facts and myths about honey

25 Honey Facts and Myths You Probably Didn’t Know

Honey being a very essential part of human agriculture, is perhaps one of the most talked about substances and as such so many myths surrounding it has sprung up. Below is a list of facts and myths about honey.

MYTHS

All species of bees produce honey:

This is probably the most accepted myth about bees and honey. The percentage of species of bees that produce honey is actually a very small number compared to the total number of different species of bees known to man. Not that other bee species do not make honey, only the honeybees and the stingless bees make enough honey to really matter from the perspective of human consumption.

Bees do not need honey to survive:

Another very common myth is that bees, the sole producers of honey do not need to live on honey to survive. Contrary to that, bees cannot survive without honey, a beehive needs about 25lbs in amount of honey to survive the winter. Honey is a source of energy to bees and without it, they would not be able to perform their daily activities.

Crystallized honey is spoilt honey:

Crystallization is nature’s way of preserving honey, the reason for crystallization is largely due to the composition of honey. Honey contains natural sugars that have been processed by the bees and 20 percent of water. The glucose separates from the water to form crystals because of the saturation of the honey. After crystallization, the honey still remains the same and is still rich in nutrients. You will be able to enjoy it after it thaws.

Honey that is foamy and isn’t a light brown color has gone bad:

To a very large extent, the color of honey is dependent on the flower the bees suck the nectar from, the taste and scent also depends on the flower. Soil, climate, and region also go a long way in determining the color and scent of honey. Warmer temperatures, the type of storage method and age will also play a role in darkening the color of honey. The foamy substance that appears to float at the top of honey Is just air, tiny air bubbles escape to the top of the honey to coat its surface, so if you see a foamy substance floating atop your honey, do not be afraid for it is just escaped air.

Table sugar and sweeteners are more delicious and healthier than honey:

Raw honey is a combination of free fructose and free glucose and also sucrose, sugar on the other hand is basically just sucrose and has one molecule each of fructose and glucose which essentially makes honey the sweeter of the two. Honey also contains numerous healthy nutrients like vitamins and minerals that aren’t present in table sugar effectively making honey healthier. While using honey and sugar, you get a better taste and result from using less honey than you would using more sugar.

Honey never spoils:

This is the most popular myth about honey, many people believe honey can last forever which is technically true. “I’ve had the bottle of honey since I graduated high school 14 years ago and it still tastes delicious whenever I take a lick” says Mrs. Florence. While Mrs. Florence has the right to feel that honey does last forever, she probably would have disagreed if she left the jar opened for an extended period of time. Honey like mostly everything edible in the world will readily soak moisture if exposed to it and that is what spoils the honey. If you store honey properly, it can actually last forever.

Children should not eat honey:

You’ve probably been warned by your neighbor who saw you feeding your child honey not to continue the practice as it isn’t healthy for children. There is no truer fallacy, honey is one of the healthiest form of sugar on the planet and it is a very good replacement for sugary snacks. Is your child craving for a snack? Give them some honey!

Honey is filled with different bacteria:

After testing in the laboratory, honey has been shown to have antibacterial and antioxidant abilities. It also helps to reduce the growth of food borne pathogens like salmonella. Honey can also be used to fight some bacteria like staphylococcus and pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The processing, production and storage of honey accounts for the presence of bacteria and other microorganisms. Many of these microorganisms are basically inactive due to the antibiotic, peroxide content, hygroscopic and hypersomolaric properties in honey.

Only bees make honey:

You’re probably very surprised right now to be reading this. When you think of bees and honey, you don’t ever consider that other insects produce honey in any reasonable quantity. But here is a shocker, other insects apart from bees produce honey. The Mexican honey wasp is a great producer of honey on a very large scale almost like the honeybees or stingless bees. This insects who are a very close cousin to bees produce honey and act basically like bees but they honey produced is likely to be poisonous due in no small part to the types of flowers they visit for nectar.

Filtered honey is not as authentic as unfiltered honey:

When you request raw unfiltered honey, you find some grains and foamy substance in the honey (pollen grains, wax, air bubbles etc.). These substances are extraneous in nature and do not necessarily give the honey added nutrients, sometime, they could even be a nuisance when licking the honey. Filtered honey is honey that has gone through filtration which is done to remove extraneous particles and gives a clear liquid. It should be noted that the filtered honey is just as good as the raw honey direct from the hive.

Honey on metal is destructive to the metal:

This myth like the “honey never spoils” myth is partially true. Honey having a certain percent of acidity can corrode metals. But that is if the metals have had long continuous exposure to the honey. It is advised that honey be stored in non-metallic containers to avoid them corroding. You can safely scoop honey with your teaspoon without it having any effects as long as it doesn’t stay too long in the honeypot.

It is suicide for a bee to sting:

This is another very popular myth about honeybees. It is believed that when a bee stings an animal or a person, it leaves behind its barb. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, it isn’t exactly true either, at least not many cases. What really happens is; whenever a honeybee stings a person or an animal which is very rarely, the stinger which is the barb is lodged in the victim’s skin, tearing the bee’s abdomen from the bee since the barb is a part of the bee’s abdomen. The bee dies few minutes after it loses its abdomen. In some cases, the barb or stinger doesn’t get stuck in the skin which means that the bee wouldn’t die if it can its barb out of the victim’s skin without losing its abdomen in the process. The chances of a bee getting its barb stuck is dependent on the relative hardness of the victim’s skin. Therefore, if a victim has a very soft or moderately soft skin, the bees stinger/barb wouldn’t get stuck in the skin allowing the bee a second chance at life.

