For centuries and centuries, humans have been feasting on honey and using it for all sorts of delicacies. Although not a common ingredient nowadays, many of us still enjoy a hefty teaspoon in the morning or the evening. Besides giving us a jolt of energy, this miraculous substance can be used for its health properties.
Unfortunately, despite all of its benefits, we often take this superfood for granted. What’s worse, we rarely stop to think about the species that produces it – hardworking bees!
Like many insects, bees have their superpowers. The queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day and can choose the gender of its offspring, making for a perfect balance between genders. Her workers are prepared to fly 55,000 miles for just one pound of honey, making 11,400 wing strokes per minute.
In this post, we want to share some of the most fascinating facts about the species. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading the article as much as we enjoyed writing it!
Bees are hard workers
There’s a good reason why people say, “Busy as a bee.” This species is among the hardest working organisms in nature, going to extreme lengths to gather pollen and preserve its colony.
As mentioned, it takes 55,000 miles of travel to collect one point of honey. To accomplish this endeavor, more than 500 bees will visit 2 million flowers, pollinating between 50 and 100 of them during a single trip. If you also consider that one hive can produce anywhere between 35 to 100 pounds of the substance, that’s extreme productivity!
Honey lasts forever
Many people are too focused on honey’s medical properties and versatility that they often forget about some of its other traits. Most notably, this superfood can last forever without spoiling! Even better, you don’t need some special conditions to keep it in the right shape; just make sure it remains in a tight container.
The oldest honey was found in King Tut’s tomb, retaining its original properties for more than 2,000 years. The secret of honey’s longevity lies in hydrogen peroxide, a chemical that works as a food preservative.
Honey is the only animal-produced food that humans eat. As it has a high glucose content, it’s 25% sweeter than your regular kitchen sugar. Containing 20% water and 80% sugar, the substance gives you a quick surge of energy through glucose and a sustainable energy boost via fructose.
From chestnut honey to sage and Himalayan mad honey, there are so many subtypes of this food. Depending on a specific product, they can significantly differ in terms of taste, color, density, but also medical properties. The saddest thing of them all is that most of us have tried just one or two types.
If you ever want to explore this beautiful substance, keep in mind there are more than 300 subtypes to choose from. The honey’s flavor is mostly affected by the source, that is, the plant from which it is collected. Their flavor profile can differ a lot, going from smooth and lightly sweet to extremely intense and satiating.
Bees and their colonies
Bees are extremely resilient and curious species. They’ve existed for more than 20 years without enduring any major evolutionary changes. In that sense, you might even consider them a perfect species.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable. Bees’ health is closely connected to their hives and certain practices they’ve developed over the years. For example, they’re extremely harsh toward weak drones, throwing them out in preparation for winter. During this period, they only take short flights to clean themselves and the hive.
Winter is extremely harsh for the insects as small colonies will require 35 pounds of honey to survive the season. One of the reasons why they survive is because of the tireless efforts of nurse bees. They create royal jelly, as well as feed and clean the colony. The last tidbit is that each colony has its distinct smell.
Strong medical properties
For the longest time, people have used honey to treat various ailments. In many cultures, the product is praised for its ability to soothe the throat, prevent flu, and boost immunity and energy. However, there are also indications that some subtypes can improve digestion and work as anti-inflammatory medicines.
There are so many cool stories of people benefiting from this superfood. For example, during WW1, soldiers would mix it with cod liver and use it during triage. As the substance has strong antifungal and antibacterial properties, it was considered a good treatment against infections.
To this day, some opera singers use the substance to soothe their throats before performing. Besides having great medicinal traits, this magical substance can also be used for cosmetics. Queen Anne of England used it in conjunction with olive oil to improve her hair volume. So, it isn’t surprising that honey is still a common ingredient for lipsticks, lotions, and creams.
Bees regulate their temperature
Another curious thing about bees is their ability to regulate temperature. They keep their hives at an optimal temperature of 93 to 95 degrees at all times, among others, by filling the holes with propolis. Scientists believe that the species requires a steady temperature as they’re cold-blooded insects.
When it gets a bit colder, especially during wintertime, bees will gather around in one spot, heating each other with their bodies. During the summer months, they will start gathering water and pouring it at the entrance of the hive. As the liquid evaporates, it will increase the humidity inside and provide a cool breeze for the queen and the drones.
A funky dance
Like many species, bees have their unique way of communicating with each other. As they don’t have ears, they have to rely on other visual methods for relaying information. In other words, they use “Waggle Dance.”
This is a unique dance that tells other colony members about potential dangers as well as the presence or scarcity of nectar. Of course, each move they make refers to a different situation.