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The Benefits of Honey

Posted: March 10, 2014

Benefits of the industrious honeybee's pollinator role

Unless you have been living under a rock lately, you most likely know that bees are in trouble due to many diverse factors that scientists are scrambling to unravel. The European honeybee, which is not native to the US, and, to a lesser extent, the bumble bee, are two of the most important pollinators we have, with many crops, including fruits, vegetables and flowers, highly dependent upon their activities.

One of the side benefits of the industrious honeybee's pollinator role is the production of honey – something most other types of bees do not produce in other than small amounts for their own consumption.

As the female honeybee forages for pollen and nectar she fertilizes flowers by transferring pollen from one plant to another; the pollen and nectar she takes back to the hive are the life-blood of the colony. With a little bit of bee magic, the pollen, mixed with a little bit of nectar, becomes bee bread, which is quickly consumed as the daily meal providing protein, vitamins and fats. The nectar is regurgitated from a special storage organ in the bee’s body, fanned to evaporate excess water, and then stored in the honeycomb, capped with wax, to sustain the colony over winter. This honey provides carbohydrates and minerals for the bees and good things for humans.

It was King Solomon who said in all his wisdom "Eat honey – it is good!" Honey is available in many varieties, with colors ranging from light to dark, depending on which flowers the pollen and nectar came from.

It is important to not feed raw honey to infants, due to the small chance of encountering botulism. Cooked foods containing honey are fine.

Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and a long history of medicinal use. Indeed, traces of honey from the Egyptian pyramids have been found in a still edible condition.

Modern scientists have researched many possible medicinal uses for honey. However, claims made for its efficacy in curing or treating various human ailments have not been conclusively proven outside of the laboratory. So, take the advice of King Solomon, and enjoy honey for its good aroma, clarity, and flavor.

 

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Tina Clinefelter

Penn State Master Gardener, Clinton County

Tina shares her 'Dig It!' news column in the the Lock Haven Express newspaper