FACTS

Honey is a very fascinating substance, due to its genetic make-up, many theories and myths have risen about it. Below are some facts that will help clear out any related honey doubts you might have.

Honey never spoils if stored properly:

There is a popular myth that honey never spoils, but it actually does spoil if exposed for a long time. It begins to lose its color and soak in moisture that will eventually make it inedible to man. But well stored honey is practically immortal, having a lifespan of… eternity. Honey’s immortal quality is mainly due to the fact that bees have a special enzyme in their stomachs that acts upon the swallowed nectar and breaks it down into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide helps to prevent the growth of bacteria in the honey.

Honey is the only edible substance produced by any insect that is known to man:

Of all the diverse millions of insects on the planet, bees are the only insects that produce substance man can comfortably eat without any side effects.

Honey is medicinal:

for hundreds of years, honey has been used medicinally. Due to its anti-bacterial properties, it can be used for treating cuts, infections, ulcers etc. a very interesting quality of honey is the fact that It has every single nutrient needed to keep man alive e.g. water, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that give the body the needed energy. If you’re familiar with the importance of antioxidants in the human body, your appreciation of honey would increase. Antioxidants are very effective at improving the functions of the brain

There are different flavours of honey:

Honey comes in different varieties due largely to the region the bees are located, the type of flowers pollinated etc. common honey flavours include; buckwheat, clover honey, and even eucalyptus honey that has a slight menthol flavor. A beautiful thing about honey is; they don’t just gather nectar from just one type of flower, they move from flower to flower pollinating as they go.

People used to bath in honey:

Long ago, wealthy men bought gallons of honey to bath in and some were even known to be buried in honey. After hundreds of years, candid bodies were dug up and taken in as medicine. Alexander the great was said to have been embalmed with honey and since honey was very expensive and scarce, it was a great pride that he was among those that embalmed themselves in honey.

Honey history:

honey is said to have been in existence for thousands of years, the existence of honey is as old as the honeybees themselves. Beekeepers have been around for so long, it is difficult to keep track of the first set of bee keepers. It is estimated that beekeeping has been practiced since 700 B.C. during the early years of human history, honey has been used for medicinal purposes, housewives were said to have used honey for conception.

Honey is good for dental care:

scientists have found through research that, raw unprocessed honey provides protection for the tooth against tooth decay. Due to the presence of hydrogen peroxide in nonlethal amounts found in honey, it helps to fight periodontal disease and gingivitis which are inflammatory conditions brought about by infected gums. Raw honey also helps to reduce the amount of acid created by bacteria present in the mouth that are responsible for tooth decay. Honey will also help battle infections of the gum and reduces swelling.

Honey provides energy without the hassle caffeine brings:

Taking a bottle of coke provides you with a certain amount of energy, likewise drinking a cup of coffee. But continued intake of these substances maybe harmful over a period of time. Honey provides a suitable solution for the problem of caffeine while still providing energy.

Builds your immune system:

The immune system is vital to staying healthy, it helps to fight off disease and bacteria that would otherwise cause imbalance if left unchecked. There are so many substances that can be taken to help build and improve the immune system, many of which are very expensive e.g. coconut oil. Honey compared to this substances helps to facilitate the production of immune cells present in the body, improving their work rate and durability. With stronger immune system, you’re rest assure that your visit to the clinic is cut short drastically. With the help of the probiotic bacteria present in honey, it remains the cheapest and readily available means of boosting or immune system and keeping us healthy.

Honey isn’t just exclusive to bees:

it might surprise you that the bees are not the only insects that produces the much desired honey. There are about 7 different species of Apis honey bee on the planet, all of which are a native of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The western honeybees are those bees that are globally recognized as the real “honey bees”. But as nature would have it, they aren’t the only makers of honey. A variety of other insects like the wasps ants also convert nectar to honey. Other species of bees also make honey, like the bumble bee and the carpenter bee, but unlike the honeybees, they do not produce honey in any real usable amount hence their apparent obscurity. Another insect not related to the bee family and still make honey is the “honey pot bee”, they not only produce honey, they also make a delicious syrupy substance called “honeydew”.

Advantages of bees feeding:

When forager bees are sent out to look for sources of nectar, they do not just collect pollen to make honey, they inadvertently pollinate crops and nearby flowers that eventually end up producing almost one third of food eaten in America. Numerous plants depend on plants to help with pollination, if the pollinating action of the bees were removed, the economy of the United States will be greatly affected as pollination plays a very vital role in the country’s agricultural development.

In some religion, honey is considered a divine substance.

The earliest reference to the use of honey is said to be Egyptian, around 5500BC. The ancients considered divine and it was linked with nectar and ambrosia which were said to be drip from the world tree and were offered to the gods. In the Christian religion, it is believed that the Promised Land is filled with milk and honey. In ancient Egypt, honey was among – if not – the most popular medication of their time. It appeared over 500 times in the 900 supposed remedies that were known to the ancient Egyptians.

Honey productivity:

So much work goes into the production of honey in relation to the scale in which it is harvested. In recent years, honey has been made readily available to the general public. The consumers of honey have taken for granted the amount of work that goes into its production. To produce about a pound of honey, over 2 million nectar producing flowers must be visited. An average bee produces just one twelfth of a tablespoon of honey in its lifetime which may last for about 6 weeks in a busy season. One colony of honeybees may produce 60 to 100 pounds a year. If you do the maths, you would realize the sheer amount of work the bees must go through day in day out to produce honey in any great quantity. Whenever you want to use honey to make your tea, think about that before you empty the whole bottle of honey just to make a sizable cup of tea.

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