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Our blog article “How can this bee?” explained why bees are essential to the survival of our planet. We now take a glance at how bees make honey and the science behind honey.
Honey is our oldest source of natural sweetness and exceptionally intense in energy. It can be consumed straight away without preparation (and without an expiration date), making it a highly valuable food product for us.
Honeybees collect the sugar-rich nectar of flowers within their environment. Once nestled away inside the beehive, they repeatedly consume, digest, and regurgitate the nectar to create a sticky liquid honey which is then stored as food for themselves. The colour, scent and taste of the honey depends upon the types of flowers visited. Comfrey, sunflowers, salix, catmint, hellebores, spring blossom, heathers, and wallflowers, are all popular flowers with worker honeybees providing the highest pollen and nectar rewards.
Honeybees perform a ‘waggle dance’ to communicate to other worker bees with when they find a great source of pollen or nectar. One honeybee on your flowers could attract many more.
If you are creating a wildlife garden be mindful to plant single flowers, as honeybees and other pollinating insects all appreciate single flowers. Double flowers, usually with extra petals and larger petals make it very difficult for honeybees to reach the all-important pollen and nectar.
The science behind honey
Honey sales within the UK have risen rapidly due to the popularity of buying local honey. There are several benefits to honey.
Firstly, honey is a lower Glycemic Index (GI) alternative to refined sugar. It is a natural sweetener, with approximately 40% fructose and 30% glucose, plus water, pollen and other vitamins and trace minerals.
Secondly, studies have shown honey’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to be an effective treatment for minor burns and wounds. The ancient Egyptians used medicinal honey regularly making ointment to treat skin and eye conditions.
And finally, honey contains bioactive plant compounds and is rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown antioxidants can help to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.