Backyard beekeepers rejoice! September is National Honey Month, and we are jumping for joy in our house. Why are we jumping for joy you ask? It is all because of Honey; a deliciously sweet treat that literally goes with everything. Some of the saddest parts of my life were when I had an allergy to honey. I couldn’t eat it at all without a very serious reaction, and thankfully, I did outgrow it, and now get to enjoy this amazing creation made by buzzing friends. But what makes honey so special? Special enough to have an entire month of celebrating it? Well, let me tell you…
According to agfoundation.org, established in 1989, National Honey Month marks an important time for honey producers and beekeepers across the nation. In the United States, honey collection season typically concludes in September as bees begin to secure their hives and prepare for winter.
In the spirit of celebration, here are a few fun, crazy facts you may not have known about bees, beekeeping, and honey!
- There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees throughout the world; 4,000 of which are native to the United States (USDA, Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees).
- A single worker honeybee produces approximately 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. That means around 22,700 bees are needed to fill a single jar of honey! (National Honey Board, Honey Trivia).
- In 2012, archaeologists discovered “the world’s oldest honey”! It was found in ceramic jars in Georgia, the country – not the state, and is estimated by scientists to be about 5,500 years old!
- Although Utah’s official state emblem features a beehive and enjoys the nickname “The Beehive State”, the 2016 top 10 honey-producing states include North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, California, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Louisiana, and Georgia.
- Honey comes in a variety of colors and flavors – including blue or purple! Yes! Honey is not just that beautiful golden color.
- States located in the southeastern region of the United States are known to produce purple honey. Purple honey is an incredibly rare harvest – some beekeepers go their entire lives without ever encountering it. There are many different hypotheses on how purple honey gets its color, but scientists still cannot reach an agreement on the cause (April Aldrich, A History of Honey in Georgia and the Carolina).
One of my fondest childhood memories involved going to the store and getting those little flavored honey sticks. They were such a sweet treat and I loved the fruit flavors the most. They were readily available locally for us because we had so many places that sold local honey.
Did you know that honey is a 1 ingredient recipe? The story of honey is older than history itself. An 8,000-year-old cave painting in Spain depicts honey harvesting, and we know it’s been used for food, medicine and more by cultures all over the world since. Let’s face it, what soothes a cough better than a teaspoon of honey in your tea?
But honey isn’t just about humans. It’s the natural product made from bees—one of our planet’s most important animals. Honey bees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes, making pollination of plants possible and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive.
Lucky for us, bees make more honey than their colony needs, and beekeepers remove the excess and bottle it. Just like they’ve been doing since the beginning of time.
I could go on and on about the ways that we use honey in our lives but I would feel like the scene from Forrest Gump talking about the shrimp. We use honey in recipes more often than I care to admit from time to time especially when making barbecue sauces for chicken, we use it as a dip, on other foods and honestly sometimes I just like the way it tastes. We also use it for sore throats. The Mayo Clinic did a study which showed the following:
Drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. But honey alone may be an effective cough suppressant, too.
In one study, children age 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.
In fact, in the study, honey appeared to be as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan, in typical over-the-counter doses. Since honey is low-cost and widely available, it might be worth a try.
However, due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning. Parents should never give honey to a child younger than age 1.
A lot of people use local honey to treat allergies, but again be mindful of the no honey for children under 1 year old rule. Local aka raw honey is safe for healthy adults, but be mindful if you have underlying health issues.
Whether you are using honey for a cough, in recipes or just because you think it is tasty know that the bee that creates it only has a lifespan of between 122-152 days. A short life with so much purpose. The honey bee is known for making a huge colony and people will actually come harvest them from properties and take them to their own personal hives to make honey that can be used.
My honey jar just might be calling to be added to some warm biscuits or toast since we have had some really chilly mornings here lately. Between the rainy damp air and lower daily high temperatures I find that I am looking for more comforting foods and honey just happens to be one of them.
Be sure this month to thank your local beekeeper who keeps the product flowing with the help of his backyard friends. While their lives are short, their product is certainly delicious and the work that goes into making a quality product by the bees and beekeepers is appreciated in not only our household but many others.
By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)