Honey Trivia Night is coming up at your local cafe. You already know that there are 300 different honey varietals in the US. Heck, you can even identify them all by their flavor. But you’re nervous. What if you don’t know the honey facts you need to know? Not to worry. We gathered these 5 surprising honey facts to help you take home the gold (or honey).
Honey Fact #1:
It’s Not the Bees Knees, It’s the Bees Nose
Honey bees, which have been around for millions of years, are the only insect that produces food eaten by man. How do they do it? Bees have a terrific sense of smell, relying on 170 odorant receptors, compared with only 62 ORs in fruit flies and 79 mosquitoes.2 By contrast, humans are thought to have about 650 to 900 odor receptor genes. In short, bees can sniff out the flowers, gather the pollen, and make the nectar. Result? It’s heavenly, honey!
Honey Fact #2:
It Takes A Lot of Bees To Make A Little Honey—RESPECT!
A typical bee colony consists of 30,000 to 60,000 bees.1 If that sounds like a big hive, consider that over 50% of the small towns in America have fewer than 25,000 people. Meanwhile, this small town of bees is working like a dog … thank heavens. In one year, a typical beehive can produce anywhere from 30 to 100 pounds of honey. That’s not leading to a honey glut any time soon, though.
Honey Fact #3:
Yes, Bees Do Sleep; No, Honey Never Spoils.
Bees can keep up this pace because they never sleep … or so goes the rumor. Is it true? No … and some beekeepers are very tired of hearing it. Rusty at honeybeesuite.com says, “We like to think of bees as ‘super-human’ so we ascribe all sorts of unnatural behaviors to them—including the rumor that they don’t sleep. But bees are so unusual and amazing anyway that we can—and should—dispense with this myth. So get over it! Honeybees sleep.”
Only a few foods keep indefinitely in their raw state: salt, sugar, dried rice …and—the longevity champion—raw honey. Honey’s longevity evolves from its chemical make-up (sugar), its low moisture, and its high acidity. But that’s just the beginning. The secret ingredient derives from the magic of honeybees. First, they remove unwanted moisture from the nectar by flapping their wings to dry it. Then they mix the nectar with their own stomach enzymes to produce nature’s hyper germicidal agent, hydrogen perioxide.5 Properly stored, honey will not spoil: A pot of honey found in an ancient Egyptian tomb was proved to be as wholesome as fresh honey. 1
Honey Fact #4:
We Eat Honey and We “Take” Honey; It’s All Good.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine at NIH notes that, since ancient times, honey has been showing up in the world’s medical literature. In particular, honey has been known for its antimicrobial and wound-healing properties. Experts credit the antimicrobial activity in most honey to the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. In addition, honey maintains a moist wound, while its high viscosity builds a protective barrier to infection.
Medical Daily3 cites benefits of using honey for such health issues as allergies, memory loss, low energy, coughs, trouble sleeping, dandruff, and wound and burn treatment. Medical News Today4 adds treatment of stomach ulcers, while OrganicFacts.net cites weight loss, increased athletic performance, and skin care benefits. Notably, allergy relief claims are based on the notion that local honey contains pollen, which helps the sufferer build allergy resistance to pollen.
When it comes to health, not all honey is created equal. NIH notes that medical grade honey boasts potent in vitro (test tube) bactericidal activity. On the other hand, there is a large variation in the antimicrobial activity of natural honeys.
Honey Fact #5:
Bees ‘R “In.”
People in “the know” shelter, nurture, and protect bees. Hats off to these dedicated bee proponents:
- Michelle Obama has a colony to pollinate her organic garden.
- Leonardo Di Caprio took up beekeeping to handle stress before the 2016 Oscars.
- Oprah Winfrey brought her personal beekeeper onto her show several times.
- Matt Damon was made an honorary member of the British Beekeepers’ Association.
- Martha Stuart has her own bees and a private beekeeper.
- Morgan Freeman converted his 124-acre Mississippi ranch into a sanctuary for his 26 bee colonies.
- Samuel Jackson presented Scarlett Johansson with a beehive as a wedding gift.
And there, my friend, is your refresher on honey facts.
Be sweet and share it with some friends. And go out there and plant some bee friendly plants!
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