Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
present for
 National Honey Month


Cartoon, Information, History and some Recipes.


Click the player to hear "Flight of the Bumble Bee"

 

Honey Origin

The name "honey" comes from Hebrew and means "enchant." It is used both as a culinary sweetener; but many also consider it for healing and medicinal treatments.

Honey goes back 150 million years. It is  indicated in the Egyptian hieroglyphics. It shows up in the Hittite code. Honey was used in most households as a sweetening agent. The Egyptians really valued honey and  used it as a tribute or payment; or, to feed sacred animals. In India, it's seen in their sacred writings known as the Vedas.

 In fact, it is mentioned in the bible in the Old Testament indicating that the best place to live is in a "land of milk and honey." A that time it meant the area known today as Palestine and Israel. (I know with all the fighting it doesn't seem like the ideal spot to live does it?)  Honey was held in high esteem by people of all races years ago. The Romans and Greeks referred to it as food fit for the gods. Some feel ambrosia is honey. One Greek custom was to offer honey to the Gods and to dead spirits. They also made a honey wine called mead. The Norsemen also wrote about its wonders. Around the 11th Century, German beer was sweetened with honey. Honey was so revered,  that  German peasants were required to give their feudal lords a payment of honey and beeswax. By the time the American colonies were set up in the 17th Century, honey was used for many things: food preparation, in  beverages, in cement, to preserve fruits, as an ingredient in furniture polish and varnish and for medicinal purposes. (See below "Honey for Healing")

In early times, wild honey was used. The bees stored their honey in hollow trees and rock crevices. As the supply got limited, man learned to produce honey in greater quantities with honey farms today. Today, most of our honey comes from bee farmers.  In the middle of the 19th century, L.L. Langstroth (Philadelphia) invented a movable frame hive. Ten or more frames fit closely into the hive. This increased honey production throughout the US. Today, it is estimated that there are five billion colonies of  bees in this country (wild and raised).

The Life and Trials of Honey Bees

"To bee or not to bee" a bee that is.  You've heard the saying, "You think you're the queen bee?" In the case of honey bees, it's best to be the queen.  Why?  Bees are social and have a rank society. The queen bee is the only bee that is fully sexually developed and the biggest of the entire colony. Everyone waits on her every need.  In this society, they like chubby women! How long does the Queen Bee reign?  The beekeeper usually picks a new queen every year.  They get their queens from a bee breeder. The beekeeper replaces the queen because she has either died, is diseased or is no longer producing the correct pheramones to attract the males for mating and who knows what else!

Bees that are not domesticated, will raise a new queen if one is needed.  Often, the bees will create multiple supercedure cells and then destroy them all but one.  Or, the first queen to hatch will kill off her competition (aka the other queens) in their cells.  The queen bee lives much longer than the drones or worker bees do.  It's possible for a queen bee to live up to 2 or 3 years.

    The drones are the male bees whose sole purpose in life is to have sex (mate) with the queen.  They do not have any stingers.  Good thing, huh?  Mating with the queen bee could get a bit ouchy otherwise. And, this is all the drones do. Drones to do not go out and forage for honey. Drones live approximately 4-6 weeks also, unless they die sooner due to mating. You see, once a drone mates, he then dies. The only other way a drone might die is by being killed by the workers bees.

It's the poor worker bees that have it the hardest of all. The workers are all females, who are thin and under-developed sexually.  (See, thin is not in, with bees!) So they can't mate.  But, they do have stingers!   The worker bees'  job is  apparently to work, work, work. Basically that means to go get the pollen and nectar for the comb, and/or fan their wings to keep the nest cool.  They live (approximately)  about 4-6 weeks, but it's a hard life. 

The technical name for the basic  honey bee is apis mellifera.  They do have various species, which are then named with an additional sub-species name (i.e. Apis Mellifera Carnica.)  A colony will have about 50,000 bees.  The worker bee will visit about 50 to 100 flowers per trip. In the honeybee's short lifespan, she will only make about 1/12 teaspoon of honey.  It takes a total of 2 million flowers to produce 1 lb. of honey.  

When a worker bee spots a good source for pollen and nectar, she'll fly back to the nest and let the other bees know about it. How? This is what is known as that special "bee dance" in which the drone will inform the others the location and distance to the newly discovered source.

