By Linda Mix, Author of Herbs for Life!
Honeybees are some of the cleanest insects alive. Bees usually live in boxes called hives that are specially built to raise the bees and maximize the production of honey. “Bees are hard workers, flying many miles to gather pollen. An average-size hive can contain 25,000-30,000 bees, all working together to produce honey in six-sided cylinders, called comb. In fact, it takes a bee her whole lifetime just to make one-twelfth teaspoon of honey,” says Rick Watson, of R & BBeeworks. “So you can imagine the work that goes into making just one pound of honey.”
As a nutritive sweetener, a tablespoon of honey contains about 68 calories of the simple sugars glucose and fructose. Although it is more easily and quickly digested than sugar, the calories still have to be accounted for in the diet. However, since it is about twice as sweet as sugar in taste, use ¼ to ½ less honey. Honey also contains pollen, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, organic acids, various proteins and a little water. The exact contents vary, depending on where and what kind of pollen is gathered. “Generally speaking, the color of the honey can give an indication of flavor and nutrients. Color can range from nearly white, or clear, to dark brown, depending on the type of pollen from which it was gathered. Generally, the darker honey is more robust, or strong, in flavor, with slightly more minerals and nutrients than lighter honey,” Rick says.
Never give honey to a child under one year, as his/her immune system has not yet developed enough. Also, be aware that much of the honey in stores may not be pure honey. Often it has been ultra-filtered, heated and pasteurized, thus negating much of the benefits. Be sure to obtain honey from a reputable, local beekeeper to be sure you are getting raw, unpasteurized honey. Although they may use some traditional filtration methods to remove wax and debris, plenty of pollen is still left to prove it is authentic honey.
Recent studies show honey loaded with antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also boosts the immune system and helps heal wounds. For allergies, take a teaspoonful of honey morning and night. Make sure the honey has been made within 10 to 20 miles of where you live. It will contain pollen from the plants you tend to be allergic to. Taking honey is like getting allergy shots, but a lot less painful!
Honey can be mixed with other ingredients in overall health treatments. Honey and apple cider vinegar mixed in water help change the body’s pH to alkaline. Honey and cinnamon are used to treat a variety of ailments, such as colds and flu, fatigue, upset stomach, bladder infections and arthritis. Used topically, honey and cinnamon kill most harmful bacteria.
Apitherapy, or bee venom therapy, is the practice of purposely letting bees sting different places on the body to systemically treat such illnesses as arthritis, bursitis, stiff muscles, multiple sclerosis, lupus, scleroderma and chronic fatigue syndrome, to name a few.
Honey mixed with salt or sugar makes a good body scrub. Mixed with a little lemon juice, honey acts as a cleansing mask. Equal parts of honey and milk, applied to the face for ten minutes, is a good moisturizer.
Bees in your bonnet?
A bee is not out to harm you. If one lands on you, simply hold still and wait for it to fly away. It will only sting if it feels threatened or gets tangled in your hair. If you get stung, remove the stinger, if necessary, then moisten the site and sprinkle meat tenderizer on it. In ten minutes remoisten and apply more meat tenderizer if needed.
“If you find bees in a building or a tree, do not try to kill them – it is a waste of good bees and honey. Call a beekeeper or an expert in the removal of bees,” says Rick. Most of the time they can remove the bees to a better location so the bees can be productive, doing what they do best –