Bees are such fascinating and helpful creatures. Not only are humans completely reliant on them for maintaining the biodiversity of the planet (!) and for a third of our worldly food supply (!!!), but they are also unique and super interesting.
Here are some amazing facts about bees and honey, our favorite miracle condiment:
- 0 - The amount of sleep a bee gets; they literally never stop working
- 5 - The number of eyes a bee has
- 2,000 - The age in years of the oldest honey ever eaten
- 60,000 - The number of years we can confirm human consumption of honey
- 90,000 - The number of miles flown for 1 pound of honey; about 3 times around the globe!
- 150,000,000 - The number of years bees have been producing honey the same way
Bees make the honey that has been used as food and skincare by humans for tens of thousands of years, including the mānuka honey that now has the world abuzz. Awareness of what makes this extra-special nectar stand out, namely compounds not found in regular table honey, is growing. Mānuka honey has become so sought after, it is often difficult to find. If you have tried it, count yourself lucky!
For ‘newbees’ to the topic of colony collapse, most of the world’s bees are at risk, made vulnerable by pesticide and fungicide sprays and monocrops. Sprays mess with bees’ smell, memory, flight, and mobility behavior. The quality of their pollen suffers, impacting their immunity and metabolism and upping their susceptibility to mite-spread diseases.
Bans on the worst spray ingredients in the UK and Canada are helping, and there are innovative mite treatments being developed from Pacific Northwest mushrooms. To give the bees the best chance, however, we should all do what we can.
Consider these actions to help us continue to benefit from the bounty of bees:
- Beekind.Support sustainable practices, ethical local businesses, and land stewardship.
- Bee mindful. Choose organic food that’s good for you and the environment, reducing consumption of monoculture crops like corn, soy, rice, and almonds.
- Bee generous. If you are so inclined, support pollinator-friendly causes, such as the Washington State University’s Honey Bee Lab.
- Bee careful.Beware of toxic ingredients. Use green products in the yard and outdoors.
- Bee hospitable.Create a friendly nesting habitat with drinking water and a diversity of native herbs and wildflowers for forage. Consider including decomposing wood, brambles, dry grass, or a damp, muddy, or mushroomy area.
For example, some trials are looking at whether it could be a complementary treatment in hospitals. One reason why some mānuka honey is used experimentally as a medical dressing is because the high amounts of methylglyoxal and leptosperin it contains may have potential antiseptic properties.
Due to its infection-busting properties, hospitals are quickly learning to use it to treat burn wounds and antibiotic-resistant germs, making it an indispensable treasure. Luckily, this mānuka honey comes from one of the few areas in the world that is not suffering from colony collapse disorder. It’s produced by bees that pollinate mānuka bushes in the remote and pristine north New Zealand hills.
Hospitals are investigating the applications, and many already consider it an indispensable treasure. Luckily, this mānuka honey comes from one of the few areas in the world that is not suffering from colony collapse disorder. It’s produced by bees that pollinate mānuka bushes in the remote and pristine north New Zealand hills.
While honey has always been highly regarded, the indigenous Māori peoples of New Zealand were the first to appreciate the healing properties of mānuka honey.
True appreciation of honey cannot bee separated from an appreciation of its origins.
We can choose to:
- Bee respectful. Recognizing the importance of mānuka honey to the Māori and supporting ethical trade that benefits them culturally and economically can be a form of social healing.
- Bee smart. Bees are careful about where they get nectar and can calculate traveling distance and compute foraging efficiency! Be sure you’re getting the good stuff; use NFC codes to track mānuka honey to its source by linking to interactive location maps.
- Bee communicative. When a bee finds a great nectar source, it dances for its friends at the hive to let them know where to find the flowers. We can share the news of this special honey and how to source the best quality, authentic stuff with our friends too!
- Bee thankful. Thank a bee today!
Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP, NNCP, is a Vancouver-based educator and coach. She is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog and can answer your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Product Information Specialist at Flora.