Morse, Robert, The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture, 40th Edition, Root Publishing, Medina, Ohio, 1990.

Moramarco, Lucette. “Avocado Nectar Makes a Different Type of Honey.” The Fallbrook Village News, 12 Apr. 2012.

National Honey Board, “Benefits of Honey,” 2012.


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