Honey - the queen of the beehive products
What is Honey and How is it Made?
Honey is a sweet substance made from flower nectar. The bees use it for food during the winter when no flowers are in bloom. Honey bees collect nectar using their long, tube-like tongues to suck the nectar out of the flowers. They store the nectar in their "honey stomachs" as they carry it back to the beehive. Bees actually have two stomachs.
The "honey stomach" is for carrying honey back to the hive. When full, the honey stomach carries a volume of nectar nearly equal to the weight of the bee. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 150 flowers in order to fill their honey stomachs.
During the trip back to the hive, the bee mixes enzymes into the nectar to begin the process of breaking down the complex sugars in the nectar and converting it into honey.
When the foraging field bees return to the hive with their loads of nectar they are greeted by home-based worker bees at the hive. These home-based bees immediately begin receiving the transfer of the nectar load
. The transfer is accomplished tongue to tongue. Once the transfer is complete the recipient bees continue to process the honey by holding it in their mouths and honey stomachs and adding additional enzymes.The tongue to tongue transfer also begins the process of evaporating the water out of the nectar. The recipient bees hold the nect ar on their tongues to let the water evaporate. Nectar is about 80% water. This must be reduced down to about 18% so that it can be converted to honey. The lower moisture level is needed so that the honey can be stored without fermenting. Once some of the water is evaporated on the tongues of the hive bees, the partially dehydrated nectar is placed into open cells where the evaporation process continues by the beating of wings. Once the honey has been properly dehydrated the bees seal the cells.
Beekeepers know that the honey is ready for harvesting when they see sealed honeycomb cells.
Use of Honey For Healing Throughout History
The health benefits of honey have been known for thousands of years. Below are a few examples of how honey has played a part in the healing arts of human civilization:* An ancient Egyptian medical papyrus recommends the use of honey to cure infection and heal wounds.* Cleopatra bathed in milk and honey. Because honey is very low in moisture it is a natural humectant. This means that it attracts and retains moisture, making it an excellent moisturizer for hair and skin.* Honey is the only natural food that never spoils if sealed and kept within natural temperatures. Archeologists found a jar of honey in a tomb in Egypt that tasted fine, even though it was two thousand yea rs old.* The use of honey as an aphrodisiac is mentioned in both The Kama Sutra and its Arabic equivalent, The Perfumed Garden.* The Greek physician Hippocrates, born in 460 BC, is known as the "father of Western Medicine." He is the author of the "Hippocratic Oath," taken by all Western doctors to this day. Hippocrates studied honey and loved its properties. He noted that "[h]oney and pollen cause warmth, clean sores . . . [and] soften hard ulcers . . . ."* The Muslim Quran, at Chapter XVI, entitled The Bee, states: "There proceedeth from their bellies a liquor of various colour, wherein is medicine for men."* Honey is mentioned in the Bible 61 times, including 20 descriptions of Canaan as the "land flowing with milk and honey."
Modern Use of Honey for Healing
In present times the science behind honey's health properties is better understood.] Some of these include the following:
Honey contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
In addition to being a humectants and excellent moisturizer, honey contains vitamins, minerals and amino acids that nourish the skin and hair. Honey contains vitamin C, a number of B vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Honey contains 18 amino aci ds which are the building blocks of all protein and essential to life. Each of these amino acids has specific unique benefits.
Honey Contains Antioxidants
Honey contains powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals and defeat the ability of free radicals to promote aging. Free radicals are atoms that have an "unpaired" electron, and are thus unstable. Free radicals cause damage as they seek to balance their unpaired electrons. They interact with DNA and other molecules in the body. This causes molecular chain reactions that can damag e and eventually kill cells and promote aging.A variety of factors cause the creation of free radicals, including exposure to environmental hazards like secondhand smoke and car exhaust. And free radicals also occur in the body naturally.Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and thus slow down thi aging process by neutralizing free radicals. Honey is rich with antioxidants. A 2004 study conducted by the University of California concluded that honey has levels of antioxidants that compare well with fruits and vegetables that have high levels of antioxidants like spinach, apples, and strawberries.It is important to note that antioxidants are destroyed when honey is heated. For that reason store-bought pasteurized honey will not have the same health benefits. At Honey Girl Organics, we use only our own organically raised raw (unheated) honey in all our products.
Honey Contains Antibacterial and Anti-fungal Agents
In addition to its antioxidant effects, honey is also a well known antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent. It helps disinfect and speed the healing process in wounds, scrapes and burns. Raw honey can be used as a natural antiseptic. The examples above illustrate just a few of the ways honey has played an important role in the arts of beauty and healing throughout human history. At Honey Girl Organics, we are proud to carry on this unique tradition.