‘Tis the month to celebrate all things HONEY! The National Honey Board declared September as National Honey Month in 1989 to promote the beekeeping industry and honey as a natural and beneficial sweetener. Honey is a great sweetener for many reasons. However, it is important to note that honey is more than a sweetener and has a long history so let the celebrations begin!
Honey dates back centuries. In 2012, archaeologists discovered what is believed to be the world’s oldest honey in a ceramic jar in Georgia (Eastern European country) which is estimated by scientists to be about 5,500 years old. However, honey was used long before this and may have a life of millions of years. Beekeeping apiculture dates to at least 700 BC. Documentation has been found showing that ancient Egyptians sacrificed honey to their river gods, Roman’s slathered honey on wounds, Alexander the Great was embalmed with honey, and honey was used as a form of currency in Europe. There are also numerous ancient references to mead, or honey wine, which is the world’s oldest known fermented beverage.
Honey when used to sweeten food has many health benefits. Besides being loaded with minerals, vitamins and important enzymes, honey is a natural, healthy energy booster. It is an immune system builder and has both antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-tumor properties. Honey has a healthy glycemic index which means that can be absorbed into the bloodstream gradually resulting in better digestion. For more detailed information on the nutritional value of honey over table sugar, see Benefits of Honey by Michigan State University.
Bee pollen is another important substance found in honey. Bee pollen may provide some relief for those who suffer with seasonal allergies since it contains trace amounts of pollen. Daily trace amounts of pollen may help reduce the symptoms of pollen-related allergies by inoculating the individual. When used as an inoculant, it is very important that the honey be purchased locally since that is where the allergens are located.
While some of the health benefits of honey have been discussed, the many uses of honey is extensive. For more honey uses, take a look at some suggestions for honey outside of the kitchen by Sioux Honey™.
According to National Honey Board trivia, a single worker honeybee produces approximately 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. That means around 22,700 bees are needed to fill a single jar of honey! So celebrate the benefits of honey, the bees that make it, and those who work in the honey and bee industry!