Raw Honey - What does this mean?
Let’s begin with the Bees… They make the honey after all.People get annoyed with flying insects. Honeybees are different though. Yes they are bugs, related to wasps, but we benefit from them immensely. Bees can be found in just about any corner of this world, with the exception of one which is Antarctica. I think you can guess why that is. Bees of all varieties and no matter where they are live on nectar and pollen. With today’s technological advancements you could say that pollination is possible but it would be very time consuming. Without bees, transferring those pollen grains, pollination would be extremely difficult. An estimate shows that without this process more than one third of our food supply could be gone because it depends on pollination that much. Think about that for a second. Are all bees the same? No.
Honeybees come in three types:
- The Queen Bee. Each hive has only one queen. She is the mother to all the bees in that hive as she is the only fertile member of the colony. She is busy though because she does lay about 1500 eggs per day in the spring and summer. Feature wise the queen bee is more distinguished with a longer abdomen but smaller wings. She will go out and mate with a dozen or so male bees (drones) over a three days period and then she retires into the hive to lay the eggs. Unless the colony swarms forcing her to look for a new home she will stay in the hive.
- Drone Bees. These are the male bees and they only job they have is to mate with the queen or queens from other hives. Yes very tough job they have. If they cannot even do the one job they are set to do then they live up to 90 days which is about twice as long as the hard working worker bee.
- Worker bees. These are the familiar bees you and I see most of the time. They make up for the biggest part of the colony population. All worker bees are lady bees an there are a lot of them because they do almost everything for the hive. They live for 45 days and from start to finish they are responsible for feeding the little newborn bees (lavrae). tending to the queen (of course), cleaning the hive, and most importantly collecting the food. They also are in charge of guarding the colony (you would think the drone could pick up the slack here) and finally they are the ones responsible for building the honeycomb. The worker bee has a stinger and it is used only as self defense to protect her self or the hive. Her stinger will get stuck in the skin and she will eventually die as the tries to tear her self away (add that sacrifice to her list of chores). Surprising to many, honeybees are very gentle and they don’t want to die any more than you want to be stung. If you try to be nice to them, they’ll always be nice to you.
PolinationPollination is the movement of pollen from the anthers of a flower to the stigma of the same or a different flower. This process results in fertilization, and sexual reproduction of the plant to produce seeds. Hundreads of important crops are pollinated by the honey bees. This includes many of the fruits and vegetables that we eat, but also a number of important crops such as nuts, herbs, spices oilseed crops, forage for dairy and beef cattle, as well as medicinal and numerous ornamental plants. Even plants that are not grown for their fruits require pollination in order to propagate them by seed. Honey bees add an estimated $15 billion to the U.S. economy each year in increased crop yields (Let that one sink in too).
To conclude this section about the bees, here are 5 facts about bees that should get you buzzing! #SaveTheBees
- Our Food Systems Depend Upon Bees
- Bees fly an average of 55,000 miles to produce one pound of honey
- Bees have invented a dance (watch the waggle dance video below)
- The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
- Bees Are In Trouble. We need to help them for our own good. Almost one-third of the honeybees in the United States have died in the last few years.
By definition: Honey is a substance produced by bees from the nectar of plants
According to research by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and published in the Bee Culture Magazine in March 2019 it suggested that the U. S. Honey Industry worth $4.74 BILLION.
The research finds the American appetite for honey is growing.
Honey is not just purchased raw in a bottle it is used in several other categories such as: Cereal & Bars, Bakery, Spreads, Beverages, Alcoholic Beverages, and Sweeteners.
Honey can be traced back to 7000BC where cave paintings depict beekeeping but fossils of honey bees themselves date back to 150 million years. What? That is just crazy. Most early civilizations such as the Greeks and Egyptians prized honey for all of its medicinal properties. Beyonds its sweet taste this liquid gold has century-old benefits used to this very day.
Now most of us these days think of the sweet tasty substance in a variety of cute jars and packaging all over the local supermarkets. Regular honey involves several more steps before it is bottled. The honey goes through a pasteurization and filtration process. Pasteurization is a process that destroys the yeast found in honey by applying high heat. So during this what comes out is a lighter and cleaner product (because of the filtration which removes debris and air bubbles so that it says a clear liquid longer). A product that now is easy to spread with a knife on a piece of bread for example but the truth is that after this particular process most of the medicinal benefits of honey are lost.
So this honey that we are all used to is not what we call “Raw Honey”
Raw Honey can be best described as it exists in the beehive.
This means that the honey is filtered by the beekeeper in order to get rid of the little pieces of debris that may be in there as well as the beeswax, pollen and even parts of dead bees.
Here are the Top 5 Benefits of Raw Honey:
- It’s a great source of antioxidants
- It has antibacterial and antifungal properties
- It’s packed with phytonutrients
- It’s known for healing wounds, helping with digestive issues and soothe a sore throat.
- It also has anti-inflammatory effects and pain-relieving properties.
All these directly coming specifically from the bee pollen in the Honey that pasteurization unfortunately removes. It is always good to check out your local farmer’s market or grocery store and see if they carry local honey to support your local beekeepers and farms. If you do not have that option now worries! As always Amazon comes to the rescue where you can find a plethora of Raw Honey Products.
In Greek mythology we learn that Zeus, the god of gods, was raised on honey!
Greece is a small country but despite that when it comes to bee hives per acre Greece produces more than any other nation in Europe.
The reason is that the multifariousness of the Greek landscape translates to vast variety of honey. The Greek honey is unique since each particular property and flavor varies based on the time of the year or the area of pollination. In particular, the island of Samos is one of those unique locations ideal for bees. The majority of honey is pine honey. The bees collect a very sweet and sticky liquid called honeydew from the trees which gives a very unique and even stickier texture to the honey.
Samos’s un-mixed floral varieties of honey come from coniferous trees and plants such as thyme. Speaking of that I would like to point out that thyme honey is unique and only found in Greece.
Mixed flowers grow in abundance as well all over the Greek hilltops, mountains and few flat spots on the coasts. You will find plenty of wild herbs, lavender, oregano, mint, and chamomile growing almost year long and the bees thrive around those varieties.
Greek honeys are richer in aromatic substances, compared to other honeys produced in other countries; they have less humidity, which means they are denser and richer.
A combination of all these facts make Greek honey be some of the finest honey in the world.
More facts about Greek Honey:
- About 65% of all Greek honey is pine honey
- In Greek “Mele” is the word for honey…. And “Melissa” is the word for honey bee.
- The Greeks used honey which was the predominant sweetener in that time for the preparation of sweets and delicacies which made honey very popular in ancient Greece. Honey, grapes, and olives are the cornerstone of the Greek cuisine.
You can find several Greek Raw Honey Products on Amazon as well.
Does raw honey go bad?
Honey is certainly a superfood. If it’s stored in the right conditions, it can practically last for several years. As long as the lid stays on it and no water is added to it, honey will not go bad.
However… with that said–if you do leave it out, unsealed in a humid environment, it will spoil. The National Honey Board, says that most honey products have a shelf life of about two years. That just means that it may crystallize over time, get a bit darker and it just won’t be as tasty if it’s sitting there for years.
Nutrition is talked about a lot too because honey naturally contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals such as:
|Amount per 1 tbsp (21 g)|
|% Daily Value|
|Added Sugars||0g||34.00% †|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice. † One serving adds 17g of sugar to your diet and represents 34% of the Daily Value for Added Sugars.|