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The first thought that usually springs to mind when you think of honey is your favorite honey-filled plastic teddy bear bottle found in the grocery store. However, this mass produced honey is often over-processed and it has very little nutritional value and few health benefits.
This honey you have most likely eaten is much different from the real, pure raw honey our ancestors ingested. It was common for raw honey to be used in healing teas and tinctures. Raw honey has not been pasteurized or processed anyway and is very different from pasteurized honey.
Raw honey contains enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants and other natural nutrients. Pasteurized honey is sadly stripped of all this during its processing and is as unhealthy as refined sugar! Pasteurized honey appears clear and syrupy but raw honey is more solid and opaque with small pieces of beeswax and pollen.
How Raw Honey is made
Honey begins simply as flower nectar. Bees collect this nectar, breaking it down into simple sugar and storing it in honeycombs within a beehive. Honeycombs are uniquely shaped hexagonal wax cells. The sugars bees place in these honeycombs create honey through a process of the bees’ constant fanning of their wings, resulting in evaporation. Honey color and flavor can vary, as it is contingent on the kind of flower nectar the bees collect.
When beekeepers go to harvest the honey, they must scrape off the seal bees have made to protect the honey in each individual cell. This seal is known as the wax cap. Once the wax caps are scraped, the honeycomb frames visit the extractor where they are spun, creating a force great enough for the honey to release from the comb and hit the sides of the extractor. Gravity is then used for the honey to fall to the bottom of the extractor and the beekeeper can collect it.
After extraction, the honey can be strained to clean the honey of wax or any other particles. There are some beekeepers that ease this process by heating the honey. This heat will not reduce or alter the natural aspect of the honey as it only makes the straining much more effective and easier.
Once the honey is strained, it is ready to be bottled and distributed to the consumer. If the bottle of honey reads pure honey, you can be positive there are no extra ingredients, including preservatives, flavorings, or colorings added to then honey making process.
Raw honey is referred to as liquid gold’ by many people. To be qualified as raw honey, it cannot be heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. To reap its many benefits, raw honey should be consumed as is.
Today, honey is being used in modern medicine. Scientific studies are showing that honey is great for topical application in healing wounds. It is loved worldwide for its taste and for its amazing health benefits.
Honey is full of essential nutrients like vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5, B6 and C. It also contains essential minerals like magnesium, sodium chlorine, potassium, calcium, sulphur, zinc, phosphate, copper, iron, sulphur and manganese. Not only does honey contain so many vitamins and minerals, it also contains flavonoid pinocenbrin. Pinostrobin both supports, and promotes healthy enzyme activity.
External application benefits
Raw honey helps treat burns, scrapes and cuts. Just apply a thick layer of honey over minor cuts and burns. It works as an antibiotic ointment, which kills bacteria, reduces swelling and protects the skin from dirt and debris. It also has been found to reduce pain. Honey helps treat wounds by strengthening the white blood corpuscles required to fight bacteria and viral diseases.
Raw honey encourages quicker healing as it fuels tissue regeneration, angiogenesis, and fibroblast growth. With epithelial cell growth stimulated, the cells grow skin level and no scab will be formed, this allows for less scarring.
Honey is also a great salve for applying to canker sores and eczema.
Does your face seem dried out? Soften raw honey between your palms and massage it over your face. You will just love your soft and sparkling skin created by the honey! You can also use it to help you in your fight against acne. Apply a small amount of honey on blemishes every night and you will find great results within a week’s time.
Honey also makes a great exfoliating scrub. Place 8 natural almonds and 2 tbsps of uncooked oats in blender and process until finely ground. Remove from blender and place in small bowl. Mix in1 tbsp honey and 2 tsps yogurt until well blended. Pat the scrub onto neck and face and let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes or so, gently exfoliate with wet hands until satisfied and rinse.
Internal ingestion benefits
The antibiotic and antiviral properties of honey make it a great remedy for soothing sore throats and coughs. It reduces irritation by coating the throat. For relief from sore throats and coughs, eat the honey off the spoon or mix a spoonful of honey with a warm cup of lemon tea.
Instead of using granulated sugar in your beverages and cooking, use raw honey for all sweetening purposes. Add it to yogurt, almond milk and smoothies or just stir a spoonful into your morning cup of tea or coffee. If you plan to use honey to replace sugar while baking, use regular, pasteurized honey as it heats while baking.
As raw honey is much thicker than regular, pasteurized honey, spread it on toast and sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon. This makes a great energy boost to start your day!
