We’re really passionate about honey. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty to learn! Since I started working at Honey Stinger early this year, I’ve been doing my best to fill in the gaps in my honey knowledge. To celebrate National Honey Month, I decided to compile some of my favorite facts about our favorite energy source.
Honey Lasts Forever
This is one of those things you hear people say sometimes but it almost seems “too good to be true!” Turns out it isn’t. Microorganisms cannot grow in honey. As long as it’s sealed off in a honeycomb or an airtight container, it will literally last for thousands of years. In fact, some cultures in ancient Greece used honey to preserve bodies in burial routines! And other objects stored in honey have been found in remarkably pristine condition even after thousands of years. While this isn’t something we get to actively enjoy every day, it is an amazing fact about how perfect bees are at making a fuel source that’s sweet, full of energy, and never spoils.
Honey is even used as a homeopathic wound treatment thanks to its antiseptic properties!
Making Honey is a LOT of Work
A female worker bee out foraging for honey may visit over a thousand flowers and spend up to an hour filling her honey stomach. Her saliva starts the fermentation process which converts pollen to honey, but she has to deliver the pollen to the hive bees to really get the process going. In the hive, honey bees pass the partially-formed honey down the line, adding bubbles and enzymes from saliva to the mix as the work.
The bees also regulate the temperature of the hive. They generate body heat or add moisture to the air to keep it at a constant 95 degrees. As the process continues, bees deposit the honey into the honeycomb. The honey bees cap each cell with beeswax to protect the honey from the elements. Bees know how special honey is and they are masters of preserving it!
Take a deeper look into how honey is made here.
Collecting Honey is a Symbiotic Science
Collecting honey from a beehive requires a delicate balance of science and symbiosis. Beekeepers cooperate with bees in order to gather honey for human use without leaving the hive empty-handed. In some practices, that means replacing honey with other suitable food sources like sugar nectar. In others, beekeepers stagger the removable honeycombs while making sure the bees always have access to flowering plants for pollen.
Bees are always prepared. Healthy hives typically produce three times the amount of honey they actually need. Responsibly sourcing and harvesting honey is a big deal, and I have learned lots more about how important it is since starting at Honey Stinger! Honey Stinger uses honey that is Certified True Source Honey, ensuring it is responsibly sourced. Learn more about True Source Honey, and responsible practices here.
Some Bee Hives Travel Hundreds of Miles Each Year
There are commercial pollinators that specialize in transporting large bee colonies to farms across the country to help pollinate crops during their respective growing seasons. There are entire programs dedicated to ensuring mutually beneficial pollination practices for bees and farmers. You may have been next to a truck carrying bee hives on the highway and not even realized it!
Honey is a Perfect Fuel for Athletic Endeavors
There are numerous writings that show runners using honey as sports nutrition since the ancient Greek Olympics. Even without scientific evidence, its benefits were evident to the early Olympians. And a landmark study at the University of Memphis found that honey “delivers a significant performance boost to athletes during strenuous exercise.”
The combination of fructose and glucose naturally present in honey along with its water and electrolyte contents make it the perfect fuel for carb-hungry muscles. Laboratories can’t formulate anything that works better, and who doesn’t prefer something straight from nature?
Written by John Montesi, Honey Stinger staff member