It is believed that honey history dated as far back as 10 to 20 million years ago and the practice of beekeeping to produce honey, apiculture, dates back to at least 700 BC. In ancient times, Eygptians sacrificed honey by the tons to their river gods, Roman legions slathered honey on the wounds as a natural cure to promote healing, and medieval lords reserved honey for their private use. It’s told that the body of Alexander the Great was preserved and embalmed with honey. As honey was then expensive and not all could afford it. Its use in cooking was reserved only for the wealthy. And ancient myths and writings on alcoholic beverages throughout the world also contain references to mead, or honey wine, which is known as the world’s oldest fermented beverage.
The biblical history also contains honey facts related to its benefits and goodness. Honey, a delicacy fit for the kings and queens!
When refined sugar made from sugar cane came along, it provided a relatively inexpensive alternative form of sweetening and began to displace honey for culinary use. The benefits of honey since then became more focused on its medicinal properties and its use in fine gourmet and confectionery. Today, the word “honey” has gone beyond its association with its benefits as a food and has crept deep into many cultures and languages.
AMAZING FACTS…ABOUT HONEYBEES
1. Did you know that bees have 4 wings?
2. The honeybee’s wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.
3. A bee flies at a rate of about 12 miles per hour.
4. How many eyes does a honeybee have? Five.
5. The queen bee is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength. She will lay about 1,000 to 1,500 eggs per day.
6. In the cold winter months, bees will leave the hive only to take a short cleansing flight. They are fastidious about the cleanliness of their hive.
7. Honeybees do not die out over the winter. They feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months and patiently wait for spring. They form a tight cluster in their hive to keep the queen and themselves warm.
8. It takes 35 pounds of honey to provide enough energy for a small colony of bees to survive the winter.
9. Honeybee colonies have unique odors that members flash like identification cards at the hive’s front door. All the individual bees in a colony smell enough alike so that the guard bees can identify them.
AMAZING FACTS…ABOUT THE WORK OF THE HONEYBEE
1. The honeybee is not born knowing how to make honey; the younger bees are taught by the more experienced ones.
2. A honeybee visits between 50 and 100 flowers during one collection flight from the hive.
3. In order to produce 1 pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited.
4. A hive of bees must fly 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey.
5. One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year.
6. An average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
7. At the peak of the honey-gathering season, a strong, healthy hive will have a population of approximately 50,000 bees.
8. It would take approximately 1 ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
9. Honey is the primary food source for the bee. The reason honeybees are so busy collecting nectar from flowers and blossoms is to make sufficient food stores for their colony over the winter months. The nectar is converted to honey by the honeybee and stored in the wax honeycomb.
THREE KEY VALUABLE HONEY PROPERTIES
1. Honey is Hygroscopic – honey has a hygroscopic nature, which means when exposed to air, it naturally absorbs moisture in from the air. In treating open wounds, honey is useful as it could help prevent scarring by keeping the skin moist, encourage the growth of new tissues, and allow easy removal of any dressing by preventing dressing from becoming stuck to the skin. Honey’s hygroscopic properties also make it an ideal ingredient in a lot of cosmetics as it helps keep skin hydrated and fresh and prevents drying. Thus, some people call honey a natural “humectant” as it attracts and retains moisture. When used in skin and hair treatments, honey traps and seals in the moisture leaving skin soft and supple, and hair glossy and healthy.
2. Honey is Antibacterial – researchers began to document the healing properties of honey in the early part of the 20th century. This ceased with the development of antibiotics but recently the development of resistance to antibiotics has led to a resurgence of interest into the healing properties of honey. The effective antimicrobial agent in honey prohibits the growth of certain bacteria. It contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide which is believed to be the main reason for the antimicrobial activity of honey. As such, honey is a useful treatment for wounds and scalds. Cuts, abrasions and scalds can be covered in honey to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and promote healing. Honey can help treat minor acne by attacking the bacteria that cause the outbreaks while moisturizing the skin to aid rejuvenation. Types of honey differ greatly in their antimicrobial potency, varying as much as a hundredfold. Honey derived from the Manuka bush, found in abundance in New Zealand, claims the highest potency of such antimicrobial properties.
3. Honey is a Source of Antioxidants – honey contains natural antioxidant properties than can destroy biologically destructive chemical agents which have been linked to many diseases such as cancer. Studies also found that dark-color honeys such as Buckwheat seem to possess more antioxidants than light-color varieties. Not only could honey’s antioxidants help to eliminate free radicals in the body, they are also part of the nutrient supply for growth of new tissue. These precious honey properties help protect the skin under the sun and help the skin to rejuvenate and stay young-looking. As such, there have been an increasing number of manufacturers of honey skincare products such as sunscreens and facial cleansing products for treating damaged or dry skin.