Honey is great for treating allergies. Start taking local, raw honey a few times a day several months before the beginning of allergy season. It may aid in relieving seasonal allergies, which is why you want local honey as it contains pollen from local plants. It is this pollen, which acts as a sort of vaccine in fighting against the allergens found in the local plants.
If you suffer from constipation, raw honey can help give you some relief. Make a warm tea for yourself, mixing a spoonful of raw honey with a few spoons of raw apple cider vinegar in warm water for natural relief from constipation.
Honey can also improve your sleep. All you need to do is add some honey to a warm glass of milk or tea or have it on its own before bedtime for better sleep. Honey helps your body release melatonin into the brain to promote a deeper and more restorative sleep.
Honey has probiotics, which support the growth and activity of good bacteria in your gut making it great to use for digestion purposes. It does not easily ferment in the stomach and is easily absorbed by your body and can be used for treating indigestion.
Honey is a great energy booster as it is a carbohydrate in the form of glucose and fructose. It supplies your body and mind with energy, helping boost endurance and reduce muscle fatigue. This is why many athletes use it for an instant and sustained energy source to help them through their training. By providing 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, it is a better alternative to the many commercial energy drinks available.
The aging process is related to the slow depletion of body enzymes. However, honey helps slow down the depletion of enzymes through the ingestion of amylase, an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates and sugars and helps restore damaged skin with a softer and younger look.
As raw honey contains natural botulism spores, it is not advised to give it to children under the age of one year. Their intestinal tract is not mature enough to inhibit botulism growth. However, in adults, honey proves helpful at ensuring efficient digestion and good health. Raw honey contains probiotics, which help the growth of the bifidobacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, which is an alkaline-forming food.
The Process of Making Honey:
It takes about 60,000 bees gathering from roughly two million flowers and flying around 55,000 miles to make one pound of honey in an intricate facility known as the beehive. Of the 60,000 bees living and working in a beehive, there are three varieties of bees.
The first is the queen bee; there is only one queen in the entire hive. She is the largest and most sexually mature as her one job is to reproduce. When she is fully developed and ready to begin reproducing, she will emerge from her special queen cell and mate with 13-18 male bees (drones).
At this time, she will collect millions of sperm cells, which she will preserve with her for her entire life. Her lifespan is generally around 2-5 years and if well cared for, the queen bee can lay up to 2,000-3,000 eggs a day.
Young worker bees will meet her every need, including feeding and cleaning, as she lays her own weight of eggs every couple of hours. When the queen bee dies or becomes useless, the other bees will select a young larva and feed it a special diet of royal jelly to become the new queen bee.
The second type of bee is the worker bee. These bees are females but do not reproduce as that is only for the queen bee. The beehive is made up of 98% worker bees in the summer and in the winter they are the only bees to live in the hive with the queen bee.
Worker bees are busy as they have several job responsibilities. They collect the nectar from flowers to form the honey and create wax comb. They are also responsible for ensuring the queen and larvae are fed, as well as guarding the beehive and fanning their wings to keep the hive from getting too hot.
Because they work so hard, they will live about six weeks in the busy months and 4-9 months in the winter. The worker bee does have a barbed stinger and if used, it will die immediately following the sting.
The final type of bee in the beehive is the male bee, often called drones. They are distinguished by the large size of their eyes. They are also larger than worker bees but still smaller than the queen bee. Drones do not have stingers. The drones main purpose is to fertilize the queen bee.
All mating is done in flight and they will die shortly after mating because they have barbed sex organs. Any remaining drones will be expelled from the beehive before winter in locations that experience a strong change of climate. The average life span of a drone is about 90 days.
Colonies and Pollination
Beekeepers have colonies where the bees live. The beekeepers will maintain, feed, and transport these colonies. Through centuries of selective breeding, man has obtained the ability of making bees produce much more honey than a colony actually needs.
This allows for the beekeeper to successfully harvest the honey and keep the process going. Part of the beekeepers responsibility is providing a place for the colony to live and store honey. These colonies are often built up in a number of rectangular or square boxes that do not have a top or bottom on top of one another. The boxes hold parallel frames to produce wax honeycomb, to raise their offspring, and store honey.
These boxes allow for easier transportation of the beehives from one field to the next. This is a convenient system as crops need pollinating and they can work with other local farmers and provide them pollination services.
While bees’ primary function is making honey, they also vitally offer their pollination function as a second service. Pollination is very important to mankind as 1/3 of our diet comes from insect-pollinated plants. Bees make up 80% of this pollination process.
Pollination occurs when the flowering plant is fertilized, this is the transferring of anthers of the plant to the ovules of that plant or another flower. Common plants bees pollinate include vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fruits.