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Promoting Honey

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honey

Cool Stuff About Honey!

Did you know the University of Minnesota has maintained an internationally-known research program on honey bees since 1918? Minnesota is the fifth largest honey-producing state in the United States. Bees perform the vital job of pollinating fruits, legumes, vegetables and other types of food-producing plants in addition to their business of honey production. Honey is a complex mix of: 80% natural sugars, 18% water, and 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein. Honey is older than written history and was valued highly in many cultures as it was used for money, offerings to the gods, to cure ailments, and even to make cement!

The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by humans. Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey. Bees therefore have to fly about 90,000 miles (three times around the world) - to make one pound of honey! Each individual bee makes only about one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. Bees produce honey as food stores for the hive during the winter months when flowers are not in bloom and little nectar is available.

The nectar collected by the honey bees from flowers and plants is carried to the hive and is then passed to worker bees, who prepare it for storing by adding enzymes. As the nectar is transferred to the wax storage chambers, water is evaporated away. It is this process, combined with enzyme activity, that converts the nectar into honey. A hive only needs 20 to 30 lb of honey to survive an average winter, which means that the extra honey can be harvested. A strong colony can produce 2 to 3 times more honey than they need!

You and your family can get honey at the local farmers' market or FARM NAME. Try using the recipe in this month’s newsletter. Today at lunch, you will have the opportunity to sample honey in FOOD ITEM from FARM NAME/CITY.

honey

In [MONTH] your child tried [FOOD ITEM] with locally grown honey from [FARM NAME] in [CITY] . Prepare this delicious recipe with your family and ask your child(ren) if they can answer the following trivia questions.

  1. The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by humans. Besides food, what has honey been used for?
  2. To make just one pound of honey, honey bees must collect nectar from how many flowers?
  3. Minnesota is the fifth largest honey-producing state in the United States. Besides bees’ business of honey production, what important service do bees provide to humans?

Trivia Answers

  1. Honey is older than written history and was valued highly in many cultures as it was used for money, offerings to the gods, to cure ailments, and even to make cement!
  2. Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey. Bees have to fly about 90,000 miles (three times around the world) to make one pound of honey.
  3. Bees perform the vital job of pollinating fruits, legumes, vegetables and other types of food-producing plants in addition to their business of honey production.

MS Word version of Newsletter

honey

History and Origin

  • Honey is mentioned in the oldest written histories, dating back to at least 2100 BC where it was mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings, the Hittite code, and the sacred writings of India and Egypt.
  • Its name comes from the Old English hunig, and it was the first and most widespread sweetener used by humans. Legend has it that Cupid dipped his love arrows in honey before aiming at unsuspecting lovers.
  • In the Old Testament of the Bible, Israel was often referred to as "the land of milk and honey." Mead, an alcoholic drink made from honey was called "nectar of the gods," high praise indeed.
  • Honey was valued highly and often used as a form of currency, tribute, or offering. In the 11th century A.D., German peasants paid their feudal lords in honey and beeswax.
  • Although experts argue whether the honeybee is native to the Americas, conquering Spaniards in 1600 A.D. found native Mexicans and Central Americans had already developed beekeeping methods to produce honey.
  • Exactly how long honey has been in existence is hard to say because it has been around since as far back as we can record. Cave paintings in Spain from 7000 BC show the earliest records of beekeeping.
  • The earliest record of keeping bees in hives was found in the sun temple erected in 2400 BC near Cairo. The bee featured frequently in Egyptian hieroglyphs and, being favored by the pharaohs, often symbolized royalty.
  • The ancient Egyptians used honey as a sweetener, as a gift to their gods and even as an ingredient in embalming fluid. Honey cakes were baked by the Egyptians and used as an offering to placate the gods. In Ancient Egypt honey had a role in births, deaths and marriages; it was believed to provide the energy and inspiration to create a child.
  • The Greeks, too, made honey cakes and offered them to the gods. The Greeks viewed honey as not only an important food, but also as a healing medicine. Greek recipe books were full of sweets and cakes made from honey. Cheeses were mixed with honey to make cheesecakes, described by Euripides in the fifth century BC as being "steeped most thoroughly in the rich honey of the golden bee."
  • The Romans also used honey as a gift to the gods and they used it extensively in cooking. Beekeeping flourished throughout the Roman empire.
  • Once Christianity was established, honey and beeswax production increased greatly to meet the demand for church candles.
  • Honey continued to be of importance in Europe until the Renaissance, when the arrival of sugar from further afield meant honey was used less. By the seventeenth century sugar was being used regularly as a sweetener and honey was used even less.

