September is “National Honey Month.” Even if you never eat honey, you should celebrate because you reap the rewards of the bees hard work. USDA reports that roughly one third of our daily diet relies on pollinating bees. (Even if you only ever eat meat and potatoes – those cows need the bees to help make their food.)
Honey Bees Are Not From Here
Honey bees are not native to North America. They were brought over from Europe early in the colonization phase. They promptly escaped, and spread across the New World at a rapid clip. There is no way of knowing if they caused the extinction of some native bee species, but indications are that there was more than enough nectar and pollen for all species, native and introduced.
How They Do It
Bee take the nectar that the plants create through photosynthesis and remove most of the water, creating a super-saturated solution. Since the plants link carbon dioxide and water together to form glucose and fructose, that’s mostly what honey is There are also traces of amino acids, vitamins, and specific phytochemicals that plants put into their nectar to reward pollinators.
Honey IS A Form of Sugar
Yes, glucose and fructose are sugars. Blending them into honey doesn’t change that fact. The good news is that the glycemic index of honey is lower than refined white table sugar (sucrose). Note that glycemic response to honey is highly individualistic. The American Diabetes Association has a cautiously worded stance that honey might be preferred over table sugar – sucrose. In general, honey has clear advantages over table sugar when it comes to traces of amino acids, essential proteins and immune boosting capabilities.
Honey and Teeth
Honey contains only small amounts of sucrose, the sugar that causes plaque to adhere to teeth. It also contains phytochemicals which appear to have some antimicrobial action against oral pathogens. Thus honey is a better sweetener than table sugar, at least as far as the daily health of your teeth are concerned. The wound healing and antimicrobial properties of honey may be valuable in the treatment of periodontal problems, and in treating tissues after oral surgery, two topics currently being investigated.
Honey and Energy
Honey is a concentrated source of fructose, glucose, and other di-, tri-, and oligosaccharides, as well as amino acids human bodies need for energy. Studies show that honey is an economical alternative to carbohydrate gels for athletes.
Bees are Busy
It’s not just honey that we can thank bees for. Their beeswax is a wonderful and highly useful product. Humans have used beeswax for over 20,000 years. It was used help stick arrowheads on arrows, but it is believed that wax was used to help make vessels waterproof. Baskets were invented long before firing clay was figured out, but baskets need waterproofing so they can haul water.
Honey In Cooking
There are numerous ways to savor honey in cooking and meal preparation, not to mention creating alcoholic beverages. A simple salad dressing of honey, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil is delightful, and quick to make. Savorist Monica King is a third generation bee-keeper and keeps us well supplied with delightful was to use honey, while both Uncle Smokey and Jacqueline have created some tasty dishes too.
Some Of Our Recipes:
Fall means both Jacqueline & Monica will be making more public appearances – Monica at Farmers Markets, and Jacqueline returns to Pima County Libraries with a number of free lectures. Both Monica and Jacqueline will have this great cookbook for sale when we are out there – plus we will sign them! (Hint – They are priced low enough to make nice stocking stuffers, plus bulk orders are discounted.) Monica may also have some charming beeswax products – as well as her local honey of course!
More information about our events on our Facebook page, Savor the Southwest – or sign up for our email newsletter below.
Savorist Jacqueline offers a course in making a rich soothing lotion that can really help dried skin in our desert air. She has been making and using this lotion for over 20 years. It uses beeswax, and optionally a touch of healing honey. Here is the link: Lotion Class