Articles: honey’s hoopla

It’s unfortunate how varying species of bees get lumped together in people’s minds; though they all sting, honeybees generally keep to themselves since stinging will literally cause them to die. Thanks to them, a sweet golden syrup forms when flower nectar gets broken down into simple sugars via a secreted enzyme. So honey is essentially, bee barf. But don’t let that put you off! Throughout history, cultures around the world have recognized its value.

An article from India published in a Chinese journal extolled medicinal uses of honey. A Finnish study found antimicrobial properties capable of treating antibiotic- resistant strains of human pathogenic bacteria, such as Pneumonia, Meningitis and Staph infection. The Manuka variety, particularly from Australia and New Zealand, is especially potent. A Thai study found antibacterial properties against skin diseases, such as MRSA, in addition to anti-aging abilities from antioxidant properties provided by I inhibitors of free radicals and tyrosinase.

Though the United States relies heavily upon Pharmaceutical remedies, even our famed Mayo Clinic considers honey– by itself– to be an effective cough suppressant.

It’s important to note that the source of nectar collected by a colony of bees impacts the color, flavor, smell and unique potency/ medicinal specialty of the honey they produce. (Incidentally, the right type of honey can be potent enough to preserve meat!)

While this presents an obvious risk for those of us with food sensitivity– especially wheat/ soy/ corn allergy–, the renewed demand for honey coupled with a fluctuating bee population has inspired an underestimated concern: counterfeit honey.

Multiple outlets have reported on this, such as Food Safety News: Tests show most store honey isn’t honey, Euractiv: Europe is being flooded with fake honey, The Conversation: What is fake honey and why didn’t tests pick it up?. And not surprisingly, they’ve faced criticism. For instance, NPR’s The Salt: Relax, it’s really honey after all.

An argument can be made for imported over most Americans’ store-bought blends, which are heavily processed; raw honey it retains its nutrients and beneficial enzymes. However, because of my food sensitivity, I can attest to the likelihood that most honey– regardless of its source– gets tainted by allergens in a variety of ways.

Since the likelihood of having to rely solely on wild raw honey for medical purposes is extremely unlikely, why not enjoy the taste while experiencing its beneficial properties by buying local? This presents an opportunity to develop a personal connection to a colony via its beekeeper– ask questions, taste samples and perhaps even tour a hive.

For further info, check out:

Magazine of American Beekeeping

Honey Bee Suite

Honeybee Health Coalition

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