Nutrition

  • Honey is a complex mix of:
    • 80% natural sugars
    • 18% water
    • 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein
  • Of honey's 80% natural sugar content, around 70% is made up of fructose and glucose. The balance of these two sugars determines whether a honey is clear or set. Both types are equally pure and additive free.
  • The medicinal and healing properties of honey have earned it a reputation as one the purest and most natural remedies for over 5,000 years. And because it contains so many therapeutic qualities, honey is used to treat a wide range of ailments and complaints.
  • Honey has antiseptic properties and can be used as a remedy for ailments from sore throats to burns and cuts. This is endorsed by research, which has shown that its bactericidal properties can be used to good effect in treating digestive problems such as peptic ulcers as well as external lesions.
  • The natural fruit sugars in honey - fructose and glucose - are very quickly digested by the body. This is why sportpeople and athletes use honey to give them a natural energy boost.

Did you know…?

  • If you weighed 5 pounds on Monday morning, and you grew at the same rate as bees fed on royal jelly, you would weigh 4,200 pounds on Friday evening!
  • The average worker bee will make only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime.
  • A honey bee can fly as fast as 15 miles per hour.
  • It would take one ounce of honey to fuel a bee's flight around the world.
  • A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
  • Worker bees are all female.
  • Flowers have bright markings and strong smells to attract bees and other insects so that they will pollinate flowers. Some also have dark lines called 'honey guides' which scientists believe help insects find their way into the flowers.
  • A colony of bees consists of tens of thousands of worker bees, one queen and sometimes drones (male bees).
  • Honey lasts for ever - or nearly. An explorer who found a 2000 year old jar of honey in an Egyptian tomb said it tasted delicious!
  • The Romans used honey instead of gold to pay their taxes.
  • Honey bees have been producing honey in the same way for 27 million years.
  • The bees' buzz is the sound made by their wings which beat 11,400 times per minute.
  • Bees feed their larvae on pollen or 'cakes' made from pollen and saliva, using honey as a source of food during winter months. As they make more than they need, we humans can share the fruit of their labors.
  • The term 'beeline' comes from the 'bee line' these clever insects make to the flower of their choice, using the shortest route possible.
  • When a bee finds a good source of nectar it flies back to the hive and shows its friends where the nectar source is by doing a sort of dance positioning the flower in relation to the sun and the hive. This is known as the 'waggle dance.'
  • Nearly one million tons of honey is produced worldwide every year.
  • Honey's ability to attract and retain moisture means that it has long been used as a beauty treatment. It was part of Cleopatra's daily beauty ritual.
  • In India, Krishna, as an avatar of Vishnu, has a blue bee in the middle of his forehead. Soma, the moon, is called a bee.
  • The Greek Great Mother was known as the Queen Bee, and her priestesses were called Mellisae, the Bees.
  • In Celtic myths, bees possess a secret wisdom garnered from the other world.
  • In Australia and Africa bees are found as tribal totems.

How to Eat Honey

  • Put honey in hot drinks
  • Use local honey to sweeten your foods and baked goods
  • Spread honey on toast

The above information was compiled from:

www.mnimpacts.umn.edu/impact.aspx?impactId=137
www.honeyo.com/honeyhealing.shtml
www.mnbeekeepers.com/
www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bees/buzz.html

honey

Tasting Poster (812 K PDF)

3-Column Poster (1.6 MB PDF)

Index Card (405 K PDF)

Photos

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bee on sunflower

Honeybee on Sunflower

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside
beehives

Beehives

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside
jar of honey

Jar of Honey

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
honey and fruit

Honey with Plums & Berries

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside
honey and cookies

Honey Cookies and Candies

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside
honeybee research

Honey Bee Research

photo by Dave Hansen
Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station
University of Minnesota
honey
  • The University of Arizona’s Africanized Honey Bee Education Project — The University of Arizona’s Africanized Honey Bee Education Project contains numerous lesson plans for K-3, 4-6, 7-8. 9-12 grade students
  • The Honey Files: A Bee’s LifeNational Honey BoardTeaching guide (4.9 MB PDF) and reference guide (820 K PDF) for 4-6 grade students.
  • The National Honey Board — The National Honey Board is proud to make available a great set of educational resources for kids and teachers. Use the materials here to learn about honey and how it is produced. Some of the things you learn may surprise you! Have fun exploring the links provided here, and don't forget about the wealth of information also available on other areas of this Web site.
  • University of Minnesota Honey Bee Program — University of Minnesota’s honey bee program. Including the Bee Lab. The website identifies K-12 teachers as one of their primary audiences. One of the program’s goals is to: “To increase the understanding of the public of the roles and value of honeybees in the economy and quality of life in Minnesota including the creation of a working bee lab and education program in the new Bell Museum
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