Interesting Facts about Honey

Certain nutritionists have long touted the potential health benefits of honey, and in recent decades, this has received several bouts of media attention. However, there is much more to the science of honey and honeybees than what is commonly discussed on the news! Historically, honey is one of the most fascinating foods in existence. It has had historical ramifications or significance in almost every aspect of human life: trade, agriculture, general environmental practices, religion, and even certain branches of medicine.

Wild honey is believed to have served as a semi-common food source for early hunter-gatherers, and especially due to international trade, it is sometimes still enjoyed by humans in many parts of the world. Beekeeping as a profession is believed to have developed sometime circa 2500 BCE, presumably in the vicinity of Egypt or somewhere else in Africa. Since honeybee distribution has long since spread nearly worldwide and certainly pre-dates agricultural development, honey has also become one of the world’s most popular sweeteners. Despite the risk of bee stings, honey has also been noted to be enjoyed by other types of mammals – most particularly honey badgers and certain types of bears.

Honey has frequently been considered to be a luxurious or even sacred food in many parts of the world, as its collection clearly comes with a risk and bees have been considered sacred to some of the more noteworthy deities. The value of honey has also been touted in certain Abrahamic traditions, as its desirability was occasionally implied in either the Torah or the New Testament. For these reasons, beekeeping was often primarily associated with monks, priests, or priestesses throughout much of human history. Ancient Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII and various other religious or political officials were sometimes said to have bathed in honey, which has also historically been used in perfumes, body ointments, and many other types of luxuries. The Ancient Mayans were also known to prize honey for similar types of reasons, as bees were associated with the god Ah-Muzen-Cab.

Honey is also considered a powerful preservative, having a virtually indefinite shelf life, and is considered to be one of the healthiest sources of natural sugar. Honey has also been shown to have a more limited effect on blood sugar than many other types of commonly used sweeteners, and conversely to substances like cane sugar and corn syrup, honey has also been shown to have some benefits in wound-healing and the treatment of certain infections. Even many people who are allergic to bee stings are frequently not known to be allergic to honey, meaning that the food can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people. However, honey is also not the panacea which many doctors in the ancient world believed it to be. It should also be noted that honey sometimes contains a form of the botulinium toxin, a medically controversial substance which is the primary ingredient in Botox and the main reason why honey should not be fed to children under 1. Many of the more reputable honey providers strive to negate this risk, fortunately, so a teen or adult who interested in using botulism-free honey might do well to investigate any local honey providers which might adhere to botulism-free standards of honey preparation. However, it is still medically advisable to follow the general advice of not feeding honey to children under 12 months.

To this day, despite the occasional botulism and bee sting risks, honey is still an important part of agricultural development in many parts of the world. Honey and other bee-derived substances from New Zealand have also been suggested to boast some of the strongest health benefits, with the honey being particularly abundant in antioxidants and even the venom actually demonstrating some potential in the fight against HIV. Various NPOs like Adopt-A-Hive, Heifer International, and Oxfam also help to improve global living standards while fighting to maintain a healthy population of bees. Worldwide honey sales have unfortunately also been noted to have been declining within the last few years, which makes it all the more important for people to appreciate the importance of maintaining bees, honey supplies, and other types of bee-derived products.

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