10 fun facts about honeybees and the honey they produce
Honey bees live in colonies (or hives). The members of the colony are divided into three castes:
The Queen: There is one queen per colony. Her job is to lay the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals known as pheromones (chemical messengers) that guide the behavior of the other bees.
Worker Bees: These bees are all female and their roles (depending on their age) include foraging for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), building and protecting the hive, cleaning the hive, and feeding the baby bees laid by the queen. Workers are the bees most people see flying around outside the hive.
Drones: These are the male bees and their purpose is to mate with a new queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. However during the fall and winter months when resources become scarce and the bees go into survival mode, they are kicked out of the hive.
Honey bees can fly at a speed of nearly 25km per hour and beat their wings 200 times per second!
The average worker bee lives for about six weeks. During this time, she’ll produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey and fly the equivalent distance of 1.5 times the circumference of the Earth.
During a single foraging trip, a worker bee will visit anywhere from 50 to 100 flowers and can carry a load of nectar or pollen equal to 80% of her own body weight.
Honey bees share information about food sources via the ‘waggle dance’. When the foraging worker returns to the hive, she will perform the dance by moving in a figure eight and waggling her body to indicate the direction of the food source.
A single hive can produce anywhere from 60 to 200 pounds of honey every year.
Honey bees have 170 odorant receptors and communicate with each other through the use of pheromones.
Every bee colony has its own distinct scent so that members can identify each other.
In simple terms, honey bees have 2 stomachs! One for storing nectar and one for digestion.
Honey has many unique properties and is often used to help alleviate seasonal allergies. Honey can also be used as an antibacterial agent to address shallow wounds.
Honey Facts and Information
The taste and color of honey varies depending on the floral source(s) bees are collecting nectar from. Some honey can taste very sweet and floral, while others are more spicy and earthy. Honey will vary from a light golden color to a dark amber color, and will contain a variety of organic compounds unique to it’s floral origin, which also contribute to the overall taste profile.
Raw, all-natural honey can be used for a variety of medicinal benefits such as combating environmental allergies (especially if purchasing honey that is local to your area), inflammations, and infections. Raw honey is also rich in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants, pre- and probiotics, and a host of other phytonutrients and medicinal compounds, which also vary depending on the type(s) of plant bees harvest nectar from.
Raw honey may crystallize depending on temperatures and floral variety. Crystallization is not an indication of expired honey. Honey does not expire. However, the quality can be affected if not consumed within a few years. If your honey happens to crystallize, simply follow these steps to allow crystals to dissolve:
Place jar in a pot of warm water, set heat to medium-low and stir until crystals dissolve. You can also place the jar in a pot of hot water and leave it alone until it liquefies (not resting on heated element).
After being melted, the granules will disappear for a time but they will return eventually if the honey hasn’t been consumed quickly enough. Simply repeat the heating process each time.
You may freeze your honey if the honey is used irregularly. You can freeze in small batches and remove as needed. Please allow honey to thaw at room temperature before using. Freezing can help prevent honey from crystallizing.
Raw honey has long been considered a sacred food throughout history and is a rare treasure to enjoy in modern times. Most of the honey for sale today has been processed and pasteurized for food safety measures, which rids the honey of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes during the heating process. This strips the honey of its unique health benefits, and affects the quality and taste of the final product. Please support your local beekeepers and honey bee populations by choosing to purchase raw, local honey from a trusted source.
Honey can be used in a variety of dishes for cooking and baking. Check out www.honey.com/recipes for some unique and tasty recipes that feature honey.