What makes a bee buzz?  Honey bees have 4 wings which stroke approximately 11,400 times per minute, creating the buzz we know so well.

There are approximately 211,600 beekeepers in the US today, with over 3 million commercial honey producing colonies.  Utah is called the Beehive State.

Honey Chemistry and Types

The simple components of honey are fructose and glucose (sugars), plus water, pollen, organic acids and various proteins. The food chemists define honey honey as the nectar and saccharine exudations of plants, gathered, modified and stored in the comb by honeybees.  The flavor of honey all depends on which flower (plant) the bee gathered the nectar. There's a wide variety of bee honey. But here are some of the more popular:
Cotton Blossom Honey = Alabama
Cover Honey, Lima Bean Blossoms, Star Thistle, Orange Blossoms and Mountain Lilac = California
Mangrove & Palm Honey = Florida
Galberry Honey = Georgia
Clethra Honey = Massachusetts
Buckwheat, Locust, and Raspberry Honey = New York
Horsemint and Mesquite Honey = Texas
Wildflower Honey = Cuba
Linden and Pie Honey = Czechoslovakia
Clover and Heather Honey = England
Wide Variety of Flower Honey and Lavender Honey = France
Rose Honey = Greece
Coffee Plantation Honey - Guatemala
Acacia Honey = Hungary
Black Locust Honey = Italy
Flower Honey = Palestine
Eucalyptus and White Gum Honey = Australia

to name a few!

Honey is sold either as comb honey or extracted honey. Both are delicious and may be used interchangeably. Comb honey is difficult to ship and therefore not as easy to get as the extracted variety, which can be shipped long distances and stored for long periods of time without deterioration. 

Honey Cooking Tips

Honey does take up moisture quickly. So, fruit cakes, steamed puddings, cookies and candies stay moist longer if you use honey instead of sugar. But, some other candies and frostings, if made with honey, will take up too much moisture and become too soft and gooey making them not too appetizing. Extracted honey  contains water which does affect the amount of liquid used in a recipe when honey is substituted for sugar.  The liquid must be reduced, however, more than the difference between water content of the honey and dry sugar; and, also according to the consistency of the honey and the proportion used.

For example: If Medium-thick honey is substituted for one-half the sugar in cake or quick-bread recipes, then reduce the liquid by one-fourth. If honey is substituted for all the sugar, reduce the liquid by one-half. If honey is very thin or very thick, this proportion may have o be adjusted. In making honey cakes and quick breads, combine the honey with the liquid called for in the recipe and bake at the lowest temperature possible. This prevents loss or change of flavor of the honey and also avoids too rapid browning.

Honey has about the same consistency as molasses, and can also be used to replace it, measure for measure. It also contains less acid than molasses does, so baking soda isn't needed. As far as baking powder goes, add one teaspoon of baking powder for each one-quarter teaspoon of baking soda that you omitted.

Honey Storage

Honey should be stored in a dry place.  Lower temperatures will cause the honey to become partly cloudy and partially crystallize.  Most honey will show crystallizing upon aging. It doesn't mean you have to toss it out. You can easily re-liquify it by warming the container in moderately hot water (not above 140F). Higher temperatures will destroy the flavor and color of the honey.

Honey for Healing

 Treatment with honey is called apitherapy,  which includes replenishing energy, enhancing physical stamina and improving immune systems. Honey is also considered to have a calming effect on the mind and promotes sleep. Honey also helps indigestion and has sometimes been used to treat cardiovascular disease and respiratory complaints. A thin coat of honey can be applied on the skin to disinfect and heal minor skin wounds and chapped lips.

 Pliny observed that honey mixed with fish oil constituted a splendid healing lotion. This was obsolete for a long time, until recently when it was tested and was found that if you mixed honey and cod-liver oil, it indeed was an effective healing agent for minor wounds, burns and skin eruptions. Spread the honey directly on the wound and cover with a sterile bandage.

According to pharmacopoeia, honey is a mixture of various alcohols, ethereal oils, formic, lactic, and vegetable acids and very likely of hormones furnished by the bee herself. It has been reported that honey, even in weak solution, destroys a large number of bacilli. This healing substance has been successfully isolated and will doubtless prove a valuable ally  to man in his battle for good health. Honey contains a germ-killing substance called inhibine, which helps prevent infections.

