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Honey

The story of honey is older than history itself. An 8,000-year-old cave painting in Spain depicts honey.

Harvesting, and we know it's been used for food, medicine and more by cultures all over the world since. But honey isn't about humans. It's the natural product made from bees - one of our planet's most important animals. Honeybees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes, making pollination of plants possible and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive. Lucky for us, bees make more honey, than their colony needs, and beekeepers remove the excess and bottle it. Just like they've been doing since the beginning of time.

So, what is Honey?

Mature honeybees collect nectar from plant blossoms. Nectar is 80 to 95 percent water and 5 to 20 percent sucrose (table sugar). As the bee transports the nectar back to the hive, a protein enzyme in her honey stomach, called invertase, breaks the sucrose down into the two simple sugars, fructose and glucose. Young bees remove water from the sugar solution using two methods. They pass the nectar from bee to bee and 'drink' the water out of the nectar by absorbing it through their stomach wall. They also create heat and air flow in the hive by vibrating their wings and flight muscles, thus evaporating water out of the nectar which has been stored in open cells. When most of the sucrose has been converted to fructose and glucose AND enough water has been dehydrated out of the mixture to bring it approximately 17.8% water content, we have a delicious sticky mixture, called honey!

What is the best type of honey?

The National Honey Board lists some of the major honey varieties according to flower source. Here are some of our favorites:
  • Alfalfa – honey from this flower is white or light amber-colored and is considered good for common, everyday use.
  • Avocado – honey from the flowers of this plant tends to be darker in color and has a rich, buttery taste. Avocado honey is most commonly used in dressings and sauces.
  • Basswood – the honey that is derived from the blossoms of this tree is noted for its watery white color and its biting taste.
  • Blueberry – honey, contrary to popular belief, is not honey with blueberries added. It is actually derived from blueberry flowers. Its color ranges from light amber to amber-colored. It has a full, well-rounded flavor and is great for making sauces and baking.
  • Clover – honey is the variety that most people think of as common, table honey. Its color is white-water to extra light amber, and it has a delicate taste. Clover honey can be subdivided by the types of clover (Red Clover, White Dutch Clover, etc.) from which it is derived. Eucalyptus – honey is as varied as the species of plant from which it comes. It has a wide variety of color and flavor. It is best used in making sauces and dressings, and in baking. Orange Blossom – honey can be pure or mixed with nectar from other nearby citrus flowers, such as lemon and lime. It is highly prized as a table honey and is also often used to bake cakes and cookies.
  • Sage – honey comes in several varieties based on the type of sage flower it comes from. It is white or water-white in color and tastes rather sweet. This type of honey is often served with cheese.
  • Sourwood – this type of honey comes from the sourwood tree, and has a sweet and spicy flavor. It is used as table honey and also in glazes.

The Nutritional Value of Honey

Average Composition of Honey: Honey is primarily fructose (38%), glucose (31%), water (17%), maltose (7%), and small amounts of trisaccharides, other higher carbohydrates, sucrose, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Vitamins: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K. Minerals: Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium. Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc. Antioxidants - enzymatic and non-enzymatic: Catalase, ascorbic acid, flavonoids

About Apitherapy

Apitherapy is the use of honeybee produced substances for health and healing. Honeybees produce honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and beeswax, all of which are used by people for nutrition, immune system support, treatment of a variety of ailments, skin care, and healing of open wounds. Even bee venom is used to treat many chronic conditions. Honey has been used in treating open wounds for centuries. Until the development of antibiotics in the mid-1900s, honey was the primary treatment for wounds on the battlefield. For the next 50 years, the use of honey in wound care, especially in western countries, lost favour. However, in the past 20 years there has been renewed interest in using honey, driven in large part by the concern of the rapid development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Here has been a large number of peer reviewed scientific studies that have shown the efficacy of using honey, particularly manuka honey, in the treatment of severe chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers. Manuka honey is made in New Zealand from the nectar of Manuka flowers (Leptospermum scoparium). It’s the basis of Medihoney, which the FDA approved in 2007 for use in treating wounds and skin ulcers. This kind of honey is famous because it stimulates tissue healing and is sometimes used to treat chronic leg ulcers and pressure sores. Its healing action is largely attributed to what is called “Unique Manuka Factor,” or UMF. Manuka honey can be used to treat nearly all ulcers, fistulas, post-surgical wounds, and abscesses. It is also used to treat non-healing wounds in cancer patients, including those induced by radiation therapy.

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