10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Honey

is it just me, or does this bee look hungover?!

is it just me, or does this bee look hungover?!

Despite the fact that it’s essentially bee vomit (or perhaps because of it), honey is an amazing food.

Being antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial it has dozens of medicinal applications from asthma to acne.

It can also boost your immune system, enhance digestive health and soothe a sore throat….oh, and it tastes damn good too.

if my barf tasted as good, I'd eat that too

if my barf tasted as good, I’d eat that too

Like all sweeteners, however, honey should be taken in moderation and to get the most from your occasional taste, you have to make sure you’re buying the right kind.

A 2011 study by Food Safety News (FSN) found that more than 75% of honey sold in major grocery stores was not real honey at all, but rather a cheap imitation that had been ultra filtered and did not contain any pollen at all.

As if that weren’t bad enough, FSN suggested that most of this fake honey comes from China, where it may well have been contaminated with illegal antibiotics.

honey badger is not fooled by artifical honey

honey badger is not fooled by artifical honey

While your odds of getting decent honey are slightly improved by buying organic, the very best option is to procure it from a local source if possible. Raw, unprocessed honey is the smart choice because all those powerful antioxidants, vitamins and enzymes can be destroyed in the pasteurising process.

I just found a local supplier myself and was delighted to receive my very first jar of local, natural, raw honey at the weekend. While I go devour some (and send my thanks to the local bee community), here are some fascinating facts about the sweet superfood.

my local honey, from my local bees

my local honey, from my local bees

1. The ancient Egyptians used honey to embalm their dead. It was also a common offering to the fertility God, Min.

2. Our love affair with honey goes waaaay back – cave paintings, around 13,000 years old, depict beekeeping and the world’s oldest intact beehive is in Israel, it’s believed to be 3,000 years old.

3. The oldest honey ever discovered was found in Georgia and is over 5,000 years old. You could even try a mouthful because…

4…honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil, thanks to its low moisture content and high acidity (organisms can’t survive in it).

5. Alexander the Great was believed to have been entombed in a coffin full of honey. I can think of worse ways to meet your maker.

6. Honey can be used to make sweet, alcoholic beverages such as honey wine (or mead), which is made by fermenting a mixture of honey, water and yeast.

7. In 2012, the top three honey-producing nations were China, Turkey and Ukraine.

8. The honeybee is the only insect to produce food that is eaten by humans.

9. Beekeeping is illegal in many US cities (including Norfolk, Virginia) and only became legal in New York city in 2010.

10. The honeyguide is a tiny bird whose sole purpose in life is to lead honey badgers to beehives so they can feast on the delicious honey within. When the badger is done, the honey guide will swoop in and feast on the beeswax left over.

apparently this is a popular meme. The internet just keeps on surprising me

apparently this is a popular meme. The internet just keeps on surprising me


20 thoughts on “10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Honey

  1. My father was a beekeeper and I learned a lot from him and his books. My Dad told me that our honey was special because it was from sourwood trees. The honey was very light in color and had a very mild taste. My Dad did not sell his honey, he gave it to friends and people he did business with. 🙂

      • Get several varieties of honey with different colors and try them. I bought a dark honey once, I think it was buckwheat, and it was awful. I threw it out because nobody would eat it, not even in a recipe Clover honey is what you see on store shelves most but if you learn more about honey you will see that it is much like wines in variety. One man that did business with my Dad offered him $25 in the 1960s for a quart of sourwood honey. He turned the man down and he offered more but my Dad insisted on giving it away to friends and such. I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina knowing Sourwood honey and once I left home I was sad not to get any sourwood anywhere. I remember the taste even now.

        ~ Daddy used to give me drones to play with. I’d hold them and listen to their buzz and then let them go. I got stung plenty. A bee once got in my hair and I squished it trying to get it out and got stung. Daddy tended his bees once and a bee got in his veil and went up his nose. His nose swelled so big that he looked like Jimmy Durante!

        You might be able to buy some honey varieties online if you want to check out other varieties. It would be an education! You know how the color of a flamingo depends on what it feeds on? Same thing for honey bees. 🙂

    • I would do, if I could track them down. I’m always keen to label the source but sometimes, with the internet being as vast and unregulated as it is, images are disseminated without proper attribution. If you know or recognise any of the images, please let me know and I’d be more than happy to update with a link.

  2. Really great and interesting post!! Did you also know that the term “honeymoon” comes from the former tradition of the husband being given honey mead when the couple married. It was enough mead to last until the next moon. Hence ‘honeymoon’. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Honey - Learn Something New - MCS Gal

  5. Pingback: Link #55: You Could Eat 5,000-Year-Old Honey! - Cool and Interesting Facts for Kids

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