For relief of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems, mix 1 teaspoon of finely chopped thyme in a little honey. Take the mixture orally as needed to soothe inflamed lungs and airways.

Honey has also been recommended for those who suffer from hay fever. The hay sufferer is advised to eat honey that is harvested locally. This is to help build immunity to local pollen via the honey made from the local pollen. 

For a relaxing honey bath, put 2 oz. of honey in a glass with 5 drops of lavender oil. If the honey is too thick, heat it first by placing the glass in warm water. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the honey-lavender mixture to your bathwater to help relax and fight insomnia.

Honey is assimilated easily and completely and most diabetics may use it without harm. The more we become acquainted with all the benefits of this most interesting product, the more many feel it's praises can not be sung loud enough.

Honey is now considered good for oral hygiene and other medicinal things. Click this link for  more technical information on all the health benefits of honey.

#1

Honey is fattening! Honey is more fattening than sugar!
1 Tablespoon of honey = 64 calories.
1 Tablespoon of sugar = 46 calories.

#2

When shopping for honey, look that has been produced by beekeepers who do not feed their bees refined sugars or who use harmful pesticides.

#3

DO NOT give unpasteurized honey to infants in any way!!! 
This is because honey contains a type of bacteria  called
Clostridium botulinum  that's harmless to older children and adults, can be dangerous to babies less than 1 year old.

This can cause a rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system of young babies (under one year of age). C. botulinum spores are present throughout the environment and may be found in dust, soil and improperly canned foods. Adults and children over one year of age are routinely exposed to, but not normally affected by, C. botulinum spores.

The following are symptoms of infant botulism. Call your doctor immediately if your baby:

 

#4

Those good little bees are environmentally friendly!  Honey contains only minute traces of residue from industrial emissions, car exhaust and agricultural chemicals. Why? Because those bees act like biological filtering agents.  A bee will die (first) if he comes into contact with toxins. So he won't live to bring it to the hive to produce honey.  The little bee sacrifices his life for us!

 

Honey Coconut Topping
Mix thoroughly 1/2 Cup honey and 1 Cup coconut and spread on slightly warm cake. Broil under medium heat until golden brown.

Honey Sauce

1/4 Cup Butter
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1  1/2 Cups Strained Honey
1/4 Cup Boiling Water
8 Large Marshmallows, cut in fourths.
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from burner  and add the cornstarch.  

2. When this is smooth, blend in the honey and water.

3. Return to the stove and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

4.  Fold in the marshmallows, lemon juice and salt. Then remove from stove as soon as the marshmallows are melted.

Honey Cream Pie with Apricot Meringue

2 1/3 Tablespoons Sifted Pastry Flour
2 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Strained Honey
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Egg Yolks
2 Teaspoons Grated Lemon Rind
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 9" pre-baked pie shell

Apricot Meringue
2 Egg Whites
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons cooked, sieved, dried apricots

1. Moisten the flour with a very little of the milk. Scald the remaining milk, honey and salt. Pour over the moistened flour, stirring constantly.

2.  Then return to the double boiler with the beaten egg yolks and cook over hot water, stirring constantly until thickened.

3.  Remove fro the hot water. Add the lemon rind and butter when cool.

4.  Pour into pre-baked pie shell.

5. Make the meringue with the beaten egg whites and sugar. Fold in the apricots and place on top of the pie.

6.  Bake at 350F to set and until meringue is slightly golden brown.

Honey Muffins

1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Strained Honey
3 Cups Sifted Flour
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
3 Eggs (well beaten)
1/4 Cup Melted Shortening

1. Blend the milk, honey and sugar, stirring very thoroughly.

2. Combine with the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.  

3. Add the eggs and shortening and mix very lightly but quickly.

4.  Bake in well-greased muffin pans at 375F for about 20 minutes.


Check out the rest of this month's celebrations!

Source of Information:
"The Complete Guide to Healthy Healing"
International Masters Publishers © 1999
and
"The Encyclopedia of Cookery"
Wm. H. Wise & Co., Inc. © 1948

Chris Prose, Beekeeper

and  a wee bit from honey.com

All graphics on this site (still and animated) have our embedded watermark. They are not public domain!

All contents (Graphics and Text) are covered by U.S. Copyright Laws. No reproduction of any kind, downloading, copy, paste, save, etc. is allowed. All rights reserved!

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